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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

Winter school for international visitors
2011-07-28

 

Here are, from the left, front: Vinita Verma (India), Gayatai Sharma (India), Ambar Istiyani (Indonesia); back: Frank Nieuwenhuizen (Netherland); Vicky Hölsgens (Netherland) and Dewi Cahya Ambarwati (Indonesia)
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

A group of activists, postgraduate students and staff from civil society organisations are currently visiting our Bloemfontein Campus to discuss issues of diversity and development. The group of 19 people from countries such as India, Indonesia, Uganda, the Netherlands and South Africa are part of the 2011 annual international winter school on Pluralism and Development, which is hosted by our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice. It is the first time that the winter school is held in South Africa since its launch in 2004.

The first class of the winter school started on 11 July 2011 and participants attend daily lectures where they engage in critical thinking about issues such as sustainable development, identity, reconciliation and pluralism. On Thursday 21 July 2011 our Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen presented a lecture on reconciliation to participants where he spoke lengthily about South Africa’s traumatic past. Classes will come to an end on 5 August 2011.

During their stay at our university participants also visited Gauteng where they spent time at the Apartheid museum, Constitutional Hill and Freedom Park. Later this week they will visit our Qwaqwa Campus.

Indonesian participant, Ms. Dewi Cahya Ambarwati, said she is looking forward to the Qwaqwa visit, where she will show off her traditional dance. Ambarwati said during their visit to Freedom Park, she managed to trace back Indonesian ancestors in the museum’s slavery section. Another participant, Mr. Frank Nieuwenhuizen from the Netherlands, said the winter school is enriching because it makes you realise what it means to deal with differences.

The international Winter School on Pluralism and Development is an initiative of the Kosmopolis Institute of the University of Humanistic Studies, in cooperation with the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos).

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