News Brief

Rhodes University Students March and Hold Memorial in Honor of Khensani Maseko

"Khensani did not deserve to die under the circumstances which she did," Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela says.

Tuesday marks the second day of action led by Rhodes University's SRC in remembrance of Khensani Maseko—a 23-year-old student whose recent death by suicide was led by her alleged rape by her then-boyfriend months prior.

Rhodes students marched to the Settlers Monument in Grahamstown to hold a memorial and a series of discussions on rape culture and anti-rape activism.

"The monument is where the university traditionally holds its graduation ceremonies and where Khensani would have rounded off her journey through Rhodes University," Veliswa Mhlope, university spokesperson, says to News24.

Rhodes University Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela addressed a packed hall at the Monument admitting society failed Maseko by raising young men who do not know how to love, respect and treat women. He adds that patriarchy and misogyny were part of society and were not given due attention when witnessed.


"Khensani did not deserve to die under the circumstanced which she did," he adds.

News24 notes Mabizela stressing that Maseko's death should not be in vain and that this marked a significant turning point at the university.

Mhlope notes that Maseko reported the rape on July 30 and the university had immediately made contact with her family after she made the report. Her family travelled to the university for a meeting where they elected to take Maseko home, where it was a agreed the University was to follow up on the matter. Maseko was due to return to Rhodes for a meeting with the support and investigation team on Monday.

Maseko's family has also confirmed in a statement that she indeed died of suicide.

"On Friday 3 August, 2018, Khensani passed away by taking her own life, devastating her family, friends and the larger community of colleagues and peers. As a family, we do not take lightly the circumstances leading up to Khensani's death," her family says. "We would like to explicitly express that we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any form of violence and abuse against women and more particularly rape against women. We urge that the law should be allowed to take its course."

They continue:

"In the days leading up to her funeral and final home-going, we wish, as a family to be afforded an opportunity to mourn and grieve the passing of our loved one in private."

Maseko's funeral will be held this Thursday. Rhodes University's flag was lowered on Monday during the first march in mourning, and will continue to fly at half-mast until the funeral.

Take a look at more clips from Tuesday's memorial below:




Photo: Alvin Ukpeh.

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