Wits student raped off-campus

A WITS student was raped off-campus by two men who are not affiliated with the university.

The student, whose name will not be released to protect her identity, contacted the Sexual Harassment Office for assistance and was taken to Milpark hospital to receive medical attention.

“Rape is a serious issue in South African society, and Wits is a microcosm of South African society, so, very tragically, we are not immune to such terrible incidents,” Sexual Harassment Office director Jackie Dugard told Wits Vuvuzela.

The university community first learned of the attack when told about it by Vice Chancellor Adam Habib during a townhall meeting.

Habib said details were not yet known but a staff member had accompanied the student to Milpark hospital.

[pullquote]“Rape is a serious issue in South African society, and Wits is a microcosm of South African society, so, very tragically, we are not immune to such terrible incidents,”[/pullquote]

“As soon as we have more information we will of course provide it,” Habib said.

Wits sexual harassment advisor Maria Wanyane said her office is prepared to help victims of sexual assault.  “The office provides support to all victims of sexual assault, irrespective of where the incident took place,” Wanyane said.

The office was established in response to revelations of sexual harassment between students and staff members. The office also provides counselling and acts as a support centre to Wits students and staff members.

The Sexual Harassment Office is located on the 6th floor of University Corner and can be contacted on (011) 717 9790.


Fresh approach to student safety


New Guard: Campus Control‘s new liaision manager, Lucky Khumela, advises first years to be aware of crime on campus.
                                                                                                       Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

What used to be a conference room inside Campus Control headquarters, Wits’s new security liaison manager, Lucky Khumela, sits behind his desk in the small room, smiling calmly, stroking the shiny, striped tie he is wearing.

“Police officers working in the suburbs love their jobs, more than those working in the township,” Khumela said.

“The magic behind that is very simple: appreciation. In the township they get ridiculed and taunted, here in the suburbs you find people who stop to say ‘thanks officer for doing your job’.”

However, ridicule and taunts are not limited to the townships with Wits security guards being the subject of abuse from students and their fellow staff members.

“Personally, I’ve seen how the security guards get ridiculed at the main gate by the so-called students and employees of Wits University. They get shouted at with things like: ‘It’s your job, you are not educated, you need to open the gate for me’,” he said.

Khumela is not fond of bureaucracy. He is quite the opposite, quoting philosopher Edmund Burke and revealing plans to center his approach to sexual violence on the poem “I Got Flowers Today” about a woman who is abused and ultimately killed by her partner.

[pullquote]getting Campus Control officers to “buy into the idea of being an officer that serves his community” [/pullquote]Wits is no stranger to the prescriptive, arms-length approach to an elusive security problem, one that has borne little enthusiasm from the student body. Khumela’s appointment, and the creation of post of liaison manager, represents a welcome change in approach.

“I want to sensitize the security workforce to understand their responsibility to the community and the university,” Khumela said

He pauses to lean back slightly in his chair, as if tossing around the significance of this statement, then adds:

“The two sides need to come together and understand each other’s responsibilities,” Khumela said.

He adds that he is busy assessing what type of training Campus Control officers may need to make this happen.

Beyond training, Khumela reckons it is mutual appreciation, and getting Campus Control officers to “buy into the idea of being an officer that serves his community” that will make the difference in crime prevention.

The qualified domestic violence facilitator says he is also aware of the need for Campus Control to embrace social media to improve communication with students. To this end, Witsies can now tweet   @WitsSecurity to contact Campus Control.


‘Cocaine’ conman back on campus, February 14, 2014

Big Plans for Campus Control, April 12, 2013

Lawyers against Abuse

SEXUAL harassment has recently plagued Wits University, but very few students know that a legal organisation on campus, partnered with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, is dedicated to helping victims of abuse.

Lawyers against Abuse, or LvA, is the brain-child of Professor Bonita Meyersfeld, associate lecturer and director of the Centre for Legal Studies. She sees the legal advice centre as a place that caters specifically to the needs of victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

The centre has two objectives. The first is to ensure that lawyers minimise the amount of trauma inflicted on clients. “Often lawyers are not mindful of the trauma these victims experience and asking clients too many questions can be re-traumatising,” said legal officer for LvA, Shayda Vance.

[pullquote align=”right”]“Often lawyers are not mindful of the trauma these victims experience and asking clients too many questions can be re-traumatising,” [/pullquote]

Training and Facilitation

All the lawyers at LvA have been trained in trauma by Nataly Woollett and Sheetal Vallabh, the psychologists on the team. “When Boni started the organisation she reached out to everyone she thought would be interested and two psychologists were and they suggested the training,” said Vance.

