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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

Prof. Willem Boshoff joins Department of Fine Arts
2012-10-05

Prof. Willem Boshoff

Prof. Willem Boshoff, one of South Africa’s most established artists, has joined the Department of Fine Arts as a mentor for postgraduate students. Prof. Boshoff, whose work has been shown extensively in South Africa and internationally, will serve as mentor and resident artist in the department.

Prof. Boshoff made his mark at the university in 2011 when his Thinking Stone sculpture, one of sixteen artworks commissioned by the Sculpture-on-Campus project, was installed near the Main Building. The "Black Belfast " granite stone, situated next to the H vd Merwe Scholtz Hall, weighs approximately 20 ton and, to date,is the largest of the artworks funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust fund.

Mr Ben Botma, Head of the Department of Fine Arts, says Prof. Boshoff, who is based in Gauteng, will work on the Bloemfontein Campus for certain months of the year. “As an artist he is extremely productive and has an impressive international exhibition programme. As a result he has a good overview of what happens in the most important museums and contemporary galleries. This information and insight can be shared with students with great success.”

Mr Botma says although the mentorship is aimed at postgraduate students, Prof. Boshoff’s presence and obsessive work habits will also motivate and inspire undergraduate students. “Willem is very popular as external examiner and moderator at other universities and he has a good perspective of what happens at the major universities”.
 

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