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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

Researcher shares platform with Nobel Laureate at conference on nanomedicine
2013-01-10

Prof. Lodewyk Kock at the Everest viewpoint with Mount Everest behind him.
10 January 2013

Profs. Lodewyk Kock and Robert Bragg from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the University of the Free State (UFS) both presented lectures at the first International Conference on Infectious Diseases and Nanomedicine that was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, late last year.

At the conference, also attended by senior representatives from the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS), Prof. Kock delivered one of the two opening lectures, titled: Introducing New Nanotechnologies to Infectious Diseases (the other opening lecture was presented by Nobel Laureate, Prof. Barry J. Marshal). Prof. Kock also participated in the farewell address.

In two excellent lectures, Prof. Bragg spoke on Bacteriophages as potential treatment option of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and on Bacterial resistance to quaternary ammonium compounds.

For Prof. Kock this very first conference on infectious diseases and nanomedicine was followed by a very exciting yeast research excursion through the Mount Everest Highway which winds through the villages of the Sherpa tribe.

He describes his journey: “The Mount Everest Highway is a rough road stretching through hills and glacial moraines of unfamiliar altitudes and cold temperatures. Throughout the journey I had to take care of not contracting altitude sickness which causes severe headaches and dizziness.

“The only way of transport is on foot, on long-haired cattle called Yaks, donkeys and by helicopter. After flying by plane from Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal), I landed at Lukla, regarded as the most dangerous airport in the world due to its short elevated runway and mountainous surroundings. From Lukla, the land of the Sherpa, I walked (trekked) with my Sherpa guide and porter (carrier) along the Everest Highway surrounded by various Buddhist Mani scripture stands, other Buddhist representations and many spectacular snow-tipped mountains of more than 6 000 m above sea level. Of these, the majestic mountain called Ama Dablam (6 812 m), the grand 8 516 m high peak of Lhotse and to its left the renowned Mount Everest at 8 848 m in height, caught my attention.

“Dwarfed by these mountain peaks on the horizon, I passed various villages until I eventually reached the beautiful village called Namche Bazar, the heart of the Khumbu region and hometown of the Sherpa. This took three days of up to six hours walking per day, while I spent the nights at the villages of Phakding and Monjo. From there I walked along the Dudh Kosi River which stretches towards Mount Everest, until I reached the high altitude Everest viewpoint – the end of my journey, after which I trekked back to Lukla to return to Kathmandu and South Africa.

“This expedition is the first exploration to determine the presence of yeasts in the Everest region. Results from this excursion will be used in collaborative projects with local universities in Nepal that are interested in yeast research.”

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