Verbal and physical aggression in the UCT library

In my first year of university, I was in the library studying when a male student’s phone started to ring. I, along with a group of other students, was sitting on the floor because there were no seats available and the male student was seated close by at a desk. Instead of turning off his phone, he answered it and proceeded to have a conversation with whomever was calling. As his conversation continued, it became clear that he was not attempting to end the call so I went over to ask him to please take his call outside. He looked at me and then told his caller that he’d have to call him back because ‘some chick’ had said that he was disturbing her. I went back to my spot on the floor and after he wrapped up his call, he walked over to where I was to tell me that he thought it was rude to interrupt him on his call. I told him that it was rude to answer his phone in a library full to capacity of other students trying to study. He then asked me if I knew who he was (I did not) and proceeded to call me ‘a stupid bitch’ all the while standing over me while I was sitting on the floor. I was annoyed but very intimidated so I asked him not to speak to me in that way because a library was a silent place of study and then he started pointing his finger on my forehead, telling me to shut up and that I should go tell security if I had a problem with him but they wouldn’t believe me anyway. While this was happening, none of the other students intervened although everyone was staring. When he was back at his desk, I went to the front desk where the librarians were to explain my situation and they took me to the security guard. By this point I was shaking and in tears so the security guard asked me to just point out which guy it was. I did so, and he went over to ask the student to pack up his stuff and follow him. One of the girls sitting closest to me on the floor gave me her name, phone number and email address and told me she would corroborate my story. I followed awkwardly behind the security guard and the other student as we were lead to the CPS office in the Leslie Social and I was made to wait outside while the security guard took the male student inside a small office. I could hear him talking to some other CPS officers about what had happened and then to the male student to ask him to explain what had happened. Nobody came outside to sit with me or seemed to even know why I was there and there were no female CPS officers at all. After the male student made his statement, he was allowed to leave and I then made my statement and was told that someone would get in touch with me about it.

I was contacted by someone from DISCHO and it was explained to me that I had the option of a mediation with this student or that he would be disciplined in another way. I declined the mediation given how physically intimidated I had been in the presence of this other student and him being disciplined sounded like a better option. I heard nothing from DISCHO for months and then I randomly received an email from this student – whose name I did not even know until his email arrived – apologising for his behaviour. There was no call from DISCHO to tell me that this email would be arriving and I wasn’t even sure what I was supposed to do in response to it. I had avoided the library for weeks after the incident and all I received was a list of excuses for why he had been verbally and physically aggressive towards me.


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