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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 apologises for noise disturbance during newcomers' student festival
2010-02-01

Last night (Saturday, 30 January 2010), the University of the Free State (UFS) received various complaints regarding disturbance caused by the noise during a student function that took place at the Rag Farm on the Main Campus.

"I wish to apologise on behalf of the UFS for the inconvenience that residents in the neighbouring residential areas had to suffer during the Newcomers’ Student Festival last night,” said Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS.

The function took place to conclude the welcoming period for new students. “Although strict measures applied regarding the staging of the event, amongst others, cut-off times for the performances of the guest artists and die organisation of the Rag Farm to prevent excessive noise, various unexpected factors made this difficult,” said Mr Buys.

One of the factors was the fact the more than double the expected number of spectators attended the event. As a result of this, measures pertaining to crowd control had to be adjusted. “Although we managed to end the event without any incidents, I am truly sorry that we could not bring the disturbance caused to the neighbouring suburbs to an end earlier,” he said.

“We are committed to finding a sustainable solution to those types of challenges that student events at the Rag Farm can offer to the neighbouring residential areas. Therefore we are going to call meetings with residents and community leaders of the residential areas in order to resolve the problems in a collaborative manner,” Mr Buys said.

An internal evaluation of the situation shall also be undertaken in order to rectify any possible errors or shortcomings in the organisation of the Newcomers’ Student Festival, as well as regarding the organisation of future student events.

“We would like to thank residents of the neighbouring residential areas for the exceptional way in which they often exercise patience, show understanding and make allowances for the times when student activities taking place on the Main Campus become demanding. It is therefore important for us to find solutions to challenges in this regard and engage in meaningful cooperation with residents,” said Mr Buys.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za
31 January 2010
 

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