UCT says it's seen a decline in campus crime over the last two months
UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng said the safety of the university’s students and staff remained one of the its key responsibilities, and she assured that all security matters were under scrutiny.
Phakeng said the Campus Protection Services (CPS) operated 24/7 and was committed to maintaining the safety of UCT and the wider community, safeguarding their property, while maintaining order in accordance with university policies. She said officers operated from centres at UCT, patrolling campuses on foot, in marked cars and through live CCTV feeds. She said several changes and initiatives had been put in place.
“CPS works closely with the police on certain crime categories and has recorded a number of successes in the past two months, particularly regarding arrests for vehicle-related crimes. Our partnership with the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District has yielded a 66.67% reduction in robberies with aggravating circumstances, and a 69.23% reduction in the theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles between August last year and September 2019.”
In addition, Phakeng said UCT now had licence-plate recognition (LPR) cameras, which operated in conjunction with the GSCID. “On August 26, a vehicle believed to be tied to the theft of motor vehicles was identified on campus through the LPR. The suspects were arrested by police while trying to steal another vehicle.”
Phakeng said perimeter security had been improved, in collaboration with the GSCID, across all campuses to increase security presence and to deter opportunistic offenders.
“In another collaboration with the GSCID, CPS staff had been strategically deployed to focus on crime hot spots across UCT’s campuses, including all satellite campuses, in order to secure the university’s perimeter. As an open campus, UCT has several identified vulnerable areas which are being monitored constantly,” she said.
Phakeng encouraged staff and students to consider car pools, to avoid parking in unprotected off-campus side streets and/or to move their vehicles closer to campus during daylight and busier times.
However, student organisations were sceptical about the initiatives. The secretary of the SRC, Asemahle Ntumntum said UCT was not doing all it could to prevent crime on its campus. “Right after some of their safety measures were implemented, students were getting mugged at the Middle Campus, and some were even held at gunpoint. This is happening on campus, but UCT claims to have increased the visibility of the CPS,” Ntumntum said.
She said security guards on overnight Jammie shuttles “really don’t do what they are instructed to do”. “Students still get on Jammies without producing their cards. I don’t know how having guards on Jammies is preventing crime.”
DA Students Organisation chairperson Luke Albert welcomed UCT’s CPS deployment. “UCT is an open campus, and we hope management engages the City of Cape Town with possible solutions in the area, as crime in the community directly affects safety on campus.”
Phakeng said students and staff should be aware of their surroundings, particularly of people in their environment. “Report suspicious behaviour. Do not leave your possessions unattended. If you feel unsafe, call CPS on 0806502222 (toll-free) or 0216502222/3. This number is on the back of every UCT identity card.”@SISONKE_MD