The past few weeks have been marred with tragedy as students walking near Rhodes Memorial were brutally raped. This is but a drop in the ocean of atrocities that innocents in South Africa face every day, but is no less unacceptable. It goes without question that something has to be done about this, but actions by UCT and other groups may be counterproductive and half-hearted.
The UCT administration has sent out warnings to students and have claimed that security around Rhodes Memorial will be “beefed up”. While the warnings are logical and the security would be a welcome addition, forces at UCT have and are continuing to voice contradictory demands, risking the security of everyone on campus.
FeesMustFall indirectly risks the security of the campus. Without extra income and with further demands to End Outsourcing on campus, UCT will have to cut down on security personnel that were previously provided by G4S. To add to this, condemnations of private security on campus warranted a response by Vice-Chancellor Max Price, who attempted to justify the common sense inclusion of private security on campus. Protesters have been upset at the presence of increased security as they see it as an attack on their right to vandalise property and coerce students in an effort to achieve their ludicrous ideals.
Yet, Max Price feels it necessary to entertain these illogical ideologues with a justification – that they will no doubt ignore. The problem with this is that the protesters’ agendas are causing potential and actual harm to other students.
One of the best lines of defence against criminals is simply security patrols, but with reduced fees and no outsourcing, patrols will drop. This means there could be whole swathes of land that criminals can use to pick off victims, without any threat of a security patrol.
UCT needs to take a stand against two types of criminals: the obvious monsters who violate every law and moral we hold dear and those who are culpable through their increased efforts to destroy all means for students to be defended on campus.
Security is not enough, however. Students need to be given the opportunities to defend themselves and the capability to not have to be a victim. Bleeding-heart naiveté has led many UCT staff and students to turn a blind eye to crime, as it fails to fit into their narrative of privilege and oppression. This, coupled with an aversion to self-defence, has led to a student body filled with people unwilling to or incapable of defending themselves from brutes.
Besides clamping down on protesters, keeping outsourcing and hiring extra and well-armed security, the university could also benefit from some radical creative thinking.
Self-defence classes are an easy start, allowing students to voluntarily learn the skills needed to not be a statistic. A one-up would be to encourage students to carry the means to defend themselves, from knives even to concealed firearms.
Both of those suggestions are inevitably going to shock many. Universities, schools and many areas are seen, especially in South Africa, as inalienable gun-free zones. This view is completely flawed, as logic and empirical evidence have proven, time and time again, that gun-free zones benefit criminals over law-abiding citizens.
UCT can easily make procedures to allow concealed carry on campus, while also maintaining their own perceptions of safety and protocol. Campus permits may need to be required over and above that of national permits. Psychological evaluation can also be added. Maybe firearms will not be allowed to be carried on campus, but can be retrieved from a security office when about to leave campus.
If safety is a prime concern of UCT, as it should be, then it should not be a gun-free zone. Security, at the best of times, is lax and we are lucky that our mental health care is good enough in SA to avoid the problems facing America. I personally wouldn’t stop at removing the gun-free zone. UCT should provide weapon training seminars and help students achieve their licenses. By becoming an integral part of the process, UCT could help create a healthy gun culture among students.
What South Africa needs to combat our armed and vicious criminals is a society of armed and responsible individuals. Martin van Staden made this clear in an earlier article. Like the rest of SA, UCT students need to refuse to be victims, even if it means shaking their world view and arming themselves.