Siphakamiso Madlala, head of student housing, said Mbatha's father had told them he thought it was not the first time the suspect had allegedly abused his daughter.
He urged students — whether victims or friends of victims — to report cases of violence.
“There are many cases that get reported to us where female students are abused by their boyfriends but sometimes they don’t want to report them because they are afraid they (boyfriends) would be expelled,” he said.
“The next thing you find out a student has been absent for two weeks because she had bruises so she didn’t want to leave her room.”
Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, chairperson of the students affairs committee of the MUT council, said they would not tolerate “thuggery” and “violence” at the university.
“You are old enough now. We can't stop you from having romantic relationships but we have every right to intervene as a university when there is abuse and when we do, we will not show any mercy that the decisions we make can destroy your future. There is no future for a student who commits a crime” she said.
Prof Marcus Ramogale, MUT acting vice-chancellor, vowed to ensure that “violent” students would be removed from the university.
“We cannot have criminals, we cannot have murderers in our community. For that matter, we cannot even have people who destroy educational infrastructure. They don’t belong to a university, they belong elsewhere, perhaps in prison.”
He encouraged students to report any leads or information about the suspect to the police and not to take the law into their own hands.
“This person is a danger to society. No women is safe as long as he is on the run. He has to be arrested and put behind bars as soon as possible.”
Ramogale vowed to launch a “very long-term campaign” against gender-based and other forms of violence in the institution.
“We will be launching a campaign against gender-based violence because we’ve seen that this is a new trend where people are increasingly resorting to violence.
“It’s going to be a very long-term campaign that we will have on a yearly basis, to raise awareness about the futility of violence. Violence is futile, it doesn’t help you nor the society. Ask the criminals behind bars and they will tell you they were lost.”
Madlala suggested prospective students be screened for any history of violence before being registered.
Mbatha will be laid to rest on Saturday at her home in Umsinga.