'Banned for life' student causes friction between EFF and Rhodes

Rhodes University says it notes with concern statements issued by the EFF against the institution regarding former student Yolanda Dyantyi.

The party has rallied behind Dyantyi as she seeks to have the courts overturn a decision to dismiss, with costs, her application for the review and setting aside of her permanent exclusion from the university.

In 2017, she was expelled after being convicted of a range of charges – including kidnapping, assault, defamation and insubordination – by an independent disciplinary inquiry instituted by the institution.

The Grahamstown High Court dismissed Dyantyi's review application on Friday which the EFF, in a statement, said it noted.

It appealed to society and eminent persons to intervene and bring the university "to its senses".

"We must appreciate that this country has no dustbin of a girl child nor jails strong enough to intimidate and flush our efforts against women and girl child abuse.

"We call on society and members of the EFF to relay to the university authorities our collective discomfort on this development and plead for sanity, failure which, the anger and anguish of the nation should be unleashed against the university without further notice," the party said.

News24 previously reported Dyantyi's legal representative, Nomzamo Zondo from the Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa, said the terms of the expulsion had made it practically impossible for her to enroll in any other higher education institution for the foreseeable future.

In her application for review, Dyantyi had also sought the court's intervention in setting aside its verdict on all the charges and for the university to be ordered to pay the costs of her application proceedings.

The court, however, dismissed her application with costs on Friday, according to the university.

The former student claims the university had denied her the right to a fair hearing, that she was denied legal representation and that the evidence against her during the hearing was flawed – and the sanction inappropriate.

The EFF also alluded in its statement the "university tribunal accepted untested evidence of university witnesses against her [Dyantyi]. She was never given the opportunity to cross-examine her accusers and rigorously test their evidence".

According to university spokesperson Velisile Bukula, Dyantyi had also reiterated the claims to the court in her review application to the Grahamstown High Court, which was dismissed with costs on Friday.

"The judge noted that throughout the hearing, Ms Dyantyi was represented by a 'highly esteemed team of four legal practitioners' who in fact, participated in the disciplinary hearing over nine sittings.

"Towards the conclusion of the hearing, during October 2017, the applicant and her legal team decided to no longer engage in the disciplinary hearing. This, the court found, was unreasonable.

"Ms Dyantyi … deliberately and without permission or just cause withdrew her participation from the disciplinary hearing.

"Consequently, the inquiry proceeded in their absence until it was concluded with a verdict and sanction that are now being impugned by the applicant on the broad basis that her right to fair administrative action was breached," the court stated."

No bias against applicant

Bukula said Judge Nhlangulela also wrote: "With these aggravating factors taken into account, the decisions by the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing on sanction served the interests of justice and were rationally connected to the evidence presented.

"There was no bias against the applicant, and the chairperson displayed awareness that he had to discharge his functions in an independent and impartial manner."

He added the judge also found Dyantyi's litigation against the university was frivolous and vexatious.

"This was so 'throughout the litigation process that she unleashed in the disciplinary tribunal, in this court, as well as the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court'. The court, therefore, ordered that she pay the university's legal costs in the review application."

Bukula said the university reiterated the seriousness and urgency which the institution treated any offences involving sexual and or gender-based violence.

He added several students have, in the last three years, also been permanently excluded for offences involving sexual violence. These are in the public record.

"The university recognises and supports the right to peaceful protest, but will not condone serious violent offences in furtherance of such protest.

"The necessary activism against gender-based violence cannot be used as a cover to operate outside of the Constitution and to violate the rights of other citizens."

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