Female students have started protesting at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in Pretoria on Monday morning. This comes after an alleged sexual assault.
These students are now demanding that University Management does better with gender-based violence cases. They also want sure members of the security personnel at the campus to be fired from their jobs.
Sefako Makgatho had to make the decision to suspend academic activities temporarily on campus due to the protests.
These protests have begun after a student allegedly got sexually assaulted at a private off-campus resident in the CBD as well as other issues.
SMU’s Spokesperson, Dr Eric Pule, said that the student was allegedly assaulted when she was going to do grocery shopping at about 8am on Sunday morning.
University management then contacted the female student who was then taken to the hospital so that she could be assisted with her recovery and given psychological support.
The university management understands this is not an easy situation for her and we are committed to doing our best to make sure she is supported during this time.
– Dr Eric Pule
Students are now posing questions to the University about the security at the campus as well as the protection of their identities. They also want the lighting at the university at night to be looked into as they said they felt unsafe.
Other demands from students also include having more camera on campus, to get better security and to be given information on how the University handled all previously reported cases reported by female students.
Pule said, “We understand that this is a sensitive issue but we have to follow some of the legal and labour processes to see the competency of the staff members they have suggested to be fired.”
According to Pretoria Novels, “Attempts to solicit comments from the protesting students outside the campus proved difficult as students would not let the media close and indicated they were not ready to speak as yet as they did not want to be identified.”
Pule continued to explain that management will engage with students because they know they need to listen to students and “adhere to their requests to finalise matters speedily to allow them to finish the academic year as a lot of time was already wasted due to Covid-19.”
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé