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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

Fracking in the Karoo has advantages and disadvantages
2012-05-25

 

Dr Danie Vermeulen
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar
25 May 2012

Fracking for shale gas in the Karoo was laid bare during a public lecture by Dr Danie Vermeulen, Director of the Institute for Groundwater Studies (IGS). He shared facts, figures and research with his audience. No “yes” or “no” vote was cast. The audience was left to decide for itself.

The exploitation of shale gas in the pristine Karoo has probably been one of the most debated issues in South Africa since 2011.
 
Dr Vermeulen’s lecture, “The shale gas story in the Karoo: both sides of the coin”, was the first in a series presented by the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science under the theme “Sustainability”. Dr Vermeulen is a trained geo-hydrologist and geologist. He has been involved in fracking in South Africa since the debate started. He went on a study tour to the USA in 2011 to learn more about fracking and he visited the USA to further his investigation in May 2012.
 
Some of the information he shared, includes:

- It is estimated that South Africa has the fifth-largest shale-gas reserves in the world, following on China, the USA, Argentina and Mexico.
- Flow-back water is stored in sealed tanks and not in flow-back dams.
- Fracturing will not contaminate the water in an area, as the drilling of the wells will go far deeper than the groundwater aquifers. Every well has four steel casings – one within the other – with the gaps between them sealed with cement.
- More than a million hydraulic fracturing simulations took place in the USA without compromising fresh groundwater. The surface activities can cause problems because that is where man-made and managerial operations could cause pollution.
- Water use for shale-gas exploration is lower than for other kinds of energy, but the fact that the Karoo is an arid region makes the use of groundwater a sensitive issue. Dr Vermeulen highlighted this aspect as his major concern regarding shale-gas exploration.
- The cost to develop is a quarter of the cost for an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Dolerite intrusions in the Karoo are an unresearched concern. Dolerite is unique to the South African situation. Dolerite intrusion temperatures exceed 900 °C.

He also addressed the shale-gas footprint, well decommissioning and site reclamation, radio activity in the shale and the low possibility of seismic events.
 
Dr Vermeulen said South Africa is a net importer of energy. About 90% of its power supply is coal-based. For continued economic growth, South Africa needs a stable energy supply. It is also forecast that energy demand in South Africa is growing faster than the average global demand.
 
Unknowns to be addressed in research and exploration are the gas reserves and gas needs of South Africa. Do we have enough water? What will be the visual and social impact? Who must do the exploration?
 
“Only exploration will give us these answers,” Dr Vermeulen said.

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