THE number of robberies and attempted robberies on and around UCT campuses increased by 163 percent from 2012 to last year.
While UCT staff and students reported less than 30 cases in 2012, more than 70 were reported last year, according to a campus announcement posted on the university website at the weekend.
The announcement was made by Gerda Kruger, UCT’s executive director of the communication and marketing department.“Most robberies have been concentrated in certain hotspots, mainly in Mowbray and Observatory, but robberies have also taken place in other areas,” Kruger wrote.
The main hotspots over the past 12 months have been: Falmouth Road, Observatory and adjoining streets (11 cases), Grotto Road and Lovers Walk, Rondebosch (11 cases), Cecil Road and Chapel Road, Mowbray (nine cases) and Main Road, Mowbray (five cases).
Most cases involved the theft of cellphones and money. “Robbery victims have also frequently had laptops, items of clothing and student cards stolen. Fortunately, very few robbery victims have been injured,” wrote Kruger.
Most of the perpetrators have been men and the robbers mostly used knives and firearms.
In some cases students had been robbed while travelling in minibus taxis. Kruger wrote that Campus Protection Services (CPS) had noted four cellphone theft cases since late June. The perpetrator appeared to be the same person. “In all the incidents, the complainants were all approached by an unknown man who asked to use their cellphones to make a call. He then ran off with the phones. Students are urged to be cautious should they be approached in this way and to report such incidents.”
Kruger said the information was intended to offer UCT’s students, staff and visitors an overview of past crime on and around campuses “so they can make more informed decisions about their personal safety”. “UCT Campus Protection Services, the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District (GSCID) , security personnel and the SAPS undertake extensive patrolling and other visible policing functions on and around UCT campuses.
“They have prevented numerous robberies from taking place and have been directly involved in the arrest of a number of robbery suspects. Critically, they do not have the capacity to patrol all areas at all times.”
She said campus protection services operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“With 280 campus protection officers, CPS is committed to maintaining the safety of the university community and property as well as keeping order in accordance with university policies. The CPS officers operate from six centres around the university and can be seen on foot, in marked cars, on bicycles and on two-wheeler scooters. This makes them easily accessible to the community and also helps to deter any would-be criminals.”
In 2014, UCT introduced a rapid deployment unit which “is fully equipped and trained in unarmed combat”.
“In addition to the three CPS patrol vehicles on campus, there are three GSCID vehicles that operate on the periphery of campus. Between CPS and GSCID, seven mobile kiosks are available for students, staff and visitors to report crime, to seek assistance when feeling unsafe or to find support if needed. CPS monitors the campus with over 300 CCTV cameras. The unit also works closely with SAPS to keep UCT staff, students and visitors safe.”