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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

Colloquium focuses on protection of reproductive and sexual health in Africa
2011-10-28

 
Proff. Charles Ngwena and Loot Pretorius, both from the Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at the UFS.
Photo: Stephen Collett

Our Department of Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law of the Faculty of Law recently convened a two-day colloquium with the theme, ‘Strengthening protection of reproductive and sexual health in Africa through human rights’.

The colloquium built upon the work of the university’s LLM Programme in Reproductive and Sexual Rights, which trains law graduates to become specialists in reproductive and sexual health as human rights. The LLM Programme was first established in 2005. The colloquium brought together delegates from different professional backgrounds, including academia, health sciences and human-rights advocates from across the African region as well as from abroad.
 
Delegates addressed the theme of the colloquium in sessions  organised around the topics: HIV/Aids and human rights; sexual health and sexual rights; reproductive health and rights; abortion-related issues; and the intersection between cultural and religious perspectives and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
 
According to Prof. Charles Ngwena, Director of the LLM Programme, and co-convener of the colloquium together with Dr Ebenezer Durojaye, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Constitutional Law at the UFS, the discussions flowing from the papers were to:
  • identify a persistent gap or challenge in the respect, protection and realisation of reproductive and/or sexual health as a human right under African human rights systems; and
  • advance arguments and suggestions that are aimed at addressing the gap or challenge and ultimately strengthening African human rights systems.
To address the regional dimension of the colloquium, the papers  delivered ultimately addressed selected reproductive and/or sexual health or right issues from a regional rather than a mere country perspective so that the experiences and challenges of the African region are captured.

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