Police Minister Bheki Cele says there is a need for the police to hold a campus security imbizo to engage students on issues of safety with a view of increasing police visibility at institutions of higher learning.
He said this when several Cabinet Ministers including Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister of Women, Youth and persons with Disabilities, met with student leaders to engage about ongoing student protests and on gender-based violence (GBV).
“I was just thinking, I don’t know what kind of a structure we can build, so that all universities continue to engage. Many of you came with proposals of solutions and we cannot come here and say that we can’t take ideas from you,” Cele said on Thursday.
“So my first suggestion, can we [establish] that body that will get all these universities together and we come up with a programme of engaging students representing all students from campuses.
“Speaking with my daughter again, I was thinking that we do need to have a security imbizo around campuses as South African police. I know there is a big budget for universities when it comes to security,” Minister Cele said.
The meeting with student leaders took place at a week where students, particularly those from the University of Cape Town, took to the streets in protest against gender-based violence after their fellow student Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally raped and murdered.
Her body was found days after she went missing. A man who worked at the Post Office in Claremont was arrested in connection with her death.
During the engagement with Cabinet Ministers, Busisiwe Nxumalo said students did not feel safe anywhere, even in Uber rides. She suggested that students be given pepper sprays as an immediate measure to keep them safe.
In a highly emotional meeting, some students told of stories of abuse suffered by their friends and relatives.
One of them, Anitha Mngidi from Gugulethu, told the Ministers that two of her cousins were murdered by their boyfriends.
She complained about men in townships who apparently give space muffins (muffins infused with marijuana) to school children in order to take advantage of them.
Cele said it was important for the forum between government and students to be formed in order to solicit ideas that would later inform a policy decision.
“How do we work on that budget, together with the South African police, to make sure that students are safe regardless of who is taking care of them.”