Rhodes University has rubbished claims that it expelled two students for protesting against rape culture on campus.
On Tuesday the hashtag #RhodesWar trended after two young women accused the university of expelling them for their activism during the #RUReferenceList protest against rape culture held at the institution in April 2016. The university accused the young women of “cynical attempts at manipulating public opinion” saying it expelled them for committing criminal acts.
“There is a clear distinction between vigorously pursuing our common objective of eliminating sexual and gender-based violence on the one hand and using such a noble cause as a cover to commit acts of criminality, which serve to undermine a noble struggle,” the university said in a media statement.
According to media reports, the list contained names of 11 alleged sexual predators was circulated on social media, which sparked action from the students who went to seek out the perpetrators from their various residencies.
It is understood that some students allegedly dragged four other students suspected of sexual assault out of their dorm rooms and beat them with up empty water bottles.
According to the university, the students exhibited “conduct beyond lawful boundaries and amounted to common law offences”, which led to their expulsion on November 17 this year.
The students were found guilty of kidnapping, assault, defamation and insubordination.
The news sparked massive outrage on social media under #RhodesWar hashtag.
Something is very wrong with our judiciary. What kind of judge hears evidence and decides that a student with 2 exams left to graduate must be excluded? #RhodesWar
— Sicelo (@SiceloDumakude) December 11, 2017
Rhodes is sending a very loud message that if and when you get raped, don’t you dare name and shame your rapist. Us we are inspired by #LionMama. All crimes have their price. The purging of Black Womxn must stop. #RhodesWar
— Babes Womzabalazo (@NalediChirwa) December 12, 2017
Our universities would rather protect rapists then allow student activists to address rape culture!
— Seipati Tshabalala (@i_am__seipati) December 12, 2017
A rapist (Jason) WHO WAS FOUND GUILTY OF SEXUAL ASSAULT GRADUATED AT RHODES. Black Womxn who protested against rape DID NOT GRADUATE. NOR CAN THEY CONTINUE THEIR STUDIES ANYWHERE ELSE. This is war. #RhodesWar
— Babes Womzabalazo (@NalediChirwa) December 11, 2017
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri), acting on behalf of one of the activists, Yolanda Dyantyi, slammed the institution for imposing “the harshest penalty imposed for ten years”.
In a statement, Seri it would launch an application to the High Court to review and set aside the disciplinary proceedings brought against Dyantyi.
“SERI believes that the University’s treatment of Ms. Dyantyi has been disproportionate, unfair and unlawful,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister of higher education Buti Manamela said that he would look into the matter.
I’m made aware of the expulsion of students who protested against Rape by Rhodes University. I’ve asked for a full report & will be doing all to advance the education of our youth
— DM Higher Education (@ButiManamela) December 12, 2017