08 August 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Sonia Small
Student Safety
The university continues to make concerted efforts to increase student and staff safety on and off campuses.

Protection Services monitors all campuses around the clock to ensure the safety of students and staff. Safety is at the top of the agenda of the University of the Free State (UFS), as it is crucial for maintaining an environment conducive to teaching and learning. A number of on- and off-campus security measures are in place that are constantly being reviewed as the need arises. 

On-campus security measures

Members of Protection Services man the Operational Centre on a 24-hour basis. This office can be contacted by students and staff members to report incidents on and off campus. Security patrols on foot and by vehicle are conducted by members of Protection Services along with contracted security officers on a daily basis on all campuses. In addition, dedicated security officers are deployed at female residences at night.

State-of-the-art CCTV cameras are monitored around the clock by members of Protection Services. These cameras play a vital role in the investigation of incidents as well as the real-time detection of criminal activities taking place on campus. A number of arrests have been made using CCTV footage. A process is underway to enhance the current CCTV capacity by installing new cameras at identified hotspots on campus and at student residences.

Red-pole panic alarms linked to cameras were installed on the three UFS campuses. A security-response vehicle is dispatched to locations when the alarm is activated. Intruder alarms were also installed at various buildings on all the campuses. It alerts Protection Services in the case of unauthorised entries or burglaries.

There are three dedicated Investigation Officers in the Department of Protection Services – two on the Bloemfontein Campus and one on the Qwaqwa Campus – who are responsible for investigating cases on campuses, as well as working in collaboration with SAPS Investigating Officers on all off-campus reported cases. One of them is always on standby to respond to cases reported after hours. The university also appointed a staff member who is responsible for threat detection, investigations, and liaising with external law-enforcement agencies. He is also responsible for the coordination of off-campus safety and security operations.

Safeguarding the off-campus environment

Although the university has no jurisdiction off campus, several measures were implemented in collaboration with external law-enforcement agencies such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), Community Policing Forum (CPF), and private security companies. 

The UFS is represented on the CPF committees for sector 2 and 3 of the Park Road Police Station, and sector 4 of the Kagisanong Police Station, and joined operations are conducted from time to time. A Student Safety Collaboration Forum for both on- and off-campus students is currently being established and several Crime Stop WhatsApp groups consisting of students, SAPS and CPF members, sector policing, armed security companies, and Protection Services are being used for real-time reporting and response.

The Department of Protection Services also appointed an off-campus Security Liaison Officer to assist students in reporting crime incidents to the SAPS and obtaining the necessary social and psychological support. This officer also liaises with the SAPS and private security companies on an ongoing basis to enhance security around the campus.

Members of SAPS, CPF, and security companies conduct regular patrols in areas where students reside. 

Protection Services and the Department of Housing and Residence Affairs have already accredited several off-campus residences, and are working together to accredit more in line with the guidelines of the Department of Higher Education and Training. More than 3 000 beds in Bloemfontein have been accredited so far. 

The Sexual Assault Response Team is at your service

All students and staff members can now report incidents related to gender-based violence, sexual harassment, and any act of prejudice or discrimination directly to the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), which was recently officially launched by the Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice.  Members of Protection Services also recently received training in assisting victims of sexual-violence incidents.

Incidents may be reported from Monday to Friday, 07:30-16:30 on +27 51 401 7777, and after hours on the 0800 204 682 toll-free line. This initiative is proudly sponsored by the Office for Gender Equality and Anti-discrimination, together with the UFS Social Support Unit. 

On combating academic anxiety

The Office for Student Counselling and Development (SCD) is launching the Student Toolkit on the Bloemfontein Campus on 23 August 2019. Students will now have a step-by-step guide that contains all the information needed to ensure a healthy mental-health status.

Should students need professional individual or group counselling, support is available from the SCD. Visits can be arranged by calling +27 51 401 2853 or emailing scd@ufs.ac.za 

Emergency contact details are available with the click of a button on the KovsieApp or at the back of all access cards.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.