No arrests in shooting at University of Limpopo as students demand tighter security

While students demand safety at the University of Limpopo’s Mankweng campus, the assailant who shot a 25-year-old student on Saturday remains unknown.

It happened at around 3am on Saturday, when the student was on his way from his off-campus residence to the bathroom. According to the Mankweng SAPs’ constable Mosima Makgaba, the assailant shot the student in the thigh.

“He went out of his room to go to the bathroom. And then he was surprised by a man who shot him. He left him there, nothing was taken from him,” said the Mankweng SAPS’ constable Mosima Makgaba.

“Up to so far, the suspect is still unknown,” Makgaba said.

The constable added that the student wishes to protect his identity and his name has yet be released. Makgaba says that the Mankweng SAPS receives reports of burglaries daily. Complaints of shootings can happen within months in between, or at times, there will be a year before a shooting is reported. Although, the cases of shootings are irregularity reported to SAPS, they do happen.

“There’s a challenge of burglaries. Every day we receive complaints about burglaries,” Makgaba said. “Shootings happen sometimes, not often.”

There are many students staying in the area where the victim was shot, Makgaba says, making it a hotspot for perpetrators who target people with laptops and cellphones.

On Tuesday, students and people living in the Mankweng area took to Twitter to detail their past experiences of violence in the area. One person spoke of her sister who was gang-raped and murdered while studying at the university, while another spoke in fear of the unsafe conditions that make it difficult to study. Most of the students raised concerns about the safety of students who stay off-campus. 

Students marched to the Mankweng SAPS station on Monday, where they delivered a memorandum of demands. According to the university’s student representative council president, Given Mamabolo (25), three shootings have happened this year, but the incident on Saturday was the first time that they know a student has been injured.

“The university has three gates. We need street lights both inside and outside the university and more police patrol. There have been too many shootings in a short period of time and it doesn’t seem like the police or the municipality is doing anything about it,” Mamabolo told the Mail & Guardian.

He said that the university does provide campus security, but “it operates inside the campus; the shootings are outside the campus”. The protest was not the first time students have marched to raise awareness around safety. Around a month ago, Mamabolo said that students had marched to the police station, the municipality and the courts after suspects who were arrested were released.

Mamabolo says that the police response has been inefficient, but the university has initiated crime awareness projects and reached out the MEC for education in Limpopo. But fears still exist for student safety, to the point where students are now demanding more police visibility.

“There must be a permanent police van in some hotspots because we know those places are dangerous,” Mambolo said.

The vice chancellor of the university will meet with students on Wednesday and respond to their demands. For now, the student who was shot over the weekend is still in hospital, where he is recovering. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.
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