April 5 (Friday) was graduation day at Nelson Mandela University. It also saw a group of students stage a silent protest. Dressed in black and holding placards with “Congratulations, my rapist is graduating”, the small group stood up during the first graduation ceremony of the day and moved to the front of the hall.

Calling themselves Activist ConneXtions, the group delivered a letter to the university last week stating: “There are 10 cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault that has been reported on the campus since the beginning of 2019. To date, these cases have not been investigated and no dockets have been opened at [the university’s] legal services.”

They also said that applications for no-contact orders and summary suspensions have been stalled at legal and protection services, forcing victims to share the same space as their abusers on a daily basis. “Activist ConneXctions can also confirm that it received news of the graduation of convicted rapist [from 2018] during the autumn graduation taking place between April 5 and 13, 2019. What is even more offensive is the celebration of convicted students at the 2019 autumn graduation, as if their crimes are not real.”

The group has called on NMU to meet their list of demands including immediately reversing the decision which suspended the expulsion of a rapist to allow him to graduate on April 5; appoint an investigating body to resolve the cases of sexual assault that have been reported since January this year as well as issuing the necessary protective measures to all victims/survivors who have reported a case this year.

NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said that chancellor Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi had acknowledged the action and had committed to follow up, but could not immediately comment on the contents of Wednesday’s letter. – You can read the full story on the Herald Live news site