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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

Lunch-time lecture on the subject of contested memories
2011-08-23

 

Guests at the lecture from the left: Dr. Sheila Aronstam, a former UFS Council member; Dr. Eva Hoffman and Henya Bryer a survivor of the Holocaust
Photo: Amanda Tongha

Acclaimed Polish author and academic Dr Eva Hoffman visited the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on 16 Augustus 2010 to deliver a lunch-time lecture on the subject of contested memories.

Speaking about the after-effects of unjust violence on second-generation Holocaust survivors, Dr Hoffman drew some parallels between the history of Eastern Europe and that of South Africa, stating that with some categories of conflict and prejudice the context in this region of the world might not be too remote. Dr Hoffman, born to Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust, told the audience that in most instances the past was still alive in the present.
 
Talking about traumatic memories, Dr Hoffman revisited her family’s suffering during the Holocaust and stated that the second generation lives with the paradoxes of indirect knowledge. According to her there has to be acknowledgment of the injustice to put the conflict and tension inherited from a repressed history truly to rest. Referring to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), she said wrongs could not be forgiven until they were admitted. 
 
Dr Hoffman, who is the author of books such as Lost in Translation: life in a new language and Stetl: the life and death of a small town and the world of Polish Jews, praised the university for being on the forefront of social issues in democratic South Africa.

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