Stellenbosch University’s night shuttle service is once again fully operational along the Kayamandi route.
This comes after weeks of disruption due to safety concerns.
The Kayamandi route used to operate only twice a day, at six and eight o’clock in the evening, forcing students who needed to stay on campus longer to use private transport, which is often costly.
After discussions with students the shuttle service now runs from six o’clock in the evening to two am in the morning and students board the shuttle at the Neelsie student centre.
Furthermore, students were dropped off only as far as the Kayamandi police station, where they would have to wait for hours before being dropped off at their homes by the police.
Students living in the area took to social media to express their displeasure, stating that the university was further marginalising students from poorer communities.
In her Facebook post, BA Social Dynamics student, Andiswa Bangela (23), said she felt the university had “criminalised her home” by refusing to drop her off in front of her house, as they did with students living in other parts of the town.
“Students from Cloetesville and Idas Valley are not afforded this same treatment,” Bangela said in the post.
“There is only one police van in Kayamandi and should you arrive while the police are busy, you will sit there until they have the time to drop you off,” she added in the post.
Andisiwe Shasha (24), a BAcc Hons student who also lives in Kayamandi, said the limited service had been an inconvenience, especially when she needed to stay longer at the library or study centre.
About being left at the police station, Shasha said, “It was an inconvenience but I was lucky because I live close to the police station.”
The university’s mobility manager, Roelof Loubser, agreed that the shuttle service was required to drop students and staff off at their doorstep or as close as possible.
Loubser added that the decision to limit the Kayamandi route was out of concern for staff and students using the the service.
This was taken after a man who was involved in a shootout in Kayamandi tried to enter the shuttle, frightening the driver and the students inside. “We had discussed the matter with the local police and decided that it just wasn’t safe enough to fully operate that route.”
Commenting on students who had to wait hours at the police station before being dropped off, Loubser said the situation was difficult for all parties involved.
“The police also disliked the situation because they have police work to do and are not a transport provider.”
Loubser said Kayamandi was not the only area where shuttles had been limited, contradicting Bangela’s statements. “There are parts of Cloetesville for example, where our drivers refuse to go into, and we cannot risk their lives or the lives of students,” he said.
Former SRC member in charge of the portfolio for safety and security, Alchadvon Fransman, could not be reached for comment after multiple attempts to contact him regarding the matter.
At the start of the third quarter, the university introduced a compulsory online shuttle booking system, doing away with the first come, first served method.
The shuttle service now runs from six o’clock in the evening to two am in the morning and students board the shuttle at the Neelsie student centre. – Welile Makena & Tembisa Mguzulo