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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

Kovsies produces another Mandela Rhodes Scholar
2012-10-25

Joanie van der Merwe
Photo: Supplied

25 October 2012

Another Kovsie student has been awarded the prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship. Joanie van der Merwe, a B.A. Honours Communication Science student, has been selected as one of 29 students from across the continent to receive the scholarship for 2013. The scholarship is awarded to young Africans who demonstrate academic and leadership potential.

This is the second successive year that the university has produced a Mandela Rhodes Scholar. Kovsie student Jaco Griessel was one of 23 students who received the bursary in 2011 for studies this year.

Joanie, who also holds a BA Honours Psychology degree, will study for her Master’s degree in Media Theory and Practice at the University of Cape Town next year. During the scholarship, she will be granted access to leadership development programmes. The scholarship covers study and registration costs, study material, accommodation and a living allowance.

Joanie says family urged her to apply for the scholarship. “After coming to terms with what the scholarship entails, I realised that I identify with the values and characteristics to which Mandela Rhodes scholars aspire.”

“I have a dream of forming an integral part of the continent in such a way that I will be able to serve others and empower the community where it is needed most. I want to live in such a way that my trials and mistakes are not wasted. They should be learnt from and be used to inspire and encourage others.”

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