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DASO outlines steps to address Monday night's rape incident at NMU

Oct 3, 2017
DASO outlines steps to address Monday night's rape incident at NMU

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) on Tuesday said that it has noted with sadness and disappointment, the recent rape and assault incident that occurred at the 2nd Avenue Campus on Monday night.

Outrage at the incident resulted in the university cancelling classes as the South African Students Congress (SASCO) at the Nelson Mandela University led a student protest. The protesters claimed that security guards were listening to radio and not watching the CCTV camera monitors when the inicident happened.

"The University's Management has confirmed that one student has been raped and another stabbed by an unknown man that gained access to the University’s computer labs," said Kwanda Jakalase - DASO Nelson Mandela University Chairperson.

"Our campuses are supposed to be a safe space that is conducive for living and learning. Our campus residences are our homes away from home, where our students should be able to actively live and learn without the fear of being the next victim.

"It is now surely time for the NMU Management and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to start taking crime within our institution seriously. Students have suffered for far too long."

Jakalase said that they have decided to take the following necessary steps to address this issue:

  • Called a consultative meeting with all relevant stakeholders on Tuesday - These include the Vice-Chancellor Derrick Swartz and Acting Vice Chancellor Sibongile Muthwa. The Institutional Support, Nelson Mandela University protection Services, SAPS and the Metro Police, Safety and Security MMC, John Best, as well as all other institutions;
  • Called on every affected person, directly and indirectly, to a night vigil on Tuesday night at 20:00 at the 2nd Avenue Campus.
  • Took a decision to present a memorandum at the night vigil that the stakeholders need to respond and commit to promptly - the stakeholders have at most 7 days to respond to the demands with specific plans and timelines to change the poor safety conditions as explained on the memorandum.
  • Lastly, called on the office of the Vice Chancellor, to call a mass meeting with all stakeholders, where students can be given an opportunity to address their grievances and also be given feedback on the memorandum presented.

He said that moving forward towards finding sustainable solutions, DASO is calling for, among others:

  • The erection of proper fencing around campuses to curb uncontrolled access;
  • Strict access control on all campus entry points in all campuses and residences;
  • The installation of turnstile gates in all campuses as safe access points into our institution;
  • Increased closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance across all campuses;
  • Improved lighting across all campuses and off campus as well as maintenance on existing non-working lights;
  • Well trained security personnel that are fit for purpose;
  • 24 hour improved police visibility to work with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in ensuring that our students remain safe;
  • Security personnel permanently installed at computer labs and between building 35 and building 123;
  • A system to monitor security activity and to improve effectivity, these include body cameras for security personnel;
  • A student registration kit that includes pepper spray;
  • The installation of panic buttons on all our campuses;
  • Self-defence classes as part of the Student Support services; and
  • Weekly safety reports by relevant stakeholders shared to the student body.

"As much as studying to obtain a qualification is important, one of the most important factors of that is safety on campuses. No student can study effectively while they do not feel safe in their environment," said Jakalase.

"There can be no effective learning if students are not comfortable on campus, at their residencies, at lecture halls, as well as parking lots and shuttle stops.

"While this incident justifiably evokes anger, we would ask that all those, who wish to respond and express themselves please do so in a constructive and safe manner, that does not damage the university resources."