The University of KwaZulu-Natal has reiterated its stance on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) – joining the country in expressing outrage and condemnation at the horrific cases of violence against women and children which continue to persist.

Mr Ashton Bodrick, the Executive Director of Corporate Relations said the University supports Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku’s notion of adopting a zero tolerance approach to cases of GBV on all its campuses and residences, adding that the Institution has escalated its response and awareness measures aimed at eradicating the scourge.

In 2007, the University adopted a GBV Policy which commits it to ensuring a work and study environment that is free from any form of unfair discrimination or harassment. ‘We have put in place institutional structures such as the GBV Task Team, and our GBV Committee to oversee the implementation of our GBV Policy. UKZN is committed to ensuring that our campuses and residences are free from GBV and that perpetrators are swiftly and appropriately dealt with,’ said Bodrick.

Chair of the University Gender-Based Violence Committee and Law academic, Ms Janine Hicks, said she shares the grief and outrage at the horrific rape and murder of UCT student, Uyinene Mrwetyana, and at the persistent and unacceptable levels of GBV in SA.

She said there is a rising tide of anger against GBV which requires strong leadership, action by men, as well as the prosecution of perpetrators. ‘It is unacceptable that women, gay, lesbian and gender non-conforming people experience harassment, bullying and sexual violence whether in their families and communities, or in their workplace or study environment.

‘UKZN is committed to ensuring that our campuses and residences are free from GBV and that perpetrators are swiftly and appropriately dealt with in accordance with our policy. We have a duty to ensure that our students and staff can study, work and live in safety. We call upon our UKZN community to work with us to instil at our university, an institutional culture that promotes the respect for rights and equality, and does not tolerate GBV in any form,’ said Hicks.

UKZN Dean and Head of the School of Education, Professor Thabo Msibi, called upon men at UKZN and in society to denounce GBV, saying that the responsibility of ending GBV in society rests mainly with men. ‘I understand that this is too daring a statement to make, but we cannot continue the narrative of placing GBV as a responsibility of women. It is men who violate women, it is men who keep quiet when we need to speak up, and it is men that need to begin the process of “unlearning” in order to bring about the change we want to see in society. 

‘Of course we understand that men are a product of toxic socialisation processes, but our social disposition has been to see GBV as a problem created by women – the very reason why the status quo remains,’ said Msibi.

Bodrick said anyone who experiences or witnesses any form of sexual violence, harassment, gender discrimination or bullying is encouraged to report this immediately.

Hicks urged the UKZN community to join and stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of GBV, as well as speaking out and taking action against GBV. ‘Anyone who experiences or witnesses any form of sexual violence, harassment, gender discrimination or bullying is encouraged to report this immediately. We will not tolerate any form of abuse or violence in our community,’ said Hicks.

In spreading the “No GBV” message far and wide, various UKZN stakeholders have planned activities in support of this, including a night prayer on Friday, 6 September from 18h00-20h00 outside the MW Makgoba Admin Building on the Westville campus. Attendees are urged to wear black as per the theme of the prayer.

Report any incidents of GBV to your campus RMS office, or contact them as follows:

WESTVILLE 031 260 7133 | HOWARD COLLEGE and MEDICAL SCHOOL 031 260 3777

EDGEWOOD 031 260 3493 | PIETERMARITZBURG 031 260 5211

In addition, the following care centres are available for response and support in GBV cases:

  1. RK Khan Thuthuzela Care Center- 031 401 0394
  2. Addington Crises Center: 031 327 2843
  3. Northdale Crisis Care Center: 033 387 9000
  4. St Augustine Hospital Emergency: 031 268 5000
  5. Jes Foord Rape Crises Centre : 086 133 3449
  6. Campus Clinics : PMB – 5208, Westville – 7302, Edgewood – 3252, Med School – 4560 and HC – 3284

Words: Sithembile Shabangu