2008-04-21 : Guns blaze at UCT

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2008-04-21 : Guns blaze at UCT

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 11:39

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 625C822765

Robbers opened fire on unarmed security guards on the UCT campus after a student had been robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight.

Nobody was injured, but the student called on UCT afterwards to beef up security. The university has a "gun-free"policy and the guards are not allowed to be armed.

Lesley Connolly, a politics and history major, arrived on campus to adjudicate the annual inter-varsity debating event on Saturday.

"At midday, I parked outside the Kramer Law Building on Middle Campus... I had my laptop and handbag with me. But, I soon realised I was at the wrong venue and returned to my car."

As she got into the car, two men pointed guns at her, grabbed her laptop and then her bag.

"They then demanded the keys to my car," she said, "and I was scared that they were going to ask me to drive them somewhere, but they said they didn't want the car, only the keys. Then they ran off at high speed."

Connolly ran to a security desk of the university's Campus Protection Services (CPS). The officers manning the desk gave chase and Connolly followed them.

Within a minute, she heard gunshots ringing out as one of the robbers fired at their pursuers.

"I was shocked because I never believed that they would actually shoot someone, but when I heard the gunshots I knew that they could easily have shot me," she said.

The men jumped into a getaway car and sped off.

CPS then called the Rondebosch police station and police were dispatched immediately.

Gerda Kruger, executive director of communications and marketing at UCT, said: "Saturday's incident was most regrettable and disturbing."

She said the university had a "gun-free" policy as it "relies on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to supply armed response".

Although the university had relatively low levels of crime on campus, its approach had always been one of zero tolerance.

There were 230 CCTV cameras, internal and external patrols, and a crime-awareness campaign.

Connolly was later contacted by the Gugulethu police station to say that someone had found her bag and had handed it in.

"(But) They still have the main set of keys to my car and house, so when people tell me I'm lucky they didn't harm me or take my car, I don't feel very lucky."

Bontle Senne, a third year B Com student who came to Connolly's assistance after the incident, says she had recently visited the Fuller Residence on campus, where she stayed last year, and noticed a sign on
the wall which said that the residence had become a target of crime once again and that students staying there should be more aware.

"There was a spate last year when criminals would climb in through windows and steal things, or they would break the padlocks that students put on their doors," she said.

"And we've become desensitised to it. Smuts, another residence, has also been targeted a lot.

"I hope they beef up security. They are good at preventing cars from getting in but not people on foot who could be armed. This is unacceptable," she said.

No arrests have been made so far.

Other violent crimes which have brought campus security under the spotlight include:
# In January 2005, UCT mathematics Professor Brian Hahn was bludgeoned
with an umbrella on campus and kicked in the face. He died eight days
later. Doctoral student Steve Tladi was accused of his murder but was
found unfit to stand trial.
# In October 2005, UCT engineering professor Hugh Douglas was attacked and
robbed at gunpoint in his office on the campus and resigned soon
# In July 2006, UCT chemistry professor Mino Caira was left with serious
head injuries by an unknown assailant who entered his office.
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