A group of students had marched to Wits Junction after sexual assault allegations about a resident were posted on Twitter.
Two students have retracted allegations they made against a Wits ANCYL Branch Executive Committee (BEC) member, calling him a “rapist”.
Solami Buthelezi, chairperson of the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters’ Student Command, apologised on Twitter for falsely accusing Sifiso Ngcobo of sexual assault.
On Tuesday, September 3, she had tweeted that, “SFISO NGCOBO is a rapist who lives at Junction. His friends, Themba, Hyacinth and Luyolo, amongst others protected him/hid him when [we] came for him tonight!”
These allegations against Ngcobo were also posted on the @HelpSurvivers2 account on Twitter. A group of students had marched to Wits Junction residence in response to the allegations made against Ngcobo to confront him.
On Sunday, September 8, however, Buthelezi tweeted a letter she had written to Ngcobo. “The letter of demand was well received, and I do not intend to challenge though I do not agree with some of the wording in the letter as they distort what I had said notwithstanding I would like to retract my statement…I apologise to Themba, Luyolo and Hyacinth.”
This retraction came after Ngcobo had written her a letter on Friday, September 6, and released a statement via the Wits Legal Clinic two days later, demanding that Buthelezi remove the post accusing him of sexual assault, threatening legal action against his accusers.
Ayanda Gashi, chairperson of the Junction House Committee, also posted a retraction and apology to Ngcobo on Twitter on Sunday, September 8.
“I had no right to say that you were a rapist. The claim was unjustified and unsubstantiated,” wrote Gashi in her statement.
“I deeply regret it. I hope you can forgive me for my momentary lapse in judgement,” she wrote.
Since the rape and murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana in August made headlines and caused public outrage, Twitter accounts were created for users to post accusations of sexual assault and abuse by men.
“Fortunately, I was not at Wits Junction when the vigilante group arrived,” Ngcobo wrote in his statement.
The ANCYL branch executive committee released a statement on September 5, acknowledging the allegations against Ngcobo, saying, “The BEC member in question informed us that the matter had been adjudicated by the Gender Equity Office (GEO).
However, due to the serious nature of these allegations… the BEC therefore resolved to suspend the BEC member concerned pending the resolution of the case by the relevant authorities.”
A representative of the GEO told Wits Vuvuzela that she would not disclose any information related to the case.
Ngcobo also refused to comment, and asked to be left alone. “Anyone who has questions will be answered by the court of law,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.
Wits senior communications officer, Buhle Zuma said the university knows nothing about this case. “Any matters of this sort are not solved by Wits. All cases relating to GBH are managed by the Gender Equity Office.” She added that because the matter was between the individuals concerned, it should be handled by a court of law.
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits DASO and Wits ANCYL respond to sexual harassment allegations, March 10, 2013.