Cape Town – A Stellenbosch University medical student has been suspended for the alleged assault of a female fellow student at her residence after she apparently refused his sexual advances.
Police on Monday also confirmed they had launched an investigation and that no one had been arrested yet.
Third-year medical student Lebogang Masinga was allegedly assaulted by the student on Friday night at Ubuntu House, a residence on the Tygerberg campus.
Pictures of Masinga’s bruised face elicited outrage on social media and video footage showed students cheering on police as they escorted the alleged perpetrator off campus.
By Monday, a petition calling for justice for Masinga had garnered more than 16 000 signatures.
“Lebo was punched in the face and throttled over the balcony at the residence. She literally fought for her life. Help us ensure this disgusting man doesn’t become someone’s doctor next year and help us get him out of Tygerberg Medical Campus so all women can feel safer,” the petition reads.
Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said a case of common assault was opened on Friday and the investigation was ongoing.
“The female student has made a statement to the SAPS. She has received counselling and (that) is being followed up with further support. The male student was temporarily suspended from Stellenbosch University on Sunday pending a disciplinary investigation.
“The male student is no longer in his residence or on campus. Further steps will follow, based on the outcome of the disciplinary investigation,” the institution said.
Acting dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Nico Gey van Pittius, said the faculty management team was grateful for efforts by student leaders, the Tygerberg campus, and university communities in ensuring that the incident was urgently followed-up.
“We share the distress caused by this incident and call on the entire Tygerberg community to deepen collaborative efforts to address gender-based violence (GBV),” he said.
Stellenbosch SRC chairperson Lewis Mboko said he had worked with SRC members and university management to ensure students remained calm and understood that they were doing everything in their power to fight GBV.
In a letter to students, senior director for Student Affairs Dr. Choice Makhetha said the country faced the second pandemic of gender-based violence, and Stellenbosch University was not exempt from these incidents.
“I want to make it clear that an even more important question than what has happened, is why it happened and why these incidents keep happening. We cannot normalize violence against women by men in our communities.
“As a mother, I am extremely upset by incidents like these and I fear for the life of my own daughter. I call on the men in our communities – our fathers, brothers, sons, and friends – to take responsibility for the current situation. This is not a fight that women should fight alone.
“The university will act firmly and decisively against any person who is guilty of any form of gender-based violence and sexual harassment,” Makhetha said.
Anyone with any information about the incident can contact investigating officer MD Khumalo on 021 929 7117 or anonymously contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or SMS Crime Line on 32211.
The Centre for Student Counselling and Development on the Tygerberg campus can be contacted on 021 938 9590. The 24-hour crisis service number is 010 205 3032.
“The suspect, in this case, has not yet been arrested,” Van Wyk said.
In a statement, the university said the incident has been reported according to the Disciplinary Code for Students to the appropriate university structures, including the Equality Unit.