For many attending a tertiary institution is a new found route to independence and it is met with a sense of excitement and eagerness this should be. Therefore a bit of misfortune may sometimes cause all the enthusiasm to turn into a nightmare.
Student life is busy; with assignments due, DPs and exams approaching many students are up and about. This is the time that many spend alone and rarely chatting with friends except to discuss about the upcoming tests or assignments. This is also quiet a dangerous time because many leave their homes very early and go home quite late in order to keep up with the workload.
At this time of the year students practically live in the labs. This is good as it shows the determination and ambition of many young people but this may also be a bad time because most of the time students are alone and may be prey to some deceitful people.
I talked with Ms. Mandisa Fayindlala, who has been a security officer for NMMU these past four years she said that, ‘mainly the problem with loss of property from students either at res or around campus is the careless mistakes that they make’. I asked her to expand on what she meant and she gave a few examples such as leaving our rooms unlocked, those with cars forgetting their keys on the door or leaving the windows open. Another big mistake she said was to leave valuable property inside the front seat of the car such as laptops, cell phones and handbags. These, she said must be left in the boot because some thieves seize the opportunity by breaking the window and steal them then leave the car like that. ‘Most thefts where because one left their rooms unlocked then maybe urumza (neighbour) was going to come visit you, he or she sees the laptop or cell phone unattended and takes it. When you come back from either the bathroom or kitchen you find it gone.’ Ms. Fayindlala said.
Other advices I got from security officers, as they had begun to gather when they saw me talking to Miss Fayindlala, was that students need to be careful where they place their phones, purses and memory sticks in general.
NMMYou has a few tips in staying safe not only around this time but all the time.
- For oppidani students embarking on leaving early and using public transport.
Make sure that there is a buddy who will be travelling with you in the early or late hours. Or ask a family member to walk you to the bus stop and wait for you at the bus stop when you come back late. As these are the times used by these criminals for they know that the streets will likely be stranded and your call for help will not be heard.
- For oppidani students travelling with their own cars, make sure that you move your car to a closer and safer parking area.
If earlier in the day the parking lot was full and you had to park far away, during the day look for a better place to park.
Park in well lit public places. Always lock your door and make sure you have the keys with you. Most of the time students forget to take the keys after locking their cars.
Close your windows. Never leave valuable products in your car, store them safely away in a boot or take them with.
- For those living on campus having a buddy to walk with also applies because the campus buildings can look a bit scary while travelling alone for late night research at the labs.
In your rooms.
- Always lock your rooms. You may be tempted to leave your room unlocked because you are just going to the kitchen, bathroom or at your neighbours. Don’t.
- Do not leave small portable devices such as laptops, iPods, cell phones and other electronics unattended, even for a short period of time.
- Avoid walking alone in the dark, if you have to go somewhere early or late ask someone to walk you or meet you half way.
- Always have your keys at hand to open the doors of your car or room. You don’t want to be fiddling in your bag for keys in a dark.
- Carry your bag in such a way that a pick pocket will have no chance, for example put all your valuables in the inside pocket where it may be difficult to get into. Hold your bag in a way that it may be hard to snatch and run, close to your body.
Tertiary experience can be fulfilling and as an adult one needs to be responsible and keep safe to enjoy it fully.