Victory for banned Rhodes University student

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

Expelled Rhodes University student Yolanda Dyantyi has welcomed the overturning of her lifelong ban from the institution by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

“I feel like the scales of justice really have been balanced,” she told The Citizen on Wednesday.

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

This in connection with the #RUReferenceList protest the previous year, and an incident in which three male students were held against their will, which the university found Dyantyi was involved in – despite her insistence that she was not.

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

Dyantyi, then in her final year of her BA degree, was slapped with a lifelong exclusion from Rhodes. Represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri), Dyantyi subsequently lodged a review application with the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda.

Her application was dismissed in March 2020. In September 2020, Dyantyi was granted leave to appeal to the SCA. And this week, that appeal was successful.

Dyantyi’s counsel argued that after the university and her co-accused had wrapped up at the disciplinary hearing, the proctor had postponed proceedings for Dyantyi to respond.

But that 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.

And this, they said, resulted in her being “unable to lead her defence”. In the end, the appellate court found this was indeed unfair.

Judge Christiaan van der Merwe penned the SCA’s judgment, and said it had been rightly accepted that Dyantyi was entitled to “adequate legal representation” at the inquiry due to the legal complexities and potential seriousness of the consequences.

The latter, he said, meant “three wasted years at the university and compromising of her ability to obtain admission at another university”.

Her conviction and expulsion were both reviewed and set aside and the matter remitted back to Rhodes for reconsideration, “on condition that any continuation of the disciplinary inquiry against the applicant shall take place before another proctor”.

She was also awarded costs.

Dyantyi on Wednesday described her court victory as “a win for all the women and other marginalised people who participated in the anti-rape culture protest”.

Seri executive director Nomzamo Zondo also described the ruling as “a vindication of Yolanda’s pursuit of justice and refusal to be silenced”.

Rhodes has noted the judgment.

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

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Rhodes University Supreme Court of Appeal

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