3 February 2013

Tanzania: St John University Tightens Security

BRUTAL assault and death to a female student at St John's University of Tanzania in Dodoma last month has raised alarm for the institution to reinforce security, to make sure that more than 80 per cent of campus students are equally protected.

The late Lydia Leo Mzima, a third year student was hit on the head with a sharp and heavy object on January 21, 2013, while walking in the dark back to the room she had rented outside the campus.

According to police report, an attacker laid ambush to Lydia on the fateful evening, hitting her with an iron rod and disappeared with a laptop, a mobile phone and some cash. Police confirmed his arrest a few days later and confessed to have committed the crime not with the intention to kill.

During an exclusive intervie, the Vice Chancellor of St John's University, Prof Gabriel Mwaluko told the 'Sunday News' that the disheartening incident could not pass without putting in place serious security measures to contain the crime. "We wish that all 5,445 students are accommodated here at the campus. Only 700 students stay at the campus and the rest rent houses in residential areas.

The administration is not happy about it and permanent solutions will be attained shortly," Prof Mwaluko promised. Plans for the construction of a police post around this place are underway, the VC said, but in addition to that we have purchased 90 acres near the university location for expansion.

"The acquired land will allow expansion in terms of construction of additional structures such as hostels, more lecture rooms, staff quarters and other basic facilities," he said. Adding, "We are thankful to President Jakaya Kikwete who gave 45m/- during recent fundraising event held at the campus in support of the initiative," Prof Mwaluko said.

St John's University is advancing knowledge transfer from one generation to another, offering different courses in Humanities, Education, Science, Technology, Business, Nursing, Pharmacy and Theology. It is owned by the Anglican Church in Tanzania.

However, students have also been advised to take personal precaution and avoid walking alone but in groups at night. Door and windows should be locked properly. Female students have also been advised to stop inviting strangers in their rooms especially the roaming nail painters who also take advantage of the accessibility to the rooms to learn about the property found in possession of students.

Prof Mombo Kamwaya who also took part in the interview underlined the need for students to respect and cooperate with local authorities in their places of residence. The two professors (Mwaluko and Kamwaya) happen to be classmates in the same missionary school previously known as Dodoma Alliance School before changing name to Mazengo Secondary School and now St John's University of Tanzania.

They recalled the incidence whereby a student hailing from Arusha refused to make simple contribution to a help-each-other community fund when required to do so by the Ward Executive Officer of Kikuyu where he lived. The student arrogantly said; "I will not contribute because even-if I die you will not be able to take me to Arusha. After a few months the same student fell sick and stayed alone in the room," he explained.

He had more; "Boiling frying chips oil accidentally dropped on his body while taking dinner at a food vendor stall. The same people he ridiculed came to his rescue as the officer luckily knocked on his door. He apologized for what he said and plausible security mechanism," Prof Kamwaya said.

Zuena Khalfan Shame, second year student BA-Education from Zanzibar said; "Living off-campus is quite undesirable but seeking education is not all about bread and butter. I have to overcome challenges," she explained.

Aurilius Nyange, also second year Nursing, complained that landlords were taking advantage of their quest for accommodation such that rooms previously leased for 10,000/- a month are currently charging between 45,000/- to 50,000/- a month," he said. Adding, "We receive 480,000/- for two months to cover meals and accommodation. This is equivalent to 7,000/- a day which is not enough either.

Better if given 10,000/- as university students pleaded," Nyange explained. Security for students at higher learning institutions has been a major source of concern in the recent past as those not staying at the campus have registered complaints to the security organs that they were robbed of their property and some raped.

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