UKZN probing staff's alleged involvement in recent campus crimes
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is investigating allegations that staff may be involved in a recent spate of crime that has plagued the institution.
UKZN spokesperson Normah Zondo said in recent weeks it experienced “unfortunate crime incidents on its campuses and residences”, but contrary to media reports no classes have been suspended.
Zondo identified two incidents which have been cause for cause, including students being robbed of laptops and cellphones by unknown men at the EG Malherbe main library at the Howard College campus two weeks ago.
“Another robbery took place at a UKZN residence on April 7. On April 20, SAPS arrested two suspects in connection with the robbery, who were expected to appear in court.
The library robbery happened soon after the suspension of about 10 staff members in the risk management services division. UKZN is committed to purging all divisions of criminal elements, regardless of pressure, intimidation or incitementNormah Zondo, UKZN spokesperson
“The university is investigating the circumstances surrounding these incidents, including allegations some staff members may have enabled or abetted the crimes.
“The library robbery happened soon after the suspension of about 10 staff members in the risk management services (RMS) division. UKZN is committed to purging all divisions of criminal elements, regardless of pressure, intimidation or incitement.”
Zondo said the university is aware of attempts to “disrupt lectures and other activities by individuals seeking to destabilise the institution”.
“However, UKZN is committed to ensuring all academic processes continue undisrupted and teaching and learning proceed as usual.”
She said the university has been in discussions with the student representative council (SRC) to enhance residence and campus security. These include:
- upskilling and ongoing training for insourced RMS personnel;
- analysing the use of libraries and other student facilities open after office hours to strengthen security during those periods;
- exploring the possibility of establishing a toll-free number for reporting incidents;
- partnering with community forums and security agents to improve the safety of the areas students frequent daily; and
- engaging landlords to ensure they meet security expectations per their contractual obligations.
Zondo said the institution is hiring 20 new RMS staff members and plans to bring on board an additional 20 in coming months.
“During a meeting held with the SRC last Tuesday, university management emphasised that, though UKZN's security budget allocation is already higher than the ideal amount, the institution remains committed to optimising the efficiency of its security measures, services and operating procedures.
“UKZN's RMS crime prevention unit and SAPS have increased patrols and implemented additional security measures.
“Strategic campus areas are monitored by CCTV cameras, entry points require valid access cards, static guards are posted at residences and libraries and high-risk public roads frequented by students are patrolled by private security.
“A mobile security app, downloadable from the university website, allows students and staff to alert RMS of emergencies with a single touch.”
Zondo said the university has been made aware of plans to “disrupt the normal functioning of our campuses in the next few days and we caution community members against engaging in unlawful activities”.
“Any individual found to have tarnished the institution's reputation through their actions will face charges and appropriate penalties.”
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