Students walk out of a round table discussion about student movements at the Jozi Book Fair.
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.
Wits has invested substantively in technologies that make its core functions of the generation, custodianship and transmission of knowledge easier. But how far has it come?
The first computer owned by a South African university occupied a large part of the first floor of Senate House and had the same processing capacity as a cellphone.
Today, more than 80% of Witsies have access to mobile computing devices according to Professor Yunus Ballim, deputy vice chancellor of knowledge and information management. Last year, the Wits senate resolved that all students from 2nd year upwards will own a mobile computing device.
The Student Computers and Networks initiative will facilitate this plan. Ballim said it was “unacceptable” that poor students were left out and the university plans to engage the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to invest in devices that may offset the cost of textbooks and lecture notes.
Ballim said Wits provides “fairly free” internet access for staff and students, but the Parktown campuses do not have this yet. A R16-million project is under way to instal a fiber cable that will improve the quality of access on the Parktown campuses.
“I think the reality is that the modern university from a research point of view cannot do without high quality internet access. We’re not where we should be but we certainly are getting there,” Ballim said.
The current situation
Kgomotso Selowa, 2nd year engineering, said he enjoyed the virtually uncapped internet that some other universities did not provide, but that the computers were slow.
Otshepeng Letlape, 2nd year BA visual and performance, said she does not use the labs since she got a laptop because she found them crowded and the printers and fans were often not working.
Despite these conditions, there are some students who find the labs helpful. Shalini Lala, 2nd year applied maths, said “some people don’t have access to the internet at home” and the labs are “convenient for many”.
Ballim said the Science Stadium was a learning curve on how technologies can make learning in large classes more effective.
“One of the challenges is getting people used to chalk to use an electronic touch pad with a projector,” he said.
By Akinoluwa Oyedele and Nandi Ndlazi
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 13th edition, 11th May 2012.
Related article: Making e-learning a reality