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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

Minister Jeff Radebe commends UFS for measures taken to address racial prejudices
2013-10-21

 

18 October 2013


  Photo Gallery
Minister Jeff Radebe lecture: YouTube video

Mr Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, last night delivered a lecture in the Prestige series of the Dean: Faculty of Law, at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).

In a packed hall with, among others, university students, staff and members of the judicial system, Minister Radebe said that many other academic institutions should look to the UFS when they deal with the challenges of racism in its various manifestations in their midst. “I commend the university for taking drastic measures to address the challenges of racial prejudices in its own backyard,” he said.

“Government can and must provide leadership, but it is the collective efforts of all our people that will ensure that we bridge the racial and historical divides that stand in contrast to our noble virtues as entailed in the Constitution,” the Minister said.

On the topic “Access to Justice” the Minister said that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has channelled more than 80% of its nearly R16 billion budget to the Access to Justice programme.

Minister Radebe talked about the reintroduction of the Sexual Offences Courts, which attests to the unrelenting resolve to eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence. “Fifty-seven of the department’s Regional Courts are being upgraded to operate as dedicated Sexual Offences courts during the 2013/2014 financial year. We believe that these sexual offences courts will help address the growing challenge of sexual offences in the country, particularly against vulnerable groups.”

The Minister also pleaded with law teachers to avail themselves to preside in the courts in our country to complement the decreasing number of presiding officers that are drawn from the attorneys’ and advocates’ profession. These services are normally rendered by the Commissioners pro bono as part of an endeavour to bring justice to all the people, including the poor.

A challenge that the UFS could help resolve,is the transformation of the legal profession. “We need to increase the number of Law students and in turn increase the number of attorneys and advocates in the pool from which we derive candidate judges,” Mr Radebe said.

The Legal Practice Bill and the transformation of the State Legal Service are the most important initiatives underway by which the Institutions of Higher Learning will make a contribution. “The Bill seeks to establish a single regulatory structure, which will be responsible for setting the norms and standards for all legal practitioners. Members of the public, as primary beneficiaries of the legal profession, will also be represented in this structure. Other important objectives of the Bill are the removal of barriers of entry to the profession for young law graduates who aspire to pursue a legal career, and the introduction of measures aimed at ensuring that fees chargeable for legal services are reasonable and within reach of ordinary citizens,” he said.

The Minister concluded: “Our courts must reflect both the race and gender demographics of our country and so must the university communities in their various capacities as a microcosm of the society we seek to build.”

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