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Rhodes VC hopes to regain the trust of students

Today, Vice chancellor Mabizela committed to an overhaul of the university’s harassment reporting methods.

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 Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela says he hopes to rebuild the trust between himself and students after he was filmed pushing a student during an anti-rape protest, saying he made a mistake.

The vice chancellor has responded to the demands of the Rhodes students who have led a week-long campaign at the Grahamstown institution.

The protest started with the publishing of 11 names of alleged rapists on social media.

Mabizela says he agrees to all of the students' demands, but will not suspend alleged-rapists named on a reference list, as no charges have been laid against them.

He says only two cases of sexual assault have been laid by students this year, of which one has been withdrawn.

The vice chancellor has now called on students at the Grahamstown institution to lay criminal charges against the alleged perpetrators.

Mabizela says most of the people on the so-called reference list have not yet been charged.

Today, he committed to an overhaul of the university's harassment reporting methods.

The university says the broader societal endemic of rape has also affected its corridors of learning and an urgent remedy is needed.

WATCH: #RUReferenceList: Rhodes guys chat [WARNING: This video contains strong languge]

Students say they're furious after witnessing their vice chancellor push a fellow student away from a barricade.

They say he should publicly apologise.

Mabizela says he is willing to restate his apology, and says the incident was a mistake.

"We are all human - I made a mistake, it was unintentional and I apologised."

He says he hopes he can regain the trust of students in order to achieve their demand of creating a safer university.

"I hope that students will acknowledge that and see other things that I am doing for them at this university and the extent at which I am willing to put my body on the line for each one of them."

The vice chancellor also says the police shot rubber bullets at students because they were blocking a private road on Wednesday, but the students say they will look at laying a complaint against the authorities.

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