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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

Living proof of transformation
2012-07-20

 Prof. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela (middle) facilitated a dialogue with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Prof. Mark Solms on the Transformation in the Solms-Delta Wine Estate.
Photo: Johan Roux

18 July 2012

“We have the capacity to make a success of South Africa. We have incredible people who refuse to leave the country and want to make a difference.” This is according to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who was speaking at the University of the Free State (UFS) today.

Dr Tutu took part in a dialogue with Prof. Mark Solms, owner of the Solms-Delta wine estate in Franschhoek.Prof. Solms is also an A-rated scholar and the Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Cape Town.The theme of the dialogue was “Living Reconciliation: Winds of Change in Franschhoek and Transformation at Solms-Delta Wine Estate”.

Prof. Solms led an initiative to transform the lives of farm workers on the estate through the Wijn-de Caab Trust. This initiative was extended to empower the wider community of farm dwellers when Prof. Solms co-founded the Delta Trust and the Franschhoek Valley Transformation Charter.

The dialogue was the second in the Dialogue between Science and Society series and was facilitated by Prof. Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior research professor on Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation at the UFS. The Dialogue series aims to inspire new ways of thinking about responsible citizenship. It also highlights the unique and important ways of engaging with the critical issues of social equality, social justice, social transformation and reconciliation in South Africa.This morning Dr Tutu said the work done in the Franschhoek community is proof that people cannot prosper alone if others are also not prospering. “We belong together. Why did it take us so long to realise it? South Africans have the capacity to make South Africa a better place. It is unacceptable that people go hungry and go to school under trees. It is unacceptable that they still have no books in the third term, and that the pass rate is 30%.

“Is this why we struggled, why people died? We want to go to our graves smiling… we will not be allowed peace and stability if we do not attend to the problems.”

Prof. Solms said the miracle of the political transformation did not trickle down to the people. A lot has been done, but much more needs to be done. “It can only be done by us. It is not the government’s responsibility. The way we live as a result of apartheid is that we are a deeply divided society. We must recognise this and do something to change it.”

He encouraged people to think “small”. An individual cannot change the whole country, but the changes in his community are there to see.

Dr Tutu also congratulated the UFS on becoming a truly South African university, recognising the transformation of the past few years.

The dialogue was presented at the Global Leadership Summit that 250 students and academic leaders from 21 international universities are participating in. The summit runs until Friday 20 July 2012.
 

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