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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 Rector spreads the Kovsie spirit
2010-02-12

Prof. Jonathan Jansen (middle) and UFS students Willien du Preez (far left) and Mbulelo Mpofana (far right) together with learners they met while on their tour of Eastern Cape schools.
Photo: Supplied


Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), recently joined the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences on a tour of schools in the Eastern Cape Province. Prof. Jansen sees the tour as a staggering success: “It was hard work, but a lot of fun. I can’t wait to visit other provinces and spread the true Kovsie spirit throughout South Africa.”

The tour kicked off at Aliwal North, where 36 students, parents and teachers from schools in Aliwal North were addressed.

In Queenstown they were awaited by more than a hundred people. Hoërskool Hangklip, Queen’s College Boys High, Girls High and Maria Louw Secondary School attended the function.

The evening function was hosted by Hudson Park High School. Representatives from many schools, including George Randell High School, Stirling High School and Claredon Girls High School made up the 174 people in attendance. The next morning motivational speeches were delivered at Grens Hoërskool and Stirling High School. George Randall High School also requested a visit from Prof. Jansen during the previous evening’s function.

The final function was held at Grey High School in Port Elizabeth. Hundred-and-thirty-four people from the top schools in Port Elizabeth attended the function. These included Victoria Park High School, Theodor Herzl School, Hoërskool Andrew Rabie, Alexander Road High School, Ethembeni Enrichment Centre and Nico Malan in Humansdorp.

Sadly, the tour had to end, but at least it ended on a high note. Ethembeni Enrichment Centre and Chapman’s High School were the last schools on the itinerary, but certainly not the least. The schools might not have all the resources at their disposal, but their enthusiasm and unquenchable spirit and pride were incredible.

Willien du Preez and Mbulelo Nkululeko, two students who accompanied the tour, were awed at the experience: “It was not only a privilege, but also proof that the university strives to give students wonderful learning opportunities. It also confirms our Rector’s stand: the university is not just offering students a degree, but also the opportunity to grow as humans. And that is what adds real value to our lives.”

According to Prof. Tienie Crous, Dean: Economic and Management Sciences, the tour achieved its goals, and much more: “We redeemed our university in other provinces while marketing it at the same time.”
 

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