Wits campus protection services officers are concerned about their safety when on night duty.

Campus control officers at Wits University say they are concerned for their own safety and have turned to the National Health Education Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) for assistance.

Officers who escort students from campus to residences in Braamfontein at night say they feel unsafe as they are not armed and have to walk with the students as they don’t have access to vehicles.

“We care about students being safe but it is not easy for us. We have to walk students by foot, at night, and have nothing to defend ourselves or the students if we get attacked by criminals,” said one of the officers who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.

Chairperson of NEHAWU, Sam Mangena, confirmed that a complaint had been raised with the union and that they had escalated the matter to university management.

“It is a question of safety; the workers are at risk. We have engaged the Director of Protection Services but he has told us that he has an issue with resources,” he said. The director of protection services, Gary Kruser, could not be reached for comment. Dean of students, Jerome September, confirmed that Kruser had raised it with him [September] and redirected to the office of the Chief Operating Officer, Fana Sibanyoni.

Sibanyoni said that the Nehawu complaint had not yet reached his office which is responsible for the Campus Protection division, but they have undertaken steps to ensure the safety of both the students and the security officers.

“We are in the process of procuring two minibuses that will be used to escort students off campus after hours,” Sibanyoni told Wits Vuvuzela.

The escort service forms part of the job description for the campus control officers that is offered by Wits Protection Services for all students and staff to assist those who work in libraries and computer labs until late.

Operating every hour on the hour, students gather at the Oppenheimer Life Sciences (OLS) gate before they are escorted into Braamfontein and surrounding areas by at least two campus control officers to their respective residences.

FEATURED IMAGE: Campus protection services officers with students at the Oppenheimer Life Sciences (OLS) gate. Photo: Sisanda Mbolekwa.