‘Suspended Harare Mayor’s Son Implicated In Rhodes University Alleged Sexual Assault Case’

THE son of suspended Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni, Jason Manyenyeni II, has been implicated in an alleged sexual assault case that sparked fierce protests at Rhodes University in South Africa in the past few weeks.

According to the university authorities a case of sexual assault has since been opened with the police against Jason, a final year Bachelor of Laws student. Jason and another Zimbabwean Kudzi Nzombe are part of a list of 11 male students at the university accused of perpetrating sexual violence against female students.

The list of the alleged sexual offenders was posted on Twitter on Sunday, 17 April with the hashtag “#rureferencelist” and has been circulating on social media since then. This sparked protests with angry female students stripping their clothes protesting failure by the university authorities to protect them from rape.

The protesting students demanded, among other things, having the 11 students suspended from residences.

According to sources at the university a group of furious female students pulled Manyenyeni out of his hall of residence and detained him overnight only to release him on Monday 18 April after police intervention.

Rhodes University media liaison officer Ms Catherine Deiner on Thursday confirmed Jason’s case but said the university had not charged him or any of his co-accused. She said Jason and the other 10 accused students remain bonafide Rhodes University students.

“I understand that a student has gone and opened a case against Jason. You can follow up with the police for further details because they are handling the case now. However, we have not suspended any of the accused students. We can’t suspend a student without any evidence because we believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty,” she said in a telephone interview.

Ms Deiner said the university could also not take any action on the matter which was now before the police.

“The normal procedure in such cases is they are brought before the Vice-Chancellor who then reviews the evidence who, when satisfied with the evidence then calls for a hearing of the case. In the case the Vice-Chancellor is seized with the case but can’t act on it because a student has opened a police case and any action by us will jeopardise the case before the police,” she said.

South African Police Services (Saps) spokesperson for Grahamstown Captain Mali Govender confirmed that police were investigating sexual assault cases at Rhodes University.

She, however, was not in a position to confirm if the reported cases involved Jason and his compatriot Kudzi.

“I’m out of office right now. I can confirm that there are sexual assault cases opened about two weeks ago but I’m not certain who the suspects and complainants are. In any case what normally happens is that we don’t name any suspects of sexual assault until they have been charged. Our law does not allow us to do so,” she said.

Capt Govender said the cases have since been referred to the director of Public Prosecution, as per procedure, to assess the merit of the case before ordering continuation of prosecution.

“We are not going to rush and arrest any one of the accused. We have handed over the dockets to the director of Public Prosecution who will assess the merit of the case based on the available evidence before we continue with prosecution. If the director is satisfied that there is case we are then directed to continue with prosecution and that is when we will make arrests,” she said.

Jason’s father Clr Manyenyeni said his family was going through a difficult time as a result of the case but expressed confidence that his son was innocent and would not be charged with rape. He also thanked Zimbabwean students at Rhodes University whom he said have stood by his son in the face of the accusations.

“My boy is very well behaved and I’m confident he didn’t do anything wrong. He has been to the police twice assisting them with their investigation and he gives us regular updates. This is just a smear campaign against the boys. If you look at it most of the boys on the list are students who are doing well at the university. As a family we are going through a difficult time but I’m sure we will soon come out of it,” he said.

Accusations against Jason come at a time when his father is serving suspension on allegations of unprocedurally appointing former banker James Mushore as the city’s Town Clerk.by Tinomuda Chakanyuka.┬áSource: sundaynews

photo-Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni

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