Lecturer in sexual assault claims on social media

Rhodes University is investigating allegations of sexual assault and harassment levelled against a senior lecturer.

Rhodes University is investigating allegations of sexual assault and harassment levelled against a senior lecturer. Picture: FILERHODES

The university confirmed that an “independent investigation” was taking place after alleged victims posted the accusations on social media.

The lecturer, who cannot be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said he was aware of the claims made by “faceless” students.

Even though Rhodes spokeswoman Veliswa Nhlapo said their probe was expected to be completed “during the course of next week”, the lecturer yesterday said he was yet to be called before the investigating team.

Following allegations of sexual harassment against a staff member at the university, vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela ordered an urgent independent investigation into the matter

“Yes I am aware of the allegations that have been made against me – allegations which are faceless as I do not even know which students have laid such claims against me,” he said.

Nhlapo said: “Following allegations of sexual harassment against a staff member at the university, vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela ordered an urgent independent investigation into the matter. These allegations were [first] posted on social media and were later brought to the attention of the university.”

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She said the institution was investigating, despite the fact that it has not yet received any official complaints about the matter.

Mabizela said the university, which had in recent months been characterised by allegations of prevalent rape and sexual assault cases, needed to be a “safe and comfortable space for it to advance its knowledge project of teaching and learning”.

Mabizela also encouraged complainants or victims to come forward and report such cases to university management.

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Rhodes students have been hosting silent protests against sexual violence annually since 2007.

In April last year, through the #Chapter212 poster campaign, students detailed alleged instances of the university’s failure to address sexual violence, the inadequate sexual assault policy, the insensitive treatment of survivors who had reported their cases and the university’s failure to expel perpetrators.

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Also, last year, the students at the institution who embarked on naming alleged sexual assault perpetrators during the university’s “reference list campaign” which “outed” alleged rapists linked to the institution on social media, sparked national debate about the concerning rape culture on campuses. — asandan@dispatch.co.za

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