Five Walter Sisulu University students have been arrested on charges of cooking and distributing drugs on the university’s Zamukulungisa site in Mthatha.
The campus raid, by a security task team established by the institution, uncovered extensive drugs and drug paraphernalia, hand-held weapons, stolen electronic goods like cellphones, and identity documents in one of the campus residences.
According to university spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo, the youths were arrested on Thursday morning in one of the rooms in the residence when the task team, together with the police, closed in on them.
“Initially, seven suspects were arrested in the room.
“However, it was later established that one was not a student and another was not linked to the alleged crime,” said Tukwayo.
The arrest comes two months after the university’s vice-chancellor, Rob Midgley, established a task team to investigate allegations of rife lawlessness on the Mthatha campus.
Midgley said the bust indicated that a drug manufacturing and distribution ring had been operating on the university’s premises for quite some time.
“All indications are that this was a sophisticated and well-run operation that has been using our premises for the distribution of these drugs for some time.
“With this intervention, we want to send a message to the broader WSU community that lawlessness and disorder will not be tolerated any longer,” he said.
The university’s Mthatha campus has become notorious for violent behaviour, with some students assaulting – and even killing – each other over petty issues.
The culture of violence at the institution has been highlighted by a number of violent crimes, including the killing of final-year medical student Lwando Mantshontsho.
Midgley said the culture of crime and violence at the university emanated from and was compounded by issues such as overcrowding, inadequate campus control and ineffective security at the campuses.
“The university had made critical interventions in recent times to improve safety and security on campus, including the appointments of key executives in the ICT and operations division to oversee the implementation of effective campus control and safety measures.”
According to Tukwayo, following the recent drug bust numerous charges of theft, drug possession with intent to distribute and drug dealing were laid by police against the alleged perpetrators.
Midgley said while legal and criminal processes surrounding the case were ongoing, the university would effect internal disciplinary measures against those found to have transgressed university rules. —