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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

Kovsie Dux student seeks to help farmers through her research
2017-10-24

Description: Dux student Tags: Kovsie Dux student, Chéri-Lynn Steyn, Research Assistant, Wag-'n-Bietjie, Animal Science & Agricultural Economics 

Chéri-Lynn Steyn, the Kovsie Dux student for 2016/2017,
likes going on game drives in the Kruger National Park
and taking photographs of birds with her brothers.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen


From failing her first test at university to becoming the Kovsie Dux; from being a first-year in a tutor class to becoming a tutor   these are snippets from Chéri-Lynn Steyn’s journey at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Although she was not accepted into Medical School to pursue her childhood dream of studying Medicine, she has never looked back and now wants to guide farmers on how to be more efficient and sustainable.

Steyn, who studies BScAgric Animal Science and Agricultural Economics, was crowned the Kovsie Dux Student for 2016/2017. The award recognises and rewards the top-performing and all-round brilliant student. The criteria are a high academic average, coupled with excellent participation and excellence in extra-curricular activities like Community Service, Culture, Leadership and Sports.

Overcoming obstacles a highlight
The Research Assistant at Agricultural Economics says she cannot believe she is the winner. After three years at university, her CV includes 29 modules and 29 distinctions, but she is a well-balanced individual. She has been on the Agricultural Committee, First-Years Committee at Wag-'n-Bietjie residence, a class representative, is an interprovincial hockey umpire, and has cycled the Cape Town Cycle Tour and Telkom 94.7 Cycle Challenge.

Steyn recently looked back at her UFS journey: “From a layman who knew nothing about the agricultural industry, to someone who is able to understand and join in conversations about the industry,” she says. “My personal highlights are those small significant moments of overcoming obstacles.”

Effort less when you love what you do
She says her success is through grace and the Lord’s strength. “I endeavour to never compare myself to others, but set the standard against myself. This enables me to push myself harder and further than I did previously.”

Steyn also feels that when you love what you do, putting in a lot of effort is no effort at all. “My big dream is to be able to help farmers on a large scale through the research I do.”

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