The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has come to the defence of former Rhodes University student Yolanda Dyantyi, who is challenging the institution's decision to bar her from studying there indefinitely.
Dyantyi was charged by the university for contravening the student disciplinary code, kidnapping and insubordination and subsequently found guilty in 2017, before being suspended.
The High Court in Grahamstown is set to hear a bid to have the decision overturned on Friday, September 11, 2020.
In a statement, the red berets lashed out at the institution, accusing it of stooping low by finding against her.
"It is unthinkable that an institution that parades itself as a custodian and tower of knowledge, rights and freedom would stoop so low and proceed to find guilty an unrepresented accused. It matters not how grave a crime is, legal representation is non-negotiable more so where the outcome of the hearing has a potential irreparable harm and permanent adverse effect on the accused," said EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.
The charges are in relation to a list of former and current male students, accused of sexual assault, was widely circulated on social media. The scandal placed focus on sex crimes on the country's campuses.
There were also anti-gender-based violence protests at the university, which supporters have claimed was why she was suspended.
EFF: 'We will fight it till the end'
The red berets said it is unfair that Dyantyi was not given an opportunity to give her side of the story and have called on society to rally behind her.
"It is therefore unjust for her to be found guilty without her side of the story having been heard in a properly constituted tribunal in the presence of her legal representation," Pambo added.
The EFF said it would continue assisting Dyantyi until the matter reaches the highest court of the land. It said it was appalling how the university was willing to spend millions on litigation against the former student, whereas the money would have been used towards other causes including the fight against rape culture and free education for the disadvantaged.
"We call on society and members of the EFF to relay the university authorities our collective discomfort on this development and plead for sanity, failure which, anger and anguish of the nation should be unleashed against the university without further notice," the party concluded.
Rhodes: Dyantyi not excluded for protests
Rhodes University has hit back over 'misinformation' surrounding her expulsion.
"Yolanda Dyantyi was not excluded from the University for participating in the protests against gender-based violence. She was permanently excluded from Rhodes University after being found guilty, in an independent disciplinary hearing in 2017, of a range of unlawful acts including the kidnapping of fellow students, insubordination, assault and defamation," the institution said.