Banned for life Rhodes student Yolanda Dyantyi’s case heading to Supreme Court

In 2017, Dyantyi was found guilty of disciplinary charges of kidnapping, assault, insubordination and defamation.


A protracted legal battle between Rhodes University and former student Yolanda Dyantyi over her expulsion is heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) next month. In 2017, Dyantyi was found guilty of disciplinary charges of kidnapping, assault, insubordination and defamation. This was in connection with the #RUReferenceList protest the year prior and an incident where three male students were held against their will, which the university found Dyatyi was involved in. As punishment, she was slapped withlifelong exclusion from Rhodes. Dyantyi, represented by the the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, lodged a review application with the Makhanda High…

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A protracted legal battle between Rhodes University and former student Yolanda Dyantyi over her expulsion is heading to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) next month.

In 2017, Dyantyi was found guilty of disciplinary charges of kidnapping, assault, insubordination and defamation.

This was in connection with the #RUReferenceList protest the year prior and an incident where three male students were held against their will, which the university found Dyatyi was involved in. As punishment, she was slapped with
lifelong exclusion from Rhodes.

Dyantyi, represented by the the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa, lodged a review application with the Makhanda High Court.

Her application was dismissed in March 2020. In September 2020, Dyantyi was granted leave to appeal to the SCA. And the case has now been set down for hearing next month.

Dyantyi, who maintains she was not involved in the incident, wants the SCA to reverse the high court’s decision, set aside the outcome of her disciplinary hearing, and remit the matter back to the university.

In their heads of argument filed with the SCA, Dyantyi’s counsel argued after the university and her co-accused had wrapped up at the disciplinary hearing, the proctor postponed proceedings for Dyantyi to respond, but despite her legal team’s requests to the contrary they were postponed to dates on which two senior advocates representing her were already scheduled to appear in court.

“The net effect of this was that Ms Dyantyi was deprived of her legal representation and was unable to lead her defence. The rest of the inquiry proceeded in her absence without her ever having been given any effective opportunity to lead her case,” they said.

ALSO READ: Ex-Rhodes University student Yolanda Dyanti challenges ruling that upheld her lifetime exclusion

When Eastern Cape Deputy Judge President Zamani Nhlangulela, who presided over the case in the high court, granted Dyantyi leave to appeal, he did so only insofar as her arguments around her legal representation (or lack
thereof) at the hearing went.

But she has now also asked the SCA for permission to argue an additional ground – that the proctor’s conduct “was such as to raise a reasonable apprehension of bias”.

Nhlangulela found the proctor acted “without prejudice to or bias against the applicant” and the university’s counsel were opposed to the ground being argued again as well as maintained denial of the allegations.

When it came to the legal representation point, they argued other members of Dyantyi’s legal team could have filled in and that her absence had been part of a plan.

The case is on 21 February.

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Rhodes University Supreme Court of Appeal

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