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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

Conference on religion and reconciliation
2011-07-25

 

At the conference were, from the left, front: Dr Frank Chikane, President of AFM International; Dr Mathole Motshekga, Chief Whip of the ANC; at the back: Rev. Maniraj Sukdaven, Head of our Department of Religion Studies; and Dr Alan Boesak, connected to our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, as well as a minister in the United Reformed Church.

In recent times, reconciliation has mainly been politically driven, Dr Alan Boesak stated during a conference on religion and reconciliation. He was one of a number of prominent academic leaders from various religions who participated in the conference: Exploring religious understanding for reconciliation.The conference was presented by our Faculty of Theology and the International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at our university this week.

According to Dr Boesak, a theologian connected to our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, reconciliation means much more than simply former enemies no longer attacking or killing one another; they also have co-exist with a positive attitude towards one another.
 
Speakers from, amongst others, the Christian, Jewish, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Islam and Buddhist religious communities shared their views on reconciliation with one another.Most of these speakers referred to the special value of humankind in each religion. A person’s life has a supernatural dimension, which ought to play a major role in the way in which people treat one another.
 
Dr Frank Chikane, President of AFM International, as well as a speaker at the event, stated that the religious community should and had to be more active in discussions about reconciliation.“If religious leaders do not talk about current issues, all kinds of voices with distorted perspectives will be heard instead,” Dr Chikane added.
 
Reconciliation can only truly take place if the contribution of each group in society is taken seriously. Apart from the high premium placed on rights in society, duties that have to be fulfilled should also be emphasised. Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana from the Ethiopian Episcopal Church is of the opinion that this sense of duty should be established in people’s frame of mind. Adv. Antony Osler pointed out from a Buddhist perspective how important it was to deal with reconciliation by living up to its principles.
 
Rev. Maniraj Sukdaven, Head of our Department of Religion Studies, is very satisfied with the high quality of the contributions during the conference.

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