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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

Middle East activists speak about peace on the Bloemfontein Campus
2012-03-15

 

Bassem Eid (left) and Benjamin Pogrund discuss the situation in the Middle East.
Photo: Johan Roux
15 March 2012

Peace is a big word in the Middle East, particularly amongst Israelis and Palestinians. After years of conflict, people yearn for peace; they want an end to the killings and the uncertainty. The problem is that both sides are actively doing things that undermine the prospect of peace. There is also double talk, lies and evasion with each side pointing fingers. This was the word from Benjamin Pogrund, an Israeli peace activist, addressing staff and students on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State. He and fellow peace activist Bassem Eid, a Palestinian, visited the campus to speak about the situation in the Middle East.

Both men agreed that peace efforts were hindered by the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders. According to Pogrund, neither the Palestinians, nor the Israelis are leading the way in accepting that the conflict must end.
 
“Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders say let us get together with no pre-conditions. Then the Israeli leaders say, Jerusalem we cannot share, that is not for negotiation. And, they say to the Palestinians you must recognise Israel as a Jewish state. So, what they say is unless you agree to these pre-conditions there can be no talks without pre-conditions.
 
“And the Palestinians in turn say the settlement construction must cease immediately, and unless that happened, there is no point in meeting. And they say we will never acknowledge you as a Jewish state so do not even bother talking about it. And we insist on the right of return of Palestinian refugees. So they also say unless you acknowledge these pre-conditions there is no point in meeting with our pre-conditions. So as you can gather each side blames the other side, each side points the finger and says you are responsible for the lack of progress.”
 
Pogrund said both the Israelis and the Palestinians could demand legitimacy in that part of the world.
 
“Both Jewish and Arabs can say we have history on our side. We have religion on our side, culture.”
 
To compare Israel to Apartheid South Africa is wrong, he said.
 
“It is an occupation, it is repression, but it is not Apartheid.”
 
Eid, who is the director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, said the Palestinians were close to having a complete independent Palestinian state from 1994 to 1999.
 
“But in one rocket former Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon destroyed it.”
 
He said Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 did not bring political unity.
 
“We, the Palestinians, were supposed to start building the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip but unfortunately Hamas started dancing on that Israeli disengagement and considered it as their own success because of their military resistance against the occupation.” He also said Hamas is satisfied with its hold in the Gaza Strip and Fatah is also very satisfied with its hold in the West Bank. According to Eid, it is convenient for the Israelis that the Palestinians are separated.

 

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