Rhodes University protest
Police use tear gas to disperse anti-rape protesters at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province, 20 April 2016Nadim Nyker

South African police have arrested students during protests on 20 April against rape impunity at Rhodes university in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape. Dozens of protesters, some of whom demonstrated topless, have been demonstrating this week calling for more action against "rape culture" in the country.

Security forces allegedly used stun grenades and rubber bullets against demonstrators who erected barricades, according to witnesses. Five people have been arrested according to News 24.

"We have been protesting for three days and the protests have been very hearty and peaceful," Nadim Nyker, a student at Rhodes, told IBTimes UK.

"People had hands in the air and were silently protesting but a bakkie [pick-up truck] came out of nowhere and police shot at us with rubber bullets. We don't know if the university authorised the police to come on board. We are telling the police to stop."

Nyker explained the protests were sparked after a list – nicknamed "‎RUReferenceList"‬ – featuring names of university members who had allegedly committed rape was published on the student representative's webpage.

"This sparked major protests because people wanted justice. But a lot of students took justice into their own hands and went to the residence of these guys accused of raping girls," said Nyker.

"It is very complex. We are protesting against rape impunity, rape culture and institutionalised rape. Lots of lecturers have made comments on rape that are way out of line. One, for example, said people are getting raped because they don't pray enough. This is ridiculous.

"Classes have been suspended. We don't know when the university will open again. There is sense of urgency to address rape culture."

The university' vice-chancellor called on students who have been allegedly raped by people whose names appear on the ‎RUReferenceList‬ to report the matter to the university, according to a statement from the media relations office. The university also committed to creating a task team to strengthen its responsiveness to cases of sexual violence.

"Extensive discussions were held with the deans yesterday regarding the academic programme. The preponderant view was that time in lectures should be dedicated to engagement on issues of sexual violence and rape so as to raise awareness and educate staff and students on these issues," the statement continued.