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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 celebrates establishment of a new department
2008-09-26

 

 At the celebration of the establishment of the Department of Genetics are, from the left: Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, Prof. Johan Spies, head of the Department of Genetics at the UFS, Prof. Chris Viljoen, associate professor at the UFS Department of Haematology and Cell Biology and previously associated with the Department of Genetics; seated: Prof. Paul Grobler, associate professor at the UFS Department of Genetics.
Photo: Stephen Collett

UFS celebrates establishment of a new department

The establishment of the Department of Genetics in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (FS) was recently celebrated on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

The department, which formed part of the Department of Plant Sciences, is the only of its kind in the country that conducts research in behavioural genetics. “With behavioural genetics we try to determine if certain human behaviour is hereditary or if it is as a result of the environment. Although this is the fastest growing field of specialty in the United States of America, it is still an unknown field in South Africa,” says Prof. Johan Spies, head of the Department of Genetics.

The other specialty fields of the department are forensic genetics and conservation genetics. “Forensic genetics looks at the compilation of the DNA of animals. Because of our academics’ expertise, the department is regularly requested by the South African Police Service to assist them with establishing the origin of animals – especially in the case of game poaching. We recently completed a research project on cheetahs where we had to establish if they were acquired illegally of part of the farmer’s game. The research showed that the cheetahs were part of the farmer’s own breed,” says Prof. Spies.

Another specialty field of the department is conservation genetics where the genetic variance of animals is researched. A lot of research is done on vervet monkeys to determine from which area in the country they originate. The study must be completed before the 3000 vervet monkeys currently in rehabilitation centres are set free. The behaviour of monkeys in rehabilitation is also being researched.

Prof. Spies says: “Student figures in Genetics show an annual increase of 8% per year for the past five years. The first group of master’s degree students in Genetics will start their studies next year.” The department is also regarded as a leader on Clivia research.


Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
25 September 2008
 

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