Witsies staying off-campus fear walking after dark

security at gate

Elliot Tshomela, security guard at Bridgeview, stands by the gate entrance to let residents inside. Photo: Anazi Zote

Increasing crime near Bridgeview apartments on Juta street has affected several students at Wits University and left many afraid many of walking home at night.

Natasha Tendai, 2nd year BSc, said she does not go anywhere at night because she is scared. “I only come home late when I have a test and even then I ask the university security to escort me,” she said.

She said it is a frustrating situation because she cannot work in the library late at night and must cut her study time. “Even if you want to work in the library at night you think twice.”

Simba Munyaradzi, 2nd year BCom, said he got mugged last month on his way back home. He was held at gun point as he approached Bridgeview.

Armed robbery

“That was my first and last time getting mugged,” Munyaradzi said. He now makes sure that he’s home before 7pm.

[pullquote]“Even if there were more security guards on Juta street, it may not make any difference because they are not armed.”[/pullquote]

Munyaradzi said he felt “numb” and “shocked” after his robbery. He believes there should be a security guard patrolling the street.

However, even if there were more security guards on Juta street, it may not make any difference because they are not armed.

“We see it, we know it is wrong but what can we do? This person is carrying a gun and you don’t have anything so what are you going to do?” said Danisa Nkala, a security guard at Bridgeview.

“When you go into the situation trying to save the person getting attacked you put your life in danger because you have no way of protecting yourself,” he said.

Nkala told Wits Vuvuzela that criminals get away with crime because they are quick. Since the robbers are armed students do not scream or call for help because they fear getting shot.

Plan of action

David Rebelo, acting head of security at Bridgeview, said he was looking to work more closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to protect students. He said the building security did include armed guards. However, these armed guards are not on the premises and the on-duty guard–who is not armed–must press the panic button to call them.

“We are looking at having a meeting with the security guards of the building to put plans in place,” Rebelo said.

He said they were looking at installing another panic button that would alert police when an armed robbery was happening. He also hopes to install cameras facing the street opposite the complex for security to see students exit the building.