Three trans students at the University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, have allegedly been beaten by fellow students after they were victimised because of their gender identity.
The Times reported on Wednesday that law student Glenton Matthyse and two friends, all members of the campus LGBT rights group Gayla-UWC, were allegedly harassed on Saturday night at the university’s pub.
They were not allowed to use the women’s toilets and claim to have been groped and verbally abused by other students. “We were being called ‘moffies’, ‘faggots’, and izitabane,” said Matthyse.
The abuse is said to have continued when they returned to their residence where an attacker grabbed one of the trans students from behind, leading to a physical altercation.
“She fell to the ground and then he dragged her for two metres from the entrance and began a severe physical assault,” Matthyse told the newspaper.
“His two friends pitched in and assisted in assaulting her. I tried to stop them and so did my friends. My legs were covered in blood after they were done with her. We were no match for them.”
Matthyse claims that a university security guard stood by and watched the fight take place and that campus authorities have not taken the incident seriously.
A university spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo, condemned the attack and said an investigation was underway.
However, he also told the newspaper that the trans students had verbally abused security guards who broke up the fight and he accused the students of being unruly and in a “drunken state”.
“Everyone said we were being hysterical – but rightfully so, considering what had just transpired. We had just been assaulted,” said Matthyse, who denied being unruly.
He also claimed that when he tried to report the incident to the police, “a Constable Smith, from Bellville South police station, grinned and chuckled… When I asked him about this he said it was a form of ‘stress relief’.”