Rhodes SRC calls for academic shutdown in honour of student’s death

Maseko was an active member of the Rhodes student body, who had been elected to be on the SRC and had been voted Miss Varsity for the 2017/2018 year.

Maseko was an active member of the Rhodes student body, who had been elected to be on the SRC and had been voted Miss Varsity for the 2017/2018 year.

The student representative council (SRC) at Rhodes University has announced it will protest for an academic shutdown on Monday morning in honour of a student who died over the weekend.

Khensani Maseko (23) is alleged to have ended her own life on Friday at her home in Johannesburg.

The SRC alleges Maseko had been raped in May, which led to her suicide. In an Instagram post on Friday, Maseko had posted her date of birth, 24.07.1995, and the current date of the post, 3.08.2018, with the caption: “No one deserves to be raped.”

August 3 was the date of her death.

The SRC has now called for an academic boycott at Rhodes to mark her death. In recent years, students at the university have been protesting against gender-based violence, which culminated in the #RUReferenceList protest in 2016, where a list of names of alleged rape accused was circulated around the university and social media.

Maseko’s family is yet to comment on her death or the circumstances that led to it, but the SRC has said her Instagram post is a “haunting suggestion” that her death was related to her “being a survivor of sexual assault.”

“The news of her death has been received with great shock and sadness by the entire student body. As such, the student body is experiencing deep levels of anger and grief,” the SRC said in a statement.

“In light of these solemn events, and in honour of her life, which was full of great promise and loved with commendable bravery, the SRC is launching a formal academic shutdown,” the student council said.

Students are expected gather at 9am and will then protest to shutdown the institution.

Maseko was an active member of the Rhodes student body, who had been elected to be on the SRC and had been voted Miss Varsity for the 2017/2018 year. She was also sat on the Rhodes Independent Electoral Board, and was a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC). She had been studying law at the time of her death.

Peter Keetse, EFFSC president, said the university has been engulfed in allegations of an existing rape culture on campus.

“We do have a delegation that we have put that side of the EC to speak to the university, not only about this incident but because knowing very well that there is this rape culture in that university,” Keetse told the SABC.

Maseko’s funeral will be held on Thursday, coinciding with Women’s Day.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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