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13/10/2017

Concerns around safety and security in and around campus have once again come under the spotlight following the vicious rape and stabbing of students in a computer lab on Second Avenue Campus last Monday.

While the safety of staff and students is an apex priority of the University, there were some identified challenges to effective security provision in and around our campuses.

Among the key challenges noted as needing urgent attention is the adequate training and capacitation of the recently insourced security personnel to enable improved protection services. This is part of the University’s greater reintegration project.

Another was the need to make material improvements to the current shuttle service to ensure it is specifically tailored to the safety needs of students, particularly in off-campus accommodation sites.

The newly formed Security Task Team, comprising students, organised labour and University management representatives, has been engaging as per the mandate to drive immediate, medium- and long-term solutions towards the effective safety of students and staff on and around University campuses.

Following two lengthy and robust meetings, and another with service providers on student transport matters, several short, medium and long-term agreements were made by the task team towards successfully addressing the safety and security concerns raised.

Some of the resolutions reached during the meetings, which will be implemented at various stages, include:

Immediate

  • Staff and students are urged to carry their identification cards at all times
  • Access control and monitoring is already in place at University entrances
  • Increased security patrols, with Protection Services to ensure security personnel make use of all modes of transport at their disposal to enhance their visibility across all campuses
  • Increase and improve security presence in the most trafficked routes, particularly going into exam period
  • Enlisting the services of a private security company for patrols and to assist with armed response, which has been implemented
  • Improve monitoring of CCTV cameras, with additional security staff brought in to assist in effectively monitoring CCTV camera footage. There is also an elaborate plan in place to improve CCTV camera coverage around campuses, aimed for complete implementation later this year.
  • Identification of hotspot areas at Missionvale Campus and ensuring that the necessary security personnel are allocated accordingly
  • Green routes have been identified for all Port Elizabeth campuses, pending the final approval for implementation by Protection Services
  •  Entering into a partnership with public security institutions, such as SAPS and Metro Police, as part of improving the University’s security environment. This partnership will be limited to them assisting with patrols and off-campus surrounds and student accommodation. Engagements in this regards are under way.

Medium-term

Work towards getting the University to become a closed campus as the institution was premised on the concept of an open campus at inception

Shuttle service

A productive meeting also took place between representatives of the task team and taxi associations on matters relating to the shuttle service. The meeting follows concerns raised about students’ safety after disembarking at shuttle stops that are far from their residences.

The shuttle routes have been reviewed to cover a wider area, where students are to be dropped off closer to their destinations. Discussions on the detail in this regard will be ironed at an urgent follow up meeting with management, students and taxi association representatives.

To this end, services providers have agreed to do everything necessary to address some of the immediate concerns – at least until the end of exams.

These include the provision of a shuttle coordinator by one of the service providers until the end of exams, while the task team works on more long-term solutions.

Communication

To assist with increased communication ability on campus, ICT has activated WhatsApp calling over the University’s Wi-Fi network to enable students and staff to make free voice calls over the social media platform.

Conclusion

The Safety and Security Task Team will continue meeting until all concerns raised are addressed towards ensuring that the entire University community feels safe at all times.

The University remains steadfast in its efforts to co-create solutions and make material improvements in all areas impacting on the wellbeing of staff and students.

Safety and Security Task Team

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777
Zandile.Mbabela@mandela.ac.za