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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

HIV/AIDS could kill 20% of southern Africa’s farm workers by 2020
2008-09-27

HIV / AIDS is claimed to account for 40% - 50% of infections in the workforce in some labor-intensive industries. This means that every farmer will have to replace up to 50% of his workforce within the next 10 years.

This was said by Mrs Estelle Heideman (pictured) of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science at the University of the Free State (UFS) at the launch of a DVD about a project to equip farm workers with knowledge and skills regarding HIV / AIDS.

Mrs Heideman was quoting the research findings of Agrimark Consultant, Johan Willemse, and added that farm workers, because of low literacy levels, remoteness of the areas in which they live and the distances to health care facilities, are often forgotten when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and care programmes.

This weekend Mrs Heideman leaves for New York City to take up a scholarship awarded to her by the University of Columbia and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to participate in the M-A-C AIDS Sponsored Leadership Programme.

The leadership Initiative provides a structured support program to enable participants to exchange best practices in the approach to HIV prevention that can be adapted to local circumstances. At the conclusion of the program the Leadership Initiative will, amongst other benefits, provide funds for Fellows to carry out their prevention program in South Africa.

Such a program was already carried out from February to May this year as part of the Lengau Agri Centre’s Farm Project in collaboration with the Chief Directorate Community Service at the UFS on the farms Slangfontein, Dwarsrivier and Pypersfontein in the Philippolis district.

According to Mrs Heideman, who is the co-coordinator of the project, the aim of this project was to equip farm workers with knowledge and skills regarding HIV/AIDS so that they can take control of their lives and make quality decisions.

“A major advantage of working with farm workers is that the whole family is included in the session and this ensures that all generations get the same message”, she said.

At the end the feedback from the farm workers about the programme was positive. “Many said they had tested for HIV and will continue to do so to ensure that they would be around to see their children grow up”, said Mrs Heideman.

Copies of the DVD can be obtained from Estelle Heideman (0828211230) or Tarryn Nell (0832573843).

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
26 September 2008


 

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