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'Shots fired' as UWC students target alleged rapists in residence

04 September 2019 - 09:59 By Dave Chambers
Police are believed to have fired shots early on Wednesday at UWC's Kovacs student village.
Police are believed to have fired shots early on Wednesday at UWC's Kovacs student village.
Image: kovacsuwc.co.za

Violence erupted at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) early on Wednesday amid a rush to identify alleged rapists following the murder of student Uyinene Mrwetyana.

Students went to UWC's Kovacs student village in the early hours to point out suspected rapists, said university spokesperson Gasant Abarder.

"The students allegedly tried to apprehend the individuals," he said. "Police arrived on the scene and took action in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

"The students accused of these crimes were removed from the premises."

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Abarder said it was understood that the police had fired shots but SAPS spokesperson Siyabulela Malo said only: "Bellville South police attended to the scene at University of Western Cape in the early hours of this morning.

"Upon their arrival at the scene it was alleged that a male student was accused of raping a fellow student. Action was taken by police to restore the peace when students became riotous.

"No injuries were reported during this incident and the alleged suspect was brought to Bellville South police for questioning."

Murdered UWC student Jesse Hess
Murdered UWC student Jesse Hess
Image: Facebook/Jesse Hess

UWC is due to hold a memorial service on Wednesday for first-year theology student Jesse Hess, 19, who was murdered last week along with her 85-year-old grandfather Chris at their flat in Parow.

Abarder said: "The university is aware of the heightened anger in the wake of the murders of young students, including our own Jesse Hess, and other acts of violence against women.

"We are angry too – enough is enough. To bring perpetrators to book requires a concerted effort by all.

"We urge students who have information about any crime, including rape, to report it to the campus security and the SAPS so that the relevant authorities can investigate."

Mrwetyana's murder has led to social media accounts in which women are encouraged to name their rapists. Hundreds of men have been identified, many of them with accompanying photographs.

This has led to warnings from lawyers that those posting messages — most of them requesting anonymity — are opening themselves to civil action by those they are naming.

But Siyabulela Monakali, spokesperson for the NGO Ilitha Labantu, said women felt there was no justice for rape survivors.

He told Times Select on Wednesday: "With a prosecution rate less than 4% in SA, it is understandable why women would deem it necessary to name and shame alleged rapists.

"Women survivors of rape are sick and tired of the lack of justice and they, in turn, are using platforms like these to voice out their grievances."