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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

“Deploy your education and not connections,” Chancellor tells graduates
2012-05-16

 

Qwaqwa Autumn Graduation
Photo: Thabo Kessah
16 May 2012

Our Qwaqwa Campus conferred 424 degrees, diplomas and certificates at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony held on 12 May 2012.

Amongst the degrees conferred were two doctorates in Polymer Science, two Master’s of Arts in Geography and African Languages, respectively, five Master’s of Science degrees in Physics (3) and Polymer Science (2) and 37 honours degrees in Education, Zoology, Physics, Botany and Polymer Science.

In their congratulatory messages, both the Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, and the Chancellor, Dr Khotso Mokhele, challenged the graduates to start focusing their attention beyond their graduation on what they both referred to as “the real world”.

“Graduation ceremonies are a fantastic event, but you must never lose sight of appreciating the support given by those around you,” said Dr Mokhele.

“This hall was full of shouting and yes, you must bask in that glory, knowing that you have achieved part of your goals. Yes, this is your moment, so shine. You deserve it. You have earned it.”

“However, this noise also means you must go out there and face the real world. You are graduating in a model country on how people can reconcile, despite their painful and divided past. You deserve all the accolades, but that model country is disappearing before your eyes. How can you mess up what Mandela, Biko, Sobukwe, Nardine Gordimer lived and fought for? How can you mess up such a good thing?” Dr Mokhele asked of an attentive audience that included proud parents and siblings, as well as educators and learners from the Thabo Mofutsanyana District.

“Go out there and deploy your education and not your connections, as these are embedded in corruption. Go out there and help get rid of the patronage system where hard-workers are more likely to be constructively dismissed as they stand in the way of those with corrupt tendencies. Save this country from becoming another Zimbabwe. Let us do whatever it takes to save this country. Let these matriculants who are here today want to walk that red carpet with pride in the next few years,”,said Dr Mokhele.

Dignitaries in attendance included the former Chief Minister of the former Qwaqwa homeland, Dr T K Mopeli; the Executive Mayor of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality, Councillor Tjhetane Mofokeng; Dr SWF Moloi (Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District) and representatives from various government departments.
 

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