Cape Town – Three suspects have been taken in for questioning following the recent attacks on women in the vicinity of Rhodes Memorial – the latest of which was reported on Monday afternoon.
It is believed that in the latest incident, the attacker assaulted the woman before attempting to rape her in the vicinity of Mostert’s Mill.
While police have refused to be drawn on the matter, a source within the police has told the Cape Argus the possibility of the attacks being the work of a serial rapist had not been ruled out.
Three incidents have been reported since December 11, with Gerda Kruger, UCT’s executive director of the communication and marketing department, saying at the weekend: “These incidents have 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.”
In the latest incident, the woman, who had been seriously injured, was assisted by the police and campus protection services (CPS) after being found on Rhodes Avenue, UCT said in a statement on Tuesday.
Her attacker reportedly broke her jaw.
Police said the suspect had threatened the victim, who was hiking in the area, with a knife. She was taken to hospital.
“A case of robbery is being investigated. No one has been arrested at this stage. We urge anyone with information that can assist with the investigation to contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111,” said police spokeswoman, Constable Noloyiso Rwexana.
According to the university, a joint operation was conducted on Monday afternoon by the police, SANParks and CPS.
“It is our understanding that three people have been detained for questioning,” the university said.
On Tuesday afternoon, UCT spokesman Elijah Moholola said investigations were still continuing to determine whether the three suspects, who had been taken in for questioning, could be linked to any of the three incidents.
“It is still too early to tell whether this is the case at this stage.”
An article on the UCT website said that according to the police the attacker has been described as a well-spoken man of slender build and in his mid-20s.
He appears to know the mountain well and wears a hoodie with black pants.
On Tuesday morning, UCT vice-chancellor Dr Max Price, representatives from student affairs and CPS visited the area where the attacks had taken place.
According to the article, Dr Price said he had come to see for himself where these “horrific” assaults had taken place as it was an area used by staff and students.
“I wanted to meet the police to see the site for myself and to see what more we could do to improve security in the area.”
The first attack took place on December 11 when a female student was attacked and raped by an unidentified man as she was walking from Rhodes Memorial towards UCT.
A second student reported that she had been raped by an unidentified man near the Rhodes Memorial restaurant on January 19.
The third woman is not a UCT student or staff member.
UCT has asked all members of the campus community to be vigilant around the area.
Students and staff were urged to report any suspicious individuals or activities on or near the campus to the 24-hour line 021 650 2222/3.
Moholola said UCT “has been engaging all the relevant stakeholders” to ensure that crime incidents that have been taking place near the campus are dealt with”.
“The relevant stakeholders involved in a joint operation to restore safety and security in the area around the Rhodes Memorial in particular – where the latest three incidents took place – are the SAPS and SANParks.”
SANParks regional spokeswoman Merle Collins said: “We automatically increase our security presence in an area following an incident.”IOL