Port Elizabeth police search for suspect of university attack

03 October 2017 - 16:56 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Image: wikivillage.co.za

Port Elizabeth police have confirmed that they are searching for a man who is believed to be connected to a brutal attack on the Nelson Mandela University Campus on Monday night.

Images of the man‚ whose name is unknown‚ began circulating via Whatsapp and other social media on Tuesday.

Police minister Fikile Mbalula was among the people who circulated the pictures saying: “The SAPS are working to track this suspected criminal down. Sizombamba (We will catch him)..”

An armed man raped one student and stabbed a second inside a computer laboratory just after 11pm on Monday at the university’s Second Avenue Campus.

The image appears to have been taken off security footage in a computer laboratory. Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu has confirmed that the man in the picture is a suspect.

On Tuesday students embarked on a protest against violence against women as a result of a alleged lack of security at the university.

A student who joined the protest on Tuesday‚ Siyamthanda Dodo‚ said that they have always felt unsafe on campus. “We feel bad because we are not safe. The security at NMU is not strong. These incidents have been happening and nothing was done about it. So now we want to be listened to. Everything we demand must be done‚” said Dodo.

Dodo told HeraldLIVE that students want increased security urgently. “We can even protest for the rest of the year until we are responded to‚ we are tired‚ it’s enough!” Dodo said.

South African Students Congress NMU secretary Sonwabiso Mdani said it was unacceptable for students to live in fear of being raped or attacked when they should be focused on obtaining a good education. Speaking to HeraldLIVE‚ Mdani said they intend to demonstrate on campus until the university takes their grievances seriously.

“Yesterday there was a situation where a student was raped and another was stabbed at a laboratory. As a result we are shutting down all campuses until the university takes action. It must take a decision and beef up security on our campuses‚” said Mdani.

Mdani said that the police should be visible on campus all the time and "not only during Fees Must Fall protests".

The students are calling for increased police visibility on campus and around other student residences‚ and additional training for campus security on how to deal with incidents of this nature.

“The police must be deployed to roam around campus. They [police] must not only come to our campuses during Fees Must Fall but they must be here constantly to ensure that we are safe. Security must be in force. Students are the ones suffering. The university is easy to access because it’s an open institution‚ even people without student cards can just walk in‚ and it’s easy to get inside‚” said Mdani.

Mdani said this was not the first time students have complained about security.

The Herald reported that during protests over campus safety in March a banner with the heading #WeAreNotSafe was circulated around campus all week collecting signatures. An estimated 5 000 people signed the banner.

“After we protested in March and handed over a memorandum of demands for security to the university‚ they have not got back to us nor implemented anything.

“Unfortunately‚ in every revolution there will be casualties‚ in this incident it’s the fact that some won’t be able to write their tests‚ they will write on different dates. Because even the students who were attacked were preparing for tests‚” Mdani added.

NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said the attacker had entered the computer laboratory mere minutes after security personnel had patrolled in the area.

“There was an attack on two of our students in one of the computer labs last night at the Second Avenue campus. Both students have received medical attention last night and the necessary support systems and counselling have been put in place for both students‚” said Mbabela.

Mbabela said that security was posted at various points across campus to ensure the safety of students.

- HeraldLIVE