Concerned parent Anthony McLaughlin holds a letter penned to the university last year over safety concerns. Picture: Tracey Adams
Concerned parent Anthony McLaughlin holds a letter penned to the university last year over safety concerns. Picture: Tracey Adams

Parents fear for students' lives in wake of #HannahCornelius murder

By Marvin Charles Time of article published May 31, 2017

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Cape Town – Concerned parents fear for the lives of their children who are studying at Stellenbosch University following the murder of Hannah Cornelius.

Parent Anthony McLaughlin has two sons, one of whom studies politics at the university.

His other son graduated in 2014. While attending his graduation, they were held up at knife-point.

"We were attacked around lunch time by nine children who came to us holding knives," McLaughlin said.

They were robbed of their cellphones and wallets.

He then wrote to the institution, accusing them of "lying and covering up" the issue of security on campus.

McLaughlin said his son who still studies fears for his life after Hannah was murdered.

"My son is petrified and for me as a parent I’m scared for him."

He said his son's flat had also been broken into.

"In the beginning of May my son and his flatmates had so many break-ins."

Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the insitution understands the concerns of the parents and that the safety of students remains its first priority.

"Over the last few years, the university has on a number of occasions expressed its concern about the crime situation in our country on various platforms and forums. The violent nature of this incident is testimony to the challenges that we face as a country," he said.

Viljoen said the university had increased the number of guards on the streets and had upped the number of security personnel in the pedestrian escort service.

"We furthermore welcome initiatives of our student community (like the WhatsApp groups). This will complement the existing safety structures on campus."

On Wednesday, students held an emergency meeting to address safety concerns.

"During the meeting, students raised crucial issues that have affected them personally and other students and topics such as high levels of crime, rape culture, discrimination and erasure of queer students, safe shuttle services were raised and discussed among the student body," student activist Luke Waltham said.

He said they were disappointed the university's management had not attended.

"These groups should have been there to take part in such a pertinent discussion which affects every single student on campus. We cannot possibly allow a norm to form on campus where students constantly feel unsafe."

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