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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

UFS Expert: Prof Felicity Burt investigates zoonotic and arboviruses
2017-12-13


 Description: Burt read more 2 Tags: Arboviruses, Felicity Burt, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, viruses  

Prof Felicity Burt recently received a B-rating from the
National Research
Foundation.
Photo: Sonia Small

Prof Felicity Burt is from the Division of Virology in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), as well as the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS). She currently holds an NRF-DST South African Research Chair in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases.  Professor Burt and her research group investigate arboviruses and zoonotic viruses. 

Prof Burt’s research primarily focuses on host immune responses to arboviral infections specifically characterising humoral and cellular immune responses in patients with infections such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus and Sindbis virus; epitope discovery for development of diagnostic tools; development of molecular and serological assays for surveillance purposes; virus discovery; and the development of vaccines.

Raising awareness of these viruses, defining associated diseases, and developing tools for surveillance programmes will contribute to understanding these pathogens as well as the public health implications.

Leads research group in papilloma viruses
Arboviruses cause outbreaks of disease in South Africa annually. Outbreaks are usually associated with heavy rainfall favouring the breeding of mosquitos, but these viruses also have the capacity to spread and become endemic in new areas where competent vectors are present. 
In addition, she is leading a research group that investigates human papilloma viruses (HPV) associated with head and neck cancers and recurrent laryngeal papilloma.

The focus of this research group is to ascertain the genotypes of HPV causing these diseases, identification of novel biomarkers for early detection, and complete genome sequencing for molecular characterisation of HPV isolates.  

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