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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.


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UFS DiMTEC will help compile national emergency management system
2017-10-11

Description: UFS DiMTEC will help compile national emergency management system Tags: UFS DiMTEC will help compile national emergency management system

Preparedness and response are the two most important aspects of managing disaster when it strikes. Prof Andries Jordaan, Head of the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC) at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently attended an incident command course in California in the US.

Learning from US disaster management systems
More than 20 specialists from 17 countries attended the course where participants were introduced to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the US. The system was implemented after lessons learned during 9/11. “According to the NIMS structure, all government organisations at all levels as well as emergency agencies had to standardise terminology and systems,” said Prof Jordaan.

The professor also had the opportunity to visit among others the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) headquarters in California, some State Coordination Centres as well as several other disaster management centres. He also had the chance to shadow an Incident Management Team (IMT) during active operations.

Providing training for local disaster management
Insight gained during this course, as well as Prof Jordaan’s experience as senior officer in the South African National Defence Reserve Forces, provided him the necessary background to conduct training and give assistance in terms of disaster management.

Through DiMTEC Prof Jordaan will assist the National Disaster Management Centre with the implementation of a national emergency management system. He will also provide training for incident management teams.

“DiMTEC is currently also in the process of developing a Master module in disaster response. Command and control and Incident Command will form a sub-module in the disaster response module,” he said.

From South Africa, Prof Jordaan was joined on the course by General Elias Mpumelelo Mahlabane from the South African Police Services, who is responsible for disaster management in the SAPS. Savage Breytenbach, a trainer in rural fire fighting who assists Mangaung with command and control structures, also attended the course.

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