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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

Kovsies Star of Stars gives back to communities that need it most
2017-01-15

Description: ' 000 A StarOfStars Finalists Tags: StarOfStars Finalists

The 11 Kovsie Star of Stars finalists.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Description: ' 000 A StarOfStars Winner Tags: A StarOfStars Winner

"Doctor" Tshepo Thajane, the 2017 Kovsie Star of Stars.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Starting in 2016, the UFS Marketing department embarked on a project designed to help learners from less fortunate backgrounds to discover their potential. This competition, dubbed Kovsies Star of Stars, recognises excellence in some of the most disadvantaged schools in the Free State. C-Squared Group, a black-owned and -managed agency, is partnering with the UFS in this endeavour. Amongst many other prizes on offer, the winner is awarded a full bursary to study at the UFS.

For the first year, two of the five Free State districts were identified, namely Xhariep and Motheo. Grade 11 and Grade 12 learners were invited to participate in 2016, the winner being announced at a gala event on the Bloemfontein Campus early in 2017, with Success Lekabe as host for the evening.

Nomonde Mbadi, Director of UFS Marketing, says of the contestants, “All 11 Star of Stars finalists had one thing to say that gave the judges goose bumps, and that was: ‘We want to give back to our community.’ This is truly commendable.”

"Doctor" Tshepo Thajane, from Lefikeng Secondary School in Botshabelo, was selected as the winner of the inaugural Kovsies Star of Stars competition. He is pursuing a degree in Actuarial Sciences, and will be a Karee resident. He says, “I loved UFS before I even came here, because of the respect I was shown. And I really didn’t think I would win; it just came as a surprise to me.”

Lebohang Lesenyeho, from Kgauho Secondary School (Botshabelo), had a special word for the organisers. “I would be very honoured if you could include a message to them. We really thank them for this opportunity.”

It is hoped the competition will garner the support of financial sponsors and be expanded to include learners from Grade 9, 10, 11, and 12 across all five districts in the Free State province.

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