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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

First postgraduate degree in Forensic Genetics in Africa
2010-03-19

 
At the launch were, from the left, front: Ms Christa Swanepoel (Applied Biosystems), Ms Karen Ehlers (Department of Genetics, UFS), Dr Carolyn Hancock and Ms Vanessa Lynch (both from DNA Project). Middle row: Dr. Sphie Mukwana (Director: Biotech Forensics, Kenya), Mr Pierre Joubert (Director: SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory) and Prof. Johan Spies (Chairperson: Department of Genetics, UFS). Back row: Mr Izak van Niekerk (Southern Cross Biotechnologies) and Mr Loen Ehlers (National Prosecution Authority).
Photo: Stephen Collett


The Department of Genetics at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently launched the first postgraduate degree offered by a tertiary institution in Forensic Genetics in Africa.

“We are at the beginning of something special. The UFS has developed the programme with the aim of providing graduates with the skills and knowledge they would require to work in the field of forensic biology. These graduates will be the first group of professionals that have undergone tertiary training in order to assist in the resolution of crime through forensic science in South Africa. It has also put the UFS in the forefront of training of this nature,” said Prof. Johan Spies, the departmental chairperson.

According to Mr Pierre Joubert, Director at the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Pretoria, students trained in this programme would easily be employed by the FSL since they would have the appropriate applied and technical training in forensic science.

Currently the FSL has no personnel with degrees in forensic science in its employ. It employs B.Sc. graduates in the fields of microbiology, genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry as forensic analysts. These employees then go through an extensive supplementary training programme for about six months.

Dr Sophie Mukwana, Director of Biotech Forensics in Kenya, said the launch of this programme in South Africa would benefit African countries like Kenya which relied on the USA for this kind of training. She said they hoped to partner with the UFS in this venture.

Applied Biosystems and Southern Cross Biotechnology have donated the necessary equipment to the UFS for this training.

“It is not only important that students should see the equipment but they should also know how to operate it,” said Ms Vanessa Lynch, from the DNA Project.

The DNA Project, in conjunction with the FSL and the UFS, has developed the learning materials which will be presented at the UFS from 2011.

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

19 March 2010
 

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