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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: Men should help change narrative on violence against women – Prof Solomon
2017-08-23

 Description: Issues affecting women Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, Department of Political Studies, violence against women, Gender and Sexual Equity Office, Women’s Month, Embrace a Sister, Boko Haram 

The panellists at a discussion on Issues
Affecting Women
at the UFS Sasol library were
Zane Thela, Head of the Gender and Sexual
Equity Office Programme, Pumla Mgobhozi, founding
member of Embrace a Sister, and
Prof Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor in the
Department of Political Studies.
From the left, are: Thela, Mgobhozi, Prof Solomon,
and Betsy Eister, Director: Library and
Information Services.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

The fight to eradicate violence against women is one which men should be involved in. According to Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor in the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS), men have to help change the narrative of physical abuse and sexual violence which they perpetrate against women and children.
“Let them (men who might be offended by the #men are trash) reject violent masculinities, and in the process let them redefine what being a man is about. Let fathers teach their sons that no means no.”

Panel discussion on Issues Affecting Women
Prof Solomon was part of a panel discussion on Issues Affecting Women, organised by the UFS library, in collaboration with the Gender and Sexual Equity Office and Embrace a Sister, as part of Women’s Month in the UFS Sasol library on 3 August 2017.
The other panellists were Zane Thela, Head of the Gender and Sexual Equity Office Programme at the UFS, and Pumla Mgobhozi, founding member of Embrace a Sister. Prof Solomon’s book Understanding Boko Haram, focusing on the kidnapping of 200 young women in Nigeria was also launched.

Don’t accept things as they are
Prof Solomon says that responses by the SA government have no credibility and a lot more could be done. “What is clear is that outrage alone will not end this violence.”
Even at SA universities there are many examples of how women are mistreated. “We need to ask: What more can we do as a university to assist these (female) students.”

According to Thela, it is sad that these issues are only talked about seasonally (like during Women’s Month).
Thela says people should raise their children differently in order to change the narrative. “Then men won’t think they have to prove themselves to women.”
And we shouldn’t accept things as they are: “The most dangerous statement in society is to say: ‘It has always been done this way."

Role of women in their fate
Mgobhozi emphasised that women have a hand in the way they are being seen and treated in society. She therefore asked: “What is the role of women in making sure that we dismantle patriarchy”.
According to her women, especially black women, should dismantle the status quo. She added that cultures and parents often influence the way women are seen.
“Women should fight these social problems together,” Mgobhozi says.

 

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