#RhodesWar: Expulsion of Rhodes students ignites online outrage

#RhodesWar, an online campaign supporting expelled Rhodes University students, was trending in the top spot on Twitter this morning as many took to the platform to express their outrage.

Two Rhodes University students were excluded from the institution for life last month over their involvement in students’ anti-rape protests in 2016. Another was reportedly excluded for a period of five years.

Two Rhodes University students were expelled for life for being part of a vigilante group that targeted rape suspects on campus

The students were found guilty of assault, kidnapping, insubordination, and defamation for being part of a mob justice group that targeted rape suspects on campus, according to HuffPostSA.

One of the excluded students, Yolandi Dyantyi, told HuffPo that the university did not offer the students a chance to present evidence or defend themselves. The decision was made without their lawyers present.

Dyantyi intends to take the decision to court, and will be represented by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). In a statement, SERI declared the expulsion “the harshest penalty the university has imposed for ten years”.

In a statement, Rhodes University asserted that “none of the [expelled students’] victims were found guilty in any forum of any form of sexual misconduct or rape, even after thorough investigations were conducted”.

“These students were kidnapped, humiliated, and tormented on the strength of an equivocal list published on social media by anonymous author(s) in which no allegation of rape against them had been made.”

Much of the outrage on Twitter is directed towards a seeming lack of due process for sexual and gender-based violence on the Rhodes campus, yet severe penalties for those ostensibly trying to defend themselves.

Users also worried about students being charged for “common purpose”, an apartheid era law, though Memeburn has found no evidence that this is true.

Feature image: Screenshot, @NalediChirwa via Twitter



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