A Wits Vuvuzela journalist was mugged and robbed of her bank card on Sunday in yet another incident of crime affecting Wits students in and around the campus.
This latest incident is one of three muggings known to Wits Vuvuzela in the last two weeks.
Last week a female student who declined to be named, was was held at knife point by two assailants near Flower Hall. The two men threatened to kill her if she screamed and demanded her valuables. She handed over her cell phone and laptop while the men managed to escape on foot.
In a second incident, a third year BA LLB student was mugged while studying in her car in the third year parking lot near the Enoch Sontonga entrance two weeks ago.
She told Wits Vuvuzela that her “window was open” when the incident took place in broad daylight. “I looked up and he was leaning into the car. He put his hand over my mouth and told me not to scream but I did.”
The man, wearing a white hoodie with a beanie, grabbed her cellphone and ran away. The student tried to pursue the thief on foot but was unsuccessful.
“He fled in the direction of East Campus and Central Block. I didn’t want to leave my car unlocked and unattended so I just let him go,” she said.
“I looked up and he was leaning into the car. He put his hand over my mouth and told me not to scream but I did.”
In the latest incident, the Wits Vuvuzela journalist, who asked not to be named, was mugged by two men at an ATM in “Braam Centre” just off Jorissen Street.
“I was returning from church, I had just drawn money when two men approached me from behind,” she said.
The men demanded her valuables. She managed to hide the money she had just drawn from them but they took her bank card and ran out of the building.
Campus Security and Liasions manager, Lucky Khumela said there had been a “spike” in crime in and around the “campus area over the last few months,” but was unable to give any details.
“We are dealing with the situation,” he said.
He said students need to be careful. “If students are leaving campus at night must, they can ask Campus Control to escort them to their vehicle or to their residence”.
Students are encouraged to report any suspicious activity on campus to Campus Control, 011-717-4444/6666
A female Wits student was lucky to have escaped unscathed after being attacked by a fellow student and his accomplice on Monday September 3. To add insult to injury the student, Boitumelo Moeketsi alleges that a Hillbrow police officer told the suspect that he should have proposed to her ‘the right way,’ while she was in the same room with them.
Update (September 7 2012): Michael Mahada, Campus Control investigations manager, said: “the involvement of this young man is disappointing as its shows that some of our students might have been involved in the previous muggings on campus.” The student will face disciplinary charges from the university after his release from prison.
A recent spike in criminal activities in Braamfontein is spreading onto Wits’ main campus, according to Rob Kemp, head of Campus Control.
There have been at least 8 muggings at gunpoint in Braamfontein in the past few weeks, and 6 where dangerous weapons were used, according to statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS).
On Tuesday, a female student was approached by two well-dressed male suspects near the Planetarium, who threatened her, apparently with a firearm, and took her cellphone.
Last month, WitsVuvuzela reported a robbery apparently at gunpoint, at the science stadium while in March, two students were robbed at gunpoint outside the Cullen Library.
Kemp, said his biggest concern is that students are not aware that they could be targets of crime.
He said he wanted the Wits community to be streetwise without panicking. Lost or stolen student cards are a common way through which criminals gain access onto campuses and residences. ICAM is able to put a 24-hour block on lost cards if they are reported, and students do not have to pay to unblock them when they are found.
Some suspects also stand around turnstiles, asking students to give them access. Kemp said some of them tell “nice stories” to convince students that they are entering campus for good.
“I left my card in res, I’m rushing for a lecture can you please help,” he said as an example.
Spot checks for student cards are being conducted at bus stops. Campus Control investigations manager Michael Mahada said this is not done to “oppress or harass students”.
There is a proposal to fence the area around the bus stops to restrict access to circuit buses. However, he said it could be “very restrictive, very controlling, and we’re [sic] not sure how it would go down with our population.”
Campus Control plans to fill vacancies within the next two weeks to increase the number of officers on patrol. It has also budgeted for more staff next year, and plans to commission an extra reaction vehicle.
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 20th edition, 17th August 2012.
Campus Control’s tips on staying safe
Avoid isolated areas on campus, including toilet facilities. A student was recently robbed on his way out of a bathroom in the John Moffatt building. Kemp also advised students not to use empty tutorial or lecture rooms to study, they should rather find one that is already occupied.
Do not leave your valuables unattended in public places for any reason, for any length of time. The stranger next to you in the library that you ask to look after your laptop does not have to.
Do not leave your residence room unlocked, even to go to the bathroom down the corridor.
Keep cellphones and other mobile devices out of sight when on the road.
Ask to be escorted to your room or car if you are leaving campus late, and feeling unsafe. Camus control is available to escort Wits staff and students to Wits residences and car parks, and can be contacted on (011) 717-4444. Students living in Braam are urged to ask Urban Genesys security guards (dressed in green and beige uniforms) for escorting.
A STUDENT was mugged at gunpoint in the new Science Stadium on West Campus on Tuesday afternoon (17 July).
Sibulele Zide, a BSc student, was held up by two men who stuffed his scarf in his mouth and tied him up.
