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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

Nothing beats hard work, says Kovsie
2011-10-13

 

Khethiwe Mtshali

Khethiwe Mtshali is a classic example of a go-getter. This hard-working 23-year-old student from Ladysmith, who is currently studying at our Qwaqwa Campus, strongly believes in her own abilities. She believes that hard work pays off and that a person will be richly rewarded if you give it your best. Khethiwe has recently returned from a month-long visit to China where she was stationed at the Fresh Water Fisheries Research Centre of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Wuxi City.

“I was nominated to go to China to learn and conduct research, as South Africa lacks expertise in the field of food security and related fields of science,” says Khethiwe, a 2011 recipient of the Golden Key Award and an M.Sc.in Zoology student who specialises in Parasitology.
 
“The Chinese is a hard-working nation that I wish we could emulate as South Africans. Doing my research on parasitology of fish and other related agricultural diseases over there was a worthwhile experience that will not only benefit me as an individual, but the entire Parasitology Division of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the Qwaqwa Campus. This research is surely going to put the university and the entire country in a better position to compete with the best in the field of parasitology,” Khethiwe said.
 
After completing her B.Sc. degree in 2008, Khethiwe worked as a teacher at Ezakheni High School for a year before she was summoned back to our university by her mentor and Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology, Dr Oriel Thekisoe, where she studied towards an honours degree, which she passed with distinction last year.
 
“If it had not been for Dr Thekisoe, I think I would still be a teacher whose potential would not have been tapped to the maximum. I wish to thank him for pushing me to do my best at all times. He has taught me that where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Khethiwe said.
 
The best is yet to come for this proud Kovsie who can teach you a thing or two in Chinese!

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