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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 strengthens ties with Mexican university
2010-05-11

 At the First Joint Subcommittee on Technical, Scientific and Technological Co-operation were, from left: Prof. Nahum Marban-Mendoza, Chairperson of the Department of Agroparasitology, UACH; Dr Gisela Pena-Ortega, Director of the Office for International Affairs and Academic Exchange, UACH; Prof. Wijnand Swart, Director of UFS Strategic Academic Cluster 4: Technologies for Crop Industries in Semi-arid regions; and Dr Victor Pinto, Department of Parasitology, UACH.
Photo: Mercedes Cuenca


In 2006, the University of the Free State (UFS) signed an institutional agreement with the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACH) in Mexico. This made the UFS the first South African academic institution to establish scientific relations with Mexico.

It was for this reason that Prof. Wijnand Swart, Director of the UFS Strategic Academic Cluster 4: Technologies for Crop Industries in Semi-arid regions, was invited to participate in the First Joint Subcommittee on Technical, Scientific and Technological Cooperation held recently in Mexico City. During his visit, Prof. Swart secured the working relationship between the UFS and the UACH.

During the first meeting of the Mexico-South Africa Bi-national Commission, the Mexican Foreign Secretary and Minister of Foreign Affairs and South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation signed a joint statement. The statement, “Mexico and South Africa: Towards a Priority Relationship”, together with a Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement, will lay the foundations for monitoring existing collaboration and promote new actions between institutions in Mexico and South Africa.

Prof. Swart spent the remainder of his stay in Mexico presenting lectures to staff and students at the UACH on integrated pest management and challenges facing South African agriculture. He also engaged in discussions with Dr Gisela Pena-Ortega, Director of the UACH Office for International Affairs and Academic Exchange, about the establishment of a staff and student exchange programme with the UFS.
 

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