A trend of armed robberies on Braamfontein stores causes a hike in security.
Public order police were deployed when students attempted to occupy the Wits University Senate House last night. (more…)
A Wits security guard attempted to stop a car involved in a robbery while it was fleeing the scene of a robbery in Braamfontein on Saturday.
The vehicle, a red Volkswagen Polo, is believed to have been involved in at least five muggings around the Braamfontein and Wits area over the last week.
A female student, who asked to remain anonymous, was walking on Jorissen street when a man walked up behind her.
“He distracted me and then stole my cellphone right from my hands. It happened so quickly,” she said.
The robber then climbed into a waiting red Polo driven by an accomplice and the two of them drove off.
The student ran to a guard who alerted other members of security in the area. According to Campus Security and Liaisons manager Lucky Khumela, one of the security guards then saw the Polo waiting at a red traffic light on Simmonds street.
“He grabbed a metal pole and hit the back window and the side of the car as a way of trying to stop them from getting away,” said Khumela.
The car managed to get away but has not been seen in the area since.
On Friday, the same car was involved in two muggings where two cell phones and a wallet were stolen. Khumela said most of the victims in the past week had been females.
Khumela has asked students to “keep an eye out” for the vehicle and to call the police or campus control if it is seen.
The number plate of the red Polo is WSW533 GP.
Crime around campus can be reported to Campus Control on (011) 717-444
A total of 4 cars and 46 cellphones have been stolen from Wits University staff and students since the beginning of February.
Two cars have been stolen from Wits in the last two days alone and Campus Control say they believe “a crime syndicate” is operating on campus.
Wits Security and Liaisons manager Lucky Khumela told Wits Vuvuzela that the vehicles were stolen from West Campus parking lots around lunchtime on Tuesday afternoon.
In one incident, a car was stopped by Campus Control at the Yale Road exit on suspicion it was stolen. “The culprits drove through the closed boom and broke it to avoid security”, Khumela said.
He added that four cars, all Toyotas, have been stolen from Wits in the last three weeks from the university grounds.
Cell phone theft
The number of stolen cellphones in the last two weeks rose to 46 as another 3 were stolen yesterday.
According to Khumela, 16 cellphones were stolen during the Freshers’ Party last Friday night along with 20 during Orientation Week. Khumela believes these incidents are the work of “petty thieves,” working together with a group of criminals.
“There have been incidences where students have been dancing at a party, the perpetrator pretends to dance with the victim and then hugs him or her and the phone is then stolen”.
Campus Control say they are working in conjunction with the South African Police Services (SAPS), to find the perpetrators and “bring justice to the campus”. Three people have so far been arrested in connection with the stolen phones.
Khumela has instructed Campus Control to do spot-check’s at the campus exit points on “vulnerable vehicles” to ensure they are not stolen.
“I ask staff and students to please cooperate with Campus Control when you asked to switch on and off your car. If a car has been stolen it cannot be switched off”.
Suspicious or criminal activity can be reported to Campus Control on (011) 717-4444 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Low night shift allowances for Campus Control are allegedly leading to increased absenteeism among security guards—and putting students in danger.
Security guards are paid a monthly night shift allowance of R203.94.
They work seven night shifts a month, each of which are 12 hours long. This means they are paid about R29 per night shift in addition to their basic salary.
Chairperson of the Wits branch of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) Nnwamato Sadiki said the low allowance and long hours have started a trend of absenteeism amongst security guards working the night shift.
“Each and every shift you cannot find people that are on shift, some of them are reporting they are sick and some of them are reporting that they are not interested in coming due to various reasons,” said Sadiki.
Campus Control security guards are meant to be posted in the Braamfontein area for the protection of students who live in the area.
Campus Control liaison manager Lucky Khumela said security guards did take off work for sick leave or other reasons. He could not say whether there was increased absenteeism due to unhappiness with the night shift allowance.
“I cannot say no or it’s not a problem that has been identified yet because you find that people get sick or they need to get off work,” Khumela said.
“I have never really heard of any issue that workers are reluctant to come to work because of low pay. Wits University is competitive when it comes to campus security companies especially in comparison to other universities,” he said.
However, Wits Vuvuzela reporters who live in the area have noticed a lack of visible Campus Control security guards. Many students also said they felt unsafe in the area, especially when they stay late at school to complete their assignments and study for exams.
Matsepo Khumalo, 1st year BA in Dramatic Arts, said she feels unsafe in Braamfontein without security guards.
