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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. André Keet appointed to Ministerial Oversight Committee on Higher Education
2013-01-15

 

Prof. André Keet
Photo: Anja Aucamp
24 January 2013



Prof. André Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the university, has been appointed as member of the Oversight Committee on the Transformation of South African Universities. He is one of seven committee members that were appointed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Training to monitor progress on transformation in public universities.

The committee will advise Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, on policy to combat racism, sexism and other forms of unfair discrimination in public higher education. The committee will also advise on the role of universities in promoting the development of a free, fair and non-discriminatory society beyond the world of the academia.

The senior leadership of the university has welcomed the appointment of Prof. Keet and said with his extensive experience as a former Commissioner on the Commission for Gender Equality and as the Director of the university's Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (which was formed as one of several initiatives taken by the senior leadership in the aftermath of the Reitz incident), Prof. Keet will be a valuable member of the committee.

"Prof. Keet has the experience and expertise to guard the autonomy and academic freedom of universities, thus avoiding this committee from becoming a political intervention in the affairs of the higher education sector," said Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the university.

Honoured to be elected on the committee, Prof. Keet said he is ready to serve the national interest in the transformation of South African universities. "The appointment is also a compliment to the university and to its exceptional experience in the process of transformation."

Prof. Keet will serve on the committee for a period of three years. The other members of the committee are Prof. Malegapuru Makgoba, who will serve as chairperson, Dr Mvuyo Tom, Ms Nazeema Mohamed, Ms Zingiswa Losi, Mr Joe Mpisi and Prof. Shirley Walters.

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