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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

UFS unveils Women’s Memorial Garden
2011-08-12

 

The Women’s Memorial Garden, between the Main and Chemistry building, seen from the top.
Photo: Siegwalt Küsel

Our university rewarded the hard work of women at the university by unveiling a Women’s Memorial Garden at our Bloemfontein Campus on National Women’s Day, 9 August 2011. University Staff, students, some members of our Council and other guests gathered at the university for the unveiling of the new memorial garden.

Prof. Driekie Hay, Vice-Rector: Academic, told the somewhat 50 people at the unveiling that it was a historic day for the UFS, as this was a sign of how far the university have come. Prof. Hay told the women at the function to be proud of their achievements. She said the purpose of Women’s Day was to celebrate the historic struggle and sacrifices of all South African women, especially those who fought against racism and sexism.

The Women’s Memorial Garden consists of a botanical garden with more than 80 plant species. In the middle of the garden is a stone statue with a wild fig tree planted within. Prof. Hay told the guests that the tree’s numerous seeds represent unity and is an indication of real understanding, knowledge and faith, characteristics women at our university should pursue to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the UFS. The University leadership will now embark on a process to identify and recognise women from the university community who have made significant contributions during its 107 years of existence.

The memorial garden was designed by Habitat Landscape Architects. Mr Siegwalt Küsel, an architect at the firm, said the garden was developed to be a living monument to women. He said they hope that the garden will become an active learning space for visitors.

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