THE Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia (Unam), Professor Kenneth Matengu, today told students that due to a culture of silence on issues relating to sexual assault, as well as gender-based violence, the university is unable to act on the recent allegations of rape lodged by several women against a Zimbabwean student.
Matengu, whom was speaking at the first Academic assembly held on the main campus, was confronted on the tertiary institution’s seeming inaction against the foreign student at the university, Kudakwashe ‘Kuda’ Gonzo, after he was accused of sexual violence by at least nine female students earlier this year.
It is alleged Gonzo fondled the girls’ private parts without their consent before proceeding to force himself on them.
In a heated question and answer session, Mantengu was queried about what the university is doing to protect female students especially since the rapist accused has been seen lurking in the corridors of the main campus.
“On the issue of GBV and assault, there’s a study we did and it revealed that there are things happening that you students know are wrong and immoral. You only complain about it in the corridors. Nobody has come forward. You walk in the corridors and whisper, “‘this Unam, this Unam,'” who is UNAM?” said Matengu.
He further stated that this issue has only been on social media and nobody has come forth to officially file a complaint, and as such, the university is unable to investigate the alleged rape allegations.
Matengu urged students to help the university resolve the matter as it has a policy on sexual harassment.
Alexis Wimmerth, SRC secretary of community development and gender affairs at the main campus, states that there are several sexual predators who lurk on campus grounds as they have not been charged with their crimes at the Office of the Dean of Students (ODC) or at police stations.
She added that most victims who came forward do not want to report cases but rather seek psychological counselling.
Wimmerth also chastised the university, stating that it would shrug off taking responsibility of some rape cases as they were reported to the police and not the ODC.
She further called out the VP, stating that his claim that rape cases were not reported on the campus, are untrue as several cases have been opened despite the fact that the victims do not want to press charges.
“I think we can work more in terms of safety on campus. Yes, there are security guards, but these acts of rape happen in the hostel rooms of students. Measures should be taken as to who is allowed to enter these spaces,” Wimmerth said.