Letter from the vice-chancellor on sexual violence
Released: 18h50, 17 November 2015
17 November 2015
Dear colleagues and students
On Sunday night an awful incident allegedly took place at Avenue Hall where, over many months, students who have been driving various campaigns for greater inclusivity and transformation have been congregating. One of the calls for transformation from these student formations is #PatriarchyMustFall.
So it is deeply concerning that a UCT student was alleged to have been raped or sexually assaulted in Avenue Hall early Monday morning. It reminds us that even in a space where there is heightened sensitivity and understanding about these matters, the scourge of violence and abuse happens. Whilst this is one incident, we know our society is one where the rape, assault and murder of people (and particularly woman and children) is a common practice.
We condemn this. And in doing so we commit the University to support the survivor in whatever ways we can, and to redouble our efforts to educate our community in which such violations occur with distressing frequency.
We are working actively with the South African Police with whom a case was opened and the SAPS have now made an arrest.
I appeal to all members of our community to allow the law to take its course. Last evening we saw a disturbing situation where a group of students entered a residence and forced their way into a room in search of the alleged perpetrator in order to 'deal' with him. (The suspect was not there.) This is unacceptable behaviour which undermines the rule of law. The accused must be allowed to face a fair and legal process.
An incident like this brings trauma for those involved that may last a very long time. But it also re-kindles old trauma for many who have experienced or witnessed similar situations of violence, assault or rape in their lifetime. It has a crippling effect on individuals but also on our community and society as a whole. We must expose such offensive and criminal behaviour, express our intolerance of it, educate our youth at university about its evils, and ensure our environment supports the survivors and others affected by such trauma.
Dr Max Price
Issued by UCT, 17 November 2015