Students don’t feel safe

Pietermaritzburg - The assault and suspected attempted hijacking of a student within University of Kwa­Zulu-Natal property has brought safety concerns at the Pietermaritzburg campus to the fore.

A 22-year-old student in her final year of tuition was assaulted, along with a friend, in what she believes was an attempted hijacking in a parking lot at the main campus on Wednesday evening at about 11 pm.

The incident has prompted other students to raise their concerns over campus security, with members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) also saying there are many issues they have taken up with management.

University spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said management has received a statement from the student and will be conducting an investigation into the allegations contained therein. “Risk Management Services are awaiting a statement from the second occupant of the car as well as the security officers stationed at the access point,” Seshoka said.

Speaking to The Witness from her Hayfields home yesterday after policemen had taken her statement, UKZN law student Kylie Slambert described her harrowing ordeal.

Slambert said she was driving on Alan Paton Avenue with three friends when a pair of flashing headlights emerged close behind her bumper.

Panicked about the car tailing behind hers, Slambert said she raced into King Edward Avenue to seek refuge within the campus.

Swiping her access card to get in, Slambert said she had just got out of her car in the parking lot when she noticed her pursuers pull over nearby.

“They had followed us in and as I jumped out, two men were already right there in front of me screaming and shouting in Zulu,” Slambert said.

It was then that a woman, who emerged from the same vehicle, allegedly assaulted Slambert, slapping her in the face — a move which prompted one of the men to continue the assault on Slambert.

“It seemed like their fit of rage was personal but I had no idea who they were. It all happened so fast and they were throwing beer bottles at my car,” the distressed Slambert alleged.

When one of Slambert’s friends jumped in between her and her attackers, Slambert said she made a dive for her cellphone. However, one of the men allegedly snatched the cellphone and Slambert’s keys away from her.

“I thought they were trying to hijack us but then one of my male friends who was travelling with us managed to wrestle the keys and cellphone away from the man,” Slambert said. “All the while, the female attacker was hitting my friend. We were only like 40 metres away from the security hut at the boom gate and with all the commotion and shouting, it was impossible for security guards not to hear.”

As a crowd of students began to gather, Slambert said two guards who were stationed at the gate arrived, but their attackers had by then stopped the ruckus.

“I was bawling my eyes out as they [the attackers] drove away and I shouted to the two guards not to let them out because the police were on the way. I saw one guard talking to the driver, after which he swiped the car out and they drove away,” Slambert said.

“We as students are not safe. Risk Management Services (RMS) do not help at all and even if they were not there for the assault, if they had not allowed the attackers to escape, justice could have been served. I hope my incident makes other students aware of dangers in and around campus.”

A member of the SRC yesterday told The Witness that there are many problems with security on the campus, many of which have been raised with management.

The council member said only their president could elaborate further, but attempts to contact SRC president Siphelele Nguse were yesterday unsuccessful.