The headline “UWC rape, then police abuse” 9th May 10, was poignant for numerous reasons.

About three decades ago I was a leader of the Muslim students at UWC when the idea of a campus shebeen was proposed. Aware of the dangers, I rallied students to object against a campus shebeen. At the public meeting where the proposed shebeen was discussed, I was individually intimidated and threatened by unknown “students”. I stood my ground and when my turn came at the podium I spoke harshly against the shebeen much to the dismay of those who believed it was a done deal.

At that meeting, those who strongly supported the shebeen were ironically mostly aligned to the political and activist movements at that time. The anti-shebeen campaign received support from Muslim and Christian groups, environmental societies and others whose names I cannot remember.

The main reason advocated by the pro-shebeen group was the need to relax and socialize. The anti-shebeen campaigners wanted to know if drinking alcohol was the only manner to relax and socialize.

The pro-shebeen lobby lost the debate as their reasons were in reality ignorant and short-sighted.

After I graduated, sometime later the shebeen was quietly set-up and the rest is history. Now we read of the abuse and rape of students. Ostensibly this is the norm and according to reports such incidences are not measured vital by authorities. Ironically, while many drink, no-one likes a drunk.

Questions that remain unanswered are: what is a shebeen doing at an institution of learning? Is there not enough in surrounding communities?  Since we live in the most unsafe nation where rape and child abuse is the highest in the world, when will we as a society learn the dangers of alcohol?

Since non-white students at UWC have heard-of/witnessed the dangers of the “dop system” used by colonial and Apartheid farmers, have they learnt anything from the enslavement of people and the purpose of alcohol in that process.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress

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