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18 April 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice IRSJ) has initiated a Social Justice Week at the University of the Free State (UFS), which started on Friday 12 April  until Wednesday 17 April 2019. 

Ten key events took place during the week. It ranged from dialogues, workshops, talk shows, debates, and interactive displays and events on issues of multilingualism and diversity, social innovation, engaged scholarship, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, gender sensitisation, sexual consent, sexual preparedness, universal access, disability, anti-discrimination, and security.

There was also a round-table discussion on 17 April 2019 with various UFS stakeholders on off-campus student security as well as an inter-institutional discussion on the same topic. The UFS Debating Society will take on the topic of the UFS Language Policy, while Olga Barends from the Free State Centre for Human Rights will host a dialogue on sexual consent.

The IRSJ has also designed and implemented SOJO-VATION: Social Innovation/ Social Change, which strives to create a foundational platform where ideas of social justice, innovation, and engaged scholarship at the UFS and in society can be hosted. SOJO-VATION partners with the Office for Student Leadership, Development, and Community Engagement.

The collaborating partners for the Social Justice Week includes various UFS stakeholders such as the Sasol library, the Gender and Sexual Equity Office, UFS Protection Services, the Free State Centre for Human Rights, the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Office for Student Leadership Development, Kovsie Innovation, GALA, the FFree State Centre for Human Rights, SRC Associations, the Office for Student Governance, Kovsie Innovate, Start-Up-Grind, EVC, EBL, Community Engagement, the Institutional Transformation Plan (ITP) Dialogues Office, Residence Dialogues, UFS Debating Society, Debate Afrika!, the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS), and the Gateway Office. 

News Archive

National Human Trafficking Resource Line a victim-centred approach to combating crime
2017-08-24

Description: Beatri Kruger Tags: Beatri Kruger 

Prof Beatri Kruger, Adjunct Professor at the
UFS Faculty of Law. Photo: Supplied

As a response to the rising number of human trafficking cases in South Africa and around the world, key role players in various fields have pulled together to come up with workable solutions on how to stop the crime and assist victims. Some of the work being done by NGOs and law enforcement agencies has been supported by insights from research conducted in communities and by academic institutions. According to Prof Beatri Kruger, Adjunct Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of the Free State and experienced researcher in human trafficking, support for victims has grown in leaps and bounds with the help of the latest technology. More and better quality information can be collected to strengthen efforts of combating the crime,” she said.

One such technological development is the national Human Trafficking Resource Line, which provides various services, including information on trafficking activities, assistance to agencies working with victims of trafficking in persons (TIP), creating a network from which data can be collected, analysed, and activities tracked, in order to ensure the best service to victims.

The resource line connects callers, often victims of TIP or anonymous tippers, to service providers in social services, law enforcement, places of safety, medical facilities, and government agencies, especially during emergencies. 

Resource line a helping hand to victims

The resource line was established in 2016 and has replaced the previous helpline. This line provides more services and resources than just a helpline. Through partnerships, it works to strengthen local and national structures that can assist victims over the phone. 

Call specialists are trained by Polaris, an American company using international standards and protocols. The call specialists are available 24/7 to take reports of human trafficking confidentially and anonymously. They put victims in touch with service providers for health screening, counselling, and repatriation if they are from another country, and also assist with case management.

Empowering service providers is the key to success

Support for service providers such as NGOs, safe houses, and government departments in the network is in the form of skills training programmes for staff, and a referral system in various provinces around the country. There are good referral partners in each province, as well as provincial coordinators ensuring accountability regarding cases, mobilising services for victims, and coordinating the referrals and response.  

To strengthen the network further, services provided in each province are being standardised to ensure that the right people are contacted when handling cases, and that key stakeholders in each province are used. The strength of the provincial provider network is key to offering victims of human trafficking the services they need.

Human trafficking is a crime that permeates multiple academic disciplines and professions. Therefore, information collected from victims through such a helpline and collated by agencies, will assist academic institutions such as the UFS in furthering their research, while strengthening the content of academic programmes in fields such as law, law enforcement, social sciences, health sciences, and international relations.

The number to call for reporting or providing tips on TIP-related crimes and activities, is 0800 222 777.

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