5 February 2016
Dear colleagues and students
I am very distressed and outraged once again to report that another female University of Cape Town student has been sexually assaulted while walking on the mountain towards Rhodes Memorial. This attack took place on Thursday night, 4 February 2016. It was reported to UCT's Campus Protection Services (CPS) this morning by the SA Police Service (SAPS).
The student crossed the M3 bridge near Rhodes Avenue yesterday at about 18h00 and proceeded uphill towards Rhodes Memorial. On her way back at about 20h00 she was attacked and dragged into the bushes and raped repeatedly. She was eventually released at about 01h00 today, and she went to the SAPS. They are now investigating the case.
Police verify that this case appears to be the work of a serial criminal who most likely committed three other recent attacks on the mountain that were reported in December and January. They say the attacker has been described as a well-spoken man who engages in conversation with those he attacks. He is of slender build in his mid-20s. He appears to know the mountain well, and wears a hoodie with black pants.
UCT will make contact with the survivor of yesterday's attack, as we have done in previous related cases involving other students, to offer medical and counselling support. Meanwhile, we urge all students and staff again to please exercise caution when walking in areas off campus. If you notice any suspicious activity on or near campus, please alert the security office immediately. If you need assistance, please call CPS on 021 650 2222/3 (available 24/7). We recommend you store this number on speed dial on your phone.
UCT took steps last month to place additional security at the bridge over the M3, a thoroughfare for students walking to upper campus. We continue to seek new ways to work together with the police, South African National Parks and other stakeholders to respond to this kind of criminal activity, and to create a safer space for everyone to move around. Students and staff are advised to use the Jammie Shuttle, to use the UCT blue route where possible, and to avoid walking alone. We ask you to please also review and follow the safety and security checklist on the UCT website.
We also want to alert you to two types of crime that the SAPS have issued a warning about. Both types of crime seem to be focusing particularly on students.
We are aware that a communication about crime, and particularly about sexual assault, may cause some people additional anxiety or personal trauma going into the academic year. If you feel you need support of any kind, please make contact with the Human Resources Department if you are a staff member, or with the Department of Student Affairs if you are a student, so that the necessary guidance, assistance and, if need be, counselling can be arranged to support you.