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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

Golden Key recognises top achievers
2012-08-29

A jam packed audience listens to the keynote address at the UFS Golden Key Annual new members’ ceremony.
Photo: Stephen Collett
29 August 2012

Recognising academic excellence at the University of the Free State (UFS), the world’s biggest academic honour society, Golden Key International Honour Society, selected a record number of Kovsie students as new members this year.

More than 700 top achievers have been invited to join the prestige academic society – the biggest crop of students thus far.

New members, the top 15% of academic students at Kovsies, were welcomed to the society’s UFS Chapter at an induction ceremony held on Saturday 25 August 2012. The ceremony also saw Justice Ian van der Merwe, Chairperson of the UFS Council, Mr Billyboy Ramahlele, Director Community Engagement, and Prof. Hendrik Swart, Senior Professor in Physics at the UFS being recognised as honorary members of the society. The event, held at the Kovsie Church, drew a large crowd with the venue packed to capacity.

Sibusiso Tshabalala, a third-year BCom Law student, and recently selected as one of ten Google Young Minds for 2012, delivered the keynote address. Structuring his talk around dreams, fears and music, Sibusiso told students they had joined a global community of students who valued academic achievement, leadership and service. “In a country where rhetoric triumphs over logic and mediocrity rules supreme, while excellence is fast becoming taboo, we need the thinkers to do the leading.”

Dr Derek Swemmer, Registrar and co-advisor of the UFS Chapter, told the students they had demonstrated the ability and now had to fulfil their potential. He was appointed as Chairperson of the society’s governing body in March this year.

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