Rhodes University does not have a unit to deal with sexual offences.
DASO campaigns for private student accommodation, and challenges private entities to reveal their pricing policy through petitions.
Students on campus are signing a petition against alleged sexual harassment by private security.
Over 500 Wits students are signing a petition against the alleged sexual harassment by private security on campus hired to provide “operational control” in the face of fees protests.
“Wits University ought to be free space where females need not to worry about their safety,” says third-year BA student Mpho Ndaba, who started the petition.
The petition aims to raise awareness about sexual harassment on campus. Ndaba says the more female students he has spoken to, the more he realised that the harassment was being normalised.
According to Ndaba, students are not reporting these incidents because they think it’s normal or okay.
One of the students complaining, fourth-year BADA student Swankie Mafoko, says she was verbally harassed by the private security while she was reporting for VOW FM. Mafoko says she was inside Solomon House, when some security guards dressed in black and red came and stood behind her. The men started making sexual remarks about her body in a demeaning way.
She says she wasn’t bothered at first because she is used to catcalling at taxi ranks and other public spaces but she was shocked at the intensity of these guys’ remarks.
“What shocked me was when they were describing my breasts,” says Mafoko.
She says she was so shaken that she put on her denim jacket to cover her breasts and she immediately left without finishing her reporting.
“I panicked and walked away,” Mafoko says.
Mafoko says she did not report her incident because she didn’t see them and she doesn’t believe she can prove her victimisation.
“You can’t prove that kind of harassment on video, it’s my word against theirs,” Mafoko says.
Maria Wanyane, of the Wits Gender Equity office, says they have not received any official complaints about sexual harassment by private security so far.
Private security, who are mainly male, have been stationed on campus since October 2015 at a cost of nearly R2-million per month.
According to the Wits Gender Equity Office, sexual harassment doesn’t have to be physical. It can be any unwanted attention which can include heckling, whistling and catcalling.
“It’s important for everyone who has experienced any form of harassment to come forward and report it,” says Wanyane.
Wanyane says even if someone is harassed on campus by someone they don’t know, the unit has the power to view security footage and assist in identifying alleged perpetrators.
An online petition to reinstate the journalism program at the University of Pretoria has gathered just over 100 signatures after being launched this week (at time of publication, for link click here).
Signing of the petition:
Staff and pupils, past and present, have signed the petition that was created on an online website and shared on social media by BA Languages student, Quintus Potgieter. Former head of department Pippa Green and full-time lecturer Marenet Jordaan were among those that signed the petition.
Green said: “I thought it was a pity that the university decided to close it. We were always a practically/professionally orientated program rather than a more academic one, but we focused a lot on rigour in research/reporting and in writing.”
The suspension of the program left many students who had studied a general BA degree unable to take the honours program. Students commented on the petition that they faced problems such as not having an alternative course to study, financial issues involved in relocating to another university and concerns about the impact it will have on the media in the country.
When asked about the petition and the reason for the suspension of the program, the university’s media liaison officer Sanku Tsunke said: “The university had placed the journalism programme in abeyance until the end of this year (2015), whereafter a decision will be made about the programme’s future.”
Potgieter, a presenter on a community radio station who was planning to study with the program said: “Even if you are involved in community radio or local newspapers, how are you supposed to feel adequately equipped without a qualification.”
However there were comments on the petition that suggested the program should be improved if reintroduced such as upgrading the curriculum and modules.
The online petition states: “Journalism is an essential tool in a democracy and is a viable employment opportunity for students … If we remove journalism from our society, it ensures that stories of corruption and stories that inspire this country to be better are forever hidden.”
The program was initially downsized from an undergraduate and honours course to only the honours degree in journalism. Thereafter the BA Honours program in journalism was also suspended as from 2015.
Potgieter plans to take the petition to individual classes in the humanities faculty and reach 200 signatures that he will present to UP in the hope it will reinstate the journalism program at postgraduate level or a four-year undergraduate and honours course.
By Emelia Motsai and Mia Swart
WITS students have found themselves divided and confused by competing petitions between the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (Daso) and the Progressive Youth Alliance-dominated Student Representative Council.
