By Deva Lee, Lara-Lee Rothwell and Rachel Baasch
James Hamilton, a second-year student, was subject to a homophobic attack on March 23. Campus Protection Unit (CPU) apparently offered little help after they had been called to assist.
The perpetrator (a Wits student visiting Rhodes for SciFest) insulted Hamilton, saying “I don’t shake faggots’ hands,” after Hamilton greeted him in the street. Hamilton wanted to get more information about the man so that he could report the incident, and began questioning him. When he continued to question him, the man turned violent. “He gave me one big shove,” said Hamilton. The perpetrator then said: “I’m gonna put my fist through your face.” Hamilton pressed the SOS button outside the Biological Sciences building on Prince Alfred Street. Hamilton’s friend, Gavin Krastin, witnessed some of the events.
CPU arrived within three minutes after the panic button had been pushed. They proceeded to interrogate Hamilton, who was then sworn at by one of the CPU officers. “He was pushing me around,” said Hamilton.
The CPU officer asked Hamilton if he was drunk, and he admitted that he was. Hamilton and Krastin were
then escorted to CPU headquarters where further questioning took place. Hamilton says they spent about three hours explaining the events to the officer on duty. During this time he was told to make a written statement but claims he was rushed along by the officer who was going off duty shortly. At 5:45am the officer said to Hamilton, “I get off at 6:00, I don’t care, it’s someone else’s baby.” When later questioned, an officer on duty made a counter-statement. He said the other officers had claimed that there was no
other witness to back up Hamilton’s story, despite Krastin’s statement.
“It went from me against this homophobic guy, to me against CPU,” said Hamilton. He told them that the man “had a problem with what I stand for and who I am”, to which the officer replied, “That has nothing to do with what we’re doing here.” It appears that CPU has not attempted to contact the perpetrator. Upon further questioning as to whether the case had been followed up, David Brown, senior campus protection officer, said that he had not heard anything regarding the assault but that CPU were going to
charge Hamilton for pressing the SOS button. CPU would not reveal the name of the officer on duty who had dealt with the assault. Brown told Activate reporters to come back at a later date.
The officer on duty had made no written statement about the assault on Hamilton. Furthermore, Krastin had not been prompted to write his statement concerning the events of the evening. According to Brown,
“Every single occurrence is written down in the occurrence book.” Despite this statement, the events of March 23 were not fully recorded in any such book. Brown concluded that CPU will investigate the case
further and decide whether or not they are going to charge Hamilton for sounding a “false alarm”. Hamilton’s attack remains uninvestigated.