Three students were held at knife point last week Thursday on UP’s Hatfield campus.
LLB final-year students Nicole Lardner and Bernard Hamann, who are also co-presidents of the Golden Key Executive Committee of 2012, and Nkateko Mathebula, a final-year BCom Accounting student who is the Golden Key Vice-President for International Affairs, were finishing up with a committee meeting on Thursday evening around 19:00 at the Graduate Centre when three armed men came into the venue and told them to hand over their possessions.
According to Wayne Lardner, father of Nicole Lardner, the criminals took Hamann’s laptop, iPad and wallet, Lardner’s purse and iPad and Mathebula’s cell phone.
“Nicole’s ipad had a tracker on and [we tracked the criminals to] a train at the Station and finally [to] Hillbrow…The Police were informed, but we doubt anything was actually done,” he said.
“They weren’t just playing games,” Nicole Lardner told Perdeby, “[and] you don’t mess with people who are armed.”
Lardner told Perdeby what worries her is that this happened in a venue where students are supposed to be safe. She said, “I don’t feel very safe [on campus],” and added, “I want people to know that they need to be vigilant.”
Mathebula said, “No one ever thinks such things happen, especially on campus, but I was comforted by the quick response of campus security and their willingness to help us. They even got us counselling appointments. I don’t wish it to happen to anyone but if it does, at least I know campus security is on my side.”
Hamann told Perdeby that he did not expect something like this to happen on campus. “I think that the police could have been more effective. They tried, but I believe they could have shown more enthusiasm in catching the criminals. We had the criminal’s exact location, why were they not caught?”
UP said in a statement that Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage and other evidence is being investigated and that the university is, “co-operating with the South African Police Services.”
The university told Perdeby, “Support has already been offered to the victims and the university will continue to render all available assistance to these students and their parents.”
Photo: Gideon van Tonder