South African universities urged to prioritise safety on campus

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Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Ms Connie September

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training called on institutions across the country to prioritise campus access controls and security at its residences following the killing of a student at the Mangosuthu University of Technology.

Zolile Khumalo was the 21-year old student at Mangosuthu University of Technology who was shot dead allegedly by ex-boyfriend. Ms Khumalo was killed at the institution’s residence called the Lonsdale residence.

In a press release, Chairperson of the Portolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Ms Connie September, said that universities should tighten residential security seeing that freedom around campus could make students easy targets to abuse unintentionally.

“The committee sends its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased. We are extremely shocked and saddened that this tragedy happened on one of our campuses. Ms (Zolile) Khumalo did not deserve to die like this,” Ms September said.

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She emphasised that the committee is very eager to find out how the accused gained access to one of the institution’s residences. “As the committee we are interested to know who gave access to this person and what motivation did he advance. The university must investigate this incident, and make sure no stones are left unturned,” she said.

A 23-year old Thabani Mzolo who is a former student at the same institution appeared in court in connection with the killing of Ms Khumalo, the court postponed the case, and Mr Mzolo remains in custody until 10 May for his bail hearing.

Ms September said if the investigation reveals that the former student had worked with current students in accessing the residences, those students will have to be identified and disciplined accordingly.

“Murder of female students on campuses is despicable. These are the same students who are still battling rape culture and recognition in academia. A situation where campuses become places of torment should not be allowed “, she said.