More than 200 UCT students gather in front of the Saartjie Bartman hall to have a vigil also paying tribute to the late Uyinene Mrwetyana last week. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - There is a need for the police to hold a campus security imbizo to engage students on issues of safety with a view to increasing police visibility at institutions of higher learning.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said this as several Cabinet ministers - including Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Women, Youth and persons with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane - met with student leaders on Thursday to engage on the ongoing student protests and gender-based violence.

Cele suggested the establishment of a body that would get all the universities together.

“We came up with a programme of engaging students representing all students from campuses," he said.

“I was just thinking, I don't know what kind of a structure we can build so that all universities continue to engage. Many of you came with proposals of solutions and we cannot come here and say that we can't take ideas from you.”

The meeting with student leaders took place in a week where students, particularly in the Western Cape, took to the streets to protest gender-based violence after student Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally raped and murdered.

During the engagement with Cabinet ministers, Busisiwe Nxumalo from UCT said students did not feel safe anywhere, even during Uber rides, and suggested that students be given pepper spray as an immediate measure to keep them safe.

Cele said it was important for the forum between government and students to be formed in order to solicit ideas that would later inform a policy decision.

University campuses were generally perceived to be relatively secure places, but results from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) research showed they were not immune to crime.

ISS researchers Eleanor Ross and Shahana Rasool said the most common crimes reported by students were those perpetrated by a “motivated offender”, and included laptop and cellphone theft, being abducted and having funds stolen from one's bank account, being hijacked and injured, experiencing a robbery at a commune or student residence and having one's belongings stolen after being threatened with a knife or gun.

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