Rhodes University staff join student protest

Workers affiliated to Nehawu say they were moved by the police’s brutality against protetesting students.

Staff members, affiliated to union Nehawu, at Rhodes University have joined the anti-rape protest. PIcture: Govan Whittles/EWN

GRAHAMSTOWN - Workers belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) have now joined the anti-rape protest at Rhodes University and say administrators must urgently address the students' demands so that classes can resume.

About 20 Rhodes staff members are protesting in their red T-shirts at a barricade formed at the entrance of the university in Grahamstown.

Students are demanding the university suspend 11 alleged rapists on campus and change its policies on how rape victims are treated.

Yesterday, Eastern Cape police arrested five students during the protest. They were later released without bail and are due to re-appear on charges of public violence in July.

There's a significantly smaller number of people protesting than there was yesterday, with most of them workers while a handful of students have also returned to the barricade.

Nehawu shop steward at Rhodes, Vuyani Jacobs, says they were moved to join the protest after seeing how police opened fire on students with rubber bullets yesterday.

"We decided to join the strike of the students because of the brutality of the police. We can't watch our children being treated the way they were yesterday; so we took a decision that it's too much now.

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He says urgent action is needed.

" Management has to take a stand and answer the students. That's what we are here for; 'why don't you answer the children so they can go back to class?'"

The university has since secured an interdict to end the protest and classes remain suspended until Monday.

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