Rhodes fails in R250k bid to stop expelled student in her tracks

Yolanda Dyantyi wants to be readmitted to Rhodes University, which expelled her in 2018.
fightback Yolanda Dyantyi wants to be readmitted to Rhodes University, which expelled her in 2018.
Image: Twitter/SwedeninSA

PLEASE NOTE: This article has been updated:

A Times Select article, syndicated to HeraldLIVE published on January 10, " Rhodes fails in R250k bid to stop expelled student in her tracks", incorrectly conflated two cases of litigation between Rhodes University and two of its former students, Ms Yolanda Dyantyi and Ms Yolanda Zulu.

Ms Dyantyi is a former student who was, pursuant to a disciplinary enquiry, excluded from Rhodes University for, among other things, the kidnapping of students of the University, the assault of a student of the University, engaging in conduct that was offensive and defamatory of a student of the University and gross insubordination towards senior members of staff.

Ms Dyantyi subsequently brought an application to review certain decision concerning her exclusion.

In the article, reference is made to the unfinalised litigation between Ms Dyantyi and Rhodes University and, furthermore, that Rhodes University allegedly failed in an attempt to have Ms Dyantyi’s review application stayed pending the provision of security by Ms Dyantyi in the amount of R250,000.

This is factually incorrect and has been misreported in the article.

Rhodes University has not made any such application to stay proceedings against Ms Dyantyi.

Rather, Rhodes University brought an application to stay a review application by Ms Zulu (and not Ms Dyantyi), who was academically excluded from Rhodes University, pending payment of security for costs.

Rhodes University sought security given the manner in which Ms Zulu had conducted litigation thus far and the outstanding legal costs awarded to the University by the courts following her failed previous litigations against the University on the same matter.

In the circumstances, Times Select acknowledges that it has incorrectly conflated these two cases of litigation. 

To this end, Times Select accepts full responsibility for the incorrect and misleading reporting on this matter and takes this opportunity to extend its sincere apology to Rhodes University for any harm caused to it by this regrettable misreporting.

This apology is likewise extended to Ms Dyantyi and Ms Zulu.

Rhodes fails in R250k bid to stop expelled student in her tracks

Rhodes University has failed to halt legal action by a student it expelled for being part of a violent campus protest against “rape culture” at the Makhanda institution.

In April 2018, Yolanda Dyantyi was kicked out after the university found her guilty of kidnapping, assault, defamation and insubordination.

Last year, she asked the high court in Makhanda to overturn her expulsion.

But the university asked Judge Nomathamsanqa Beshe to put the case on hold until Dyantyi paid costs orders from two previous cases.

It asked Beshe to force Dyantyi – who was in the final year of a BA degree in April 2017 when she joined 200 students and staff in the protest – to put up security of R250,000 before her case could go ahead.

But Beshe said that if she agreed to do so, she would be denying Dyantyi her right of access to the court.

The decision meant argument could go ahead last month in front of the deputy judge president of the Eastern Cape High Court, Zamani Nhlangulela.

Dyantyi’s legal team argued that the university had “determined to prosecute, convict and expel her, come what may”, according to the Daily Maverick.

The student, from Soweto, said in court papers that at the time of the April 2017 protest, the university referred to female first-year students as “seals” ripe for “clubbing” when explaining male students’ aggressive sexual behaviour.

“I was angry at the university’s careless attitude to rape and sexual violence and its inability to see how it was complicit in promoting an environment in which sexual violence thrives,” she said.

Four days of protests erupted after a list of alleged sex pests was published on social media, Daily Maverick said, and Dyantyi was individually cited when the university obtained an interim interdict to end it.

The presiding officer at her disciplinary hearing, advocate Michael Hutchinson, said a man who was held hostage by the group perceived Dyantyi to be the leader as she was the “most vocal” and others looked to her for direction.

He said the student “was fearful about what would happen after the male students were rounded up. There were whispers from the crowd about necklacing them.”

Dyantyi’s legal team said Hutchinson refused a request for a postponenment of the disciplinary hearing when her lawyers were unable to attend, and proceeded in her absence.

They said the evidence against her was “grossly insufficient” to justify a guilty verdict, according to the Daily Maverick.

Susan Smailes, legal adviser to the university’s vice-chancellor, said in papers before court that the university had a duty to regulate student behaviour.

She described the rape culture protests as “vigilantism”, saying they “consisted of very serious acts of criminal activity including kidnapping, assault, humiliation, threatening and taunting of several male students”.

Smailes accused Dyantyi of “unreasonably and self-servingly” downplaying her part in the criminal conduct. She added that Dyantyi “consistently sought to mislead the court” by creating the idea that the protest was nothing but a picket outside a residence during which three men were confronted.

“[Dyantyi] demonstrated a propensity to unbridled violence, to disregard and treat with disdain the rules of the university, the country and the fundamental rights of students,” she said.

Nhlangulela reserved judgment.