Security being assessed at the res where Zolile Khumalo was murdered
The Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is probing security protocols at the Lonsdale residence after student Zolile Khumalo was murdered by an armed ex-lover who should never have been allowed inside.
Thabani Mzolo‚ 23‚ appeared briefly before Regional Court Magistrate Mohamed Motala on charges of murder and possession of an illegal firearm. He stands accused of the murder of Khumalo‚ a quantity surveying student‚ in her room at the Durban city centre residence.
The court heard that he had been arrested in possession of a pistol which had its serial number filed off‚ a hallmark of illegally procured guns. And while he remains behind bars ahead of his next appearance‚ university leaders are delving into how he got a gun into residence hallways outside of visiting hours.
MUT’s Mbali Mkhize said security at the Lonsdale residence was a task of the landlord and was a condition of the lease agreement. She added that the institution’s rules appeared to have been flouted by the security personnel meant to ensure the safety of students housed there.
“At this point we believe that some of the rules were flouted and we are investigating what happened there that night. The essence of the issue is that visitors to the residences are not allowed there after 6pm‚” she said.
“Moreover those who are visiting should be searched. The landlords are tasked with providing security and there are protocols which need to be followed because we need to provide a safe environment for our students.”
MUT SRC president Sandile Dlamini said that the safety of students had been a perennial concern.
“Year after year we have raised security issues at our residences and they [university administrators] have never taken us seriously. It is high time now that they do.
“The measures that we have been calling for have been completely necessary. All we want is justice for Zolile‚ she didn’t do anything wrong to anyone‚” Dlamini added.
S.Dass Group’s Shamim Ramjeewon‚ landlords of the Lonsdale residence‚ said that Mzolo was a regular visitor who was familiar to the security personnel.
“He signed in at around 9pm and when he was not out of the building when the security did a sweep at 10pm they established he was in the [Khumalo’s] room‚” she said.
Ramjeewon said that their visitor rules‚ an amalgamation of those of the university and their own‚ stipulated that non-students could visit the residence up until 6pm and those holding MUT student cards could check in as late as 10:30pm.
On how he managed to get a gun past the watchful guards‚ she said all visitors were thoroughly searched.
“As far as I know he was searched and he had no weapons on him. We are still investigating but we believe that the weapon was brought into the building at an earlier stage‚” she said. “We are installing metal detectors tonight and are looking at outlawing visitors completely in the wake of this.”
Avela Mjajubana‚ president of the South African Student Congress‚ said that they would be raising concerns over student safety with the Department of Higher Education and Training.
“We are deeply disturbed and saddened by the news that Zolile Khumalo was killed inside a residence‚ We have been saying to institutions of higher learning that safety must be a priority on all our campuses‚ we cannot purse academic programmes in environments which are unsafe.
“This is not only about weapons‚ but also encompasses issue of rape culture on campuses around the country. These concerns have fallen on deaf ears. We are meeting with the Department on Monday and we want to know how many students must die or be raped for them to listen to us‚” he said.