AFRIQUE DU SUD – Campus becomes place of fear

Campus becomes place of fear
Bhavna Sookha
April 12 2005 at 12:46PM

Parents fear for their children’s safety following an armed robbery at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.

Three robbers held up about 50 students at the weekend.

One parent said that she was deeply concerned, especially since her daughter usually used the libraries and computer labs on weekends and after hours.

“The security staff are so strict that parents are not even allowed on to campus to pick up our kids,” said Sushie Padayachee. “So how is it that these thugs got on to the campus grounds and then into the computer labs?”

‘So how is it that these thugs got on to the campus grounds’
She said that security definitely needed to be upgraded.

“Now every time my daughter is on campus I wonder if she is safe.”

Another concerned parent, Shirley Naidoo, said that for the amount of money they pay in fees for their children to study, they expected more security.

“It’s frightening to think your child might not be safe. From the outside it looks safe and secure, but it’s not,” she said.

“If there is so much security, how did the robbers get in, or were they students? That’s an even more frightening thought.”

‘The students have always been advised not to swipe persons into restricted areas’
The university is making every effort to find the robbers and has offered a reward of R20 000 for any information regarding the armed robbery.

A third year management studies student, one of the victims of the armed robbery, said three men gained entry into the Shepstone 9 Computer lab at the Howard College Campus at UKZN last week.

“There were 40 to 50 students in the computer lab when three men, one waving a firearm, started demanding valuables. It was around 8pm,” he said.

“It was a very frightening experience especially since they became violent if people did not have cellphones and money to give to them.”

It is believed that the three men, armed with a gun and knives, might have gained entry to the labs with student cards. “They looked very much like students and one would never have guessed they were going to rob us.”

It is believed that a foreign student was assaulted with the butt of the gun by one of the robbers when he tried to reason with them. Wallets, cellphones, money and pencil cases were stolen from most of the students.

Prof Dasarath Chetty, executive director of public affairs and corporate communications, said that the university was investigating the robbery and that 25 written statements had been submitted by students who gave details of the incident.

“Investigations thus far have revealed that a contributing factor is the swiping in of strangers into the lab. Through written statements some of the students have admitted that they swiped in the suspects, who looked desperate to enter the computer lab,” he said.

“The students have always been advised not to swipe persons into restricted areas other than their own visitors into student residences.”

“They should not compromise the security of our laboratories by letting in people they don’t know or even friends,” he said.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Daily News on April 12, 2005

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