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Students: stay safe with these pro tips

Student life is often fast paced and filled with activity. From studying and writing tests, to attending social events and parties. For many, this is the first time away from home and there is a lot to take in; a new environment, new people, a new way of doing things.

Sadly, students are targeted by criminals because they are still new to the area and not yet street wise. To help students in the process of safety awareness, we spoke to a few Precinct managers about their areas in the Voortrekker Road area and what they deemed important for students to know.

View the full precinct map here: VRCID Precinct Map_contact details

Chris Matthee, manager of precinct area 1

My role is one that brings people and actions together. I am the link between society and law enforcement agencies, and facilitate cooperation to bring about change. Our most challenging issues at the moment have to do with crime, prostitution, drug dealing and vandalism.

Our area has six student residents and many students travel to universities situated around the Parow CBD area. These students are regularly targeted, mostly through a grab and run approach. We have found that is normally due to students not being aware of their surroundings. A few practical tips I would advise are:

  • Plan your route before leaving the house: don’t take the shortest route, take the safest.
  • Don’t flash money and items, it only attracts negative attention.
  • Walk in or close to groups of people that can assist you in case of unwanted attention.
  • Report all crime and get involved in local community efforts to fight it.
  • Attend awareness discussions on campus to stay updated on activities.

I want to emphasise that a student’s safety is their responsibility as much as it is up to law enforcement. Never let your guard down.

Jean Beukman, manager of precinct area 4

My overall objective is to ensure a clean and safe area for all to work, study and play. I identify problem areas and take action. I also interact with role players in the area. My main concerns at the moment are general lawlessness, difficult taxi operators and illegal gamblers.

In the last two weeks we have seen six students assaulted for their phones and/or iPads. These students displayed their expensive items openly, making it easy for thieves to access. There are a number of things I could recommend for students to stay safe, namely:

  • Don’t text or listen to music with earphones while in a public space. Be aware of what is going on around you.
  • Don’t trust strangers. Even if it seems like they want to help or sell things to you.
  • Always walk in groups whenever possible.
  • Don’t wear flashy jewellery if you are going to walk in public.
  • Walk in main streets that are well lit, not in dark alleys.
  • Be wary of strangers who want to talk or ask for directions.
  • Report all crime related incidents to SAPS.

Leonie van der Merwe, manager of precinct area 3

I feel that the main job of a precinct manager is to see that all levy payers in his/ her precinct have good relationships with partners of the City. A well organised precinct is a prosperous one. Our greatest challenge is crime and problems with urban management and infrastructure.

Sadly, another aspect is the targeting of scholars commuting to and from school. We want to emphasise alertness and remind you that criminals come in all shapes and sizes! To make sure you are not targeted, we recommend not answering your cell phone while walking in the street – rather wait until you in a safe area. Nothing is as important as your safety in that moment.

A final takeaway tip: rather be safe than sorry. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. Run, scream, do whatever you must to protect your life. Your material things are not worth keeping in this case. Do not hang on to your bag, cell phone or iPad, these are replaceable, but you only have one life!

Sean-Robin Beesley, manager of precinct area 2

I ensure that my area is safe and clean on a daily basis and I am in charge of the urban management sector. One of the biggest challenges I face is educating students on how to safely use public transport. Things like keeping valuables hidden when travelling and remaining vigilant are top priorities. Students are often targeted because they are negligent when travelling.

I believe that students should look out for one another by educating one another on awareness. This would play a vital role in reducing the possibility of students being targeted. My biggest tip for students is to please be careful and responsible when walking to public transport interchanges. Avoid walking in dark alleys and keep valuables out of sight.

To report any suspicious activity, call Law Enforcement on 021 480 7700 and/ or alternatively contact the VRCID 24hr security operations centre (SOC) on 072 792 7168.

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