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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

Official opening of Faculty of Health Sciences Rural Community Initiative
2017-01-01

Description: Karla Mostert Tags: Mail & Guardian, 200 Young South Africans, Candice Thikeson, Karla Mostert, Lerato Machetela, Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Thapelo Mokoatsi

Ribbon cutting, Prof van Zyl and Ms du Plessis
Venter (community member)

The Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of the Free State (UFS) has, as part of its commitment to student and community development, established a student residence in the town of Trompsburg in the Kopanong Local municipality, Xhariep District municipality in the Southern Free State. The Faculty officially opened the Faculty of Health Sciences Rural Community Initiative on 14 and 15 June 2017. The memorial plaque was unveiled by Prof Gert van Zyl (Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences) and Prof Francis Petersen (Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State)

The importance of the residence

The goal of the ‘Kopanang le fodise – Unite to heal’ programme is to develop a community-centered collaborative framework for sustainable, holistic healthcare and social development incorporated in the curricula of the Faculty.

Background of the project

During 2016 a total of 324 fourth-year students of the Faculty have each spend at least a week in interprofessional groups in primary healthcare facilities in the Kopanong municipality on a Community Based Education, Interprofessional Education (CBE-IPE) platform in Trompsburg and Springfontein.

To facilitate student rural placement the former Midway guesthouse currently includes seven (7) facilitator units with on suite bathrooms, two (2) fully equipped lecture facilities, a recreation room and a library with computers and internet access. The newly developed student residence has 10 apartments that can each accommodate six (6) individuals. A housemaster resides on the premises and acts as manager of the facility. All areas of the residence are Wifi covered and 24h security service is in place.

The ceremony was attend by the following partners

University of the Free State (UFS)

Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof Francis Petersen.
Members of the UFS council, Dr Vinger and Dr Swart
Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Prof van Zyl.
The Head of the School of Allied Health Professions, Dr van Vuuren.
The Head of the School of Medicine, Prof Kruger.
Faculty from the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Members from UFS institutional support department: ICT, Finance, Facilities management

Kopanong local municipality

Councilor Basholo, representing the Kopanong local municipality.
Kopanong local community members
Free State Department of Education (DoE)
Free State Department of Health (DoH)

Private sector partners

Mr Burgess, CEO of MDG Heath Solutions
The Mother And Child Academic Hospital (MACAH) represented by Prof Venter, head of department of Paediatrics, donated two (2) state of the art baby scales to the rural health programme.

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