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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

Education dialogue opens engagement on legacy of OR Tambo
2017-10-05

Description: Dialogue  Tags: OR Tambo, education, future, students, Africa, activism 

Pali Lehohla, outgoing Statistician-General speaking at the
Centennial celebration of Oliver Tambo.
Photo: Supplied


To celebrate Oliver Reginald Tambo’s centennial year, the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, in partnership with the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Francis Petersen, and Absa Bank, hosted an interactive dialogue session, titled “Educating Africa’s Future” on 26 September 2017 on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Students encouraged to take charge of their future
The event opened up dialogue on some of the current burning issues that affect students in South Africa, societal challenges such as poverty and crime, and how leaders such as Tambo envisaged a free Africa. Prof Petersen highlighted the role that universities played in developing society, in creating leaders and crafting the path to transformation. Other speakers included Pali Lehohla, outgoing Statistician-General, Linda Vilakazi, CEO of the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, Nombulelo Nxesi, CEO of Education, Training and Development Practices, Sector Education and Training Authority, Prof Peliwe Lolwana, Associate Professor at Wits University’s Centre for Researching Education and Labour, and Sikhululekile Luwaca, former UFS Student Representative Council (SRC) president.

Education may require a new approach
During the panel discussion that was facilitated by Phiwe Mathe, former UFS SRC President and media officer in the Office of the Chief Whip of the Free State Legislature. The audience raised concerns regarding the future of funding for university study, the securing of employment and possibilities, if any, of entrepreneurship. In response to some of the concerns, Pali Lehohla said the realities of family dynamics in South Africa affected the ability of students to be properly profiled and funded, according to family income, and that most importantly, the solutions to Africa’s challenges had to come from within and not without. Students’ questions gravitated towards the question of whether higher education in its current form was still valuable or whether new models of teaching that would foster inclusion and earlier economic independence would be of better value.

The legacy of OR Tambo continues to be honoured
The notion of education as a driver for the liberation of South Africa and the continent as a whole, poverty alleviation and freedom from colonial rule are some of the building blocks of the legacy of Oliver Tambo. 
Linda Vilakazi reiterated that students and student leaders would benefit from seeing the importance of using a broad-based African approach to the issues that plague them and their peers, rather than seeing their challenges outside of the continental context.  Sikhululekile Luwaca said higher education must be more accessible, and in order to drive change, students should use their education to become future employers rather than employees and change the face of the future themselves as was envisioned by other liberation leaders.
Caption: Pali Lehohla, outgoing Statistician-General speaking at the Centennial celebration of Oliver Tambo.

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