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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

New generation must take South Africa into the Promised Land
2012-07-23

 

Prof. Somadoda Fikeni talks about Reconciliation and Social Justice on Nelson Mandela Day.
Photo: Johan Roux
18 July 2012

 

Former President Nelson Mandela was part of the Moses generation that took people out of bondage. What the country now needs is the Joshua generation that will take it into the promise land.

This is according to political analyst and public commentator, Prof. Somadoda Fikeni. He was speaking to staff and students participating in the Global Leadership Summit, which took place on the Bloemfontein Campus from 8-20 July 2012. Prof. Fikeni took part in a panel discussion on Justice and Reconciliation. He and other panellists observed that there were still many challenges facing reconciliation in South Africa.

Referring to controversial statements made by Helen Zille, Julius Malema and Pieter Mulder, Prof. Fikeni said public discourse had become toxic and that the country was faced by a leadership crisis.

Ms Yasmin Sooka, a former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights South Africa, asked if reconciliation had not come at the expense of redress. She said that to date there had been no restitution.

Ms Lihlumelo Toyana, a post-graduate student at the university, was also part of the panel. She told the audience that 18 years into democracy, there are still people waiting for justice. Toyana said young people hoped to see change and wondered if South Africans would ever sit down and have dialogue about the past. “We need closure; we need to take the country forward.”

The other panelists were lawyer, politician and former Human Rights Commissioner Prof. Leon Wessels; a professor from the University of Cape Town’s Law Faculty, Prof. Jaco Barnard-Naude; and psychologist, Prof. Alain Tschudin.
 

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