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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

Two of our academics contribute to a fascinating book
2012-08-11

Prof. Jo van As earlier this year with proofs of the book The Story of Life & the Environment: An African Perspective.
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar
10 August 2012

The planet has more species than ever before, but humans are responsible for the biggest mass extinction of all times. This is according to Prof. Jo van As, Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology. He was speaking at the launch of the book The Story of Life & the Environment: An African Perspective.

The book was published by Random House Struik in July 2012 and is a sister publication of The Story of Earth & Life by Prof. Bruce Rubidge, which was published in 2005.

The Story of Life & the Environment: An African Perspective took five years to complete. Prof. Van As was the compiling author, with Prof. Johann du Preez, Head of Plant Sciences at our university, Prof. Leslie Brown of Unisa and Prof. Nico Smit of the North-West University as co-writers.

Prof. Van As said, “No other species has destroyed the earth as we have done. Biological diversity disappears at the rate of mass extinction. The effects of human activities on the biological diversity is bigger that the extinction of the dinosaurs.”

He, however, added that The Story of Life & the Environment: An African Perspective does not sketch a doomsday scenario. It has also a message of hope. Prof. Van As said it was good to see progress in conservation and care for the environment. Trans-frontier parks the size of some countries are a good example of work in this regard.

Mr Stephen Johnson, chairperson of the board of Random House Struik, said at the launch that the publishing house was proud to be associated with the impressive book. The publication will be a touchstone for thoughtful readers for a long time. It will also remain a general book for the public and learners on the topic. The content and design was done in such a way that the publication will be relevant to all audiences.

The Afrikaans version of the book, Die Verhaal van Lewe en die Omgewing, will be published soon.
 

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