WATCH | 7 sexual assaults in a year at Walter Sisulu University

Women students at the University of Fort Hare’s Alice campus are arming themselves with knives and pepper spray in what they believe is a fight for survival.

Walter Sisulu University (WSU) recorded the second highest number of student rapes on campus in SA in 2017.

The shocking statistics were revealed by Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor in parliament earlier this month.

Pandor said 47 students were raped or sexually assaulted at the country’s universities, with the University of Cape Town recording nine rapes, followed by WSU with seven.

The statistics revealed that WSU had the highest number of rape or sexual assault cases among the four universities in the Eastern Cape, followed by Nelson Mandela University in PE with five and Rhodes University in Makhanda with two.

University of Fort Hare was not mentioned. However, the Dispatch knows of at least one alleged incident at the Alice campus.

Pandor was responding to written questions from the EFF’s Nontando Nolutshungu.

In a recent incident at WSU, a female student said she was raped inside her room at Nelson Mandela Drive campus in Mthatha. The incident resulted in about 1,000 health sciences faculty students boycotting classes for a week and demanding security in their residences.

Pandor told parliament that the department of higher education and training was finalising a draft policy and strategy to advise higher education institutions on how to deal with gender-based violence.

“We’ve got a date. I thought what we should do, rather than making it a ministerial concern [with] me calling vice-chancellors, is work through Universities SA,” Pandor told University World News.

WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo told University World News: “Our universities are microcosms of the societies we operate in and no university has foolproof mechanisms to block out societal ills.

“Since the beginning of 2018, no rape incidents have been reported. We, in effect, had six cases of rape from 2017 because one was withdrawn.”

Pandor’s spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the minister would convene an urgent round table in Johannesburg on Friday. Ngqengelele said not all incidents had been reported to the office of the minister and therefore the number could be higher than 47.