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University to shore up its controls after rape

By unknown | Nov 23, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday welcomed efforts by the institution's management to beef up security on the campus and all its residences.

The security beef-up comes after a US exchange student was raped at the Mabel Palmer residence last week.

At a meeting between students, academics and international student representatives and the rape victim on Wednesday, the university management unveiled a plan to make the university safer.

The alleged perpetrator is a former student who dropped out a few months ago but was still "squatting on campus", and, according to students, he had valid access to the residence through his student card.

While the university is still to make its plan public, SRC spokesman Sanele Shabalala said the plan also included the immediate scrapping of access cards in the event of the student being removed from the campus and study programme.

"At the moment students can drop out of class but their access card is valid for up to 12 months. Now the plan is to confiscate the cards when the student is removed from the study programme."

He said the other plan included upgrading the CCTV cameras and entry measures on campus and elsewhere in the university. "It is common knowledge that the CCTV cameras and access gates were faulty," Shabalala said.

He said the SRC would, from now until the university closed, monitor the security implementation plan. "We want to assure students and parents that they have nothing to fear as it is our task to monitor this plan and make sure the university remains safe."

Yesterday, university authorities confirmed they had appointed a review panel to investigate the incident. "The purpose of the review is to consider the circumstances of the alleged rape, in particular, as well as criminal activity in the residences, and to make recommendations to achieve international best practice in the prevention of such criminal activity," said spokesman Hilton Staniland.

The review will be led by Kenneth MacKay, an expert in policing and campus security, assisted by Tenjiwe Magwaza of the School of Anthropology, Gender and Historical Studies at the university.

The university has also commissioned an independent safety and security audit of all campuses to reassess the extent of the risk and to implement measures to deal with security.

Police say they are following several leads in the case. "We took one person in for questioning but he was released after investigations showed he was not involved," said Vincent Mdunge.


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