AMY-MAE CAMPBELL

A series of break-ins and thefts in and around the Hatfield residences have raised serious safety concerns over the past month. As a result, new safety measures are being implemented by TuksRes.

An electronic security report sent out by Campus Security Services to residences on Monday 16 April listed four incidents of theft at various residences over the two weekends before, where the total cost of stolen property amounted to R19 500. According to this report, Asterhof, Mopanie, Maroela and Taaibos were among the targeted residences, and a student card was stolen and used to gain access Asterhof.

The week before the April recess, there were two break-ins within two days at Nerina. According to Nerina Social and Semivoog HK Tilana Meyer, a man was seen inside the residence but was not confronted. Two rooms were targeted, Meyer’s room being one of them, and in both incidents the padlocks were removed from the doors and electronics were stolen.

Campus Security and the SAPS are currently investigating all the above mentioned incidents and several arrests have been made.

In response to these incidents, Katjiepiering recently introduced a temporary system where the HKs issued no night code for a week, forcing the girls to be in by midnight, in an attempt to control who entered the building. “Keeping the doors closed at all times and the exposure of the night code has been an on-going problem,” explained Katjiepiering Primaria Tailei McCullough.

However, this caused a stir among certain residents at Katjiepiering. A fifth-year international student and resident at Katjiepiering, who prefers to remain anonymous, claimed to have been locked out once, because she could not get hold of a HK for the code. “[H]ow is this a solution to safety?” she said.

Director of Residence Affairs and Accommodation, Prof. Roelf Visser, explained that TuksRes and Security Services are already implementing new safety measures and aim to replace all code doors with normal swipe doors, to prevent this situation from occurring again.

At Jasmyn, this change has already been made and cameras have been ordered for the electric gates where cars enter and where deliveries are made to Asterhof and Nerina.

Soon each room will be equipped with a new door-lock, each window will be burglar-barred, and a laptop safe will come standard with the facilities to deter theft from the inside.

Prof. Visser added that each residence evacuates once during the year to accommodate guests. The other residences are then locked-up and the few girls that stay in over the holiday all move into one residence during that time as it is easier to manage.

However, this past April holiday, all the residences were open. He believes that this was an opportunity for trespassers to gain easy access to the residences as each one was fairly quiet and there was a constant influx of visitors, which made it difficult to spot strangers.

Another safety alternative is to limit the entrances at each ladies residence, in order to have more control over the premises. A 24-hour guard will be appointed at each entrance, with camera-surveillance, and might request an ID for first-time visitors during open nights, added Prof. Visser.

He emphasised that if the number of break-ins and thefts in residences does not subside, security will have no choice but to place cameras in the corridors.

“Everyone must be more aware of strangers. Make sure that code doors are functional and report faulty ones,” said Prof. Visser.

Residences can contact Prof. Visser with any safety requests or suggestions and he will ensure that they are properly implemented.

Photo: Mellisa Kemp

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