Photo: Supplied

Meta HK reinstated, Maintenance problems the real cause

BY BRYNLEY VAN AARDT

An incidence of alleged negligence by a Metanoia House Committee (HK) member resulted in the said HK member handing in their letter of resignation. Five days later, this letter was formally rejected by Metanoia Prim, Leon Rossouw in a formal statement sent out to the residents of Metanoia.

“I, Leon Rossouw, Primarius of Metanoia Residence, would like to formally reject the resignation letter of Divan Godfrey, as presented to the House on Tuesday, 09 March 2020. The decision to reject the resignation letter was made by the Executive Committee of 2019/2020 in line with section 10.5.2.2,” read the statement. Section 10.5.2.2 states that “The [Executive Committee], in conjunction with the residence head, will consider the request [to resign] may decide to first convene a meeting with the House Committee member in question instead of merely accepting the resignation”.

Not only was Godfrey well liked by the residents, many were unhappy with his decision to step down as a HK member, but upon further investigation it was also discovered that lack of maintenance played a larger role in the events that transpired than originally believed.

According to a MatieMedia article, it was believed that Godfrey was responsible for letting perpetrators in through the emergency exit in the early hours of Saturday morning, 7 March. These perpetrators continued to walk up and down the corridors of the residence and entered rooms belonging to Metanoia residents, where they started allegedly sexually assaulting some of them. This was reported to the South African Police Service and according to Captain Natalie Martin, head of communications at the Stellenbosch Police Station, an official investigation was opened.

After investigation, it was discovered that although Godfrey used the emergency doors, he did not let the perpetrators in.

“Further information, however, came to light indicating that the emergency exit door’s locking mechanism was faulty, and has been for quite a while. This was confirmed by IT-TAS, the University’s IT Maintenance Unit, as the magnets of this door has never been replaced and has become ineffective due to wear and tear from daily use. Based on this information, it was clear that Divan’s actions did not provide the alleged perpetrators with access into Metanoia. Rather, they gained access because of the door that can be opened by exerting force on the door; without the use of a student card,” continued the statement.

After these findings, Leah Scharnik, HK of Maintenance and Service, sent out a message to residents stating the maintenance upkeep that will be implemented to stop events like this happening in the future.

“The magnets of the emergency doors will be replaced with stronger ones so that the doors can be used as they were intended to be used, in the event of emergencies. The padlocks will be removed. Tanita, CRS of Nerina, will log a call that looks at implementing a new system in which the front door will have a latch put on that will be locked with a padlock. They will be looking at putting in a service bar which prevents it from swinging forward and backward so it will only swing outwards,” Scharnik wrote.

Loadshedding faults were also addressed in this statement sent out which said, “Then a magnet with student card access will be installed so that in the event of loadshedding resulting in the turnstiles becoming free flowing, those doors will be closed and will only be accessible via students cards. Due to the backup power battery those doors will remain student card activated during loadshedding. They are looking into replacing batteries of the basement doors so that in the event of loadshedding they don’t stay open.”

Godfrey will still be reprimanded by the Central Disciplinary Committee (CDC) for the transgressions he made. The CDC acts as a committee made up of a chairperson and three other members of which at least one is a student nominee and they act on suspected misconduct by students of Stellenbosch University.

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