Stellenbosch medical student suspended after female assaulted

Stellenbosch University has temporarily suspended a final-year medical student following an alleged incident of gender-based violence at the weekend.
Image: ERHARDT THIEL

Stellenbosch University has temporarily suspended a final-year male student after he allegedly assaulted a female student at the weekend.

The medical student allegedly committed the assault at the Tygerberg campus on Saturday. The incident is being investigated.

University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the matter had been reported to the appropriate university structures‚ including the equality unit.

“The male student was temporarily suspended from Stellenbosch University on Sunday pending a disciplinary investigation. In terms of the student disciplinary code‚ this temporary suspension is subject to a confirmation of suspension hearing by the university’s central disciplinary committee‚ which must take place within five days of this temporary suspension‚” said Viljoen.

“The male student is no longer in his residence nor on campus. Further steps will follow‚ based on the outcome of the disciplinary investigation.”

The incident sparked outrage within the university community. Advocacy group Anti-GBV Movement SU condemned the incident.

“We want to make it known that no abuser should become a qualified doctor. We will follow the investigations closely‚” it said.

The group identified the female student as Lebo Masinga‚ who has since taken to social media to briefly speak about the incident.

Masinga’s bruises can be visibly seen in a video that was circulated online.

“I will talk about the situation when I see fit‚” she said.

She said she hated being seen with a bruised face‚ but felt the need to raise awareness about issues of safety at the institution.

“I am going to press charges. I am not going to let it go.”

Viljoen confirmed Masinga had given a statement to the police and was receiving psyco-social support.

Senior director of student affairs Dr Choice Makhetha condemned the incident and said the institution had a zero-tolerance policy towards gender-based violence (GBV).

“Together with the university and Tygerberg management‚ I am deeply concerned about this incident. Stellenbosch University has a zero-tolerance approach to gender-based violence and will not hesitate to act‚ based on a thorough investigation and disciplinary process.

“The institution is committed to creating an environment free of gender violence and advancing equal rights for all.”

Prof Nico Gey van Pittius‚ acting dean of the medicine and health sciences faculty‚ said the faculty management team was grateful for efforts by student leaders and the Tygerberg campus and university communities in ensuring that the incident was followed up as a matter of urgency.

“We share the distress caused by this incident and call on the entire Tygerberg community to deepen collaborative efforts to address gender-based violence‚” he said.

The incident has prompted students to speak out about issues of safety on campus. A final-year student‚ whose identity is known to TimesLIVE‚ said similar incidents have in the past occurred but the university did little or nothing to address them.

“Everyone is fed up because this has been happening. The university has allowed many male students accused of assault or rape to graduate despite evidence and multiple witnesses‚” said the student.

The university denied the allegations. Viljoen said the equality unit had not received any other complaints of the same nature since the return of students to the campus.

Commenting on the issues of safety on the premises‚ the university said: “Campus security continuously addresses and manages security risks at the Tygerberg and other campuses. To date there have been very limited security incidents at all campuses since the beginning of the year.”

The institution has since vowed to act accordingly in cases of GBV.

“The university‚ like most other communities‚ is unfortunately not exempt from gender-based violence but will continue to educate and to create awareness‚ but also to act where necessary in response to gender-based violence‚” added Viljoen.

By: Nonkululeko Njilo -TimesLIVE

Source: ARENA Holdings.

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