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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.


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Universities and communities should forge links, Prof. Khotseng
2010-03-04

At the seminar, from the left: Dr Sethulego Matebesi (Head: Department of Sociology), Prof. Khotseng and Prof. Naas Bredenkamp (Department of Sociology).
Photo: Lize du Plessis


The Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently held a departmental seminar where the former Vice-Rector of the UFS, Prof. Benito Khotseng, was the guest speaker.

He focused on the importance of the engagement between universities and the community. According to him South Africa has one of the most troubled societies in the world.

He said factors that led to people living in stress are, amongst others, unemployment, broken families, slum housing, child abuse, school dropouts, HIV/Aids, illiteracy and crime.

“People in the communities complain about what they don’t have when they should look at what they can do with what they do have,” Prof. Khotseng said.

He said the UFS was filled with people with the necessary expertise who should go to the communities to help where they could. “Universities and communities should start new, collaborating relationships,” he said.

“When we assist communities we should not see them as a bag of needs,” he said. “Each time someone uses his capabilities, the community grows stronger.”

He further said the UFS could certainly play a meaningful role in regional engagement and development.
- Lize du Plessis

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