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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

Researcher works on finding practical solutions to plant diseases for farmers
2017-10-03

 Description: Lisa read more Tags: Plant disease, Lisa Ann Rothman, Department of Plant Sciences, 3 Minute Thesis,  

Lisa Ann Rothman, researcher in the Department of
Plant Sciences.
Photo: Supplied

 


Plant disease epidemics have wreaked havoc for many centuries. Notable examples are the devastating Great Famine in Ireland and the Witches of Salem. 

Plant diseases form, due to a reaction to suitable environments, when a susceptible host and viable disease causal organism are present. If the interactions between these three factors are monitored over space and time the outcome has the ability to form a “simplification of reality”. This is more formally known as a plant disease model. Lisa Ann Rothman, a researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) participated in the Three Minute Thesis competition in which she presented on Using mathematical models to predict plant disease. 

Forecast models provide promise fighting plant diseases
The aim of Lisa’s study is to identify weather and other driving variables that interact with critical host growth stages and pathogens to favour disease incidence and severity, for future development of risk forecasting models. Lisa used the disease, sorghum grain mold, caused by colonisation of Fusarium graminearum, and concomitant mycotoxin production to illustrate the modelling process. 

She said: “Internationally, forecasting models for many plant diseases exist and are applied commercially for important agricultural crops. The application of these models in a South African context has been limited, but provides promise for effective disease intervention technologies.

Contributing to the betterment of society
“My BSc Agric (Plant Pathology) undergraduate degree was completed in combination with Agrometeorology, agricultural weather science. I knew that I wanted to combine my love for weather science with my primary interest, Plant Pathology. 
“My research is built on the statement of Lord Kelvin: ‘To measure is to know and if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it’. Measuring the changes in plant disease epidemics allows for these models to be developed and ultimately provide practical solutions for our farmers. Plant disease prediction models have the potential ability to reduce the risk for famers, allowing the timing of fungicide applications to be optimised, thus protecting their yields and ultimately their livelihoods. I am continuing my studies in agriculture in the hope of contributing to the betterment of society.” 

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