By Chris McCallum
A fourth year LLB student and a sub-warden in Kimberley Hall was arrested on 22 March and a case of common assault was opened against the student.
According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Grahamstown Magistrate Court Clerk’s Office, charges were later dropped by the complainant as the parties had reconciled. Activate approached the accused and the complainant who both declined to comment.
Since the complainant wanted to drop the matter, the University Prosecutors have suspended their internal disciplinary action. Gordon Barker, the Oppidan Hall Warden and Rhodes Prosecutor, explains that this is because it is “logistically and practically not fit for the University Prosecutors to pursue the matter between parties which have resolved the matter between themselves.” Barker continued to say that it does not mean that Dr James Gambiza, Kimberley West Hall Warden, cannot instigate his “own disciplinary measures on a student in his Hall”. Hall Wardens can issue fines to the amount of 75 hours of community service.
Andile Dlali, Employee Relations Manager for Rhodes University, at first denied knowledge of the hearing – which was to be held on Tuesday, 5 May – but later said that the hearing was halted because of an involuntary principal witness. Sarah Fischer, Director of Human Resources, said “As far as we are concerned the sub-warden remains employed.”
Barker said the matter has been investigated and that any student who “falls foul of the Student Disciplinary Code will be dealt with in the same manner, irrespective of year or position within the University.”
Rhodes University released a statement on the matter, saying the “University prosecutors received a report of an alleged attempted rape” but that “the prosecutors found the report about an attempted rape at [the specific residence] to be nothing more than a rumour.”
However, the statement went on to say “prosecutors found that there was evidence of an act of common assault having been committed at [the specific residence]. The University prosecutors considered that the matter did not call for a University level disciplinary hearing and referred the matter to the Dean of Students for possible action at the Hall disciplinary level, or alternatively disciplinary action in terms of the University’s Staff Disciplinary Code.”
When Activate approached the Dean of Students Division, Advocate Tshidi Hashatse, Deputy Dean of Students, said she was unaware of any developments in the case.
According to Tim Thring, a third year BSc student in Kimberley Hall, Gambiza held a residence meeting on the night that the sub-warden was arrested, as well as on the following night. Thring says Gambiza reported to the students that one of their sub-wardens was in police custody for a very serious matter and that students must consider the sub-warden innocent until proven guilty. Gambiza declined to comment on the matter.