By Marcelle Liron
A Rhodes student, working as a waitress at the Rat & Parrot, was recently attacked. This follows in the wake of an alarming increase in criminals targeting Rat employees. The student was taken to a field where her two offenders undressed her and then tried to rape her. The student, who cannot be named, managed to escape wearing just her bra. She was able to flag down a passing car which stopped to help her. She is severely traumatised and needed to return home in Durban after having identified her attackers at the Grahamstown Police Station. She has since returned to Rhodes.
According to David Brookes, manager of the Rat, these attacks have become almost a “daily occurrence”. He has expressed concern about the presence of street children loitering outside the Rat. Brookes himself has been attacked but says, “We can’t do anything because we get accosted for assault if we do.”
Gaelin Brown, a third year BA student and waitress at the Rat, was attacked by three unknown males who she estimates were about 16 years of age. The attackers threatened her with a knife before stealing her handbag.
The incident occurred on 20 September in the parking lot of Peppergrove Mall, when Brown was on her way to her night shift at the Rat. She was approached again last week, whilst out with friends, this time by a street child who stole her camera and wallet out of her handbag.
The Grahamstown children on the street are not deterred by the cameras put up outside the Rat. They can be seen waiting outside the Bed and Breakfast on the other side of New Street or along Allan Street, sometimes attempting to follow students home.
The children have become extremely brazen of late and have even entered the Rat on busy nights to steal handbags from the windowsills. Management has had a number of meetings with the police, with the aim of increasing safety in the area. Recently, police have been patrolling New Street on Friday and Saturday nights.
“I think it’s important that students should be made aware of the incidents because they’re becoming far more frequent and far more violent. Also, students should be more concerned about their personal safety, especially after being out because clearly it’s no longer safe to walk home alone,” said Brown.