Khensani Maseko
Durban - The death of Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko, who is believed to have committed suicide after being raped earlier this year, has led to women speaking out about gender-based violence on ­social media.

Maseko, who was allegedly raped by a friend, died in an apparent suicide at her family home in Alberton on Friday.

The 23-year-old EFF student leader was completing her BA degree at Rhodes at the time of her death.

Family representative ­Palesa Gcwensa said Maseko’s funeral would be held on Thursday.

“Everyone is strong. We are focusing on the preparations for the funeral. We are trying to mourn and give her a send-off that is fitting,” she said.

Gcwensa said Maseko was “a lovely person, sweet and good to her family. She was very strong”.

In a post on her Instagram account on Friday, Maseko posted her date of birth, “24.07.1995”, along with that day’s date, and the words “No one deserves to be raped!”

Her death has triggered many women to speak out against gender-based abuse and to share their personal ­stories.

Responding to Maseko’s last Instagram post, Natalie Nelson said it took her eight years to “start living”.

“I’m a rape survivor, too. It’s how I lost my virginity, to some savage. Your self worth and dignity go with it your heartbeat, too, especially when you have to face the savage ­almost daily and they’re a person of power,” said Nelson.

“Took me eight years to finally stop existing and start living, to be brave enough to finally give him his cross back and tell all who would listen. Silence gives them your power, sanity, peace, and gives them permission to repeat the behaviour.

“Rest with the Angels.”

Rhodes student representative council leader Nhlakanipho Mahlangu said: “We know the amount of promise she had to offer. We’re very shaken, we wish her family all the strength and support that we can.”

Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela yesterday ordered that the institution’s flag be flown at half mast.

The university said it would ask the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to initiate an inquest into Maseko’s death, and that they would issue an intention to suspend the alleged perpetrator.