A first year student was robbed in her Wits Junction room in the dead of night by a man who made off with her cell phone and laptop last Thursday.
Head of campus control, Rob Kemp, said: “Access to the room was gained either by use of a key or the door was not locked.” He said the victim was taken to report the incident at Hillbrow station of the SA Police Service.
According to the first year’s floor mate, Aphelele Mpunzana, the robber entered the resident’s room at around 3am and strangled her to keep her quiet.
Most of the residents were made aware of the robbery through an email that was circulated detailing rumours about incident. The email was sent by one of the residents and said a master key was used to gain access to four rooms. The claim was denied by a Wits Junction security official that said there was no evidence to suggest that a master key was used.
Mpunzana also does not believe a master key was used.
“Everyone in this building heard the banging of the doors,” said Mpunzana. “The guy tried to get into everyone’s room. If [the robber] had a master key he would have opened all the doors and not just hers.”
However, she said the main door to the building was unlocked because some student cards for new residents had not been activated.
Kemp said often students create a “serious breach of their own safety” by pressing the emergency release button in order to access their buildings without swiping cards. This is problematic because the door is left unlocked after the emergency button is pressed until security adjusts it back to normal.
Another resident of Block 7 said their student cards still do not work and they have to call security to open the main door for them. He said it was easier to keep the door open.
Both Mpunzana and Thabo*, who lives in the next building admitted to pressing the emergency button and using coins and papers to prevent the door from closing.
“I don’t live [in this building] but I just walk in,” said Thabo. “Which means anyone can take a bus from main campus to Junction, come in here and take a shower.”
Mpunzana said she felt security at Junction was “generally good” but that this incident has made her more wary of her safety. “I’m definitely surprised that something like this can happen in what’s supposed to be the best res on campus.”
All rooms in the building were searched by security but none of the stolen items were recovered.
No arrests have been made and the first year has since moved to another building in Wits Junction.
Kemp said investigations into the robbery are ongoing and urged students not to bypass the security system for their own safety.
*not his real name