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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

Ground-breaking project scores Renewable Energy Award
2017-10-29

Description: ' 000 University Estates award Tags: University Estates award 

Marcel Theron, Former President: HEFMA; Nico van Rensburg, Senior Director:
University Estates (UFS); and Maureen Khati, Project Manager: Facilities
Planning (UFS) attending the HEFMA awards ceremony in Pretoria.
Photo: Supplied

University Estates at the University of the Free State (UFS) were recently awarded for their amazing initiative to install and operate photovoltaic (PV) and greywater systems on all three of its campuses. They were awarded by the Higher Education Facilities Management Association of Southern Africa (HEFMA), an association of facilities managers operating in the higher-education sector in the Southern African region. All universities and universities of technology in the country form part of this association, which promotes excellence in the planning, construction, maintenance, operations, and administration of educational facilities.

Nico van Rensburg, Senior Director of University Estates, says, “I want to thank HEFMA for this amazing award which motivates for much more and also opens up the doors for so many more opportunities.”

Solar and greywater systems installed at various buildings

In December 2016, 26 solar-driven LED street-light poles and a greywater system were installed at the Legae Residence on the South Campus. Greywater is made up of bath, shower, and bathroom sink water. The water is reused for toilet flushing, as well as for irrigation purposes.

On the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses, the computer laboratories as well as the Thakaneng Bridge Student Centre and the expected Afromontane Research Centre have freestanding solar solutions mounted on their roofs. These systems are designed to operate independently of the power grid (Eskom) during sunlight hours when the PV solar panels are heated by the sun.

Teamwork equals ground-breaking results

“This was truly a team effort with a variety of role players who contributed,” says Van Rensburg. He believes that higher education can do more to make use of other environmentally sustainable initiatives, and to go beyond just erecting and renovating buildings.

The UFS executive management is also extremely proud of the team that were involved in the project. Prof Nicky Morgan, former Vice-Rector: Operations, says, “It’s been extraordinary what we could achieve at all three campuses with such a small team.” Nadeem Gafieldien, Director: Property Services at Stellenbosch University, showered the UFS with praise. “This is truly ground-breaking for Higher Education (HE) and you are truly leaders in these renewable energy projects in the HE sector.” He says we need to demonstrate to other institutions in the HE sector that this is the future and that it makes the institutions both environmentally and financially sustainable.

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