Campus Control deny slow response in death at Wits

A 26 year old man collapsed and died on campus two weeks ago.

The young man was part of a group who were visiting the Wits main campus on a Saturday morning apparently to participate in training for Parkour. During a break, the man collapsed  between the John Moffat building and the student club BAQT.

The young man, whose name has not been released, complained that he felt light headed before he collapsed, according to witnesses.


Emergency personnel respond to the collapse of a young man on Wits Main campus. Photo: Thikolwi Segudu

The president of BAQT Thikolwi Segudu called Campus Control to the scene.

Campus Control dispute response time

Segudu said “Campus Control took 45 minutes to respond and they were more concerned with my student number, than anything else.”

Michael Mahada, head of special investigations at Campus Control has disputed these claims, saying that they are “untrue”.

“Campus Control reported to the scene, the minute they were notified of the incident”, said Mahada

According to Mahada, Campus Control arrived on the scene and called an ambulance “which  arrived within ten minutes” but by then the young man had already passed on.

Segudu however claims that Campus Control didn’t do anything when they arrived on the scene, prompting him to call for an ER ambulance and Parklane Hospital itself.

When a student dies on campus, Campus Control is to required assess the situation and then contact the relevant parties. In this case, Campus Control contacted the “emergency services, SAPS and the deceased’s family”, said Mahada.

The university has been in contact with the family of the deceased over the weekend, according to Segudu. The cause of death was given as “natural causes,” believed to be a blood clot that went to his lung.


Mind over matter is fluidity in motion


A Witsie has scaled his way up to the edge of a building four metres high and is about to jump.

He leans forward on the balls of his feet, knees poised for a leap.  After a sharp intake of breath, he shoots off into the air. His “safety net” – the ledge of the balcony two metres opposite him.

Once he lands, he hoists himself onto the balustrade, and turns to jump back. Fellow Witsies gasp and watch, stunned. He is a traceur practising the fairly new art of parkour (PK).

Termed by critics as a daredevil sport, PK entails “moving through your environment as efficiently as possible, passing through, over or under obstacles”, says Irfaan Khan who “jams” with friends at Wits.

Like Khan, 2nd year chemical engineering student Robert Louw describes the sessions as a community without a leader, where everyone learns and teaches each other through practice and encouragement.

Unlike the picture  painted of adrenaline junkies performing reckless jumps off tall buildings, these traceurs all agree that everyone starts slowly and carefully, progressing from small jumps and training your way up, literally.

“Parkour’s teaching me how to focus. You’re doing a series of movements in a matter of seconds. To get it right you have to change how you focus,” says Louw.

First year mechanical engineering student Ismail Patel started almost two years ago and says PK has allowed him to face mental challenges and conquer them easily.

“PK has changed the way I look at the environment around me; walls are not just walls and rails are not just rails anymore,” says Patel,

“The urban environment is now like a giant playground with endless possibilities.”

Parkour is yet to generate a greater interest among South African women. Wits occupational therapy applicant, Alicia dos Santos, says she thinks “not many girls do it because they are worried about getting hurt”.

Many of the guys present say they would love to see more girls taking an interest and that girls bring a sense of finesse and fluidity to the moves that the guys don’t.