The second objective has been to facilitate the victim’s interaction with hospitals, police and counsellors by forming partnerships with these bodies. They hope to prevent any further trauma caused by the fact that victims are often met with resistance from police and hospitals, said Vance.

“We’ll call and speak to the police or hospitals and at times accompany them if that’s what they want. We don’t just give them a number and send them on their way.”

Vance said the exposé of the sexual harassment around campus highlighted the need for the organisation because there were not enough places victims could go.

Fundraising and Volunteers

At the moment LvA is working out of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. LvA receives most of their clients through referrals because they are well-known in their networks. Their goal is to have an actual clinic by 2015 that will allow walk-ins.

The services provided by LvA are pro bono (free of charge). They are primarily funded through fundraising and they also receive individual donations. They hosted an annual art auction on Monday night at which they were able to raise R200 000.

LvA operates on a volunteer basis, and Vance said they needed more of them. “Anyone can volunteer in almost any field. We will find work for them to do.”

Sexual lunch: No strings attached?

Eyebrows have been raised sky high in response to a lunch hosted by lawyers investigating sexual harassment charges at Wits.

Lawyers from Bowman Gilfillan invited a group of the harassment “victims” to an intimate lunch at Papa Vino’s in Rosebank last week – a move that many are saying is a little out of kilter with professional practice.

Email invitation 

The email invitation sent by Bowman Gilfillan said: “We thought it fitting to arrange a lunch for all students affected by sexual harassment at Wits where all of us can meet in an informal setting and provide support for one another.”
It was made clear they would not be asking any questions related to the various sexual harassment cases at the lunch.
The lunch by the firm might have been very innocent in its intent but the ethical implications need to be taken into account, according to some legal experts.

Ethical considerations
Dr Murray Wesson, lecturer at the School of Law, University of Western Sydney said the lunch was “in bad practice”.

“Lawyers should not confer with multiple witnesses at [pullquote]Lawyers should not confer with multiple witnesses at the same time about issues that may be contentious at a subsequent hearing.[/pullquote]the same time about issues that may be contentious at a subsequent hearing. The reason is that this may give rise to collusion or the appearance of collusion,” said Wesson.
Wesson said while the invitation states that people will not be interviewed at the lunch, it also says that students will be able to drive discussions with one another. His concerns are around the fact that in such a relaxed and informal setting, conversation could lead to the allegations of the various cases.

Wits Centre for Ethics director Professor Lucy Allias said she found the lunch “strange”. She added that she did not understand how the invitation could be considered appropriate.

She said: “It seems to me very strange to invite victims of a highly personal, potentially extremely traumatic kind of abuse to a joint social event.”

One of the students, or accusers, who was invited but did not attend said: “I don’t want to be with other victims, all of us sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves.”

Wits Vuvuzela contacted Kirti Menon to get the University’s comment, she said: “I don’t think the venue is relevant and at this stage in the university investigations I would not like to comment further.”
Wits Vuvuzela had been told that the sexual harassment cases are currently being wrapped up and the final reports will be out by the end of the month.


Sex pests in Wits Drama: More allegations surface

Sex pests in Wits Drama: More allegations surface

Witsies woke up to front page news on Sunday March 3 about accusations of sexual harassment against a senior lecturer, barely three weeks after the university marched against sexual violence.

