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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 praised for hosting international research development programme
2013-03-05

 

At the farewell function were, from the left: Dr GansenPillay (deputy executive officer of the NRF), Emile Goofo (Cameroon), his son Tylio in the arms of Prof Nicky Morgan (Vice-Rector: Operations), Avelino Mondhane from Stockholm University (originally from Mozambique) and Prof Neil Heideman (Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences).
Photo: Leatitia Pienaar
05 March 2013

“I must congratulate the University of the Free State on doing something like this,” Dr Gansen Pillay said at the farewell function for the participants in the Southern African Young Scientists Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) at the UFS.

The 19 young scientists from 16 countries completed their three-month programme at the end of February 2013. As another step in the process the participants must write articles for reputable journals and complete their doctoral studies. Their performance in the research world will also be tracked.

Dr Pillay, deputy executive officer of the National Research Foundation (NRF), said an investment was made in the researchers to secure the future of the programme. A lot of persuasion and proof was necessary to convince the Austrian Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) that a programme of this nature could be presented in Africa.

The SA-YSSP was hosted and managed by the UFS. The programme was developed by the NRF in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and IIASA into a novel and innovative initiative.  The official launch was by the Minister of Science and Technology during November 2011.

The SA-YSSP will be an annual three-month education, academic training and research capacity-building programme. Aligned with the YSSP model, annually presented in Austria, the SA-YSSP offered scientific seminars covering themes in the social and natural sciences, often with policy dimensions, to broaden the participants’ perspectives and strengthen their analytical and modelling skills, further enriching a demanding academic and research programme.

Prof Martin Mtwaeaborwa, SA-YSSP deputy dean, said the academic performance of the young scientists superseded the expectations. “I hope the scholars will look back at the programme as the moment their careers began.”

The added, “The UFS received positive remarks for organising the programme and we hope to get it again in future.”

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