#RhodesShutdown: Classes suspended for the day, protests continue

An anti-rape demonstration led to a confrontation with Eastern Cape police at the institution this morning.

Rhodes University students writing messages in support of the anti-rape campaign, “We will not be silenced” on 20 April 2016. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

GRAHAMSTOWN - Rhodes University in Grahamstown has suspended all academic activity today following an anti-rape demonstration that led to a confrontation with Eastern Cape police this morning.

Three students have been arrested and the main road leading into the university has been closed by students who say lecturers and management have failed to act on allegations of sexual violence.

The protest follows the release of the so-called RU Reference list in which the names of 11 men accused of sexually harassing students was published on social media and around campus.

Students protesting against rape celebrated as they were told that classes will be suspended for the rest of the day.

#RhodesShutdown Three students have been arrested. Police have used stun grenades & teargas to disperse protest. GW pic.twitter.com/iA1JNXsW11

#RhodesShutdown Rhodes University has suspended academic activity due to anti rape protests on campus. GW pic.twitter.com/6r0JlyKp3H

Most of the protesters are women, who say they have been ignored for far too long.

Many say the onus is on them to prove to the university that they have been raped, and this has to change.

A group of students have also confronted a lecturer, who called the police, accusing him of wanting to instigate violence.

Meanwhile, Rhode University Vice-Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela is now appealing to authorities to release the arrested students.

#RhodesShutdown Students writing messages in support of the anti rape campaign. "We will not be silenced." GW pic.twitter.com/w6rSl8tKiy

#RhodesShutdown UPDATE: 7 students arrested & charged under gatherings act, throwing stones & blocking public road. pic.twitter.com/XSlBU7V9Lj

#RhodesShutdown Students using sandbags to barricade road leading into campus. #RUreferencelist pic.twitter.com/XX9C2Tsghm


The pain and anger is clearly visible among the students who are demanding the institution take action against alleged rapists.

Rhodes SRC member Naledi Mashishi says the use of teargas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstrators this morning was uncalled for and they don't know why students were arrested.

"The police are saying that this is a public road which doesn't make sense to us because we shut this road down for a full week last year during Fees Must Fall protests. They didn't say anything then, but now they're giving us issues."

WATCH: Rhodes student suffers panic attack in police van

A third-year student is enraged by the inaction of university management and the police presence on campus.

"Mabizela (Rhodes University vice chancellor) is hiding, we asked him why they were shooting at us and he said he didn't call the police. People are being carried in stretchers and he knows nothing about it.

"We asked Dr Fourie (Rhodes University registrar) what he thinks about this and he said, 'You did this to yourselves.'"

Students say they will not be forced into silence over allegations of rape at the institution.

They say they've had enough of sexual violence on campus and the problem is much bigger than the university management will admit.

"I would say it's at an institutional level where it's just become completely accepted. It's reached a point where it has exploded, look at what happened today," one student says.

Another student believes that management has not done enough to address the issue. "Management has really just been brushing it under the carpet and a lot of people have been affected."

A male student says that he didn't realise the extent of crimes until the protest. "It is much bigger than I expected and I was ignorant to how big it was, there is a problem which isn't being administered correctly."

Mabizela has told students who have been raped to submit an affidavit, so the alleged perpetrators can be suspended and taken off campus.