1. Sexual Violence
As the Executive Management of the University of the Western Cape (UWC), we cannot remain silent while women and children in our country are continuously abused, raped, and even murdered.
We are disappointed by and disapprove of any behaviour that perpetuates the ills of our society on our campus by disrespecting and abusing women physically, emotionally or sexually.
Last week one of our students reported a rape case to Campus Protection Services (CPS). We condemn the violation of this student’s rights, well-being and freedom.
Our CPS division has submitted video footage and all pertinent information (including information regarding potential witnesses) to the South African Police Services for further investigation, and we hope that this matter will receive urgent attention.
Last week, we received a Memorandum of Demands from a student organisation raising serious concerns about the issue of sexual violence and the abuse of women, and calling for certain actions to be taken. Today, we received an additional Memorandum of Demands from another organisation addressing the scourge of abuse and violence against women.
We urge staff and students to read the response attached, addressing the concerns raised with the University.
These challenges, difficult as they are, present us with the opportunity to invite all role players to join and help us in crafting a revised policy that facilitates an atmosphere in which every student and staff member feels safe.
The policy review by the task team is a significant step that should be supported by clear and concrete strategies that aid the implementation plan.
We acknowledge the receipt of a Memorandum of Demands from the student group called “Khanga UWC”, and a response has been given to this organisation. We have also invited Khanga to strengthen the work of the task team of internal stakeholders reviewing the current sexual harassment policy, to ensure that it addresses the current problems and needs faced by our students and staff.
We encourage our students to report all criminal activities related to sexual crimes and harassment to Campus Protection Services (CPS), the Centre for Student Support Services (CSSS), or the Gender Equity Unit.
Let us break the silence and report any form of abuse.
As a University we are challenged when it comes to our accommodation offering: the University residences are filled to capacity.
Annually, UWC allocates accommodation space to 3 302 students. In an effort to assist students in need of accommodation, private accommodation owners are providing more than 2 100 students with accommodation, while adhering to the policy on minimum norms and standards for student housing at public universities.
UWC is concerned about the health and well-being of the students occupying the ResLife building - an area that the City of Cape Town has declared unsuitable for human habitation.
The University has identified and vetted private accommodation to assist more students, ensuring it meets the requirements set by the DHET Norms and Standards for Student Housing in Public Universities. The accommodation space can accommodate 92 students. In order to comply with the City of Cape Town’s regulations, the students need to vacate the ResLife building by Sunday, 21 May 2017.
Students who are currently occupying the ResLife Building, and those who are occupying rooms that were allocated to other students, are requested to use the following email address to check and establish their financial aid status: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the next three years the University plans to double the number of available bed spaces (adding in excess of 2 000 additional spaces).
UWC has recently acquired land and buildings geared for student accommodation in the areas surrounding campus. The land has been acquired on the Symphony Road and Robert Sobukwe Road region (Belhar and Bellville South). The cost of renovation at this stage is not yet clear and will become evident once the project plan and the budget have been finalised. The projected date of occupation is January 2020.
The University has received a donation of a block of flats, and when the Institution gains full control, we will begin revamping this space to create an environment more suitable for student habitation.
In addition, the University has been selected to be one of six (6) universities to participate in the DHET feasibility study on a student housing infrastructure investment programme. The feasibility study will explore the optimum scale of development, financial models, and opportunities to increase affordable student accommodation.
3. Safety of Students and Staff
An incident of attempted abduction and two incidents of attempted armed robbery were reported to CPS on Tuesday, 16 May 2017.
The attempted abduction allegedly occurred at 19h00, and the attempted armed robberies allegedly occurred at 22h15 and at 22h30 - all behind the cricket oval between the Barn and the Department of Social Sciences.
It has been reported that occupants of a white bakkie allegedly chased a male student and his girlfriend in an attempt to abduct her. In the second and third incidents, two armed men allegedly tried to rob students in the same vicinity.
Although the University is conducting its own investigations into these cases, incidents involving firearms are criminal matters and must be reported to the South African Police Services. The University, through CPS, is doing everything in its power to help the complainants report the crimes to the police. Counselling will also be arranged for the victims.
At this stage, preliminary investigations, which include viewing of CCTV footage and interviews of security personnel who were on patrol in the area, have not provided us with any concrete evidence.
The safety and security of students, staff, and visitors on campus is of paramount importance to the University, and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that University members are able to conduct their business in a safe environment. People who may have information on these incidents and any other criminal activities are encouraged to come forward.
We have instructed our security services to increase their patrols on campus, and have also appealed to the South African Police Services to conduct regular patrols on campus grounds.
CPS: 021 959 2476
Emergency/Security Service: 021 959 3777
CSSS: 021 959 2299