This year Perdeby has covered several stories that raised concerns about security on UP’s campuses.
The most recent being a hijacking and ATM bombings outside Mamelodi campus, students being held at knife-point in the Graduate Centre and a student who managed to bring a gun onto campus.
After covering these incidents Perdeby spoke to UP’s Security Services, seeking answers to these concerns.
Colin Fouché, the Director of Security Services at UP, told Perdeby that, “The University of Pretoria and specifically its Department of Security Services take the safety of all staff, students and visitors to its campuses very seriously. Any incident of any nature on any of the campuses that result in harm or trauma is regarded as priority and is dealt with the necessary speed and efficiency.”
Fouché said that, “The department is proud of its good track record.” He added that if one considers that the Department of Security Services is responsible for seven campuses, 28 residences and 25 000 people who enter UP’s campuses daily, then “it is commendable that very few serious incidents occurred over the past year.” He added that, “It is, therefore, evident that the various safety and crime prevention programmes and procedures on campus are effective.”
When asked about UP’s firearm and weapons policy Fouché said that, “The university does have a very strict firearm policy – all campuses are firearm free zones …. The department does not search every person or vehicle entering the university. It is, however, investigating the possibility of electronic scanners.”
Similarly, a UP security guard said that identifying people who are allowed onto campus is problematic, and that they are not allowed to search people when they enter university premises. The guard added that if more security guards are placed at each gate then they might have better control over security on campus. “If we work together we will conquer security,” he said.
“After the robbery on campus in August, the Department of Security Services increased the number of security personnel at entrance gates. Additional patrols, especially to lecture rooms, have been instituted. The number of security personnel on campus in plain clothes has also been increased,” Fouché told Perdeby.
Perdeby sought to find out how our readers felt about security on campus. Their comments are published below.
“I generally do feel safe on campus. I stay on campus until ridiculous hours of the night. I must say though, after the incident on campus, I had to be extra careful. I think UP [has] had various security issues during this year. Various complaints from students in main and external campuses have been brought to the attention of the SRC and it is clear that more needs to be done on main and across external campuses to ensure the safety of both students and personnel.”
Tebogo Twala, SRC Treasurer.
“In my personal opinion: yes I do feel safe on campus, during the day at least, not because the campus is secure but in spite of the lack of security. Security on campus is a big fat joke. If it were up to me I would reduce the budget being spent on security and get rid [of] them completely, at least we would know we are on our own .… I mean, if security management cannot even answer the most basic questions about incidents that take place on campus and tell you everything is being handled by the SAPS, why are they here then?”
Mthokozisi Nkosi, SRC President.
“The crime issue is more due to the area and the socio-economic status of the individuals in the area rather than the university not doing enough. Personally, I think they’ve done a pretty good job [although] more can always be done, but the rest comes down to the students being vigilant, cautious and not taking unnecessary risks.”
A second-year medical student on Prinshof campus.
“Mamelodi campus itself is safe, but driving to campus is not. Security has started asking for student cards before people are allowed on campus which has aided security. The guards don’t have weapons though, and if there is a hijacking in front of campus again and the criminals are armed, then the guards will not be able to do anything.”
Cilliers Naudé, first-year BSc Information Technology student.
“Safety has always been an issue for students and it cannot be disputed that students do not feel safe on campus …. In brief, as a student I do not feel safe on campus. I do not think that security is effective [on] the external campus[es] or even here at the main campus. The recent events [on] our external campuses like Mamelodi and the South campus are a living testimony to the above.”
Kleinbooi Hlarane Legoabe, SRC Secretary General.
“I feel safe on Groenkloof but not always on main campus.”
Elmari De Wet, second-year education student.
“I don’t always feel safe because I need to be on campus at night for HK meetings. Security is only at the gates and when I have to walk across campus, especially down the street where Roosmaryn is situated , I don’t feel safe because I don’t know where the guards are if I need help.”
Anria Lourens, second-year BA Journalism student.
“Personally I feel safe on all the campuses including the hospitals I have to work in …. I understand that there were some incidents in the past and that there is always room for improvement. However Security Services does handle incidents effectively.”
Gerbrand Lindeque, SRC Deputy President.
“I feel safe. What honestly is very encouraging for me is seeing the Tuks security guards in the streets, like on Lynnwood or University Road. So I feel like I’m still looked out for.”
Patrick O’Brien, second-year engineering student.