“I witnessed a mugging outside Bridgeview and that is relatively close to campus. It is really scary to think that you can be mugged near campus … It would be nice to just walk freely,” Khumalo said.
Khumalo told Wits Vuvuzela that while Campus Control was short-staffed, shifts were adequately staffed even after security guards call in sick.
“Although we are we are very short-staffed we are fortunate that we have security officers who stay around Braamfontein and some of them stay on campus. Whenever someone books off sick another security guard will come to replace him,” Khumela said.
Sadiki said the safety of students could be comprised because security guards are not motivated to work.
“We can’t say we need to compromise the lives of the students but if we are not getting enough of what we deserve and of what we have worked for, it can bring the morale down,” Sadiki said.
Deputy chairperson of Wits Nehawu Billy Cebekhulu said the disputes over the night shift allowance has been going on since 2009.
According to a Wits human resources memorandum sent to Nehawu in March of this year, management acknowledged that the night shift allowance had not increased for six years to 2008 from 2002. It said the night allowance “remained constant for reasons of security industry compliance.”
However, management said that while the allowance was fixed, the total pay package for security guards increased “without fail” every year.
Khumela denied that Campus Control security guards were underpaid.
“Wits University pay their security well and if that was not the case there would be no security guards on campus,” said Khumela.
But Cebekhulu told Wits Vuvuzela that Wits security guards were receiving lower night allowances when compared to the University of Johannesburg.
Sadiki said the security guards believe they are also receiving lower pay packages when compared to other service staff at Wits. He feels Campus Control are not being treated equally to the people they are protecting.
“I am disappointed in Wits because I thought it was an institution with a good reputation since it produced intellectual students.
“They are getting exposure from green pastures everywhere but they forget the environment of working classes, which is the security officers on campus, is deteriorating,” Sadiki said.
Nehawu said they were planning on taking action with regards to the night shift allowances to upper management at Wits.
Following the murders of four young women, three of them students, in and around the University of Venda campus, security is now under the personal watch of the vice chancellor (VC), and university management.
A delegation led by VC Prof Peter Mbati has recognised the urgent need for improved security to “mitigate against the assaults and murders experienced by” the university community.
Mbati said he was “completely devastated” when he received the news that a university staff member, cleaner Brenda Ndove, had been murdered on campus on June 22. This came just three months after the death of a female student, Livhuwani Mbodi.
In an effort to better understand the security risks faced by students, especially those living off campus, the VC visited all three of the off-campus residences. “We emphasised the need for improved security features at these residences,” he said, in a report issued to the university’s campus community last Wednesday.
Consisting of university management and student leadership, the delegation met last month to discuss and implement security for staff and students in a number of different ways.
These include the purchase of a security patrol vehicle, an increase in the number of security guards across campus, creating a community policing forum, the installation of more CCTV cameras all over campus and limited access to buildings, offices and residences on campus.
The delegation was assured by the South African Police Service (SAPS) that their concerns would be taken into serious consideration and according to Mbati, the municipality also gave its commitment in improving street lighting around the university’s main gate.
“I am hopeful that with the tightening of our internal security infrastructure, and with the support of the SAPS, we will significantly mitigate against the risk of violent crimes against our staff and students,” Mbati said.
Mbati encouraged students and staff to exercise caution and avoid walking alone in the dark or in the very early hours of the morning.
Last week, A 24-year-man, also a student at the university was arrested in connection with the spate of murders on the campus.
- Wits Vuvuzela: STORIFY: Limpopo student linked to murders and rape, July 24, 2014
Increasing crime near Bridgeview apartments on Juta street has affected several students at Wits University and left many afraid many of walking home at night.
Natasha Tendai, 2nd year BSc, said she does not go anywhere at night because she is scared. “I only come home late when I have a test and even then I ask the university security to escort me,” she said.
She said it is a frustrating situation because she cannot work in the library late at night and must cut her study time. “Even if you want to work in the library at night you think twice.”
Simba Munyaradzi, 2nd year BCom, said he got mugged last month on his way back home. He was held at gun point as he approached Bridgeview.
“That was my first and last time getting mugged,” Munyaradzi said. He now makes sure that he’s home before 7pm.[pullquote]“Even if there were more security guards on Juta street, it may not make any difference because they are not armed.”[/pullquote]
Munyaradzi said he felt “numb” and “shocked” after his robbery. He believes there should be a security guard patrolling the street.
However, even if there were more security guards on Juta street, it may not make any difference because they are not armed.
