Another student from the University of South Africa (Unisa) was found dead in his apartment in Sunnyside earlier this month with three gunshot wounds. These incidences have left many students from these areas fearing for their safety and questioning their faith in the SAPS. Mthobisi Mthethwa, a third-year public management student at TUT, said, “I was shocked with the death of our fellow student. This shows that the safety of students is not concrete.”
Students told Perdeby that the police are not as effective as they should be. “We see this on a daily basis, where students are mugged but the police do nothing about it after we report it to them,” Mthethwa said.
Dintsoalo Hlongwane, a second-year Unisa student, added that she no longer feels safe. “I don’t feel safe when walking at night because I don’t trust the homeless people. I feel that there should be more police patrol and street lights in these areas.” Ramoitoi Raleie, a third-year mining engineering student at Tuks, said, “As I was coming from school at twilight, I met two guys and one of them took [out] a knife and demanded that I give him my phone and they ran off.” Raleie said that after that incident he started fearing walking at night.
Lesedi Lamola, a second-year BSocial Work student, said, “I was mugged by two guys who claimed to be prophets. They somehow persuaded me to give them my stuff.” Lamola’s laptop, money, ID and cell phone were taken.
The Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) confirmed that they are aware that criminal activities happen in the city but said that citizens do not report them. Chief of police for the TMPD Steve Ngobeni said, “If there are no crimes reported in a particular area, then that place becomes a normal place. For us to become successful we need to have an open communication with the citizens and institutions so that we can be able to work around our annual plan to fight the issue of crime.”
The TMPD said that they have a project called Social Crime Prevention, where they go to schools to create awareness about crime, drugs and safety. Ngobeni also said that they plan to start going to universities around the city to distribute pamphlets about safety and crime awareness. They added that they will make use of more cameras, deploy undercover police and street patrolling police, and that they are looking to collaborate with the Department of Security Services at Tuks.
Kim Ngobeni, SRC member of facilities, safety and security, told Perdeby that she had also been mugged. “I was a victim of [a] mugging at knifepoint. This is a pressing issue. We are willing to do anything in terms of students’ safety.” Ngobeni said that she reported the issue to the police but never got any feedback or a follow-up from them. “I don’t think the police are doing enough to ensure the safety of students,” she said.
Ngobeni also told Perdeby that she has initiated “The Walk Out” project where students who are walking to their residential areas will walk together in groups with visible policing on their route.
According to Ngobeni, the SAPS will be on campus on 21 May to teach students about safety tips and self-defence training.
According to UP’s Department of Security Services, the department has no jurisdiction over crimes that are committed outside of the university grounds.
Photo: Brendan Fraser