Stellenbosch University (SU) strongly supports a zero-tolerance stance against gender-based violence (GBV). Therefore, the University is supporting the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2023. This campaign coincides with the
United Nations’ international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching, reiterated that the University is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and respectful environment within the community and beyond.
“Together, let us commit to support the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign and resolve to eliminate all forms of GBV from our campuses. Our collective actions will contribute to a safer and more just society for everyone.
“We are also very proud of the recently established SU INSPIRE Facility within the new Stellenbosch GBV Centre in Ida’s Valley, Stellenbosch,” Prof Ramjugernath said.
INSPIRE stands for the Initiative for Non-violence, Support, Prevention, Intervention, Research, and Education. SU’s INSPIRE research and education initiative is a collaboration with the Ring for Peace Cape Trust, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Department of Social Development, the Department of Health and the South African Police Services.
The Stellenbosch GBV Centre will host four initiatives: The INSPIRE Facility (administered by the SU Equality Unit), an NPA Thuthuzela Care Centre, extended emergency accommodation for victims of GBV, and the Ring for Peace Cape Trust GBV hub, as coordinator of the collaboration.
Changes to legislation
To address GBV, the South African government implemented the Emergency Response Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which includes strengthening the legal frameworks and response to GBV and femicide in South Africa. Key to this are amendments to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007, which directly impact the SU community. The Act mandates the reporting of sexual offences against females under the age of 25 years.
All members of the SU community have a role to play in upholding the law, ensuring the well-being of fellow community members, and actively promoting a culture of zero tolerance towards GBV. If you become aware of, or reasonably believe or suspect that a sexual offence has been committed against a female under the age of 25, it is your legal obligation to report it immediately to the police.
It is understandable that this amendment may raise questions and concerns. To address any queries or uncertainties, please familiarise yourself with the amended legislation
, seek advice if necessary, and, most importantly, act in accordance with the law and the
. Please feel free to contact the Equality Unit to gain more clarity.
Supporting the SU community
The Equality Unit, situated in the Responsibly Centre of Learning and Teaching, implement SU’s policies on harassment and discrimination and provide various services and support to students and staff.
The University’s support structures related to GBV include the following:
• Gender non-violence support service: The Equality Unit has a dedicated gender non-violence coordinator to assist in creating and increasing awareness around gender-based violence. Faculty, student communities, departments, students and staff are provided training regarding gender non-violence and gender bias.
Reporting mechanisms: Staff and students are welcome to report and lodge (official or unofficial) confidential complaints of unfair discrimination, harassment, victimisation or abuse. The following options are available: A walk-in service at the Equality Unit at Simon Nkoli House, 39 Victoria Street, Stellenbosch; email email@example.com; or call 021 808 3136 to make an appointment. A dedicated and professional anti-discrimination and harassment case officer will assist you. Incidents can also be reported here
on the online reporting platform.
• LGBTQIA+ support services: The Equality Unit offers counselling to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and allies (LGBTQIA+) individuals and communities. The Unit conduct discussion groups and render support through training and development to enable, affirm and create a welcoming environment for all.
The Equality Unit is dedicated to addressing GBV and related matters and supporting the SU community. Click here to read more about the available resources. More information on the various reporting options at SU is available here
Photo: Staff members of the SU Equality Unit (from left to right): Jaco Greef Brink, Head: Equality Unit; Dr Jill Ryan, Coordinator: Gender Non-violence; Michelle Munro, Manager: HIV and Sexualities Portfolio & Training; Constance Matlholwa, Programme Coordinator: Sexualities and HIV Portfolio; Qaqamba Mdaka, Case Coordinator; Adrian Paulse, Administrative Officer; and Larona Matee, Case Officer.
Photo by: Henk Oets