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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

R2,5 million received from FNB Fund for Universal Access and Disability Support
2017-10-18

Description: FNB CUADS Funding Tags: FNB CUADS Funding
Tinotenda Magaya (left at the back), Robert Shoba and
Manus van Rooyen are some of the CUADS students
who will benefit from the money donated by the FNB Fund.
In front are Martie Miranda (left), Head of CUADS, and
Thandeka Rantsi from the FNB Fund.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

Funding isn’t only about giving money to provide access to education. There are many factors that contribute to the successful completion of studies, and this is even more applicable to students with disabilities. 

That is why the FNB Fund decided to continue and further its relationship with the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) at the University of the Free State (UFS). The fund recently donated nearly R2.5 million for 2017, 2018, and 2019 to CUADS in order to assist students with tuition fees, study material, accommodation and supportive devices. 

A total of 11 students will benefit from the R 2 497 440. The UFS previously received R200 000 (2014), R238 000 (2015), and R192 500 (2016) from the FNB Fund.

“The FNB Fund would like to take it
a step further and not only provide
access in terms of funding, but also
provide all the support that
students require to be able
to complete their studies.”

Funders should be aware of challenges

“The FNB Fund would like to take it a step further and not only provide access in terms of funding, but also provide all the necessary support that students require to be able to complete their studies,” says Thandeka Rantsi from the FNB Fund.

The fund also partners with disability units from the University of Stellenbosch, the University of the Western Cape, and the University of Cape Town.

Rantsi says funders should be aware of the challenges students with disabilities face in order to provide the right support as their challenges are more extensive.

More flexible funding than others

Martie Miranda, Head of CUADS, says they are very grateful. “In comparison with other funding, this funding provides more flexibility. Because of the gap between government funding and students’ needs, there are always students who fall out of the criteria for the NSFAS bursary. Then the FNB funding comes in very handy.”

According to her, government funding is never enough. She says the FNB funding enables them to address specific needs such as equipment, accommodation etc. as they have more leeway than prescribed NSFAS amounts.

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