Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price joined the police for a walkabout of the area below Rhodes Memorial where three women have been attacked in just over a month, possibly by the same man. Two of the women were UCT students who reported that they were sexually assaulted
Price said he'd come to see for himself where these “horrific” assaults had happened as it was an area used by staff and students: “I wanted to meet the police to see the site myself and to see what more we could do to improve security in the area.”
He said that UCT management were looking at how to work together with the police to condemn this kind of criminal activity and abuse, and to create a safer space for everyone to move around.
The latest attack took place on Monday 25 January 2016 when a woman (not a UCT student) was accosted by a man in the late afternoon. She fought off her attacker but not before he broke her jaw. She was found on the footbridge over the M3 close to Mostert's Mill.
The hotspot is in the vicinity of the footbridge in the area next to a shortcut up to Rhodes Memorial, sometimes used by staff and students from the university. While this is not on UCT property, staff and students have been warned to avoid using the informal path and not to visit the area at night.
In the meantime, additional security has been placed at the bridge over the M3, a popular thoroughfare for students walking to upper campus. Students and staff are advised to use the Jammie Shuttle, to stick to the blue safe route where possible, and to avoid walking alone.
Before news of the latest attack broke, UCT had already issued a warning to staff and students. This was after two female students reported being raped on 11 December and 11 January respectively by a man who accosted them with a knife.
No arrests have been made yet.
In a statement to the UCT community, executive director of communication and marketing Gerda Kruger said: “We are working with the South African Police Services (SAPS) to see how we can resolve this as quickly as possible. While it's too early to say, these incidents have some similarities in terms of the modus operandi involved in the attacks. This is obviously of concern.”
She said the university was in contact with both students to support them and offer medical counselling and other assistance.
Police say the attacker has been described as a well-spoken man of slender build in his mid-20s. He appears to know the mountain well, and wears a hoodie with black pants.
In a separate incident, a male student was held at gunpoint and robbed of his car on 15 January 2016 near the M3 highway below Rhodes Memorial. In this case, the abandoned vehicle was recovered some hours later and the suspects were arrested. The student was not physically harmed.
Story by Andrea Weiss. Photo by Michael Hammond.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.