Change the world


Gender-based violence remains one of the greatest challenges in South Africa. Higher education institutions, as microcosms of society, are not immune to these violations. Nelson Mandela University, having had challenges with capacity to effectively and speedily deal with GBV cases, has seen a marked improvement in the manner in which it deals with such cases.


The University’s Transformation Office, in conjunction with Emthonjeni Student Wellness and Student Health Services, have put in place a number of initiatives and critical processes aimed at enhancing the reporting and support measures, respectively.

The Legal Services office has also dealt with and concluded a number of cases relating to gender and sexual-based violence, with sanctions including expulsion and year-long suspensions from all academic and campus activities.

Online Reporting System

An online reporting system, available on the staff and student portals, has been set up to ensure reported harassment and unfair discrimination incidents are dealt with in line with the timelines and procedures outlined in the applicable policies. These policies include the revised Sexual Harassment and Sexual Offences Policy, the new Integrated Policy for the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of and Protection against Unfair Discrimination, which will serve before Council in December for approval.

By following the “Report Harassment and Discrimination” tab, complainants and/or related persons can immediately report an incident, which will be channelled to the Transformation Office for action. In consultation with the complainant, they may elect to use alternative dispute resolution, in the form of mediation, to resolve the complaint.

However, if the complainant opts against mediation, then an investigation into the complaint will be initiated and, depending on the recommendations of the inquiry panel to the Legal Services Office (if students are implicated) or Employee Relations Office (if staff are implicated), formal disciplinary actions may be initiated against the implicated persons. An independent investigator has been appointed to investigate GBV-related complaints to ensure that the process is resolved and processed speedily, in accordance to the spirit and intent of the policy.

The online reporting page also offers the emergency contact details of the GBV coordinator and GBV counsellor, who make themselves available to support during emergencies.

Total GBV Cases for 2020

With the development of a more streamlined reporting process, there has been improvement in the effective resolution of cases.

This year, 29 GBV cases have been reported, some having been concluded while others are in various stages of being processed via the formal disciplinary procedures. The vast majority of cases involve students and are linked to substance abuse. Emthonjeni Student Wellness, together with Student Health Services, have provided psychosocial support to 77 GBV-related incidents (new and past), inclusive of complainants and alleged perpetrators.

Since both Emthonjeni Student Wellness and Student Health Services provide support services to students, they have also developed an online system for recording gender and sexual-based violence data to avoid duplication in reporting while ensuring an effective and efficient case management system. The system classifies clients as new cases, which are incidents that occurred and were reported within the current calendar year; while past cases refer to incidents that occurred prior to the current calendar year or before the client was a student of the University.

GBV Support and Awareness Initiatives

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the ability to conduct physical support and awareness campaigns, University activities aimed at curbing the ongoing GBV pandemic have been ongoing, using virtual platforms. Psychosocial support was provided to Mandela University staff and students and also extended to external clients who had been violated during the lockdown period.

Psychological support is provided by the GBV counsellor to complainants, within 24 hours of the complaint being lodged. The support is maintained throughout and beyond the disciplinary hearings, where the complainant is prepared for testifying at the disciplinary hearings, as this has been identified as critical to the successful conclusion of the case.

In excess of 50 students, including House Committee members and GBV volunteers across the University’s PE and George campuses and on-campus and accredited off-campus residences, have been trained on what constitutes GBV and on contents of the Sexual Harassment and Offences policy.

Anti-gender-based violence advocacy work has also been ongoing throughout the year, including targeted activations having taken place during the orientation period at the beginning of the year.


This year has undoubtedly been among the toughest years our staff and students have gone through as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown conditions. The lockdown also presented particular challenges related to GBV nationally, as evidenced by the reported upsurge in the number of reported cases countrywide.

Mandela University, as an engaged institution with renewed commitment to actively fighting this ongoing GBV pandemic on our campuses, continues the work towards ensuring a safer and inclusive environment for all across the gender spectrum.

We are encouraged by the collaboration between our various institutional units, having made great strides in the integration of our efforts to effectively and efficiently respond to reported GBV cases while simultaneously advocating for equality and the appreciation of the rights of all to work and learn in a safe environment, free of any form of gender-related violations.

Dr Ruby-Ann Levendal
Chairperson: Sexual Harassment and Offences Committee

Contact information
Dr Ruby-Ann Levendal
Director Transformation
Tel: 27 41 5042612