UKZN Community Says No to GBV
Members of the UKZN Executive Management, staff and students came out in their numbers to support the fight against the continuing scourge of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual assaults on women and children during one-hour silent protests held on all campuses, and a night vigil on the Westville campus.
Over 500 staff and students from all disciplines and departments, dressed in black and carrying banners and posters gathered and marched in open spaces on each campus.
During the protest held on the Westville campus’ quad area, male and female staff members and students raised their security concerns and condemned violence against women and children. After the gathering, the group marched to hand over a memorandum to the University’s Risk Management Services.
Honours Geology student, Mr Sashan Manikam said men need to understand the role they play in perpetuating GBV and that everybody has a role to play in eradicating it.
Ms Anele Khumalo, third-year Medical Sciences student, said that she is afraid to go anywhere as she is worried about her safety, as well as that of all women, especially children. She said she hopes the country eventually finds peace and that this might require a cleansing ceremony as she believes the atrocities of the past have come back to haunt us.
In his message to the University community, UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, urged anyone who experiences or witnesses any form of sexual violence, harassment, gender discrimination or bullying to report this immediately. ‘As a University we need to build a sense of community that will stand up to the pathology of violence that is prevalent on all our campuses. GBV and any other form of violence has no place at this University in particular and no place in society in general.’
Professor Poku proposed the following immediate measures in the fight against GBV:
• Establishment of a referral mechanism to link GBV complainants with counselling and support services and/or the South African Police Services immediately.
• Instituting a single point of contact from the Student Support Services on each campus. They will be available on a 24/7 basis to offer pre- and post-counselling services for students and also facilitate access to all other necessary support services.
• Efforts are currently underway to strengthen Campus Clinic Services using UKZN’s Medical School/Health Sciences and other Social Science disciplines.
• We have put in place mechanisms to remove and suspend perpetrators and provide a safe space for survivors to interact with counsellors.
• We are appointing a senior retired Judge to conclude all outstanding cases as a matter of urgency. Executive Management will continue to monitor the monthly statistics to ensure all cases are finalised speedily.
• To ensure that student disciplinary matters are concluded efficiently and within a minimum time frame, we will appoint a full-time Proctor.
• Together with the academic community we are committed to the development of educational programmes and materials that raise awareness and sensitivity training on GBV related matters. This will be put in place by the beginning of the 2020 academic year.
• University management is working to operationalise a mobile security app that enables students and staff to alert Risk Management Services of an emergency situation at the touch of a button. We anticipate that the roll out will take place in October 2019.
Words: Sithembile Shabangu