Yolanda Dyantyi, ex-Rhodes student who was banned for life from the University, has been granted leave to appeal a high court judgment refusing to set aside the disciplinary conviction which resulted in her being banned from Rhodes for life.
Dyantyi has now been granted the opportunity to plead her case at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein. Dyantyi said to TimesLIVE, “This process has been very tiring. It’s personal for me. I was two exams away from graduating”.
Going to the Supreme Court of Appeal is to say to them that they need to either set aside the judgment that now stands against my name and I must be cleared of all charges, or we must go and begin the disciplinary hearing afresh.
– Yolanda Dyantyi
Nomzamo Zondo, an attorney and executive director at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) defending Dyantyi, said, “In my opinion, having such consequences and having the disciplinary process closed without her being given the opportunity to tell her side of the story makes the disciplinary hearing unfair” and believes that the ex-student should be given a chance to defend herself.
Dyantyi was behind an online campaign which named and shamed individuals accused of sexual assault on campus. After being found guilty in March 2017 of heading this campaign, she was also found guilty of acts such as kidnapping other students, defamation, insubordination and assault. This then lead to her being banned from Rhodes University for life.
In a statement released by Rhodes University, the University said:
Rhodes University welcomes the judgment by the Grahamstown High Court today that, among others, granted leave to appeal its earlier decision where a review application by Ms Yolanda Dyantyi against her exclusion from the University was dismissed with costs.
Rhodes then stated that they take offenses involving sexual and gender based violence seriously and treat it with urgency. “Several students have, in the last three years, been excluded for offenses involving sexual violence. These are in the public record,” continued the statement.
“The University recognises and supports the right to peaceful protest, but will not condone serious violent offenses in furtherance of such protest.”
They do however make it clear that activism against GBV can’t be used as a cover to violate the rights of others.
“I was identified as an instigator,” said Dyantyi, “One moment I’m pushing back against them vilifying me in the public space and at the same time, I’m also really fighting for my justice not only as a survivor but also as a Black woman. As a student who was excluded for protesting against rape culture.”
Dyantyi also had instances where she wanted to give up on a process that’s been going on for years. She says she is fighting for her right to education and to go back to University.
She said that winning this case would not only allow her to go back to school and clear her name but she would also have then stood her ground as a Black woman against the institution and count a lot as an activist.
Dyantyi appealed the case against her and lost, against the interdict at the Grahamstown High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and in a unanimous ruling by the Constitutional Court.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé