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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

Five Kovsies take part in exclusive Summer School in Groningen
2012-07-25

Michael van Niekerk, Christiaan Nel and Carika Stols participated in the School for Neurosciences.
26 July 2012

For five students from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State, the winter holidays were no time to rest; they attended a summer school for medical students in Groningen in The Netherlands.

Michael van Niekerk, Marcel Nel, Henk Kruger, Christiaan Nel and Carika Stols are all undergraduate medical students who expanded their skills and knowledge during the summer school.

The University of Groningen’s Medical School offers an annual Summer School Programme at the University Medical Centre in Groningen.

It is the largest hospital in the province of Groningen in The Netherlands and offers highly specialised health services to The Netherlands and to the northern parts of Germany.

Hordes of students from around the world annually apply for attendance of the school. A panel invites eligible candidates from the applications to participate in the school. The students are then divided into four different schools, namely Paediatrics, Neurosciences, Global Health and Oncology.

“Besides acquiring better skills and knowledge, the schools also provide us the opportunity to exchange experience and knowledge with participants from other countries. We had regular conversations with students from Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Brasilia, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Egypt, Belgium, Italy and Spain, on the difference between the medical systems and cultures of the various countries,” says Henk Kruger, who, together with Marcel Nel, participated in the School for Paediatrics.

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