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Work together to stop crimes on students

MIDRAND police are extending their efforts and resources to tackle the escalating crimes targeting students renting rooms in President Park and Glen Austin.

Midrand Police Station Commander Colonel Steven Moodley addressed students at Midrand Graduate Institute and property owners in two separate meetings on 7 November.

John Gainsford of President Park and Steven Johnstone of Glen Austin and also Midrand Community Policing Forum Sector 1 Chairperson, showed their support for the meeting. Representatives of Midrand Graduate Institute also attended.

Students are targeted for their laptops, cell phones and cash. Moodley said he was disturbed to hear a female student had been threatened with rape. He said he understood that students were trying to find the cheapest accommodation while they were studying and did not expect to be crime targets.

“I feel heavy in my heart that students are being attacked and we want to address the situation,” he said.

While police were on track with investigations to bring criminals to book, Moodley said it was brought to the police’s attention that property owners were renting out rooms or make-shift cottages to students without adequate security. He referred to one accommodation that was a patio with a canvas roof and a light-bulb hanging from a wire.

“This is not a proper facility to rent out – but property owners are getting greedy and students are desperate to pay as little as possible for accommodation,” said Moodley.

Only a few property owners attended the meeting and so he suggested the way forward was to take a multi-pronged approach and to get the health department, building control and land use to assist the police to get property owners to meet security requirements such as better lighting, alarms, burglar bars and electric fencing.

Property owners at the meeting said the students also sometimes brought people who they thought were friends onto the properties and they turned out to be criminals. Moodley suggested that property owners needed to set standards with the students and work together, along with the police, to curb crime.

Midrand Community Policing Forum Chairperson Billy Rudlin said, “Students’ focus should be on studying, not on their safety. As a community, we need to help police to overcome and stop the exploitation of students.”

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