Rhodes shuts down after death of Khensani Maseko

Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko
Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko
Image: Khensani Maseko / Instagram

Rhodes University today announced a full academic shutdown after the death of Khensani Maseko.

Maseko is believed to have committed suicide after being sexually assaulted at the institution in May.

Students expressed their fury and shock on social media as news of Maseko’s death began trending at the weekend.

Angry students gathered at the Rhodes administration block to demand the total shutdown of the university to give students an opportunity to mourn Maseko and to protest gender violence and the rape culture they say persists at the university.

Rhodes vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela lowered the university flag to half-mast today and agreed to a total academic shutdown to allow students an opportunity to mourn her death.

He also announced the university’s intention to ask the SA Police and National Prosecuting Authority to initiate a formal inquest into her death.

The university said in an email that the third-year BA student had died at her family home in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon.

“As the Rhodes University community, we would like to extend our sincerest condolences to her family, loved ones, and everyone that knew her.”

The Rhodes SRC said in a statement posted online that her final words on social media suggested that her tragic death was tied to her being a survivor of sexual assault.

It said the student body was experiencing deep grief and anger and announced its intention to launch a full academic shutdown.

Rhodes said on its official twitter account that it also intended formally suspending the male student who allegedly raped Maseko.Maseko’s last haunting post on Instagram on Friday read: “NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED!!”

This was preceded by the date she was born along with Friday’s date – which was also the date of her death.

Rhodes SRC is currently meeting with management to discuss other demands, including extending the total academic shutdown to tomorrow.

Just a few days into Women's Month, tragedy hit South Africa after it emerged that student Khensani Maseko took her own life on August 3 2018 after allegedly being raped. Here’s how South Africa reacted.