Students at the Nelson Mandela University have threatened to shut down the institution until the university management agrees to strengthen security at all its campuses.
This comes after a female student was raped and another stabbed last night at a computer lab at the Second Avenue campus in Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth, by an intruder who gained access to the campus.
Students are currently blocking the entrances at the university’s South and North campuses protesting.
In a statement, the South African Student Congress (Sasco) at Nelson Mandela University said the incident showed that the university was not taking the safety of students seriously.
“…This after numerous calls to management to pay close and special attention to the Second Avenue campus as it is an isolated campus within the Summerstrand campuses and thus becomes an easy target for crime and violent attack on our students,” reads the statement.
The students are fashion design students. There has been a Facebook post that has been circulating on social media which was apparently written by one of the students last night during the attack.
“An someone please csend help we are beinf rapoed 2nd avenue campus fashjoom (sic),” reads the post.
Sasco said it cannot be business as usual at the university following the incident until the university management agrees to their safety demands.
“As the organisation we say enough is enough. Our sisters cannot continue feeling unsafe in our campuses, they cannot continue to wonder who is next, they cannot continue to not being able to go to study at computer labs at night. The university must take responsibility, we won’t let this slide,” they said in the statement.
Some of the demands the organisation has made are: an increase in the security personnel on campus especially as it’s nearing exams and the university to work with the police to bring the perpetrator to book.
In a statement, the university said it stands in solidarity with students around safety concerns and challenges related to gender-based violence.
Spokeswoman Zandile Mbambela said police are still investigating the alleged rape and stabbing.
She said the students were receiving the necessary support following the horrific incident.
Mbambela said there was a planned meeting between students and the university management this afternoon.
The incident has yet again put a microscope on the safety of students at campuses and gender-based violence.
Last year, students protested at Rhodes University over gender-based violence in what was dubbed as the “reference list campaign” where names of alleged rapists were circulated on social networks.