THE WITS Health Sciences community has been hit by increased levels of crime just outside the Parktown campus since the end of last year, according to security guards.
David Mlambo, an external perimeter security guard from Protection Services, said that pedestrians with cellphones were being targeted as they walked along York Road, but recently, there had also been incidents of motor vehicle theft and robberies.
There is at least one incident of theft, or attempted theft, every week, according to Mlambo. He said, they had foiled an attempted theft of a Toyota Etios one day at the end of February but a Toyota Yaris had been stolen the very next day.
“You know, criminals are clever. I have noticed that these criminals move around checking or monitoring us, the security. It is very bad. We are all not safe,” he said.
Mlambo’s sentiments were echoed by Peter Selowa, an independent car guard, who said incidents of crime in the area had increased since the Hillbrow Police Station had cut the frequency of patrol cars.
“The police also need to play a big role. They must be visible. I think it might help,” said Mlambo.
Third-year medical student Revaan Singh was attending Awareness Day at the Medical School on March 6, when his Toyota Yaris was stolen from a parking bay on York Road.
“I walked out to go home. I was in disbelief as I approached the space where I had parked not to find my car there. At that point I knew that it had been stolen,” said the 25-year-old.
Toni Batty, a fourth-year BNurs student, said that she wished someone had warned her about the severity of crime in the area.
“Parking my car outside gives me anxiety, not only for the risk of car theft or smash-and-grabs, but also for my own safety, walking to and from my car before and after class,” Batty added.
Director of Family Medicine Dr Richard Cooke said that he was mugged in the area last year and that had made him more cautious.
“I am very vigilant now. I’m always a bit nervous walking up that hill. My main concern is not for individuals like myself, to be frank. I am concerned for smaller and, more predominantly, female students.”
Wits security staff have advised that people should avoid using cellphones in the street, that they walk in groups, and avoid leaving valuables in plain sight in parked cars.
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