Cape Town - The spate of attacks on students on campuses has prompted calls for police to have a presence on university grounds, something unthinkable during the campus upheavals of the 1980s.
At a campus safety roadshow with deputy police minister Bongani Mkongi, he heard of the many attacks on students on campuses in the city and pleas for him to do something about them.
Mkongi said the roadshow was in response to the murders of learners and students and many other “horrendous” incidents reported in the learning environment.
His first roadshow at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Bellville campus was under the theme “On a journey to a safer South Africa”.
He vowed to visit higher education institutions in various provinces to consult with stakeholders and role-players.
Mkongi said the purpose of the dialogue was to fulfil the police mandate of achieving community-centred policing to create a crime-free environment conducive for learning.
The dialogue forms part of the Campus Safety program launched by the Police Minister Bheki Cele at the Tshwane University of Technology in May last year.
Topics discussed included “Safer Schools and Cities”, “Gender-Based Violence”, “Extracurricular Activities”, “Illicit Drugs” and “Substance Abuse”.
“One of the needs of the students is safety. And the role of the student representative councils is to help enforce the institutions to bring that safety,” Mkongi said.
CPUT Student Representative Council general-secretary Sihle Ngxabi called on the police to be present on their campuses.
“I feel like our securities on campus were not doing their job, hence there is an increase in criminal elements in our institutions,” Ngxabi said.
At the CPUT Nursing College in Athlone students protested in February demanding safer residences, and feared criminal elements in the area, who they said were targeting them.
During the protest, students said last year one of the students, Sinovuyo Yhusi, was found murdered in his hostel room and since then they had been concerned about crime.
Sinovuyo Mankayi, a Congress of South African Students member, said police should be deployed on campuses and appreciated Mkongi’s engagement. He pleaded with the government to invest more in students, “because they are the future”.
UCT’s DA Students Organisation chairperson Caleb Kay said campus safety had been an issue, “especially at UCT’s residences”.
Kay said universities should start looking at ways of training their security “to be more than just witnesses to unfortunate events, by giving them the necessary training and resources”.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said safety of students should be prioritised by government and university management at all times.
Makaneta said rape and crime on campus could not go on unattended.
“We call on the police ministry to work with student organisations, especially young women on our campuses, to create an enabling environment for students to report perpetrators.”
According to UCT’s crime prevention measures, the best way to prevent crime is to be aware of your surroundings and the people in your environment.
“Criminals rely on the community being indifferent. Be alert for suspicious persons in and around campus buildings and in parking areas.
“Don’t follow suspicious persons. If you are confronted by a criminal who is armed, or claims to be armed, give up your property immediately. If you see anything suspicious, or if you have been the victim of a crime, call Campus Protection Services, 021 650 2222/3.”@SISONKE_MD