In response to the rape and murder of University of Cape Town (UCT) student, Ms Uyinene Mrwetyana; the murder of Ms Jesse Hess, a University of the Western Cape student who was killed alongside her grandfather; and the murder of four children at the hands of their father; UKZN students have held marches and night vigils in solidarity with the country as it calls for the end of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and femicide.
South Africa is currently facing an uproar from its citizens, largely women, in condemnation of the shocking and horrifying cases of abusive and violent cases against women and children, leading to the creation of the hashtag #AmINext? which also sees women share their stories of abuse and violence at the hands of their alleged male perpetrators.
During the women’s peaceful march on the Howard College campus, a memorandum of demands was handed over to the University’s SRC leadership and to the Risk Management Services (RMS). Among the demands, students have called for the increase of safety on all campuses, the protection of women, and the visibility of security personnel around lecture venues and residences.
The UKZN male students, Just Brothers in Solidarity, held a march at the Howard College campus with the hashtag #notinourname and pledged to stand against femicide and GBV against women and children.
Students from the Occupational Therapy Discipline also staged a silent protest on the Westville campus’ Quad area.
Condemning the violence, UKZN SRC President, Mr Sanele Hlongwa, said as the student body is shattered by cases of GBV happening around the country, adding that there is a huge responsibility towards the protection of women.
‘We may not have gone through the pain you have gone through, but we can only imagine the pain to have your dignity taken away from you by someone who doesn’t care,’ he said to GBV victims, adding. ‘I encourage you to speak out so that we deal with the perpetrators.’
He also called for male support in ending GBV, saying this (their support) must reflect in their actions. ‘Our support must not be a one day thing or only reflect in what is known as a march, but it must reflect also in our actions. We call upon peace,’ he said.
The SRC has a programme planned to deal with issues around GBV and the University GBV policy which will be communicated to students soon.
Words: Sithembile Shabangu