Pride Thamaga, a second-year BCom Law student who witnessed the incident, says the alleged perpetrator became very defensive and refused to cooperate with the police. Charles Malaila, the residence manager and house father at Urban Nest, asked the alleged perpetrator to apologise to the officers for his attitude towards them. He also asked that police not be involved and that they allow for the matter to be handled internally. A disciplinary hearing was called, which Same, the alleged perpetrator, Malaila, house mother Irene Malaila and house committee chairperson Tlhologelo Mogoatle all attended. Vice-chairperson of the house committee Diana Mawoko and SRC member Gabriel Nel were also at the disciplinary hearing.
Same told Perdeby that at the end of the hearing in April it was agreed that the alleged perpetrator was guilty and that appropriate steps would be followed. Same maintains that when residents move in, they sign a contract that states that should anyone be found guilty of assault, they will face immediate suspension from the residence. However, three weeks after the incident occurred the perpetrator was found guilty and received a written warning.
Ofence Nkale, a second-year BSc Applied Sciences student, says that he does not feel safe at Urban Nest anymore. “The guy has clear anger management problems. He almost fought with officers of the law. What will stop him from attacking one of us next?” Nkale went on to speak about how this is not the first time that management has failed to deliver. According to Nkale, the house father refused to get involved in the matter. “If he does not want to be part of this issue then what is his job here? He is paid to take care of us like his own kids. You cannot let one of your own kids be beaten up and look the other way,” Nkale continued.
When Perdeby first contacted the house father, he was unable to comment as he was asked to follow protocol and to first confirm matters with TuksRes before speaking to the media. However, he later confirmed with Perdeby that the perpetrator had received a written warning after the disciplinary hearing.The Urban Nest chairperson was also at first unable to explain why the matter had not been dealt with. He advised Perdeby to not publish the article as an investigation into the case was still underway.
“They [the house committee] made many promises to us during their manifestos but now that they are in luxury they have forgotten us. I am very disappointed in the way they left their fellow peer and did not fully help him,” says Thamaga. Nthabiseng Phako, a second-year BSc Biological Sciences student, was at the hearing but was only allowed to stay long enough to report what she witnessed during the incident. She says that during the hearing Urban Nest officials were mainly on the perpetrator’s side adding that they were defending him. They suggested that Same drop the case as it would cost the perpetrator a lot. Same told Perdeby that he intends to open a case with the police. He expressed his disappointment regarding how the matter was handled and said he feels that it was pushed under the carpet.
Photo: Anele Mkungela