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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 deserves right to decisions
2010-08-15

Following visits of various youth formations to the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Rector and Vice-Chancellor, as well as the Dean of Student Affairs the past week, the university sees the need to remind all stakeholders and outside organisations that, although their views and inputs may be welcomed, the university reserves the right to make decisions regarding student matters and protect our students against suspected influences.

This reminder follows a series of meetings with organisations such as amongst others the Afriforum Youth and the ANC Youth League and subsequent media releases by some of these organisations, which often do not reflect correctly the nature and content of the discussions.

“While we welcome engagement with any organisation serving a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic agenda and regularly invite civil society organisations to dialogue with and assist us in student matters, we reserve the right to decide how to best serve interest of our students,” said Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs at the UFS.

“In our attempt to construct a value-driven, ethically sound and mature student governance environment, we also expect of stakeholders to ensure they engage us maturely and ethically at all times,” Mr Buys said.

“We will guard against organisations that may, under a guise of civil society engagement, wish to continue dysfunctional party-political cultures that fuel divisions and racial tensions among our students. In such cases where organisations by their conduct may prove themselves to do exactly that, we will have no other option but to refuse them entry to campus and set limits to their engagement of our students,” Mr Buys warned.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication (actg.)
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl@ufs.ac.za  
14 August 2010
 

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