UCT warns of Rhodes Memorial crime after two rapes

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FILE image of university students on campus at UCT in Cape Town.

CAPE TOWN - The University of Cape Town (UCT) has warned students and staff to avoid the Rhodes Memorial area following two rapes and a hijacking.

“It is with outrage and regret that we inform University of Cape Town staff and particularly students of incidents of a most serious criminal nature that have recently occurred off campus in the vicinity of Rhodes Memorial.

"We urge all to avoid the area, particularly after dark,” UCT communication and marketing executive director Gerda Kruger said in a statement on the UCT official website.

A female student reported that she was raped off campus near the Rhodes Memorial restaurant on Tuesday, 19 January by an unidentified man, Kruger said.

This incident is similar to another on 11 December 2015 when another female student reported that she was attacked and raped by an unidentified man when she walked from Rhodes Memorial towards UCT. This incident was reported to the UCT campus community at the time.

The SA Police Service was investigating both cases. These incidents had some similarities in terms of the modus operandi involved in the attacks.

“While it is too early to say at this stage, it may be possible that the same perpetrator is responsible,” Kruger said.

Of additional concern was that a male student was held at gunpoint and robbed of his car on 15 January near the M3 highway below Rhodes Memorial. In this case the abandoned car was recovered some hours later and the suspects were arrested. The student was not physically harmed.

“In light of these incidents, we urge everyone to avoid the Rhodes Memorial area, especially after dark – in particular the path used as a shortcut that goes through the bushes,” she said.

Anyone noticing any suspicious activity on campus should alert the security office immediately.

“If you need assistance, please call Campus Protection Services on 021 650 2222/3 (24 hours).

"We recommend you store this number on speed dial on your phone,” Kruger said.

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