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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

Two UFS architecture students won prestigious PG Bison 1.618 Competition
2017-10-26

 Description: Bison read more Tags: : Stephan Diedericks, Department of Architecture, Margaux Loubser, Kobus du Preez, Zack Wessels, PG Bison 1.168 Competition 

At the PG Bison 1.618 competition awards ceremony
in Rosebank, were from the left:
Camrin Plaatjes from the University of KwaZulu-Natal;
Stephan Diedericks, winner of the competition;
and Margaux Loubser,
the second-place winner. Both Stephan and
Margaux are studying Architecture at the UFS.
Photo: Supplied



Food that reaches its sell-by date in supermarkets is usually disposed of, but has not yet reached its best-before date.  What happens to this food?  According to Stephan Diedericks, the answer to this is for this food to be repurposed.

Not only does Stephan want to prevent the waste of food – in a world where food security is a challenge – but he also won the prestigious PG Bison 1.618 Competition with his entry in which he suggests that gourmet meals be prepared from food that has reached its sell-by date, and then be served in the Delta Recycletorium. 

Students introduced to park lands in urban areas
Diedericks is a student in the Department of Architecture at the University of the Free State (UFS). Second-place winner in this competition was Margaux Loubser, also a UFS student. Another UFS student, Dehan Kassimatis, was a finalist. They received their awards at a ceremony in Rosebank, Johannesburg, earlier this month. 

The competition, now in its 24th year, was created to recognise the future interior and industrial designers, architects, and key decision-makers in the South African construction industry. It is known not only for the prestige it offers its winners, but also for the tradition-defying brief given to the students each year.

According to lecturers Kobus du Preez and Zak Wessels, in the Department of Architecture, the competition introduced the students to parklands in urban areas. He quotes the competition brief: “Rural to urban migration with the development of commercial and residential property elevates the importance of parklands within cities, in creating a refuge from the hustle of daily life.  These areas are leveraged to encourage healthier living, community interaction and environmental awareness.”

Learning experience more important than prizes
The site that was the focus of the competition is the Environmental Centre, Delta Park Heritage Precinct in Johannesburg. Students needed to transform this old building into a vibrant gastronomic restaurant. “The theme and style of the restaurant was for the student to choose,” said Du Preez. 

Loubser called her restaurant Rooted – a wholefood restaurant.  She was influenced by the geometries of the original Art Deco building. Rooted articulates and integrates the space between nature and the building.  Similar to an Art Deco painting or poster, the landscape is abstracted into terraces which are used to grow vegetables organically.  Vertical green screens soften the divide between the building and its surroundings and it provides shade.

“Our students took their clues from the existing environment and integrated it with a single idea, an abstract concept, which impressed the judges,” Du Preez said. 

Although this is a competition that is well reported in the industry press, Du Preez and Wessels agree that the learning experience for students is much more important than winning the contest. The competition’s brief aligned well with the Department of Architecture’s learning content with its urban focus.

Jacques Steyn, a UFS architecture student, came third in the competition in 2015.

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