A male medical student at Stellenbosch University has been temporarily suspended for allegedly assaulting a female fellow student. Police have launched an investigation, but no arrests have been made.

The incident took place at Ubuntu House, a residence on Tygerberg campus, in the early hours of Saturday, July 4.

Dr Choice Makhetha, Senior Director of Student Affairs at the University, confirmed in a statement that the alleged perpetrator was temporarily suspended as a disciplinary investigation is set to take place.

“Over the past weekend we have been made aware of a report of an assault of a female student by a male student in Ubuntu House, a residence on the Tygerberg campus, in the early hours of Saturday, 4 July 2020. The matter has been reported according to the Disciplinary Code for Students to the appropriate University structures, including the Equality Unit. Furthermore, the female student has made a statement to the South African Police Service. She has received counselling and we will follow up with further support,” said Makheta.

“The male student was temporarily suspended from SU on Sunday, 5 July 2020 by the Rector, Prof Wim de Villiers, pending a disciplinary investigation. In terms of the Disciplinary Code for Students, this suspension is subject to a confirmation of suspension hearing by the University’s Central Disciplinary Committee that must take place within five (5) days of this suspension,” she explained.

The male student is no longer in his residence or on the university’s campus.

Makhetha also condemned the actions of the male student, saying: “We cannot normalise violence against women by men in our communities.”

“I call on the men in our communities – our fathers, brothers, sons and friends – to take responsibility for the current situation. This is not a fight that women should fight alone,” she added.

The incident sparked outrage in the university community, and Anti-GBV Movement SU, an advocacy group, spoke out about it.

“We want to make it known that no abuser should become a qualified doctor! We will follow investigations closely!” they said.

The group also posted a video of the victim sincerely asking that people stop asking her about the details of the situation, and thanking everyone for their help thus far.

The Stellenbosch chapter of Amnesty International also spoke out. “We stand with Lebo. GBV has no place in our society. All means necessary ought to be exercised to rid the world of this cruel and unusual behavior,” they said.

A petition, which as of the time of publication of this article has over 18 000 signatures, was started to ensure the alleged perpetrator does not set foot on Tygerberg Medical Campus again.

“We wish to get justice for Lebogang Masinga, a third year medical student at Tygerberg Medical campus who was assaulted by a final year medical student on Friday night because she refused to be sexually harassed by him. Lebo was punched in the face and throttled over the balcony at the residence. She literally fought for her life. Help us ensure this disgusting man doesn’t become someone’s doctor next year and help us get him out of Tygerberg Medical Campus so all women can feel safer. JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED!!!,” reads the petition.

Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Nico Gey van Pittius said that the faculty management was happy about the efforts made by student leaders to ensure the incident was taken care of, according to IOL.

“We share the distress caused by this incident and call on the entire Tygerberg community to deepen collaborative efforts to address gender-based violence (GBV),” he said.

Picture: Facebook / Stellenbosch University 

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