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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

Willem Boshoff’s artwork placed on Bloemfontein Campus
2011-10-21

 
Students viewing the new artwork on our Bloemfontein Campus
Photo: Hannes Pieterse

There was great excitement last week when Willem Boshoff’s Thinking Stone sculpture arrived and was installed near our Main Building. The black granite stone, which was quarried at Boschpoort Granite in Belfast, Mpumalanga, weighs approximately 20 tons and took about a year to polish to give it its burnished quality.

On the surface of the stone are engravings that resemble the prehistoric rock engravings of the Driekopseiland rock art site close to Kimberley. Added to the engravings are sandblasted inscriptions in six languages of verses and well-known quotes that refer to the word “rock”.

Willem Boshoff is one of South African’s most established artists and his artworks are deeply involved in relationships and focused on bringing about conversation. Willem describes the Thinking Stone as being “a place for gathering and sharing ideas, as universities should be”. The sculpture is a huge investment for our university and will, for many years to come, inspire thought, dialogue and contemplation.

Willem Boshoff’s sculpture is, to date, the largest of fifteen artworks commissioned by the Sculpture-on-Campus Project and funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.
 

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