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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

UFS Faculty of Law and Department of Health join hands to combat modern day slavery
2012-10-03

At this event, were from the left: Dr Adri Krieger and Dr Mariaan Kotze. Both are from the Department of Health: Directorate Forensic Services. Far right is Dr Beatri Kruger from the Unit for Children's Rights and the Department of Criminal and Medical Law at the UFS.
4 October 2012

Research and court cases confirm that the trade in people is a reality in South Africa. According to Dr Beatri Kruger from the Unit for Children's Rights and the Department of Criminal and Medical Law at the University of the Free State (UFS), complex challenges are faced in combating human trafficking. One of these challenges is a lack of knowledge of this crime and the difficulty in identifying trafficked victims.

To address the lack of knowledge, a number of discussions took place between Dr Kruger and delegates from the Department of Health.

A project has been initiated to address this problem in the public health sector. A need to raise awareness and provide training to medical practitioners to better understand human trafficking was identified. The most important aim of this initiative is to empower medical staff, to identify trafficked victims that visit hospitals and clinics countrywide and to also treat them appropriately in light of the severe trauma they have often been exposed to. The initiative will also empower medical practitioners to refer patients to other service providers such as social workers and psychologists.

The talks with medical practitioners from the Department of Health have led to training and awareness raising that will be provided at some of the local hospitals before the end of the year. Further training seminars are planned for medical practitioners, which will include a presentation by Dr Kruger on legal issues that are relevant for staff in the public health sector. The multidisciplinary cooperation that was established between representatives from the UFS Faculty of Law and the Department of Health has contributed substantially to a more effective response to human trafficking in South Africa.
 

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