An intiative has been launched to arm female students at Unisa with pepper sprays to protect themselves, reports Pretoria East Rekord.
The initiative was launched at the university’s Sunnyside campus.
Unisa spokesperson Tommy Huma said this was an active response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to find solutions to the unacceptable levels of gender-based violence in the country.
“This initiative is but one of the many interventions planned by Unisa.”
Huma said the initiative was made possible through donations by Unisa’s executives and extended management.
Unisa principal and vice-chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya said the initiative was a way for female students to fight the scourge of violence against women, which was a major concern to society at large.
“We must acknowledge as a society that we have reached a point of no return when it comes to gender-based violence,” he said.
“We should be embarrassed by the situation,” Makhanya said.
He said every person deserved to be recognised as a human being, “yet as a society we have descended to a level so low that even animals would be scared to be associated with us”.
Makhanya said he hoped that the initiative by Unisa would now in some way move towards mitigating the risk that female students faced when travelling from their homes to the university’s facilities.
“We have realised that if we do not act to protect our female students, we will live to regret it,” he said.
The distribution of the defensive pepper spray is set to be rolled at various Unisa campuses and many regional facilities across the country.
Unisa said it condemned all forms of gender-based violence and supported any efforts to curb the scourge.
This also follows calls by Ramaphosa, who has pleaded with families to raise boys who respect women, themselves, the value of life and human dignity.
“As South African men, let us take responsibility for our actions. We must treat the women and girls of our country with care and respect.
“Let us declare that enough is enough,” Ramaphosa said.