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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

First-year students welcomed into Kovsie Family
2013-01-23

 

New first-year students and their parents and guardians are welcomed on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein campuses.
Photo: Sonia Small
23 January 2013



   YouTube Video

They came from near and far. Some hail from Bloemfontein, others from as far away as Botswana but they all have one thing in common. They were here to start their first year as Kovsie students. Thousands of first-year students, along with parents and guardians, attended the first year welcoming on the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein campuses on 18 and 19 January 2013 respectively.

“I do not care whether you come from the Free State or Zimbabwe or whether you are from Gauteng or Lesotho. I do not care if you speak Sesotho, Setswana or Afrikaans. What I care about is that you must understand that you are smarter than you think.”

This was the message from Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), when he officially welcomed first year students to the Qwaqwa Campus. “At the UFS, we put emphasis on two very important projects - the academic and human projects”, said Prof Jansen.

“The academic project is about you excelling academically as a student. It is about being the best you can be in your chosen field of study. All of you should strive to be like Zandile, a young girl from Umlazi who, despite her poverty and challenging conditions at home, went on to attain seven distinctions in her 2012 matric results”, said Prof Jansen. He was referring to Zandile who he tracked down via Facebook to offer her a full bursary to study at the UFS. Zandile had appeared on SABC TV news, expressing her frustration at the lack of funds to continue her studies, despite her performance.

“The human project is about you loving those who are different from you, thus becoming better human beings,” Prof Jansen said.

Prof. Jansen echoed the same message on the Bloemfontein Campus the following day when he welcomed thousands of new students. These students, their parents and guardians packed the huge tent that was erected in the CR Swart parking area of the campus. Prof. Jansen welcomed students from the different faculties during four sessions. He told parents and students that the class of 2013 was the smartest class the university had had in its 109-year history.

Mr Rudi Buys, Dean of Students, informed them about the many opportunities that awaited them at Kovsies. These include programmes like the Leadership for Change Programme for first year students and the Stanford Sophomore College Program for second year students.

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