Rhodes University were told of rape by student

Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko who committed suicide last week reported to the university at the end of July that she had been raped by a fellow student in May, the university has revealed.

Maseko’s death has shattered fellow students at the university and accelerated action against gender-based violence.

Maseko is reported to have committed suicide after posting a poignant message on social media declaring that nobody deserved to be raped.

In a statement released by Rhodes communications head Veliswa Mhlope, the university said it had contacted Maseko’s family after she had reported the rape and the family had travelled from Johannesburg for a meeting.

They had decided to take their daughter home for a while and Rhodes had agreed to follow up on the matter.

The third-year BA student was due to return to the university this week for a meeting with the support and investigation team. The university said it was working with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority, to push for an inquest into her death.

A notice to suspend the alleged perpetrator was issued “The tragic passing of Khensani will not mark an end to the investigation into the circumstances leading up to her passing,” vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela vowed.

For Monday and Tuesday, the university’s academic programme will be substituted by an alternative programme of awareness-raising and education on sexual/gender-based violence.

This morning the students will march to the Settlers Monument where Maseko would have graduated at the end of her degree.

Mabizela said her death underlined the pervasive scourge of gender-based violence in our society.

“We have been robbed of an amazing young woman who was destined to make a significant impact on our society and beyond.”

Maseko’s family said in a statement that Maseko’s suicide had devastated her family, friends and larger community of colleagues and peers.

“As a family, we do not take lightly the circumstances leading up to Khensani's death. We would like to explicitly express that we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any form of violence and abuse against women and more particularly rape against women. We urge that the law should be allowed to take its course.”

The family expressed its gratitude for the support, messages of condolences, love and remembrance they had received.Maseko’s funeral is planned for August 9.

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