Campus security indaba
Following a spate of attacks and negative publicity, the University of Fort Hare has taken the matter of campus safety and security very seriously as by holding a campus security indaba on Friday 7 September in Hogsback. A number of stakeholders participated in the sessions including students, staff, security personnel, South African Police Services and members from our sister institutions like Walter Sisulu University. The Indaba consisted of four breakaway commissions tackling different issues like residence safety and security, creating awareness, identifying relevant value chain stakeholders and their responsibilities together with general campus security.
The issue of campus safety is very topical across the higher education sector the Dean of Students, Mr Malinge Gqeba did not mince his words saying “safety is not negotiable”,. He urged delegates to work as a collective, prioritise safety and come up with new methods without wasting money.
Echoing the dean’s words, Alice campus premier (SRC), Life Mabaso said
“It’s our duty, all of us” to discuss and tackle the matter with honesty and transparency and with this identified a number of gaps in the system. Amongst them being bad lighting and overgrown trees that obstruct security systems, loose access control to the campus and residences, vandalism during protest actions.
Mr Mabaso was quick to point out a number of possible solutions like trimming of trees, installing surveillance cameras, building a bar facility inside campus.. He further called on security personnel to visit students residences in search for dangerous weapons of which some are used to slaughter cattle from the surrounding community during student’s protests.
The Director of Facilities from WSU, Mr D Barnard painted a similar but different picture about WSU as he pointed to issues of unlicensed alcohol outlets and mob justice on some of WSU campuses.
Stakeholder Relations Department submitted a well-researched Position Paper entitled,” Enhancing Student Safety and Security in Campus. The paper presents principles that must underpin success in guaranteeing student safety and outlines good practices and positive initiatives that will help ensure that the principles laid down can be fully realised in both the immediate and longer-term future.
The principles and recommended actions in this paper reflect the views of Stakeholder Relations Department and their determination to sustain and enhance the student experience, and to keep building a strong and resilient student life experience while at the University of Fort Hare.
Expanding on his submission, the Manager of Stakeholder Relations Mr Lizo Phiti said,
” The paper presents material on good practice in the university campuses. But just as importantly, it fully acknowledges the necessity for reaching beyond campuses and working in partnership with different critical stakeholders like Local Municipalities, Provincial Government, Civil Society Organisations, organized business and others in the communities around which our campuses are situated.”
The commissions in their deliberations made a number of recommendations, among them are, installation of electric fence, establishing a command center inside or outside campus to respond to all emergency issues, training of security personnel on first aid and the latter to be subjected to physical training, effectiveness of disciplinary committee as it was alleged there is lot of backlog, establish ongoing interactive sessions and other campaigns and establish partnership with NGO’s to facilitate campaigns and it be made mandatory to SRC societies to include safety and security issues in their programs.
By Xolani Mbombo