South Africa: UCT Establishes Special Tribunal to Report Gender-Based Violence

6 September 2019

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has, with immediate effect introduced a special ad hoc tribunal to deal with cases of gender-based violence.

At the same time, an online reporting tool has been created by the university "that makes the reporting of sexual and gender-based violence user-friendly and accessible".

In communication sent to students and staff, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said "the special tribunal will address the backlog of cases in the system and deal with any new cases that may arise, while the reporting tool allows the office for inclusivity and change to track cases through the UCT system, thereby increasing transparency, while allowing for anonymous reporting".

This comes in the wake of news that first-year student Uyinene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered after she had gone missing on August 24.

News of her death sent shock waves through the country, sparking protests raising the plight of violence against women and children.

In speaking about the new platforms, Phakeng said: "We live in a country where crime is a reality, and it does affect all of us, but the safety of students and staff remains the university's highest priority".

"This is part of the tangible action the UCT executive has taken in dealing with sexual and gender-based violence on campus, and improving safety and security on campus.

The university plans to provide staff and students with a sexual and gender-based violence toolkit, as well as a personal alarm device.

UCT is also scaling up voluntary self-defence classes that were part of a pilot programme earlier this year.

She said added to that a cross-institutional sexual and gender-based violence working group met earlier this week and have identified four streams which would be focused on, which include dialogues on masculinity, restorative justice, campus safety and community engagement.

"The activities of these four streams will be capacitated and resourced over the coming months," she added.

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