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Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, met with vice- chancellors from the country’s 26 universities in Johannesburg on 23 October 2019.

The meeting follows the recent spate of violence and murders on and off campuses in recent weeks. Together with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) responsible for the regulation of the private security industry at institutions of higher learning, Minister Cele engaged the vice-chancellors on improving campus safety and new approaches to policing that may facilitate this.

Cele stressed the importance of students feeling safe and being safe on and off campus.

“The violence on and off campuses extends to more than just gender-based violence (GBV), we are now seeing that there are attacks and violence against the overall student community.”

CEO of PSiRA, Mr Manabela Chauke, noted that all universities must have minimum standards of security standards and that all security officers deployed on campuses must be vetted and trained specifically for the student environment.

Universities of South Africa CEO Professor Ahmed Bawa told the gathering that students must be an integral part of the safety changes they want to see on campuses.

“We cannot do this alone, we may have the capacity to do some things but we need the buy in from students, the communities around the institutions and the SAPS, the criminal, justice system and other relevant governmental operations. This is an issue that has to be dealt with holistically. It is a social crisis.” – Bawa concluded

All parties agreed to establish a working committee that will look at short- and long-term security solutions on and off campuses.

The committee will comprise of representatives from the Police Ministry and Secretariat, PSIRA, as well as members of from Universities South Africa.  The team will be tasked with looking at some of the proposals brought forward.

These include the establishment of Victim Friendly Facilities that will speedily assist students who have fallen victim to crime, especially those who have been affected by gender-based violence. It is hoped these facilities will provide the necessary care and services to students with the assistance of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit of the SAPS.

Another proposal to be looked into, is the adoption of Institutions of higher learning by police officers to improve response time.

The issue of socio-economic challenges will also be investigated by the team to see how poorer students can be better assisted to avoid them falling prey to criminal networks.

Student transport and accommodation will also be further interrogated by the working committee. It will amongst other things, engage landlords about the security measures in place to ensure the safety of students living in off campus accommodation.

The committee is expected to engage further with the Departments of Higher Education and Training and Social Development Department to extend student safety to TVET colleges and schools. 

The vice-chancellors indicated a strong willingness to collaborate with the Minister and his team and pledged to bring the strong research capacity of universities to bear on the issue of social violence.

Minister Cele urged the student population to also come on board to find solutions. “Students shouldn’t feel that we as the police are creating police states around them, we want a dialogue with them and for them to be part of the fight against crime.” The Minister added “We know that alcohol is a big contributor to students coming under attack and also attacking each other, this is why we will be going hard on illegal drinking holes that fuel crime especially on weekends.” - Cele concluded.

This statement was issued by the South African Ministry of Police.

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Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777