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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 Qwaqwa student off to the USA
2010-03-29

Ayanda Xaba.
Photo: Supplied
Ayanda Xaba, a second-year student from the Department of Political Science of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Qwaqwa Campus, has been selected as a participant in the Africa English Language Study Programme. The programme is organised by the United States Embassy in Pretoria and 30 candidates from all over Africa have been selected for a training programme of two months in the USA.

Ayanda shall be an incumbent at the University of Delaware (UD) from 21 June-18 August 2010. The programme focuses on language acquisition, leadership skills building and civic education and engagement. The UD programme will include a cultural component that comprises excursions and meetings with civic organisations, journalists, local, state and federal officials that focus on government, media, and other relevant topics.

Although English language acquisition is the main focus of this exchange, grantees will also participate in a leadership seminar and complete a hands-on service project (student-led, staff-supported) in which grantees will volunteer in a niche area that has applicability in their home countries. As a part of this project, participants will develop an action plan outlining steps to initiate and implement a project appropriate to their home community. In order to increase the likelihood of implementation of the project upon their return home, relevant UD staff will provide follow-on online support, trouble-shooting, and monitoring after their departure from campus.

Ayanda has selected to be involved in a programme on Career Guidance for university students. She hopes to implement the training on the Qwaqwa Campus upon her return.

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