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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

Human trafficking research demystifies juju practices
2017-10-28



Description: Human trafficking research  Tags: Human trafficking research

Human trafficking is a practice that exists
in many countries all over the world and
whose victims are sold as commodities
into a life of servitude and sex slavery.
Photo: iStock

Human trafficking is a complex crime that transcends cultural, religious and geographical barriers. It is a practice that exists in many countries all over the world and whose victims are sold as commodities into a life of servitude and sex slavery. 

Prof Beatri Kruger, Research Associate at the Free State Centre for Human Rights (FSCHR) at the UFS, has been exploring research related to the use of “juju” rituals used by perpetrators of human trafficking in South Africa and on the African continent. She joined the Centre for Human Rights in 2017, and was previously a law lecturer at the UFS Faculty of Law

She recently co-wrote Exploring juju and human trafficking: towards a demystified perspective and response in the South African Review of Sociology, alongside Marcel van der Watt of the Department of Police Practice at the University of South Africa (Unisa). 

The research explores juju and forms of witchcraft as a phenomenon, while illuminating some of the multilayered complexities associated with its use as a control mechanism. 

Prof Kruger and Van der Watt’s work is a step towards understanding how the practice of juju brings on a more complicated aspect of trafficking in persons in South Africa and how agencies working to combat this crime can understand it and be better equipped to stop the crime and assist victims. 

The findings of the research confirmed the use of juju as a combination of arcane methods used by Nigerian traffickers as a control measure. The term resonates with most participants, but included interchangeable references to witchcraft, voodoo, muti, black magic and curses. The victims of these rituals included women of black, coloured and Nigerian descent in South Africa. 

Nigerian traffickers operating in and between Nigeria, South Africa and European countries are steadily gaining momentum; it will take a concerted effort for multiple countries involved to take steps within their legal frameworks as well as academic spaces to come together to combat the crime cross-continentally.

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