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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

Little ‘Devil’s Worm’ on Top 10 New Species list
2012-05-29

 

Halicephalobus mephisto (Devil’s Worm)
Photo: Supplied
29 May 2012

A minuscule little worm found and researched with the assistance of researchers at the university has made it onto the list of Top 10 New Species of the world. The list was published by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University and a committee of scientists from around the world. It lists the top ten new species described in 2011.

An article on the new worm species appeared in the authoritative journal Nature in June 2011.
 
Prof. Esta van Heerden, leader of the university’s research team, says, “In our wildest dreams, we could not have imagined that we would get so much reaction from the worm’s discovery. We had to do so many checks and balances to convince Nature that the worm could survive in the old and warm water. We were very excited when the article was accepted but the media reaction was unbelievable.”
 
The tiny nematode, Halicephalobus mephisto (Devil’s Worm) of about 0,5 mm in length, is the deepest-living terrestrial multi-cellular organism on earth. It was discovered in the Beatrix gold mine near Welkom at a depth of 1,3 km.
 
The IISE says in a statement the species is remarkable for surviving immense underground pressure as well as high temperatures. The borehole water where this species lives has not been in contact with the earth’s atmosphere for the last 4 000 to 6 000 years.  
 
This top-10 list includes a sneezing monkey; a beautiful, but venomous jellyfish; a fungus named after a popular TV cartoon character; a night-blooming orchid; an ancient walking cactus creature; and a tiny wasp. A vibrant poppy, a giant millipede and a blue tarantula also made it onto the list.
 
The international selection committee made its choice from more than 200 nominations. They looked for species that captured the attention because they were unusual or because they had bizarre traits. Some of the new species have interesting names.
 
Prof. Van Heerden says, “We are very thankful for the exposure that the university gets as a result of the inclusion on the list and we enjoy the international cooperation immensely.”

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