Litaletu Zidepa and Dana Da Silva
Students have mixed feelings as to whether or not they felt their safety was compromised after a killing which took place last weekend outside a hijacked building next to Esselen Residence.
Florence House is a derelict, building next to Esselen that had been hijacked since 2012. Last weekend’s killing, a stabbing, is allegedly the result of a fight between rival groups in the building who want to claim ownership.Wits Vuvuzela has previously reported about the safety and security issues that have faced students regarding the buildings activities.
In 2014, a shooting occurred where a bullet was fired through a window of a student’s room. The student was not home at the time and no one was injured.Students have been voicing their concerns about the buildings activities and hygiene issues (due to the open sewage) since 2012. When asked about the recent killing Arthur Muhapelwa, a BComm Accounting student, said that he felt scared and uncomfortable.“I would say the reason for me to be so is because I have that thing on my mind that, what could happen next? Maybe it could be me, so my safety is like violated at this time,” said Muhapelwa.
Second year BSc in Biochemistry student, Kgomotso Kibi, felt that she should’ve been told about these incidents earlier before she moved in.“The thing is I heard about it a long time ago while I was moving in so I feel like I was robbed in a way,” said Kibi. “I should have been informed before, but then during the house meetings the house comms have assured us that the matter was actually addressed and they’ve taken precautions.”
However, police say that Wits students staying in Esselen are not in danger.“It’s a safe place for students,” said Sgt Mduduzi Zondo of Hillbrow police station.“In terms of this area, we haven’t had such complaints from Wits to say like students, they are experiencing this and that,” said Zondo.Other students didn’t feel bothered by the incidents that have been taking place at Florence.
“Well I don’t really feel much that affected, it doesn’t really scare me that much,” said third year BSC Biochemistry student Thuile Mazibuko.Mpho Hopewell Molefe, Bachelor of Arts first year student, also shared the same sentiment. “I don’t have a problem with it. It’s pretty dodgy, but it depends on what kind of person they are. I’m here to study. Whatever happens there happens.”Head of Wits communications, Shirona Patel, said that the university was “extremely disturbed” in regards to the most recent killing.
“Although it did not impact directly on our students, the safety of our students living in this residence is of immense concern to the university,” said Patel. Patel said the university has implemented more security measures at the residence, with a guard and dog patrolling the area until late hours.