29 October 2018 Photo Thabo Kessah
Qwaqwa Campus students march for safety and improved social services
Phuthaditjhaba Station Commander,Brigadier Matsoso Mohloare; Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Advocate Frans Dlamini; and Lerato Seekane from the Private Accommodation Providers Association signing a memorandum from Sakhile Mnguni.

Hundreds of students and staff from the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa Campus recently marched to the Phuthaditjhaba South African Police Service to highlight their unhappiness about lack of safety and other services provided by various stakeholders in Qwaqwa.

“Our students have experienced continuous harassment, rape, burglaries, assaults, intimidation, and related unacceptable behaviours from criminal elements in the community and in government departments,” said SRC President, Sakhile Mnguni, reading from the memorandum of demands. “The SAPS, Departments of Health and Justice and Constitutional Development, as well as Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality are the biggest perpetrators. We demand visible policing where most of our commuter students reside, and on the main road. We also demand that the SAPS will take previously reported cases seriously and investigate them thoroughly. From the Department of Health, we demand abolishment of tribalism in the offering of services and that staff must acknowledge that they serve the entire community.”

Mnguni said the students demanded that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development should work closely with the SAPS to ensure that all cases are quickly resolved. “Cases take forever to be resolved and all we get is a case number, but no progress,” he said. “From Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality, we demand basics such as water and electricity. The municipality must cater for the needs of students who reside within the municipality; for example, we need street and high-mast lights and maintenance thereof, as it is very dark, especially between campus and Phuthaditjhaba.”

Private accommodation service providers were not spared the rod. “Landlords must be held accountable for the goods stolen and damaged within their premises. They must put the necessary safety measures in place and meet the standards for accreditation by the university’s Housing and Residence Affairs (HRA). They must also reduce unreasonable rental amounts,” he added.

Representatives from the relevant institutions and departments signed and received the memorandum and were given seven days to respond.

The march was the highlight of the Safety Week activities which included the distribution of whistles and talks on criminality and the consequences thereof. It was a collaborative effort by the SRC, Protection Services, and Student Affairs. 

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