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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

#Women'sMonth: Lack of HIV education still affects children
2017-08-17

Description: Nickie Goedhals Tags: Dr Nickie Goedhals, Medical Microbiology and Virology, The Lancet, transmission of HIV, National Research Foundation 

Dr Nickie Goedhals, Senior Lecturer and Pathologist
in Medical Microbiology and Virology at the UFS.
Photo: Sonia Small



“Despite all the advances in the management and prevention of HIV, children still become infected every day, often due to lack of education and access to health care.” This is according to Dr Nickie Goedhals, Senior Lecturer and Pathologist in Medical Microbiology and Virology at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Study published in UK medical Journal 
A case study she was part of and published in the UK medical journal The Lancet in 2012, demonstrates the transmission of HIV to a child through surrogate breastfeeding. This study is one of the many highlights in the young researcher’s career. She received her first rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2017 for the work she has done in Medical Virology over the past eight years.

According to the above-mentioned study, only about 1% of infants in South Africa are being breastfed by a surrogate. However, results from a study in the Free State showed that shared breastfeeding by a non-biological caregiver was the most important factor associated with HIV infection in discordant mother-child pairs. Therefore, continued education about the risk of HIV transmission is needed.

Dr Goedhals is also continuing with research on HIV by looking at HIV drug resistance. She is in the process of starting new projects focusing on HIV infection and drug resistance in infants.

PSP helped with NRF-rating
She says, although her NRF Y2-rating is the starting point of a research career, it shows that she is heading in the right direction, and it “gives access to research funds through the NRF for future projects.” Other important research she conducted was on Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever – the study for her PhD.

The Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) at the UFS is the reason that she applied for the rating. “With all the service delivery, teaching, and administrative responsibilities of academic medicine, it is easy to lose focus. The PSP has really helped to create a focused and stimulating environment for research.” According to her, the PSP also provides access to a network of peers and senior staff at the UFS, as well as exposure to national and international experts.

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