Crime wave sweeps through Braam

Witsies have spoken of their “disbelief” as they witnessed criminals mugging motorists and attacking fellow students in and around Braamfontein.

A group of four men have been targeting cars waiting in traffic next to Noswall Hall residence on Jan Smuts avenue this past week.

A male student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he saw the men running into traffic on Tuesday afternoon and initially could not understand what they were doing. Soon after, he saw them approach a car with its windows down.

“They reached in and stole his valuables. I got scared and realised they were mugging people in their cars who were stuck in traffic. I thought I’d be next so I just ran away,” he said.

Student Funeka Sibande said she had a similar experience last week when she was standing with a friend outside Noswall Hall.

“They came out of nowhere and were running between cars mugging people inside the cars. Two went to the passenger doors and two to the driver’s door taking anything they could see. I was in disbelief,” she said.

When they came back one of the muggers said: “We are not here for you guys.”

According to Sibande the mugger said: “We are targeting privileged people and whites in good cars.”

Minutes later they mugged “a white man in a Jeep who had his windows down”, Sibande said.

“They came out of nowhere and were running between cars mugging people inside the cars. Two went to the passenger doors and two to the driver’s door taking anything they could see. I was in disbelief.”

“We got away after that, they were dangerous. People need to be careful. Don’t leave your windows down and please don’t leave valuables where they can be seen,” she said.

This is just one of several muggings and “smash and grabs” that have been taking place in various areas around Braamfontein over the last two weeks.

Wits security and liaison manager, Lucky Khumela, said he was not aware of the gang outside Noswall Hall but would warn Wits security to be on the lookout and “increase security” in the area. He said he would also alert police in the area.

“Don’t leave your valuables. Lock your laptops and bags in your boot and keep cellphones out of sight. There is a rise in sporadic crimes in the area and we will do everything we can to keep our students safe,” he said.

Last week a red Volkswagen Polo was targeting students on Smit, Jorissen and Simmonds streets.

The vehicle is believed to have been involved in at least five muggings around the Braamfontein and Wits area.

On Saturday a female student was mugged of her cellphone by one of the assailants who distracted her and then climbed into the waiting red Polo driven by an accomplice and the two of them drove off.

The student ran to a guard who alerted other members of security in the area. According to Khumela, one of the security guards then saw the Polo waiting at a red traffic light on Simmonds street.

“He grabbed a metal pole and hit the back window and the side of the car as a way of trying to stop them from getting away,” said Khumela.

The car managed to get away but has not been seen in the area since.

Stinky situation at Noswall Hall

FILTHY CONDITIONS: students at Noswal Hall have not been able to wash their dishes since Friday.

FILTHY CONDITIONS: Students at Noswal Hall residence have not been able to wash their dishes since Friday. Photo: Thabile Manala.

Poor sanitary and hygiene conditions continue to plague Noswal Hall residents following yet another water service interruption over the last four days.

Jabulile Mabuza, resident of Noswal Hall and SRC campus services officer said “this [going without water] is a constant problem, it didn’t start now.” According to Mabuza, there was an instance in the first semester where the students spent five days without water.

Lucky Xazi, house committee chairperson at the residence described the situation as “a health issue as well as a hygienic issue”.

He said the Noswal corridors have a bad odour because of toilets that cannot be flushed and dirty dishes that have been unwashed since Friday.

Residents have to travel to main campus to use the toilet and some have showered at the Wits gym. Many other students have not bathed since the service interruption started.

No water means that some students are unable to cook for themselves and have to rely on store-bought food. “It strains our budget because some of us can’t afford take-aways,” Xazi said.

Noswall Hall management sent an sms to students on Sunday saying: “We apologise for the water supply shortage. We are working on fixing the problem and should have water restored soon. Noswal Management.”

Mabuza said she feels the university has not communicated adequately with students and this has led to a lot of frustration. “I don’t think it’s a total negligence of the university. I think somewhere somehow is trying to fix it … but students don’t know and are left in the dark, “she said.

According to Rob Sharman, head of residence life at Wits, the problem with the water supply at Noswal Hall is due to heat pumps that are unable to service 20 floors, and one of the pumps is not working.

At the townhall meeting with the vice-chancellor this afternoon, Prof Adam Habib addressed this issue and explained that Noswal Hall is owned by ZanProp and the university leases this building.

“It is unconscionable that we pay 100s of thousands of rands for their failure to deliver on something that is mandatorily their responsibility, “he said. Habib said they the university will take action against ZanProp and is looking at what penalties they might incur.