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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

Kovsie first-year wears green and gold for softball
2011-03-28

Jeneva Knell
Photo: Nangamso Koza

Jeneva Knell, a first-year residing in Madelief Residence on our Main Campus, has not only made her parents and community proud, but the university too – her second home, as she calls it. Jeneva has made history at the UFS by being the first student to receive national colours for softball. She joins a very long list of Kovsies who have made us very proud by earning green and gold.

This petite 18-year-old hailing from Kempton Park was tasked with a difficult choice last year as she filed her application forms to universities. She chose Kovsies, even though she was aware that it did not cater for softball players, something she is working hard at ensuring it change. “Sacrificing what I loved most was worth it. I wanted to be part of the changes at the UFS,” Knell says.
 
Her softball career started in Grade 6. Jeneva now proudly boasts the Benoni Rays Club’s colours, the club that produced the star she is today. “My coaches played a major role in turning me into a sports personality. A lot of hard work, sacrifices, dedication and team work are crucial for one to achieve those colours,” she responded.
 
“This is the greatest achievement I have ever attained. I feel very blessed. Without my mother’s love and support I would have never achieved this,” she said.
 
With the upcoming Junior Women’s World Championship in Cape Town, Jeneva is working hard at excelling and making the university proud.

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