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04 November 2012 at 15:56 - Posted by Midrand

Student stabbed 24 times in campus attack - SANEWS


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Durban - A 21-year-old Norwegian exchange student studying at the University of KwaZulu-Natal was left bleeding profusely after being stabbed 24 times on her neck, face and shoulders, allegedly by a fellow student who also stole her laptop.

The brutality of the attack, which took place on Howard College campus, has left Rakel Fastings’s South African friends reeling and students outraged.

Stephen Haynes, a second- year house and town planning student, said this would dent the university’s image. “This is bad for foreign students and our image. Students were striking a few months ago about the issue of safety. A student was raped at res and now [there is] a stabbing on campus. We should be able to feel safe on campus. We see security walking around, but what are they doing?”

Simu Mdlalose, a second- year media studies student, says attacks on campus are a problem. “I haven’t been a victim, but some of my friends have: one had his laptop stolen… We come to campus to study and we hear of these horrific stories. It’s happening too often,” he said.

“More should be done to tighten up security on campus. I mean, if security is present and these things still happen, what’s the point of security?” said Phiwa Mazibuko, a second-year house and town planning student.

Fastings, who has been in South Africa for four months, was doing a third-year course in community development.

She returned to Norway with her mother on Friday morning.

One of her close friends, who saw Fastings before she left the country, told the Sunday Tribune what happened.

The friend, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident occurred at 6pm on October 24 in Shepstone 14, a classroom in the Shepstone Building at UKZN’s Howard College as Fastings was skyping from her Apple Mac.

“It was just her and another guy in the classroom. She presumed he was a student, as he looked to be studying. When she had finished her conversation, the other guy left the classroom. Suddenly he came back and tried to grab her laptop, stabbing her countless times as they struggled.”

He said Fastings begged her attacker to take the laptop and leave her alone, but he continued to stab her.

“He didn’t say anything to her as he stabbed her. It was totally unprovoked. She told him he didn’t have to hurt her. She was badly injured and has lost partial feeling in her thumb, which was slashed. She has multiple stab wounds to her neck, shoulders and back and had 29 stitches.”

He said the suspect only stopped when she started screaming loudly. He then grabbed the laptop and ran off.

“There is a quad outside the Shepstone building and a number of students were gathered there. The guy dropped the laptop as male students started to chase him, but he got away. Campus security was called and the first thing they asked for was her student card.

“She was covered in blood and that’s what they ask for. It was the height of stupidity,” he said.

“Her mother, an academic at the University of Oslo, flew to South Africa. Rakel is her only child.”

Her friend described Fastings as a warm and intelligent person.

“She was no physical match for [her attacker]; it doesn’t make sense that [he] used such excessive force. Her mother was appalled by the brutality.

“Rakel left without writing exams. It’s a pity this happened because she was loving the city. She mentioned that she wants to come back, but I’m not sure if and when she will.”

The university did not respond to questions as to whether the suspect was a student, or about how many recent incidents of violence there had been on campus. However, UKZN spokeswoman Nomonde Mbadi said the university regretted the “unfortunate incident”.

“The university views the matter in a very serious light and an investigation is under way, both by SAPS and the university’s risk management services,” said Mbadi.

Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was being investigated by Umbilo SAPS. No arrests have been made.

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