“We see it, we know it is wrong but what can we do? This person is carrying a gun and you don’t have anything so what are you going to do?” said Danisa Nkala, a security guard at Bridgeview.
“When you go into the situation trying to save the person getting attacked you put your life in danger because you have no way of protecting yourself,” he said.
Nkala told Wits Vuvuzela that criminals get away with crime because they are quick. Since the robbers are armed students do not scream or call for help because they fear getting shot.
Plan of action
David Rebelo, acting head of security at Bridgeview, said he was looking to work more closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to protect students. He said the building security did include armed guards. However, these armed guards are not on the premises and the on-duty guard–who is not armed–must press the panic button to call them.
“We are looking at having a meeting with the security guards of the building to put plans in place,” Rebelo said.
He said they were looking at installing another panic button that would alert police when an armed robbery was happening. He also hopes to install cameras facing the street opposite the complex for security to see students exit the building.
- Wits Vuvuzela. Crime spike affects Wits university. May 12, 2014
- Wits Vuvuzela. Clamp down on crime at Wits. May 9, 2014
- Wits Vuvuzela. Political violence in Pakistan to crime in Braamfontein. April 12, 2014
When South Africans head to the polls in just over seven hours from now, stringent measures have been put in place to ensure their safety.
The South African Police Services (SAPS) are taking a “zero tolerance” approach to criminal activities related to the elections.
SAPS spokesperson Solomon Makgale spoke to Wits Vuvuzela earlier today and said: “We will not tolerate any activities by criminals who intend to disrupt the elections.”
Police officers will be monitoring polling stations and people who are found to be in possession of dangerous weapons, firearms and alcohol will be dealt with, he added.
Makgale said if one is found guilty of these charges, they may face a jail term of up to 5 years, or be fined anything up to R100 000.
“Everyone has a right to vote and no one may interfere with that right,” he said.
The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) have reported that 63 people have been arrested to date in cases related to various contraventions of the Electoral Act.
These offences include public violence, intimidation, assault with intent to cause grievously bodily harm, common assault, malicious damage to property, including the unlawful removal of posters.
“Those who break the law will be arrested and prosecuted” Makgale said.
Makgale said that political parties are free to campaign wherever they would like to, “we will not allow the creation of no-go zones” he said. According to the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission), political parties are only to campaign until midnight tonight.
The police are not allowed to be inside the area where booths are located, unless requested by the electoral officer in charge of that station. But SAPS officers will partol the perimeters of the stations and stand guard at the gates.
While an official number has not been made available, media reports suggest that close to 200 000 police officers will be deployed for the elections alone.
A twenty-one-year man old died a hero when he attempted to save his girlfriend after she fell from an Auckland Park apartment building on Saturday.
Charlie Gomez was carrying his girlfriend, Minikazi Jojo, 22, were getting ready for a night out on Saturday. Gomez was carrying Jojo in his arms on Saturday as they walked up an outdoor stairwell to their apartment. But as she was being carried up, Jojo lost her balance and fell over the railing of the fourth floor.
Gomez lunged over the railing in an attempt to save her but lost his balance and fell from the balcony.
Jojo’s cousin, who had gone ahead to collect a set of keys, came back to find the couple on the ground.
According to a close family friend, paramedics arrived on the scene and Jojo and Gomez were both rushed to the intensive care unit of Milpark Hospital.
Gomez arrived in hospital with his legs broken. He briefly woke up and attempted to get up before his heart failed and Gomez died two hours after being admitted to hospital.
[pullquote]“He didn’t have to save me, but he died my hero”[/pullquote]
Jojo sustained injuries to her neck, broken bones near her spine and suffered small scratches to her face. According to the family friend, Jojo knows her boyfriend’s last act was an attempt to save her from falling.
“He didn’t have to save me, but he died my hero, ” Jojo was heard saying in the hospital.
Gomez and Jojo, both University of Johannesburg students, had been dating for about two months before the accident.
Jojo is expected to be be discharged in two weeks’ time, but her family hopes she will be able to her attend Gomez’s funeral this coming Saturday.
This is not the first fatality to happen in the building. In 2011, two AFDA students fell from a balcony of the sixth floor. The estimated 15 metre drop killed one of the students instantly.
The safety of Milpark Mews’ balconies is a concern to some residents.
“Nothing is stable, there’s cracks all over the place, and the railings aren’t high enough. I’m just wondering how many people are still going to lose their lives here?” said Jojo’s friend.
Wits Vuvuzela approached Milpark Mews security guards for comment but they professed ignorance about Jojo and Gomez’s accident. The caretaker of Milpark Mews, known only as “Ozzy”, could not be reached at his flat in the building nor on any of the provided phone numbers.
