A Rhodes University student activist expelled this month after a demonstration against campus rapes will tell her side of the story today to the media after she claimed the university gave her an unfair disciplinary hearing.
Yolanda Dyantyi, 20, and a fellow student were accused of kidnapping and public violence after allegedly dragging a man suspected of rape out of his room during a protest about escalating violence against women on campus in April.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa has since taken on her case and was expected to file court papers in Grahamstown in a bid to get the university to reinstate her.
Dyantyi and her co-accused were expelled and banned for life, meaning they cannot complete their studies at the institution.
The Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (Daso) has criticised Rhodes University for not being proactive enough about safety issues raised by students, saying institutions of higher learning notoriously waited until an incident happened before dealing with student safety issues.
Baxolile Nodada, Daso’s Eastern Cape chairperson, said the organisation warned the university in 2015, when he was on the Students Representative Council there, that the campus was not safe, especially for female students, and only this year was something being done about it.
“At Rhodes, the students are frustrated, particularly about the security systems.
The institution no longer feels safe, especially for our sisters, because it is a freefor-all environment and that is where the outrage is coming from.
“The universities take such a harsh stance in instances of breaking policy when students protest, but they have a duty to make sure our sisters feel safe on campus and that there is strict access control, working panic buttons and that they have proactive conversation about safety rather than reactive ones,” he said.
Rhodes issued a statement earlier this week after news that the student activists had been expelled sparked outrage.
It read in part: “There is a clear distinction between vigorously pursuing our common objective of eliminating sexual and gender-based violence on the one hand and using such a noble cause as a cover to commit acts of criminality, which serve to undermine a noble struggle.”
Dyantyi claimed she was not given a chance to testify in her defence during her disciplinary hearing. She said the university was not dealing adequately with the issue of rape among students and within the institution.
She also questioned why the institution was targeting anti-rape activists and none of the rape suspects themselves.