Storified by Akinoluwa Oyedele· Mon, Mar 04 2013 02:18:46

Tsepo Wa Mamatu, deputy head of dramatic arts, is at the centre of a string of allegations of rape and sexual abuse brought to the Sunday Times by former students. It also emerged that Xoli Norman, an academic contracted to teach at Wits, faced allegations of sexual harassment at another university before his appointment.
After Wits Vuvuzela published an article about a lecturer sexually harassing students last year, it received accusations against two other lecturers before the Sunday Times’ expose. As the news spread onTwitter, some students suggested that sexual harassment on campus is a bigger problem than previously thought. 
Students who had known about these allegations or had nearly fallen prey to lecturers themselves heaved a collective sigh of relief at the publicity this story “finally” received.
Tsepo wa Mamatu drama lecturer at WITS FINALLY in the news, exposed for rape and sexual assault!!! Front page, Sunday Times.Toxic Lex
And my Facebook is a cacophony of Varsity friends, men and women, screaming "FINALLY!" We all knew & yet none of us knew how to speak it.Marie Straub
Thanks to all the girls I know who came forward to report this shit. Brave. We all know what happened. Now they know. #TsepoWaMamatu Toxic Lex
@the_lombz And we should all be ashamed for pretending and ignoring it just to keep the peace #SELL_ITZanele Madiba
@MissMadiba nt shocked hey. He was always dodgey! His classes revolved around sex. I even took him to task once, sick man.Sarah Jackson
Meanwhile all the other predators at Wits are looking up to the sky & thanking their lucky stars that its not them dat were caught out.SMH!Nomonde_Ndwalaza
Some Dramatic Arts graduates said the rehearsal space particularly made it easier for lecturers to take advantage of students. Wa Mamatu told the Sunday Times: “what happens in a rehearsal space is private and confidential. I can’t break that confidentiality”.
@troyevillelolly Rehearsal space is sacred. Has to be. You have to be able to push boundaries. Always those who will take advantage of such.Marie Straub
I make no excuses for Wa Matu, I’m just saying the problem is bigger than one individual. The rehearsal space is one of great vulnerabilitymegan godsell
@merrystrwberry Mostly, I remember holding other terrified 20 year olds who were crying and trying to figure out ‘how far was too far’megan godsell
You had to be willing to tell your teacher ‘NO’ in the strongest terms. Repeatedly. Knowing it’d cost you a good 10% come exams.Marie Straub
‘NO’ I will not hump that chair, because that’s NOT a breathing exercise.Marie Straub
‘NO’ I will not do this monologue naked just because you’d like an extra image for your wank-bank.Marie Straub
Two former students also related personal accounts of how lecturers tried to take advantage of them, including during the rehearsal of a rape scene.
I did a piece with two classmates. Lecturer said: "That was so powerful. Now imagine if you set it in a bathroom & you 3 girls were naked."Marie Straub
We were told we were brilliant, but our unwillingness to "go all the way" would cost us marks. He was disappointed we hadn’t got naked.Marie Straub
Eventually, as a ‘fuck you’ to the lecturer, we set it in a bathroom as requested. But wore robes. Scene in no way required nudity.Marie Straub
@merrystrwberry Amen! The shy scarred 20 year old who had to kiss a girl in his class ‘for an exercise’is dancing now! #WITSsexualpredatorsmegan godsell
In my time at Wits Drama school I encountered many wonderful, honourable lecturers, male and female. These assholes were the exceptionmegan godsell
But, there is this to say. I was a student at Wits Drama. Tsepo was a few years ahead. He started as a lecturer in my final year. BUTmegan godsell
during my(and his)time as a student, there was a lecturer sexually harrassing the female students. He would pick a female student every yearmegan godsell
and focus his attention on her. A first year, every year, and in my year it was my friend. He was fired for this, eventually, quietly andmegan godsell
without any open reprimand or repercussion from the university.He is still a known and respected playwright. And the techniques practiced bymegan godsell
Tsepo are techniques this guy used all the time. So the precedent for this behaviour is set and accepted at Wits Drama School.megan godsell
@merrystrwberry I still remember the really awful abuse and harrassment on Brett Bailey’s MEDEiA. The director, also guest lecturing, usedmegan godsell
@merrystrwberry an emotional and deeply sexual script to dominate and fuck with a huge female cast and would remind us that he was gay ifmegan godsell
@merrystrwberry we complained. He once pulled a male actor out of a rape scene and put himself in with the female lead to ‘show’ how it wasmegan godsell
@merrystrwberry done. Process is process, rehearsals need to be a safe and sacred space, but just that. This Confidentiality is bullshitmegan godsell
Wa Mamatu was placed on “special leave” by the university and denied all the allegations brought forward. Some of Wa Mamatu’s friends and colleagues expressed shock at the front page news.
I’m at a loss for tweets today. Tsepo wa Mamatu is a friend of mine. I’ve not gone past that story today. Not looking forward to #TalkAtNineEusebius McKaiser
Spent today thinking about my friends, ex-colleagues & the students I taught for 7 1/2 years at Wits Drama. I’m shocked by today’s news.Theatre…and stuff.
I hope that swift action will be taken to restore the integrity of Wits Drama. My thoughts are with everyone connected to today’s news.Theatre…and stuff.
Higher ed institutions must be a safe space where students learn. This situation is sad, appalling, and embarrassing http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2013/03/03/senior-wits-lecturer-accused-of-being-sexual-predatorDavid J Hornsby
Wits started a campus-wide investigation into sexual harassment on campus last year. Some said ‘naming and shaming’ remains a powerful way to combat the problem.
Screw this ‘we know these people’, shit, abuse is abuse. We need to stop protecting these preditors. Witsies must come out about Tsepo!Zanele Madiba
I urge ALL Wits drama students present and past to speak up. Please call Wits with your stories. I suspect it’s worse. Your story counts.kgomotso matsunyane
@khadijapatel glad someone was named this time around…that doesn’t happen in these type of stories.Zamantungwa Khumalo
@Margaritamojo @Witsvuvuzela What else can it do? Wits needs evidence and ppl now need to come forward.Shirona

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Professor asked students for sex

Katlego’s* story

Katlego* perches on a wall outside the Cullen Library, an old Nokia in her hand. She shields the screen against the sun, so that the message is visible.

