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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 talks directly to South African ambassador to Japan
2011-03-16

Direct conversation between the UFS and the South African ambassador to Japan
Photo: Gerda-Marie Viviers

During a direct conversation with the South African ambassador to Japan, Mr Gert Grobler, today, the University of the Free State (UFS) expressed its compassion and solidarity with the people of Japan. The university also stated that it intended to support the country and its citizens in various ways.

This came after Japan was plunged into chaos the past week as a result of various earthquakes and consequential disasters. Mr Grobler, who participated in the conversation via Skype from Tokyo, welcomed this talk initiative initiated by Mr Rudi Buys, Dean: Student Affairs, and the Interim Student Committee (ISC). The talks formed part of a series of initiatives launched by students to promote solidarity with Japan, and which includes fund-raising projects and awareness campaigns.

Mr Grobler expressed his appreciation for the initiative: “The initiative by the UFS is greatly appreciated, and I shall do anything to promote partnerships between the UFS and Japan, particularly in collaboration with the ambassador for Japan in South Africa. The solidarity project is essential, because this is the worst crisis Japan has ever experienced in its history.”

In solidarity with Japan, the Student Committee envisages a mass march on Thursday, 17 March 2011 by means of which students will declare their unanimity with Japan and their support of human rights.

Prof. Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, also promised to send a message of support directly to the Japanese embassy in Pretoria, as well as extending a hand of support to Japanese universities in order to become part of discussions on how to render assistance, while making plans for students to visit the respective countries and share their experiences first-hand.

Mr Buys informed the ambassador that the university would support the rescue teams, which are departing for Japan in response to a request by Mr Grobler, by means of manpower.  In response to this, Mr Grobler, a Kovsie alumnus, welcomed this token of compassion and offer of assistance. “I am excited to see that South Africa cares so much for Japan.”
 

Media Release
15 March 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

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