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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 part of project to translate Bible into Sign Language
2012-02-15

 
Signing welcome to the UFS was, from left: Sias Graig from Gauteng; Agnes Dyabuza from the Western Cape; and John Keitsemore from the Free State.
Photo: Amanda Tongha

Plans to have the Bible translated into South African Sign Language were discussed at our university. This project is the first of its kind in the country and our university is playing an active role in it.

Representatives from various church denominations and deaf-friendly local and international organisations met on the Bloemfontein Campus. Wycliffe Bible Translators, Talking Hands, the International Missions Board and Seed, an organisation from Australia, were some of organisations represented. Representatives from Lesotho and Swaziland also attended the meeting.
 
Participants met for the first time in Johannesburg in October 2011. The recent meeting was to discuss the project moving forward. The translation project is expected to be completed in five years time and the final product will be released on a DVD, featuring Bible stories chronologically.
 
Organiser Lisa Craye says Bloemfontein was not only chosen as venue because it is central, but also because of the work that had already been done by UFS staff member Susan Lombaard. Ms Lombaard, who works at the Unit for Language Facilitation and Empowerment, did her master’s degree on the need for a Bible in South African Sign language in 2003.

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