By Michelle Gumede and Masego Panyane
The number of private security on Wits university’s campuses have reached unprecedented levels with security occupying almost every corner of campus at exorbitant prices.
Wits University has revealed that it has spent an average of R2 million a month on additional security services since October last year. Responding to a Protection of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request that Wits Vuvuzela sent on January 15, the university, through registrar Carol Crosley, also revealed that there are three security companies that have been used by the intitution, namely Fidelity Security Service, Diligence Security Services, and TSU Security Services.
Since last year October, Wits University has been occuppied by anything from 10 to 200 private security officers daily “depending on the risk”, according to Crosley. The extra muscle has been hired to protect infrastructure and students in response to the #FeesMustFall protests. The University said some of the costs have been covered by the 2015 budget but a shortfall will have to be covered by savings which the University will need to make from the 2016 budget.
“The University is aware of the significant cost of the additional security. However, the cost of losing a life, of potential harm to people, of malicious damage to property, and of losing the 2015 and 2016 academic years, by far outweighs the amount spent on additional security during this period”, Crosley said. Crosley has also said that the amount provided is not the full and final amount as the university is still negotiating discounts with the security companies and insurers to cover some costs.
Crosley added that the security companies employed by Wits had been “asked to make contributions towards student bursaries and food security programmes at the University”. It is unclear if these contributions have began.
Earlier today, the university’s senior executive team said in a statement that it intended to “deploy a strong security contingent” on the campus and along bus routes in response to incidents over the past two days.