Criminal activity on Enoch Sontonga has been an issue for Wits University campus control for a while, the recent increase in muggings has prompted action from the university.
It’s a quiet Friday afternoon on Enoch Sontonga Avenue commuters are steadily making their way home from work. Two women are walking, comfortably enough to have an intense conversation between them. As they make way for a man in blue overalls to pass them by, he snatches one of the women’s bags!
Her companion runs into on-coming traffic out of fear and the jogging man continues to run on steadily with his stolen goods. He ducks through a hole in the gate of a park and out of sight. His victim stands still, wide-eyed, her hands over her mouth – bagless. It’s another day on Enoch Sontonga.
DANGER DRIVE: The recent increase in criminal activities on Enoch Sontonga Avenue has prompted Wits University to up the level of security on the busy road. Enoch Sontonga Avenue runs along the Strurrock Park sports precinct, parallel to the Enoch Sontonga memorial park. Photo: Rafieka Williams
The safety issues on Enoch Sontonga, which lies just outside the university campus, have recently been brought to the attention of Wits University due to the mugging of a number of people, students and staff members alike.
Lemy Rantsatsi, a first year student at Wits said she was robbed this year around 12:30 in the day, while she was on her way home. “They just grabbed me and took my stuff and jumped over the wall at the bridge,” she said.
According to Rantsatsi there was no security around at the time and she continues to walk on the road because the taxi fare home is too expensive considering that she stays close by.
Wits University campus control responds
Robert Kemp from Campus Control said that the university had been aware of the dangers of the area for some time now. “We have a patrol on the stretch of road up to the Raikes Road Gate,” he said. The patrol members who are intended to patrol in these places wear black uniforms with blue reflector jackets and can be seen along any of the routes described.
He also said that the university intends to increase patrols in the area and has requested SAPS intervention.
Kemp added, “Students should avoid walking along Enoch Sontonga after dark if possible, motorists should be careful when using this stretch of road, particularly when stationary at traffic lights. Keep doors locked and windows closed and valuables out of site and locked in the boot. Do not use cell phones in public view.”
The road runs along the West Campus entrance of the University as well as the Sturrock Park sports precinct.
CONCERNING: Thugs have been active robbing Braamfontein locals and, in one attack, tying them up in the cemetery. Photo: Ilanit Chernick.
Wits Campus Control have warned students of an escalation in criminal activity in the area following the robbery of a man who was left tied to a grave in Braamfontein cemetery recently.
A tweet from the Campus Control account sent out on July 24 warned students that on “Enoch Sontonga [there are] thugs becoming violent”.
Security and liaison manager at Campus Control, Lucky Khumela, said the tweet followed the armed robbery of an unidentified man on July 23.
“A man was approached by three armed men. They robbed him of his valuables and then tied him up with wires to a grave in the Braamfontein cemetery,” Khumela said.
The man was left tied to the grave during the night wearing only a t-shirt and boxers. He managed to untie himself and alerted Campus Control of the attack. Campus Control then informed the South African Police Services (SAPS).
Khumela said police have promised to increase patrols in the area.
The area around the bridge outside the cemetery, across the road from Wits, has become a known crime hot-spot for thugs and students have been warned to be cautious there even during the day.
“There are guards from 6am to 6pm, but students must still be careful,” said Khumela
Campus Control also stressed on Twitter that students must not walk alone or with valuables in “isolated areas” after hours because “robberies outside campus is a real concern”.
Two female Wits students were also the victims of two separate smash and grab incidents outside the Wits Art Museum over this past week.
On Friday afternoon a student was driving along Jorissen street when a man approached her car window, smashed it and grabbed her bag.
The second robbery took place on Monday afternoon, also on Jorissen street, when another female student was waiting in traffic. A man smashed her window and grabbed her cellphone before running off into the busy street.
Campus Control posts security guards on Jorrisen street. However, Khumela said the smash and grab thieves were “opportunists” who waited until the guards were patrolling further down the street before striking. Khumela said they were investigating the recent incidents.