Safety on campus

14 October 2019 | From Kgethi

Dear colleagues and students

Last month, Police Minister Bheki Cele released the latest crime statistics which paint a bleak picture of how South Africa is faring in the war against this pandemic. Crime is a serious concern in the country which affects us all, and members of our UCT community are rightfully concerned when they hear and read about these incidents.

The safety of our students and staff remains one of the university’s key responsibilities, and I’m writing to assure you that all security matters are under scrutiny. The information that follows is intended to offer students and staff an overview of the situation on and around our campuses to help them make informed decisions about their personal safety.

Campus Protection Services (CPS) operates 24/7 and is committed to maintaining the safety of UCT and the wider community, safeguarding their property, while maintaining order in accordance with university policies.

CPS officers operate from various centres around UCT, patrolling campuses on foot, in marked cars as well as through live CCTV feeds.

Several changes and initiatives have been put in place to enhance security:

  • CPS works closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) on certain crime categories and has recorded a number of successes in the past two months, particularly regarding arrests for vehicle-related crimes.
  • Our partnership with the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District (GSCID) has yielded a 66.67% reduction in robberies with aggravating circumstances, and a 69.23% reduction in the theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles between August 2018 and September 2019.
  • In addition to closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, UCT now has licence plate recognition (LPR) cameras, which operate in conjunction with the GSCID. On 26 August 2019, a vehicle believed to be tied to the theft of motor vehicles was identified on campus through LPR. The suspects were later arrested by SAPS trying to steal another vehicle. Vehicles must be reported as stolen immediately so they can be tracked.
  • Perimeter security has been improved, in collaboration with the GSCID, across all campuses to increase security presence and to deter opportunistic offenders.

In another collaboration with the GSCID, CPS staff have been strategically deployed to focus on crime hotspots across UCT’s campuses, including all satellite campuses, in order to secure the university’s perimeter. As an open campus, UCT has several identified vulnerable areas, which are being monitored constantly. We encourage staff and students to consider car pools and ride sharing where possible to avoid parking in unprotected off-campus side streets and/or to move their vehicles closer to campus during daylight and busier times. Although robbery hotspots have varied over time, the main problem areas have been:

  • Falmouth Road, Observatory (and adjoining streets)
  • Grotto Road and Lovers Walk, Rondebosch
  • Cecil Road and Chapel Road, Mowbray
  • Main Road, Mowbray.

CPS and SAPS have noted a reduction in the number of criminal offences on UCT campuses in August and September 2019. This is largely due to the redeployment of members of our campus security staff to these identified hotspot areas.

We request that all staff and students reconsider posting any unconfirmed incidents of crime on social media and instead report these directly to CPS for review or confirmation in order to avoid fear and trepidation in an already stressed environment.

The best way for students and staff to prevent crime is to be aware of their surroundings, and particularly of the people in their environment. Reporting any suspicious behaviour is encouraged. Do not leave your possessions unattended. If at any stage you feel unsafe, please call CPS on 080 650 2222 (toll-free) or 021 650 2222/3. This number is printed on the back of every UCT identity card.

The Chief Operating Officer, Dr Reno Morar, will continue to provide regular updates on the safety and security environment on and around our campuses. 

We call on all staff and students to join us and play their part in working towards a safer, crime-free environment.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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