By Pheladi Sethusa and Ray Mahlaka
WITS Campus Control security guards allege they are owed about R40 000 each in their night shift allowance payment.Three Campus Control security complained to Wits Vuvuzela that they had not received increases for night shift allowances since 2002, despite working seven days a week for 12 hours a day. This amounts to about R40 000 per guard.[pullquote align=”right”]“There is no indication that the night shift allowance increase will materialise”[/pullquote]
The security guards want a night shift increase of R400-500 per month, to their current monthly salary which they say ranges between R4000- R5 000. The security guards said they only received R190 per month for night shift allowance.
“There is no indication that the night shift allowance increase will materialise. Every time we ask the head of security, they say they cannot comment. The money for the night shift allowance is too low,” a security guard said.
At a meeting last week Prof Tawana Kupe, deputy vice chancellor of Finance and Operations, showed Wits Vuvuzela evidence of the payment of nightshift allowances via workers’ payslips. He said all Campus Control workers were accounted for.
However, unionist Billy Cebekhulu, the treasurer of Nehawu said a report was commissioned by Wits management to look into night shift increases. While the report is done the issue is that the findings are not yet public .
Cebekhulu said: “We were told the person has been hired [to look into night shift remuneration] and there will be a report. We have not seen it and we are still awaiting a report. The night shift issue is a concern to us.”
We want our money
A third security guard said they are owed at least R40 000 in night shift allowance increases per person from 2002. He said they want the money before December.[pullquote]“I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, I want to know what their problem is”[/pullquote] Nehawu said that in 2009 it took the university to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to resolve night shift disputes at the institution.
However, Kupe said during his eight month tenure as DVC, he was not aware of a CCMA case as there might have been a settlement.
Kupe said perhaps the nightshift allowances are not increased like salaries, “not everything is subject to an increase,” he added.
“I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, I want to know what their problem is,” said Kupe.
Cebekhulu said the problem with the nightshift allowances was that before 2009, the allowances were being taken off their basic salaries at cost to company. Cost to company is the amount a company pays employees before any deductions, meaning that any benefits would be charged off of one’s salary.
“We have been paid with our own money,” said a distraught Cebekhulu.
In 2009 it was agreed that a R150 increase on the nightshift allowances would be granted, which meant that the R150 would be a separate entity, that wasn’t at cost to company.
The union and workers want to be remunerated for the years in which the nightshift allowance was taken off their salaries.
Hide and seek
Chairperson of Nehawu Wits Richard Sadiki said there was “a hide and seek on management’s side” in not addressing night shift concerns.
One disgruntled guard said: “We work hard and we can’t afford to take care our family (sic). We are being ripped off. We should be paid more and we guard the university 24 hours, but there is no thanks from the university. We are doing our level best to make students safe, but the employer is not grateful.”
Security guards also complain of a lack of security guards on West campus.
According to a security guard, there are only three guards at West campus, from the nine hired in 1993.
Kupe said that having more staff on campus would not help to prevent crime on campus, “we don’t need more guards”. He felt we needed students to behave morally and justly towards each other, he felt.[pullquote align=”right”]”We should be paid more and we guard the university 24 hours, but there is no thanks from the university”[/pullquote]
Rob Kemp, Director of Campus Control denied allegations that nightshift staff were not paid their allowance. “The allowance has not fallen away and still active. The allowance is a requirement in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act,” he said.
- Wits Vuvuzela. Task team to compare salaries. April 5, 2013.
A fire broke out last week at Wits Junction when an iron melted and exploded inside a student’s room.
The unidentified student left his iron on a stove plate while both appliances were switched on.
Clifford Chauke, a staff resident at Junction, said he received an emergency call at 12.00am early last week. Two security guards and a warden were already at the scene.
“We broke and entered into the room and the fire extinguisher was applied,” he said.
When they entered the room and the smoke had cleared, they realised the stove and the student’s iron had been left switched on.
Only the stove and the student’s iron were damaged “the iron itself had burned completely and the room was pitch black from all the smoke from the cables,” said Chauke.
The student was moved to a visitor’s room while the burnt walls in his room are being painted and a new stove is being installed.
Chauke blamed the fire on the student as management has sent emails asking students to remember to switch off all appliances.
Wits Junction manager Nazime Randera declined to comment on the fire and referred questions to Campus Housing and Residence Life head Selina Pendihama. Pendihama said she was unable to comment on the fire.