UKZN battling security issues

2016-05-24 09:28

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Pietermaritzburg - University of KwaZulu-Natal student leaders recently held an urgent meeting with campus security to discuss rising concerns over criminals targeting students in the area.

The meeting was held to look at ways to curb crime in and around the university’s Pietermaritzburg campus, and comes on the back of yet another student allegedly being robbed last Friday.

UKZN Student Representative Council president Siphelele Nguse said the organisation is aware of last week’s incident, where a student was allegedly robbed at gunpoint while walking in Carbis Road.

According to a post to the SRC’s Facebook page, the student detailed his encounter, saying he was “almost killed”, but his attacker’s gun jammed. In the post, the student said he had left the agricultural department and 15 seconds later he was robbed of his laptop and handwritten notes.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the police are not aware of the incident and attempts to contact the student yesterday were unsuccessful.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Nguse said the SRC recently met with the manager of the university’s Risk Management Services (RMS) to discuss the safety of students in and around the campus, and soon came to an agreement that the university “has a major problem” in this regard.

Nguse said during the meeting, a few strategies to improve security were proposed.

“We are contemplating getting an external security company to assist with patrolling the roads around the campus and the university’s residences,” Nguse said.

In the interim, Nguse said RMS is providing an “escort service” where upon request, students are accompanied by guards to their residences and communes.

“We agree that the crime rate is increasing, therefore we are proposing that RMS increase their security detail,” Nguse said. “Especially now, with the library opened 24 hours a day with exams coming up, students are out late and may encounter danger. However, the majority of crimes against students are taking place on the roads outside campus property.”

To tackle this issue, Nguse said they have proposed an automated panic button system be installed at all major exits and entrance points, where if a student is in trouble, the button can be pressed and a distress signal will be sent to RMS.

In addition, Nguse said security within residences is also problematic.

“Students are using padlocks to secure their rooms and break-ins are frequent. We are reviewing new access systems that can be installed,” Nguse said.

University spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said RMS has identified crime “hot spots” off campus and handed this information to the police.

Seshoka said police have since increased patrols in these areas and Chubb Security has also agreed to assist with patrols on public roads.

“RMS currently provides an escort service for students that need to traverse Carbis Road. In addition, RMS also provides regular patrols and CCTV surveillance.

“There are plans in place to install intercoms in the residences and panic buttons on walkways,” Seshoka said.

“Students are requested to be vigilant of their personal belongings and their surroundings. Students should always walk in a group when venturing off campus and valuables like cellphones and laptops should not be visible on their person.”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  ukzn

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