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By Laura Mutyambizi

The Central Disciplinary Committee (CDC) of Stellenbosch University (SU) recently found a student from Majuba Men’s Residence guilty of sexual misconduct. In a bulletin released by SU on 5 August, they announced that the student had been expelled from the university.

This judgement follows after a female SU student reported the sexual assault, which took place on 17 May, to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the SU Equality Unit the following day. The latter referred the matter to the CDC, whereafter the proceedings began.

“In terms of the SU Student Disciplinary Code, the male student has five workdays to appeal the CDC finding and sanction,” the bulletin read. 

“The criminal case with regards to this matter proceeds.”

Captain Nathalie Martin, spokesperson of the Stellenbosch SAPS, stated that the case has been referred to the Stellenbosch Magistrates’ Court, and the accused is set to appear on 1 September.

According to Luhan van Wyk, prim of Majuba, the residence supports the CDC’s findings. “The Majuba leadership took note of the outcome of the independent CDC hearing held on the 4th of August,” Van Wyk said. 

“We echo the sentiments of Stellenbosch University in condemning any type of gender-based ­violence as well as any other type of human rights infringements.”

Van Wyk continued to explain that in the context of Women’s Month, the residence will “continue [their] active efforts to educate [their] residents as well as members of other residences on gender-based and discriminatory violence”. 

With regard to how the residence’s student leadership plans on doing this, he said, “We endeavor to combat GBV by means of critical engagements and discussions both internally and externally. The sessions with topics and dates will be advertised on our social media platforms.” 

According to Holley Wilson, the women empowerment executive of the United Nations Association of South Africa Stellenbosch Chapter, the accepted bail amount of R1000—although she acknowledges that factors like economic status need to be taken into account—is “incredibly insulting and belittling to many women and GBV survivors”.  

Wilson also thinks that people should remember that “this case serves as a symptom of a much larger and prevalent issue, [a]nd just because he [the male student] has been expelled, doesn’t mean the issue has been eradicated”.

“Although the university does have a role to play . . . in making it a safe campus, it really does come down to the culture” that “made it possible for him to feel comfortable enough to proceed in the way that he did,” concluded Wilson

“It’s a cultural, ideological issue at hand.”

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