Karl Kemp 0

Petition to raise standards of safety and security in Stellenbosch

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We as a group of students believe that the town of Stellenbosch has become a haven for criminals and that student safety and well-being has been severely prejudiced. Apart from constant theft and robbery, the recent kidnapping of Matie student Ilze-Dene Oberholzer has brought into sharp focus the question of violent crime that has lain dormant under a veil of rumour and suspicion for years. Although it is impossible to lay the blame squarely at the door of one single institution, we assert that we have a constitutional right to safety and security, as well as human dignity, and that it is implicit in our enrolment at a University and inhabitation of a residential district that these community institutions provide essential protection in this regard.

In terms of S 6 of the Student Constitution of the University of Stellenbosch:

“Every student has inherent human dignity and the right to have his or her dignity respected and protected.”

In terms of S 8(1) and (3) of the Student Constitution of the University of Stellenbosch:

“Every student has the right to an enabling environment in which student success and academic excellence are encouraged and pursued. The bodies constituted by this Constitution in section 3 have a duty to identify and work towards the eradication of barriers to the exercise of these rights.”

In terms of S 12 (1)(c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa:

“Everyone has the right to be free from all forms of violence, from either public or private sources.”

In terms of S 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa:

“No-one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application.”

As such, we feel that the University and the police have failed in their duty thus far to ensure a sufficiently safe environment in which students may prosper and learn, and thereby claim the following in terms of our Constitutional rights:

a) An institutional forum at the behest of the University of Stellenbosch including, but not limited to, the duly elected local government council; the highest/most relevant authority of the local police force; a contingent of students representing the student body to be determined as most symbolic of the student interest; any other community role-players who wish to be involved or are able to contribute to the cause of student safety.

b) That Campus Security receives a part of the budget that will be spent on training and improvement of current infrastructure, rather than new motorcycles and logos that do not improve overall quality of protection, and that the University provides a guarantee of such.

c) That the police commit to a policy of accountability and efficiency, and that a channel of communication is created for the University and the police to further improve on existing mechanisms that are empirically not sufficient to protect the student body, and that the police force is held accountable for any questionable actions or failure to act in accordance with an acceptable standard of police conduct.

d) That the Student Representative Council Safety portfolio is overhauled and its current projects (which include only a ‘safety poster’ initiative) be scrapped in favour of more engaging and meaningful projects that are able to produce measurable results in terms of student-safety.

e) That the ‘Groen Roete’ be re-established and be better policed and monitored than was in the past, and also that it extends to areas previously not covered.

f) That a mechanism is established to hold Campus Security accountable for failure in providing service and severe penalties imposed on any employees of Campus Security that do not conform to the standards expected of them by the Constitution and the University.

g) That the general standard of student safety is raised to an acceptable level by all involved members of the community, and that the Constitutional rights of students are safe-guarded.

We regard the above-mentioned as critical steps in retaking Stellenbosch from crime, and will remain dedicated to a culture of accountability in holding the University and community to such. The student body has collectively reached a breaking point that can no longer be ignored. We implore each and every student, every institution, to reconsider their efforts in improving student-safety, as it can only be said that the current model is insufficient, inefficient, and downright unconstitutional.

This petition will serve as a memorandum to be handed over to University management upon reaching the set target, ensuring a measurable return on demand. This is not an awareness campaign.

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