“Hope you will turn me into your personal slave,” one message reads. “Make me serve you and then reward me!”
“Whatever we might agree would be totally secret and safe with no strings attached,” says another. These messages are from Katlego’s lecturer.

“I remember the first time he sent me an SMS. He said something very explicit,” Katlego says.

She called the number back twice, not knowing who it was. There was no answer. “That’s when he sent an SMS, he was like, ‘Don’t call me, let’s just chat via SMS.’”

Katlego had never given him her number, and was initially surprised that he had managed to get hold of it. “But then I realised that he’s a lecturer. He can just look up my name and get my number.”

Katlego says she never considered reporting him.  “It was so overwhelming; I thought, ‘OK, I’m just going to brush it off.’ I was a first year student, I didn’t want to jeopardise anything, didn’t want to get into trouble for getting a lecturer into trouble.

“I brushed him off. I told him look, you need to stop. He just said, ‘You can’t handle me, you can’t handle my attention’. But I told him that I was losing all respect for him as my lecturer. And I stopped replying to his SMSes.

“A man his age, it was really disturbing. Have you seen him on campus? He walks with his head down. He knows, he knows he’s surrounded by victims.”

Samantha’s* story

Samantha* had a similar experience in her first year, when the same lecturer invited her to be his friend on Facebook. “He invited a couple of us black females on Facebook, including myself, lots of my friends. He sent one of my friends something really, really, really nasty. There are so many girls that I know. Actually more than six.

“If you ask any black girl who did [the subject] at some stage, they’ll tell you. He approaches everyone,” says Samantha.

Wanting to expose the lecturer, Samantha spoke to her friends, asking them to come forward. But they refused. “My other friend sat me down and said, ‘You don’t want to be that girl. You don’t want to be that girl that exposes the lecturer. You don’t want that reputation.’”

Samantha was unwilling to let Wits Vuvuzela see the messages the lecturer had sent her on Facebook, although she had kept them.

“He’d remember. He’d probably check all the girls he inboxed, and then he’d know. I want to do honours [in the department], so I’m not going to do that.”

However, Samantha is quick to praise the professor. “He’s such a good lecturer, honestly. He’s making changes in the department, good changes.”

Despite this, she admits that his advances on the young women that he lectures are “bad”.

“For me, it’s no big deal because nothing happened, I didn’t entertain it. But what if I was failing, what if I was poor? What does it mean for those girls?”

Ayanda’s* story

Yet another student, Ayanda*, has also been approached by the Wits lecturer. In her case, it was via Yahoo Chat. Ayanda claims that she wasn’t the only student approached by the lecturer, and she has friends who had a similar experience.

“He asks how you are and if you are interested in him. If not, he doesn’t mind. He doesn’t want a relationship, just sex. He has a relationship already.

“At first it was just creepy then it became sad. I honestly thought it was a joke, but jokes don’t continue for months.”


In response to Wits Vuvuzela, the lecturer in question has denied the allegations and said: “There are appropriate channels within the university for dealing with cases of sexual discrimination and harassment”.

A complaint can be laid with one of the counsellors at the Careers Development Unit (CCDU), after which “the process will be driven/guided by the needs and wishes of the complainant”, according to the unit’s sexual harassment policy.

The CCDU’s definition of sexual harassment is “any form of unwanted sexual advance, [which] can include physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour”.

The student laying the complaint can choose not to pursue any process involving the alleged harasser, to get counselling, follow a process of mediation, or lay a formal internal complaint, resulting in a formal grievance and/or disciplinary process.

Can lecturers date their students?

Contrary to popular belief, relationships between lecturers and students are not explicitly forbidden.

The Wits human resources department has compiled a set of “guidelines” for lecturer-student relationships, which states:
“[F]or instance in the development of a romantic relationship, a staff member should consider carefully the possible consequences for him/herself and the student. Consensual romantic relationships with student members, while not expressly prohibited, can prove problematic.”

Wits Vuvuzela is investigating cases of sexual harassment that students have brought to our attention. If you have any information, please contact us at editor@witsvuvuzela.com.

Wits Vuvuzela will protect the identity of all  its sources.

*Names have been changed.


Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, September 21 2012.