NWest's Matlosana Centre for Artisans under siege - Belinda Bozzoli

DA MP says well-armed mining syndicates have already stripped the abandoned Simmer and Jack mine, on which campus is located, of most of its valuable property

North West FET campus under siege: Police must intervene 

25 September 2014

The Matlosana Centre for Artisans and Learnerships in the North West Province is under constant and immediate threat by armed gangs of illegal miners and others, rendering it impossible for students or staff to work there in acceptable conditions. This was revealed at a parliamentary portfolio committee oversight visit to Klerksdorp on Tuesday. 

I will today write to the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, to request that a significant police presence be deployed to root out the well-armed gangs in the area. 

The Centre is one of five campuses of the Vuselela TVET (formerly FET) College. It is located on the abandoned Simmer and Jack Mine outside Stilfontein, and has for many years trained young artisans for the mining and engineering industries. It has approximately 1200 students. 

The Campus Head told the committee that the abandoned mine is now occupied by illegal, highly organised and well-armed mining syndicates, and that they have already stripped the mine of most of its valuable property. The College stands out as the remaining source of value on the property. Five or six times a month large highly organised groups of up to 100 criminals have raided the Campus. They are fully armed, terrifying both staff and students. There have also been rapes and muggings. 

It has proved extremely difficult for the College to persuade any security company to stay, and five successive security companies have been employed, with each one leaving, unable to continue.

The Campus Head fears that over the December period the campus will be closed, and that when students return there will be little or nothing left of their multi-million rand training and testing centre.

The DA believes that this constitutes an emergency, which requires a urgent response both from the Police and the Department of Higher Education. In the immediate term a substantial police presence must be urgently provided, both to protect the campus, its staff and its students, and to rid the area of the criminal gangs that now control it. 

In the longer term, the DA believes that the Department of Higher Education and Training has no alternative but to provide the Centre with alternative accommodation and to move the expensive equipment into a safer venue.

Statement issued by Prof Belinda Bozzoli MP, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training, September 25 2014

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