Students Living In Fear After Sexual Assault

“I woke up to hands touching my thighs. As I realised what was happening, the person ran out of the room,” said an affected student.

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By Mthokozisi Skonyana
Image obtained from Unsplash

A student, living in one of the privately owned student accommodations in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, woke up to an intruder in her room in the early hours of a Saturday morning in June.

“I woke up to hands touching my thighs. As I realised what was happening, the person ran out of the room before I could see his face,” said the student who does not want to be named.

The person also stole some of her belongings. 

Her roommate was out at the time but suspected the culprit was the same person who had barged into the next room where they had been “chilling” after a night out. They told him to get out; he left and must have gone to the next room, where he found the affected student.

“It was around 3am when we came back from a night out with my friends. We first went into my room and found my roommate asleep. We were drunk and loud so we decided to go to my friend’s room next door,” said the roommate.

Repeat offender

Speaking to TOJ, the student and her roommate said they suspected the culprit was someone who lived in the building. The same person had been implicated in a peeping Tom incident last year, where he was said to have captured a video of a female student bathing through a bathroom window.   

Another student, who stays in the building said, “We were shocked by the incident but after some time, we heard nothing, meaning no steps were taken for the violation of the student’s rights.”

Sensing a cover-up, the affected student spoke to the security guards at reception and requested CCTV footage. However, there are no cameras to capture visuals of the room’s entry point.

One of the security guards accompanied the student to go see the building manager and the assistant but they both were not in.

The student also tried to open a case at Jeppe Police Station but was told to go to the police station in the CBD, because her case falls under the inner city jurisdiction. She was not able to because she is not familiar with the area and had to take a bus home to the Eastern Cape on the same evening the assault occurred. 

Having completed her exams, the student hoped to find solace and consolation from family. She also decided to change accommodations when she returns from recess.

Lack of action

TOJ approached the Jeppe Police Station and spoke to an officer who confirmed that the Jeppe Police Station does not deal with cases beyond End Street. The officer said the student should have gone to Johannesburg’s Central Police Station (John Foster Police Station).

Other students staying in the building said they felt unsafe and feared that their possessions could be stolen, or they could be sexually assaulted and no action would be taken.

The building manager said he had spoken to the affected student, “I was in Soweto when I received a call concerning this incident. I rushed back to attend to the matter.”

He added: “When I arrived in the building, I had a conversation with the student, she told me that she had been sexually assaulted and her jacket and a branded cap were stolen. I asked her what I could do to help; she told me that there’s nothing except to pay for her jacket because she did not see the suspect’s face before they ran out of the room.”

“I made a payment of R700 for the jacket; I can even show you the transaction. I still wanted to assist her even further but … she insisted that without concrete evidence she would not be able to open a ‘valid’ case. She left on that Saturday – I have been keeping contact with her and she tells me she’s fine.”

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