It seems like a huge understatement to describe the past month’s events simply as tough but where do you begin in addressing everything that happened? Because a lot has happened. From 2 September, peace on campus seemed to deteriorate rapidly and I can’t say it’s calmed down as we’ve entered October. There may not be any protests, but we certainly aren’t free of the chaos of gender based violence that surrounds us.
The confirmation of Uyinene’s murder hurt many people, myself included. The realisation that rapists and sexual predators that target the vulnerable of our society aren’t scary bogeymen in a dark alley, but rather our peers, our colleagues and our postal service workers, shocked and horrified us all. While women have always lived with an element of fear and caution, we felt safe on and around campus. For the most part, at least. (Some of us didn’t ever feel safe, read the very personal account on page 7).
Personally, I am always on edge about my safety as a woman but suddenly everyone on campus was hyper aware and hyper vigilant about safety – even in the bubble of protection we perceive campus as offering. You’ll see this atmosphere of fear reflected in the visual on page 8. We asked readers on Instagram to fill in the blank of “___ @ UP” to explore a more subjective student experience of GBV and protests around campus and Hatfield. I don’t think anyone felt like they were flying at UP as everything heated up. We received an overwhelming amount of answers of “afraid” and “scared” and only one positive response and to many of us, it didn’t seem that the university was concerned with students’ fears. I want to think the university and those in power have their primary concern in line with our well-being and growth as students, but it took a lot from SRC President David Kabwa to earn students a mere two days of mourning that we as a student body were sorely in need of. Uyinene wasn’t a UP student but she was a woman. She was a peer. She was a real person, with real experiences and was the victim of a very real attack. Of course we needed to mourn and recover. And the university should’ve known that.
The atmosphere on campus shifted instantaneously and things escalated within hours of the confirmation of Uyinene’s murder. On page 6 you can read our recap of what happened from 2 September. But from our side, that week was chaotic and draining. As a newly appointed editorial we were thrown into the deep end of protests, demonstrations and live action coverage. If you missed our coverage of the protests, the SRC vs UP saga and the surrounding events, lucky you, we’ve covered things again in a recap and a follow up of the #OneRapistOneBullet movement’s demands to Brooklyn SAPS and the university.
But I know we as an editorial weren’t alone in the chaos. We asked students to share how they feel on campus and about on-going gender based violence in South Africa and you can read these student concerns in this edition’s “PDBWhy?” on page 8. Please keep sharing your experiences and thoughts with us, we value them and believe your voices should be heard. You can write me a letter at editor@ pdby.co.za.
Until next time,
Stay safe and look after one another.