Students resigned to rape at UKZN

2008-02-23 00:00

Students at the University of KZN (UKZN) don’t hold out much hope for a breakthrough in the investigation into the rape of a young American student on the Howard College campus on November 13 last year.

Most also believe there’s little chance of stopping similar incidents from happening again and said yesterday that they believe that the rape of local women goes unnoticed and unreported.

Last year’s rape case —although no less horrific — only grabbed headlines because the girl is not South African and because the entire issue caused high-profile racial clashes between staff, students and academics, they said.

Students told Weekend Witness yesterday that nothing has changed since the attack, but said they do not wish to debate the issue any further. It is business as usual and the new academic year is a priority, they said.

Police spokesman Michael Read confirmed yesterday that there has been no progress in the rape investigation. The student has returned home and there have been no arrests.

However, UKZN’s executive dean of students, Trevor Wills, said the safety review panel that the university has created to deal with crime issues on campus following the attack completed its work last Friday. The task team is expected to deliver a final report on safety and security at all five campuses shortly.

Wills said that even before this final report was completed, UKZN had budgeted for a significant sum to be spent on improving safety and security on campuses.

“We are awaiting the outcomes of the panel in order to set priorities for 2008 and to implement recommendations,” he said.

Wills said there are already more security guards operating in residences.

He said CCTV cameras are in full operation in both the Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campus residences and there are plans to roll out the facility to all residences.

He said electronic access control is in operation in all the Westville, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg residences, new systems for monitoring the functioning of access control devices have been put in place to ensure that entry isn’t gained as a result of things like inoperative turnstiles, and residence assistants, who live on site, are receiving ongoing training to deal with disciplinary issues.

They will also be far more accessible to students during 2008.

He promised that attention is being paid to improving the responses of residence staff to the concerns and complaints of residence students.

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