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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

Church Mirror 2010 kicks off from the Free State
2010-10-04

Prof. Kobus Schoeman

 Prof. Kobus Schoeman, Head of the Department of Practical Theology at the University of the Free State (UFS), is one of the project leaders of Church Mirror, a unique research project in the family of Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa.

Over the years Church Mirror has been established as an important source of information for the Dutch Reformed Church. The church is provided with information by means of surveys that assist in reflection on the church as well as congregations’ role and functioning.

The 2010 survey will be no exception. The survey is conducted on the instruction of the General Synod and in collaboration with the Department of Practical Theology at the UFS. This year, the project is also extended to other churches in the Dutch Reformed Church family for the first time.

The questionnaire forms part of the National Church Life Survey, which is done internationally. The questionnaire is completed by everybody who attends a church service on a specific Sunday. Questions that are asked include, “What do the members of the congregation think of their congregation and church services?”, “Are outsiders welcome?” and “Do we care about the community?”

The first survey was done amongst churchgoers at a service in 2006.

Church Mirror is an important research project to outline the profile of mainstream churches in South Africa and it can play a major role in congregations’ planning and reflection upon themselves.
 

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