Students at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) shut down both the south and north campuses on Tuesday in protest over poor campus security. The shutdown was sparked by the rape of one student and the stabbing of another at the Second Avenue campus on Monday night.
Students held a meeting with NMU management on Tuesday and handed over a memorandum of demands. The university agreed to beef up security and expand its partnership with SAPS and extend its anti-crime initiative with the Summerstrand Community Crime Forum. They also agreed to increase the number of security personnel to ensure visible patrolling on all NMU campuses.
Yandisa Jubase, chairperson of South African Students Congress (Sasco) at NMU’s south campus, told The Daily Vox that students will keep the campuses closed until the university responds to all of their demands. “We can’t run the risk of opening the institution without the guarantee of total safety of students on campus,” she said.
In a Facebook statement Sasco NMU said: “It has become clear that the university continues to not take the safety of students seriously, this after numerous calls to management to pay close and special attention to the Second Avenue Campus.”
Jubase said Sasco had taken a more drastic response to the incident due to the university’s unresponsiveness on issues like gender-based violence and rape.
Last semester Sasco held a protest march against gender-based violence and, according to Jubase, the university has yet to respond to the memorandum submitted to them. She said the university responds in the same generic way to their grievances. “We said we needed a more militant stance and … that’s why we went on protest today,” she said.
Mihle Mapopoma, a LLB student at the university said students have raised concerns about lack of security both on and off campus for some time now. “We have been saying to the campus that this is not enough, that we have one or two [security guards] who roam around every three hours. Clearly that isn’t working,” she said.
NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said in statement the university is committed to addressing security issues on campus. “The university was extremely shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific incident and expressed solidarity with students around safety concerns and challenges related to the scourge of gender-based violence,” she said.