On Wednesday, the SRC was asking students to sign a petition demanding misconduct charges against 11 students, including nine SRC members, be dropped. At the same time Daso was petitioning for the charges against the eleven students to not be dropped.
The students were charged for contravention of the university’s code of conduct. The group was charged after disrupting a musical recital by Israeli-born pianist Yossi Reshef on March 12 as part of a protest during Israel Apartheid Week.
The SRC said they want the charges against them dropped because university management was attacking their right to protest. Daso disagrees with this claim.
“We do not think the SRC is above the code of conduct that students need to comply with. We believe that they should be disciplined,” said chairperson of DASO Wits, Dikeledi Selowa.
The organisations petitioned on both Main and Education campus. Selowa said they planned to get about 2 000 signatures for the petition. The SRC had endorsements for their petition from more than 100 organisations as well as asking students to sign.
The SRC asked students to sign their petition in support of the right to protest against issues that students are unhappy with such as housing.
A Daso representative told students: “The SRC must not have its own mandate. They must have a student mandate. They must be held accountable for their actions. We don’t have a problem with the protest. The issue is the manner.”
While the organisations stuck to their beliefs, students were divided over which petition to sign.
Kirsten Chetty, 1st year LLB signed the Daso petition because: “The SRC shouldn’t have boycotted that way. You can make your opinions known, but to enforce it in that manner is wrong.”
Hunadi Mogaladi, 1st year Medicine, signed the SRC petition: “One of our human rights is free speech. If you are not letting people protest, then it undermines that right,” she said.
One student who signed the Daso petition, Ilanet Chernick , was one of the attendees at the concert on March 12. Chernick described her experience of the protest as “horrible”.
She signed the Daso petition because she believes the SRC should be held accountable and “cannot be allowed to get off”. Chernick, who is Jewish, said a lot of friction has arisen between Jewish students and the Wits Muslim Student Association.
But other students were confused about the petitions they were signing. “I don’t even know why I signed,” said a student just after putting her name to the Daso petition.
Her friend also signed the Daso petition, but soon afterwards asked for it to be taken off. “I thought it was for Palestine so I signed,” she said.
Another girl signed the SRC petition and then she told her friend to do the same because “the SRC was protesting against a lecturer who was charged for attempted rape.”
An SRC member corrected her.
While some students were signing the Daso petition sheets, other students refused to sign the sheet and said because the petition was organized by the “opposition” it might be biased.
STUDENTS across the country are adding their names to a petition urging President Jacob Zuma to prevent Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng from becoming chief justice.
The petition raises concerns about Mogoeng’s approach to gender-based violence.
It states: “Women already have great difficulty negotiating the justice system and the appointment of Justice Mogoeng as chief justice will not instil confidence in women that the justice system will become more receptive and sensitive to their needs.”
Organisations behind the petition include the Sonke Gender Justice Network, the Treatment Action Campaign and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project.
The petition is calling on the president to re-open the nomination process to new candidates.
Final year LLB student Daniel Barnett said students need to refrain from apathy on this particular issue.
“I have gladly endorsed the petition as I believe strongly that Justice Mogoeng is a below-par candidate for this vitally important role in our constitutional democracy.
“If my signature can make a small difference, then I’m proud to have made that small difference,” he told Vuvuzela.
Barnett has been using social networking sites to urge other students to sign the petition.
“The more young voices that are expressed, the more likely our voices will be heard,” he said.
He said Mogoeng’s appointment doesn’t only affect law students but each and every South African who has interests protected and advanced by our Constitution.
“We do not deserve a chief justice who only pays lip service to the values of the
Constitution,” he said.
Fourth-year Wits law student, Nombulelo Nyathela, expressed disappointment at Mogoeng’s appointment.
“As a gender activist, who happens to be a law student, I think people are being unfair if they expect us to overlook his careless judgment on the man who was a woman abuser,” she said.
Nyathela said she was further disappointed by his response in the Judicial Service Commission interview where “he showed very little remorse”.
“His immense experience can’t even overshadow the fact that he at one point didn’t take seriously the plight of women and abuse,” she said.