About Us

Monday 26 June 2023

Crime on campus


by Omesh Jagarnath & Mfezi Mjwara


Crime in South African institutions of Higher Education is a notable fact, which often stems from the high crime rates within the country, thereby filtering into universities and colleges of education.

Although many would perceive the university institutions as being a safe environment where education is the common language for everyone, it is an inevitable fact that students often become victims of crime within the campuses or even in their own residences.

This is very traumatizing not only to the victims but also to parents who now have to worry about their children residing in a so called “safe environment” far away from home.

However, many Universities are faced with a tremendous challenge of maintaining safety and security on campuses. This is especially because of the diversity of the campus environment, with multiple buildings and lecture halls spread out over the campus terrain. Some of the lecture venues and residences are very secluded and isolated, thereby providing an ideal environment for criminals to operate.


Safety and Security

So, what is meant by Safety and Security?

Here are a few definitions:

  •     Safety is the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, loss to a person or violation including vandalism of an organization’s property/facilities. 
  •   Security refers to protection of a person, building, organization or institution against threats such as crime.

Risk management are those policies and plans that address matters such as organizational or institutional issues & serious events caused by safety or security violations, and protection from liability.

Campus Safety & Security is a service provided by security personnel on campus, catering for all students, staff, alumni and visitors – the ultimate goal being to ensure a safe, harmless and conducive environment for all personnel on university property. 

Universities have a moral responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of both staff and students entering the campus. This responsibility also extends to University residences as well as students utilizing University shuttle services to and from campuses and residences.

Recently, there has been alarming reports of the escalating rate of crime incidents taking place nationwide in Institutions of Higher Learning. Measures such as access control; checking of ID cards; visible presence of security personnel in both residences and buildings such as libraries, key “hot spot” areas, etc. should be in place to control and monitor criminal activities.

Security personnel on campus are under pressure to provide effective security in order to ensure a safe environment for staff and students. The reason for this is when higher institutions fail to provide safety, students get discouraged from attending such institutions and parents become reluctant to send their children to an unsafe environment to learn. Campus crimes affects the image of institutions, as well as the security officers’ jobs; thereby undermining the quality of learning and students’ activities on campuses (Sewpersad & Van Jaarsveld :47).


One of the main issues facing tertiary institutions is managing student access, i.e., who goes where and when. This applies to both campus as a whole and to residences.

Campuses have easy access, open at all hours which often allows criminals to come and go and remain unnoticed (Sewpersad & Van Jaarsveld :47).

In institutions where 24/7 access to facilities is available, such as University LANS and Libraries, safety and security becomes even more of a concern and a necessity. Many students prefer to use these facilities after hours, due to the peace and quiet - hence walking to and from their residences as well as being in these physical spaces should give them peace of mind to work in a safe and secure environment without worrying about having their possessions stolen or being mugged.

These facilities should not only have the necessary access control measures in place, but also a security officer stationed at the entrances to monitor and check student cards, especially after hours and report or apprehend suspicious looking individuals.


Most common examples of crimes in University institutions include:

  •        Theft inside university premises (computers, identities, books, etc.)
  •     Cellphone and laptop robberies at gun point.
  •      Car remote jamming in parking areas.
  •     Verbal and sexual assaults.
  •    Cyber-crime (ATM jamming, scamming, frauds, hacking, online drug trafficking, cyber bullying and software piracy).
  •     Forced entry, alcohol & drug abuse.

Who is targeted in these crimes?

       ·   Students more especially first year students ~ Female Staff members

  •      Disabled students are easy targets ~ Delivery guys (food or university facilities)
  •        University visitors ~ Alumni 

The University of KwaZulu Natal and Risk Management Services (RMS) is making a move and taking steps daily in the fight to protecting not only the University facilities but also improving student safety and the University security system, including cyber-crime. https://rms.ukzn.ac.za/

Tips for students & staff to avoid falling victim to crime

Safety tips for students’ in residences:

  •        Always lock your residence door, even when you are in the room.
  •        Residence hall doors must be secure at all times. If you find someone has propped a door open, remove the barricade and secure the door.
  •        Report suspicious persons you may see in residence or office corridors.
  •        Never open your door to strangers.
  •         If you have lost your residence key, report it immediately and have the locks changed.
  •         Don’t keep residence and vehicle keys on the same keyring and never disclose your address on your keyring.
  •         Preferably keep all valuables, including cash, locked in a safe.

Safety tips for students & staff on campus:

  •        Always walk in groups at night. 
  •        Call RMS to organise a security guard to escort you.
  •        Make sure your valuables are not visible.
  •        Avoid taking routes which are dark and too quiet.
  •        Do not give attention to strangers at night even if they tell you they are students.
  •        Make sure you park in an open area where there are CCTVs.
  •        Double check to see if your car is locked when parked.
  •        Always look around to see if there’s any suspicious eyes around you when parking.
  •        Report any suspicious act you see on-campus.
  •        Try by all means not to leave your belongings unattended.
  •        Keep away from campus premises when there is a strike.


Crime prevention strategies utilized at the University of KwaZulu Natal campuses, Libraries and students Residences


University Security- Security personnel undergo seasonal workshops and training sessions in order to be well trained and keep up with the latest crimes.

Students access cards that allow students entry into the necessary buildings but restrict access for an unidentified person.

Visitors cards- Is for use by university alumni or visitors which grants them access the university as well as to utilize university facilities. 

Access control- Turnstiles / access control gates are installed in all UKZN Libraries, computer lab’s, theatres, departments and University entrances.

24/7 CCTV- Majority of the UKZN premises in and out is fitted with video surveillance which allows monitoring of students as well as to identify potential crime activities.

Awareness campaigns – A series of workshops as well as campaigns are held throughout the year in combating crime and enforcing a safe and secured university community.

UKZN RMS & SAPS – Work hand in hand in fighting crime in and around campus.


Safety and Security at Institutions of Higher Education is the responsibility of all individuals and stakeholders. This means that we should not only rely on the security personnel but all students, staff and management should take the initiative as well. We all need to understand the necessity and importance of creating a crime free and conducive University community. Hence, always remain vigilant and report suspicious behaviors to the security personnel.











https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311886.2022.2110199 - University campuses and types of crime: a case study of the university of KwaZulu Natal/Howard campus in the city of Durban-South Africa / Sazelo Mkhize, Samuel Fikiri Cinni,  Slindile Ngcece. Published online August 2022.

Sewpersad, S. and Van Jaarsveld, L. 2012: Campus security and safety: incorporating new technology to an old paradigm of guarding. Acta Criminologica:  Southern African Journal of Criminology, CRIMSA 2011 Conference Special Edition No. 1, 2012. p. 46-55.






No comments:

Post a Comment