By Sinenhlanhla Ngwenya
Clad in black and with green posters in hand, the sound of the silent was at its loudest. This was a Monday like any other with students sprawled about in different directions busy with their daily activities. The stillness of normality lasted until the bright colours of black and green raised heads.
During women’s month, in September, the story about Rhodes student Khensani Maseko – committing suicide because she was allegedly raped by her boyfriend in May, as reported by The Citizen – filled the news.
Galvanised by this and claiming UJ was not taking much initiative to support #RIPKhensani, the five women stood up for the voiceless and hosted a solidarity march on Monday, 13th August 2018, at UJ APK Campus.
Five gathered at the C Ring parking close to Gate 2 and waited over thirty minutes for others dressed in black. The colour black was the theme and it matched the bright green of their posters. However, the support from fellow females was not that great as other women passed by in their different coloured clothing.
Words of disappointment were muttered briefly amongst the five. They were nonetheless not discouraged. Fiercely and with their bright green banners in hand, they headed for UJ’s Madibeng Building.
“For us it’s not about the number, it’s about us and then we can say that we have done our part,” said a UJ Public Management and Governance student, Athini Booi.
Having reached Madibeng building they took their seats and their bright colours caught the attention of many. Slight commotion arose as the campus Protection Services approached.
The five had apparently been protesting illegally, although silently, as they did not follow campus rules and regulations about protesting and were asked to leave the premises.
When contacted for comment, Protection Services remained unreachable.
With the five slightly upset after their dismissal by Services’ officers, the group dispersed into different directions. Three of them remained together, two being the main organizers of the march, Booi and a Bcom Logistics Management student, Sisipho Xashimba.
“For us, we want it to be an everyday thing whereby you ladies can know that it’s okay to walk around wearing short skirts and not having to worry about what people are saying or what might happen. We want young ladies to feel free,” said Booi to The Open Journal.
“Firstly, they [UJ] must allow us to voice out our opinions,” added Booi. “I shouldn’t have to apply for a day whereby I can actually express myself about whatever I am going through as a woman. Secondly, UJ must enforce a rule whereby they expel all rapists.”
“We are always willing to help women. In fact we’d choose them over and over again. If such things happen on campus, we will continue preaching ‘zero violence against women’ until it becomes a norm in society. That’s why we say it’s an everyday thing,” said Xashimba.
Later on that day, the two girls continued their silent march to UJ’s Bunting Road Campus (APB) where they were noticed by an SABC official. The following day both girls were invited to a live interview on the matter. The main topic for the evening was “Addressing rape culture on campuses”. TOJ
[WATCH] Addressing rape culture on campuses
Reporting by Sinenhlanhla Ngwenya; Editing Gaby Ndongo
Feature image: Four of the five students protesting against gender abuse standing on the C-Les parking lot close to Gate 2 on Thursday, 13th of August, at UJ APK Campus.
Image courtesy to Sinenhlanhla Ngwenya