Wits vice chancellor (VC) Prof Adam Habib has said the university will cooperate with the police investigation into an alleged rape of a student by a fellow student.
A 22-year-old female Witsie has accused a male student of date rape, after she found herself in his bed, unable to remember what had happened to her.
She woke up on Monday morning, after having drinks with him the night before and, according to reports, found condoms on the floor of his room.
The 30-year-old student suspect did not deny having sex with the woman when she asked him what had happened. According to police, the two were out at a local bar together when the complainant started to feel dizzy.
“The criminal investigation will take its own course, with the University cooperating fully,” Habib said, in a statement released by the Wits Sexual Harassment Office (SHO).
Jackie Dugard of the SHO told Wits Vuvuzela she has not yet met with the complainant, but has spoken to her over the phone.
“We have offered the complainant counselling and will see how further to proceed after a more in-depth conversation,” she said.
The accused student appeared in court on Thursday and his case has been postponed. According to Dugard, “… the university regards him as innocent until proven guilty.”
The university said that the incident, which happened off campus, was reported directly to the police by the complainant.
This case is the third of its kind at Wits this year. Earlier in the year a Wits student was raped off campus by two men who were not affiliated with the university and at the beginning of last month, a student was allegedly raped in her university residence.
Wits Vuvuzela: ‘I don’t remember being raped’, September 19, 2014
Wits Vuvuzela: Wits student allegedly raped in university residence, August 12, 2014
Wits Vuvuzela: Wits student raped off campus, April 11, 2014
Director of Campus Housing and Residence Life Rob Sharman has confirmed via email to Wits Vuvuzela that the attack took place at a student residence off campus.
According to Sharman, the student reported the matter to staff at her residence and was immediately provided with support, including immediate transport to Milpark Hospital.
The matter was then referred to the Sexual Harassment Office at 08:00 the following morning. The student is being provided appropriate counselling and support.
ORIGINAL STORY: PUBLISHED AUGUST 11, 2014 at 18:45 pm
A female Wits student was allegedly “overpowered” and raped in her residence by a male student last week, the Wits Sexual Harassment Office (SHO), has said.
“We note with concern allegations that the male student overpowered the female student despite her clear non-consent to sexual intercourse”, said Sexual Harassment Office director Jackie Dugard.
Dugard could not confirm the details of the case as it is still under investigation and necessary measures are being taken to ensure the students’ confidentiality.
Crime and Prevention and Liaison Manager at Wits Campus Control, Mashudu Lucky Khumela, confirms the female student had approached one of the security officers on campus and asked about the steps a person should take in case they were raped.
“We note with concern allegations that the male student overpowered the female student despite her clear non-consent to sexual intercourse”
“It was only when the female student started crying that they knew that it was her [who was attacked],” said Khumela.
It could not be confirmed whether the female and male student knew each other before the alleged attack. Durgard said her office “haven’t yet spoken to all the parties.”
Dugard would not disclose which residence the attack took place due to concerns over the privacy of the female student.
Sunnyside res house committee member Nonjy Malunga said that there were steps being taken at her residence concerning visitation hours.
Malunga said that signing in time for visitors is usually between 9am to 11pm during the week, and on weekends the curfew is extended to 12pm. “When signing in visitors leave identification and if they don’t have they are not permitted inside”.
The allegations follow another case reported last term involving a student who was raped off campus, by two men not affiliated with the university.
The Sexual Harassment Office is located on the 6th floor of University Corner and can be contacted on (011) 717 9790.
Despite the dismissal and resignation of four staff members from Wits University over various issues of sexual harassment last year, the Wits sexual harassment office (SHO) continues to deal with a range of complaints.
“We don’t expect complaints to just go away overnight,” says SHO director Jackie Dugard, who confirmed that her team are currently dealing with 25 complaints in total, including a case of rape.
“We suspected that there might be quite a few complaints coming through in the wake of the dust that was unsettled during last year’s processes.”
The 25 complaints mostly involve the student-on-student category, followed by incidences of sexism among male staff members towards female staff members.
Some complaints, says Dugard, even relate to student relationships with their husbands or partners.
Professor Jackie Dugard is the director of the Sexual Harassment Office (SH)) at Wits. Photo: Wits University.
Disciplinary for alleged rape of a student by a student
One of the disciplinary inquiries that is underway relates to a formal complaint from last year and involves the alleged rape of a student at a party, by another student. Dugard was not able to provide any details about the disciplinary as the case has not gone to court as yet. She added that the work of the SHO is not on the “public record.”
Dugard says that it is too early to say what their successes have been, as the office only opened in February this year. “[But] I would like to think that if we’ve achieved something so far, it’s to start to make complainants aware that we’re here to support them through providing a safe, effective space for sharing and resolving issues, whether informally or formally.”
Although Wits defines sexual harassment as the “unwelcome conduct of sexual nature,” Dugard recognises that it can be “tricky and slippery” to define.
“Precisely because much depends on whether the words or actions are welcome or unwelcome. However, while on paper this may seem fuzzy, in practice (in most cases) it is clear whether or not the conduct is welcome.”
A lot of the work the SHO has done this year has been reactive, as the team try to get on top of existing complaints, but now they are starting to work proactively. According to Dugard, they have set up a website on the Wits intranet, created a protocol for serious assault and rape, and are working on ways to effectively communicate with the various university communities about the SHO’s work and relevant policies.
“Our biggest challenge is finding effective ways to communicate to the various university communities, including students and staff members,” says Dugard. “We can’t claim to have reached everyone, but we are working towards ensuring that everyone in the university knows where our office is, that we provide support … including counselling … we will investigate and if relevant prosecute such through disciplinary inquiries.”
Wits Vuvuzela: ‘Minor’ violations of sexual harassment continue at Wits, June 11, 2014
Wits Vuvuzela: Former Witsie is new sexual harassment office head, February 6, 2014
Wits Vuvuzela: Wits academic resigns amid sexual harassment investigations, October 31, 2013
Wits Vuvuzela: Wits sexual harassment inquiry complete, September 4, 2013