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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

Professor launches his book, opposition parties attend
2011-03-22

Prof. Hussein Solomon
Photo: Stephen Collett

“We are good in opposing people, but we’re less good in opposing ideas.” This was how Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS) introduced the book launch of Against all Odds: Opposition Politics in Southern Africa.

The event was hosted in collaboration with the publisher under the title: Are opposition parties in South Africa in a crisis? This formed part of a series of dialogue sessions, organised by the Centre for Africa Studies, in the run up to the local elections.
 
Amongst those interested who attended the evening in the Senate Hall of the CR Swart Building on the Main Campus were various politicians, students, staff en a panel consisting of academics and the respective provincial representatives of the ANC and DA.
 
Dr Mcebisi Ndletyana from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), acted as arbiter.
 
Proff. Hussein Solomon, author of Against all Odds: Opposition Politics in Southern Africa, also lecturer at the UFS, as well as Dirk Kotzé, Head of the Department of Political Science at Unisa, delivered enriching lectures on the stance and positioning of opposition parties.
 
Prof. Hussein, who spoke first, circumscribed the context of the political climate in the country, based on his book. “The problem that political science encounters is that everybody becomes experts on the internet, while they have no experience of what is happening in South Africa.” He said that when political parties in the country are under discussion, voters often allow myths and/or stereotyping to influence their concept of it. ‘’If there are no opposition parties, there is no democracy and people are deprived of their vote.”
 
Prof. Kotzé stated in his speech that it was not only opposition parties who had to make the government watch its step, but also the status that the country acquired, amongst others, from its connections, i.e. collaborative agreements such as BRICSA and the country’s inclusion in the G20. He left the audience with a question about how they were going to become involved in politics, and with his rhetoric question referred to options like social networks and movements.
 
Mr Sibongile Besani, the ANC'S secretary in the Free State, said the DA grew due to it’s swallowing of other parties; something he claims is taking the country backwards. He also described the use of personalities by opposition parties as means of association a weakness. He added that voters will continue voting for the ANC because they can associate themselves with the party’s vision.
 
In contrast, Mr Roy Jankielsohn, provincial leader of the DA, said voters and parties unite under their core vision for the country as like in the case of the ANC during the liberation struggles.
 
During the question-and-answer session, which followed after Mr Jankielson’s speech, Prof. Kwandiwe Kondlo, upon completion and summary of the discussions, stated firmly that the opposition parties are in a crisis. “The start of the solution is to recognise the problem. That is why our democracy finds itself in the state in which it is; because the opposition does not fulfil the role that they are supposed to fulfil.“ Prof. Kondlo is the head of the Centre of Africa Studies at the UFS.
 
He concluded by stating that the economic basis in the country was not transformed. “We cannot say that people determine their futures if they posses nothing. Opposition parties must start to communicate at this level in order to table something new. Our democracy must become more inclusive at political and material level.”

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