Nelson Mandela University students gave the victims of crime on campus a strong voice yesterday when they took to the streets to protest the violent attack on two of their classmates the night before.
Thanks to one of the young women managing to send a heart-wrenching post out on social media, members of the student body were able to share the news even before most of the city had woken up yesterday morning.
By midday, CCTV pictures of the suspect had been circulated to thousands on social media. Whether or not this man is the attacker remains to be investigated but, at the very least, police have been provided with an extra few thousand pairs of eyes to help them track down the alleged rapist.
What has made this attack so visceral, however, is that it unfolded almost before our eyes. We have images of the possible attacker, we have the voice of one of the young victims – it is almost like watching a film.
Except that this is not fiction, it is real life and the lives of two young women have now been blighted by rape, robbery and assault.
We should not be shocked that NMU students are protesting.
They are justifiably outraged that crimes of this nature, particularly a heinous crime of gender violence such as rape, occurred at all.
If our youth are not safe inside a respected institution of higher learning, then the university needs to take a serious look at its security.
What was the attacker doing inside the building? How did he get in? Then, after the attack, how did he get out without anyone noticing something was amiss?
Sasco says it will shut the university down until security (among other demands) is addressed.
While this is extreme, it is a signal to the university management that the voices of its customers – who are the leaders of tomorrow – need to be heard.
As the student body prepares for the fourth term and final examinations, it is vital that the university beefs up its safety and security.