The robbers made off with his cell phone and wallet that contained his student card.
“The first guy just took out a taser and he put it on. I thought [he was] joking, I even laughed a little,” said Zide.
“The other guy showed me a gun and moved to block the door and cocked the gun, that’s when I realised it was serious.”
Zide said he started to empty out his pockets without any instruction.
The two men led him to a disabled toilet and told him to lie flat on his stomach. His hands were tied and they took his belt.
According to Zide, the men hung around waiting for another person to rob. Two other students walked in and the robbers then left.
“I tried to make a noise so they could hear me,” said Zide. When the students found him they thought it was a prank at first.
He went to Campus Control and made a statement. He was taken to the police station to open a case on Wednesday morning.
Security on campus
Zide said he found the security on campus “pathetic”. There are no security cameras at the Science Stadium and so he had to rely on his “confused” memory for a physical description of the muggers.
“If there were cameras they would have been caught already.”
Tracking of his student card revealed the robbers exited at the turnstiles near the Jubilee Residence. “The camera there only took pictures of their backs … security is pathetic,” said Zide.
“I lost trust in the security at Wits that day … how do you tell your parents you were mugged on campus? This is the one place we are meant to be safe.”
“Campus Control technical unit is currently viewing CCTV footage … plans are in place to increase the visibility of security with additional patrols, increase the dog unit, introduce a second response vehicle and review and extend our CCTV coverage,” said the head of Campus Control, Rob Kemp.
Zide said he takes more precautions on campus now after the incident. “I can’t just piss anywhere now … you know how everyone has their favourite toilet. I liked that one, it was nice and fresh and clean.”
Zide said the university had arranged counselling for him with the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) on Thursday.
In March, Wits Vuvuzela reported another mugging at gunpoint outside the William Cullen library. The robbers also made their escape at the Jubilee Hall exit gate.
However Kemp said no weapon was used in that incident and a suspect was arrested. He said there had not been an increase in violent robberies on campus this year.
WITSIES are victims of men on the prowl for cellphones and money on Mandela Bridge.
Vuvuzela spoke to some of the victims. First year BA student, Molebogeng Mpakanyane, said she was robbed at gun point by a man who demanded her cellphone and money at about 7pm during Orientation week.
Mpakanyane had met friends for drinks on campus and later crossed Mandela Bridge by herself to catch a taxi to Diepsloot.
The man said he would not hurt her if she co-operated by giving him her cellphone.
“I couldn’t sleep that night; I was nervous,” she said.
Students should ensure that they are in groups when crossing that bridge, Mpakanyane said: “It is not safe at all.”
Mduduzi Sangweni, a security guard at the bridge, said muggings are common despite his presence and that of other security guards 24 hours a day. He said they work hand-in-hand with the police.
Third year BA student, Mmathapelo Khutoane, said she was travelling with a friend from the Carlton Centre to their residence, Jubilee Hall, last year.
Two men followed them across the Mandela Bridge and pointed a knife at them, demanding their cell phones. “Cars passed by but no one noticed we were being robbed,” said Khutoane.
Her friend, who did not want to be named, described the incident as “traumatising”.
” I’ve never walked on Mandela Bridge since that day,” she said.
She said the bridge is not safe and most students, especially first years should be alert as these criminals are “hungry for cash”.
Another student, who also did not want to be named, said she and her cousin were on their way to Newtown where they live when two boys “about 15 years’ old” demanded money and cellphones from them. They didn’t have any weapons but they looked “dodgy,” she said.
For fear of being beaten up or raped, her cousin gave them R50 and their cellphones.
“The boys were cruel; they called us insulting names and even threatened to push us over the bridge after we had given them our belongings,” she said.
“I was scared to death but I thank God they didn’t hurt us. Mandela Bridge is not safe, those people target students,” the 2nd year BSc student said.
A student has been mugged and stabbed in the hand near Wits Medical School.
Rujeko, a medical student ,who did not want her last name revealed, said she was leaving med school at 11pm two weeks ago when she was attacked in the street,
“I saw two guys across the road, and one guy came running towards me.”
The 4th year said that while one of the men grabbed her arm and held her, the other stabbed her in the hand with an unknown object.
“I fought them and tried to escape but one of the guys pulled me by my bag and slapped me for screaming,” she said.
The attackers were after her cellphone, Rujeko said, but two cars stopped on the road to assist her which caused the men to flee.
“The [attackers] ran when one of the guys in the car got out and started chasing him. There were two ladies in the other car and they were trying to comfort me, and gave me a ride home.”
Rujeko said she was studying at med school and that it is usual for students to leave the campus late. “But I heard that they are beefing up security now, by having security accompany people,” she said.
This was confirmed by security guard, Albert Mathabatha, at the main entrance of Wits Medical School. “We now escort students from here to Education Campus and sometimes to Parktown Village.”
Mathbatha said that he often sees students leave med school after midnight, “But we have not had many problems with boys, so we try and transport or accompany girls.”
He was unaware of the mugging incident.
Rujeko said that she did not report the incident to the police; however her friends reported it to the dean of health sciences.
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