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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’s research part of major global programme
2011-04-04

 

Prof. Zakkie Pretorius, professor in Plant Pathology in the Department of Plant Sciences at our university

Research by Zakkie Pretorius, professor in Plant Pathology in the Department of Plant Sciences at our university, has become part of Phase II of a mayor global project to combat deadly strains of a wheat pathogen that poses a threat to global food security.

Prof. Pretorius focuses on the identification of resistance in wheat to the stem rust disease and will assist breeders and geneticists in the accurate phenotyping of international breeding lines and mapping populations. In addition, Prof. Pretorius will support scientists from Africa with critical skills development through training programmes. During Phase I, which ends in 2011, he was involved in pathogen surveillance in Southern Africa and South Asia.
 
The Department of International Development (DFID) in the United Kingdom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will invest $40 million over the next five years in the global project led by the Cornell University. The project is aimed at combating deadly strains of Ug99, an evolving wheat pathogen that is a dangerous threat to global food security, especially in the poorest nations. 
 
The Cornell University said in a statement, the grant made to the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) project at Cornell will support efforts to identify new stem-rust resistant genes in wheat, improve surveillance, and multiply and distribute rust-resistant wheat seed to farmers and their families.
 
Researchers worldwide will be able to play an increasingly vital role in protecting wheat fields from dangerous new forms of stem rust, particularly in countries whose people can ill afford the economic impact of damage to this vital crop.
 
The Ug99 strain was discovered in Kenya in 1998, but are now also threatening major wheat-growing areas of Southern and Eastern Africa, the Central Asian Republics, the Caucasus, the Indian subcontinent, South America, Australia and North America.
 
Prof. Pretorius was responsible for the first description of this strain in 1999.
 
Among Cornell’s partners are national research centres in Kenya and Ethiopia, and scientists at two international agricultural research centres that focus on wheat, the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known by its Spanish acronym as CIMMYT), and the International Center  for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), in Syria. Advanced research laboratories in the United States, Canada, China, Australia, Denmark and South Africa also collaborate on the project. The DRRW project now involves more than 20 leading universities and research institutes throughout the world, and scientists and farmers from more than 40 countries.


Media Release
28 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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