Cape Town - The Department of Higher Education has instituted a national security audit to ascertain the state of safety and security at institutions of higher learning.
This was revealed by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande when responding to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Sanele Zondo, who asked about steps the department has taken following reports of eight murders of students at various campuses and escalating crime at the institutions.
Nzimande said a national security audit to ascertain the state of safety and security at universities was under way.
“The study seeks to determine the existence of security measures on campuses, what the university populace think of the current security situation, and what university management has done to promote safety and security,” he said.
“In addition, following the series of callous murders at the University of Fort Hare a decision was made to establish a national task force, which will assist in the development of intervention strategies to assist with campus safety and other security measures,” Nzimande said.
The minister added that safety and security at universities has long been a matter of concern in South Africa.
“It is well-known that our universities are sometimes confronted by enormous challenges of violence which include brutal murder of female students in both universities and TVET colleges spaces,” he said.
Nzimande also said his department has since 2019 been engaging with universities, Universities South Africa, SAPS and Campus Protection Society of Southern Africa to address safety concerns.
Protocols were developed for securing direct intervention by SAPS, including interdicts issued by courts.
He stated that the department also committed to work with Universities South Africa and universities to improve the capacity of institutions to maintain peace and keep campuses safe and secure.
“Universities were requested to submit their plans to enhance safety and security on their campuses and residences including all safety-related initiatives.
“The aim was to identify urgent matters that need to be addressed at institutions including the need to improve the capacity of institutions to maintain peace and keep campuses safe and secure.”
Nzimande said funds have been made available in the Infrastructure Efficiency Grant (IEG) for safety and security projects submitted by universities to the department.
“The university education branch convened a meeting with the heads of security to understand and assess the different threats experienced by universities and collectively identify interventions that can be implemented immediately, as well as medium- and long-term.”
He also said it was suggested that a policy framework, which will serve as a guiding instrument for developing policies by universities, should be developed.
“The framework will outline basic norms and standards that should be included in institutional policies,” Nzimande added.