Protest

An attempt to involve students in finding solutions to sexual gender-based violence at Rhodes University had to be adjourned after the meeting was disrupted by protesters‚ some of whom had stripped to their underwear.

A videos captured by Grocott's Mail Online and posted on social media shows students holding up signs saying "#DONTSHAMEUS"‚ "#RememberKhwezi" and "Rapists are not leaders they are rapists‚" among others‚ during the event. The students are also heard singing various struggle songs and one student is heard shouting “RU F***ing reference list‚” a reference to an ongoing dispute between some students and university management over the so-called “reference list” of 11 alleged rapists posted online. In addition‚ some of the students are seen topless‚ mimicking the #RUReferenceList protest which took place in April‚ where dozens of Rhodes University students protested half naked to make a point about the rape culture they said pervades the university. A released by the university said the meeting was initiated by the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS Programme (Heaids)‚ “to address concerns raised by students across all technical‚ and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and universities to devise a collective response”. The university said it was attended by Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela and representatives of the National Prosecuting Authority‚ Department of Social Development‚ the SAPS as well as researchers‚ students from around the province and advocates working in the fields of social development‚ justice‚ health and safety. “Rhodes welcomes the intervention of the Department of Higher Education as this will not only open conversations on gender based violence on our campuses but will also add onto the various initiatives that higher education institutions have in place to raise awareness around gender based violence and rape. “We hope that this dialogue will assist our institutions to continually to re-examine where we might add and or improve our current initiatives‚ processes and procedures‚” Mabizela said in a statement. A new date for the meeting has not yet been announced. President Jacob Zuma’s address to the nation following the announcement of the 2016 local government elections was also marred by a silent protest by a group of women‚ harking back to the rape case against him before he took office. Four women dressed in black stood in front of Zuma as he took the podium‚ holding white sheets of paper with handwritten words reading “10 years on”‚ “khanga”‚ and “Remember Kwezi”. Earlier this year‚ Rhodes University students went looking for accountability when a list of 11 people‚ who have allegedly committed sexual assaults‚ emerged on social media. The students marched to various residences looking for the individuals on what was dubbed the “Reference List”. The topic trended on Twitter under the #RUReferenceList hashtag‚ with many students calling for a campus-wide shutdown‚ and for the university to take responsibility for the actions of the offenders on the list. Rhodes University was granted an urgent interdict prohibiting students or anyone else aligned with the current protest from intimidating‚ assaulting or threatening any member of the university community. According to reports by one of the university’s student publications‚ speaking at the event‚ one of the students requested that the interdict be withdrawn and the alleged perpetrators be “removed from campus”. - Times Live

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