Letter from the VC on Campus crime

24 March 2003
CRIME on Campus has been highlighted several times in the media recently. Below we have printed a letter sent by Vice-Chancellor Professor Njabulo Ndebele to senior members of the University community.

"I have become aware that a number of people on Campus are discussing issues relating to safety and security. By way of this communication I would like to brief you about the situation on and around Campus in the hope that it:
  • raises awareness about the ever-present danger of crime;
  • assists with the possible prevention of further crime;
  • keeps you updated on what UCT has been doing to keep the Campus as safe as possible.
"The safety of our students and staff is non-negotiable and we maintain a zero tolerance philosophy towards crime. Every crime, no matter how petty, is an attack on our community. We take issue with the crime situation on Campus and we are taking a number of preventative measures. However, we are a large community of over 25 000 people and we live in a society where crime is a constant reality.

"I would like to address three issues in particular:

"The issue of rape:
"I believe it is wise to first highlight the issue of rape, as openness around this issue goes some way towards helping combat this crime.

"There have been incidents of rape on Campus and where we have been made aware of these crimes, we have followed stringent procedures in reporting the crime to the appropriate authorities. We have also done our utmost to support the survivor in the aftermath of the crime.

"Unfortunately, as in broader society, the majority of rapes go unreported and this complicates our ability to respond. However, we have a particular duty to focus our efforts on protecting women on our Campus against this unspeakable crime. One way to combat rape is to report it, another is to secure our Campus and to make it difficult for intruders to commit their crimes. I believe we are making progress in this regard.

"The issue of on-Campus crime:
"In the main we have been successful in combating crime on Campus. We believe our strategy over the past few years in preventing crime and reducing the risks have paid off. We have seen a 13% reduction in crime between 2001 and 2002.

"Mercifully, the majority of the reported “on-Campus” crimes are not crimes that include murder (nil in 2002) or armed robberies (one in 2002), but are crimes that include theft and trespassing. Having said this, I must stress that no statistic on crime can be a good statistic. One rape, even in a community as large as ours, is unacceptable.

"UCT has allocated millions of rands over the past years to ensure the safety of staff, students and visitors. This crime prevention plan has included: the fencing of residences; increased visibility by members of the Campus Protection Services (CPS); increased access control measures; the development of a Blue Safe Walk Route with emergency telephones and surveillance cameras; the installation of CCTV around Campus; improved lighting across the University; and increased roadblocks and an extension of the CPS controlled area.

"I believe the strategy is paying off and the reduction is crime is a result of these efforts. However, we cannot relax our efforts. The combating of crime is a major priority and will continue.

"The issue of peripheral crime:
"Although the decrease of on-Campus crime is reassuring, we face a situation where, during the last few weeks, there has been an increase in crime on the fringes of the Campus. This concerns us greatly and we are engaged in conversation with the SAPS and the City Police to address this.

"While we have increased our patrols in these areas, we have unfortunately seen an increase in muggings on the borders of the Campus. Wednesday, near the pedestrian bridge over the M3 at De Meule a student was attacked and stabbed in what appeared to be an attempted mugging. The student has been treated and is doing well, but this highlights the fact that crime beyond UCT's boundaries is a constant threat.

"Off-Campus muggings have occurred around Rondebosch Main, Stanley, Burg, Chapel, Anzio, and Falmouth Roads. These are the hotspots and despite the stepped up patrols, students and staff should be particularly vigilant in these areas, especially at night or during quiet times.

"Part of our strategy to combat crime is to involve each member of our community in crime prevention. We know that at least half of the crimes recorded on Campus, particularly petty crimes, could perhaps have been avoided. Being and staying alert and conscious of the issues is necessary. I urge you to report all incidents of crime to the Campus Protection Services on ext. 2222.

"I trust this communication will assist in raising awareness and I hope that details of the preventative measures taken will help bring a sense of reassurance that we are doing our utmost to protect our community."

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