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SU to spend millions on additional safety initiatives
Author: Pia Nänny
Published: 21/10/2014

An additional R2.2 million per year for safety initiatives and a once-off R4 million to upgrade pedestrian routes have been set aside by the Management of Stellenbosch University (SU) to establish additional safety measures its Stellenbosch Campus specifically. These allocations are over and above the current safety budget.

An open campus offers unique challenges and the University has therefore spent more than R10 million on various pro-active security measures over recent years. This forms part of an on-going assessment and expansion initiative.

During the first semester of 2014 additional safety measures were activated after an increase in the number of street robbery incidents. On-going measures include visible security officers, technology, reaction capacity and awareness campaigns focusing on staff and students, as well as active partnerships with the SAPS, Stellenbosch Municipality and the broader security community in the town. Additional patrols were instated in May this year and have added another R2 million to the security budget.

"The financial injection approved by the Management of SU ensures the sustainability of the additional security measures implemented earlier this year," says Viljoen van der Walt, Director: Risk Management and Campus Security.

"By doubling the number of guards patrolling the primary routes and shortening the routes to include mainly Victoria Street and Bosman Street, we have  increased the guards' visibility on these routes," he adds. "In future, electrical cars will patrol these two streets and these patrols will probably be expanded to the day shift as well. At night a security guard is on duty in the kiosk on the corner of Victoria and Bosman streets."

Van der Walt encouraged students to use the above-mentioned routes and to preferably move around in groups. "This decreases personal exposure and contributes to a safer campus," he says.

Functional design enhances safety

Thanks to the additional funds, existing pedestrian routes on campus will soon be expanded, secured and better illuminated. This is included in the development of a security plan focusing on crime prevention though environmental design. "Establishing which factors aid criminals and then eliminating these factors through functional design is a new trend world-wide," says Van der Walt.

Security zones – areas that are better secured than others through security technology – will be identified on campus. The first zone is being established on the Rooiplein where the mast pole with cameras and lights will be completed before the end of the year. The landscaping of the surrounding area will be completed next year.

"Specific features associated with security zones are cameras, lights and the regular presence of security personnel. By beautifying the area with water fountains and seats and adding useful infrastructure such as facilities for charging mobile phones, students will be attracted to these areas. With more people around, there is less opportunity for criminals to act," says Van der Walt.

According to Mr Schalk Opperman, Director: Planning and Infrastructure, all security measures will be included in the University Master Plan in an integrated way to ensure that the campus atmosphere is not lost, while safe and aesthetic routes will be created to enhance student life. Even the hard and soft landscaping between buildings and pedestrian routes will be utilised to support additional security measures.

This phase of the project will kick off early in 2015 en will be rolled out in collaboration with the student community and other stakeholders.

Photo: Security light on Rooiplein. Photographer: Stefan Els