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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 Law Clinic launches Access to Justice Cluster in the Eastern Free State
2010-05-13

In order to initiate support services for various paralegal associations in the Eastern Free State, the Law Clinic at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently launched the Free State Access to Justice Cluster. The cluster that is funded by Atlantic Philanthropists is managed by the UFS Law Clinic as part of their community engagement initiatives.

The overall objective of the cluster is to increase access to justice to rural and indigent communities in the region. Furthermore, quality legal services will be provided to all individuals and groups whose fundamental rights have been abused; the professional capacity of paralegals will be improved; and workshops will be facilitated to inform communities regarding their rights and duties to empower them.

Adv. Inez Bezuidenhout from the UFS Law Clinic says, “The clinic envisages reaching the aforesaid objectives through the provision of support legal services; providing training, assisting with the dissemination of information and lobbying for a stronger and an expanded network of stakeholders in the access to justice arena.”

This initial meeting, attended by various delegates from the Eastern Free State region, was mainly geared towards the identification of challenges and to establish solutions to the problems experienced by paralegals in the provision of legal services in rural communities.

“The cluster is a non-governmental organisation independent of any political party or religious affiliation. It comprises different organisations all aimed at assisting indigent community members with access to justice,” says Adv. Bezuidenhout.

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