Information provided by Ms Annette Willemse, NWU Media Liaison Officer:
The management of the NorthWest University’s campus in Vanderbijlpark herewith acknowledges the tragic passing of Dumisane Brian Tshabalala on Thursday, September 14 this year. Dumisane, aged 22, passed away off-campus. He was studying towards a BA degree in Law subjects.
The entire University community wishes to express its most sincere condolences to the family and friends.
With regards to statements made in the media, the NWU would like to explain as follows:
* “According to students there have been several incidents in the past few weeks which have left them fearing for their lives at Riverbend (these include violent crime, theft and housebreakings)”
The NWU is aware of the incident during which Dumisane lost his life. With regard to the other mentioned incidents, no student has come forward with a SAPS case number. If a student were to fall victim to criminal activity the campus’ Protection Service can assist in the follow-up and possible investigation of such an activity if the student can provide a SAPS case number. As stipulated in Section 205 of the SA Constitution, the SAPS is responsible for the prevention, combating and investigation of crime within the public domain.
* “Is the university responsible for the safety of students living in private accommodation?”
The university is not responsible for the safety of staff or students residing in private dwellings. In the case of Riverbend – which is home to students and private individuals, residents enter into a legal contract with either the owner of the development or an estate agent. The University therefore has no legal standing or jurisdiction in this regard. It is also important to note that the NWU does not accredit Riverbend as a service provider for student accommodation.
* “Have the students raised there concerns with the university and what is being done to address them?”
A mass meeting was called by the newly elected Student Campus Council (SCC), concerned students and members of the campus management on Wednesday, September 20. The NWU Council has approved funding for the development of another on-campus residence and construction will commence at the earliest. Furthermore, a tender has been put out for an additional 600 beds – all tender applicants will be diligently scrutinised to make sure that the accommodation is safe an suitable.
The campus is offering trauma councelling to friends and classmates of Dumisabe and a concerted effort is beging made to find alternative accommodation for the NWU students who shared a house with Dumisane.
* “What safety measures are i place for these students?”
When students choose to make use of private accommodation – and enter into legal agreements with property owners and developers, the university has no legal mandate or authority to render security servicves. As stated before, Protection Services can assist students in following-up and investigating reported criminal activities for which there are valid SAPS vase numbers.
* “There were reports of students sleeping in the university’s computer labs rather than going home to their private accommodation following Dumisane’s passing”
The Learning and Research Commons houses a 24-hour study room. The evening after Dumisan’e passing, a group of between 20 and 30 students chose to stay in this room overnight. The second evening the number of students declined and by 19 September, all students have vacated the lab by midnight. At the moment, no students are sleeping in the 24-hour study room.