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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

Breyten Breytenbach shares his words and philosophies
2013-03-05

 

Breyten Breytenbach
Photo: Johan Roux
02 March 2013

The Department of Philosophy at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently hosted Breyten Breytenbach as part of its Colloquium series.

In a packed Odeion theatre, Breytenbach shared his words and views relating to poetry and philosophy. The session was chaired by Prof Pieter Duvenhage from the Department of Philosophy, who noted the symbiotic relationship which exists between the two seemingly distinct disciplines.

Breytenbach is one of South Africa’s best-known literary sons, gaining worldwide recognition for his writings and poetry, as well as his political activism against the erstwhile Apartheid regime. He left the country in 1960 due to Apartheid and settled in Paris where his first collection of poetry was published in 1964. It was the beginning of a prizewinning literary career spanning multiple languages and decades.

He returned illegally in 1975 in order to agitate against the repressive National Party government, but was arrested, spending seven years in prison after being charged with terrorism.

The audience was treated to a reading from an unpublished work from Breytenbach, A letter to my daughter. The lengthy letter outlined Breytenbach's world views, his sense of the creative process, his philosophies and his takes on current and historical events.

A large part of the letter focused on the philosophical and emotional processes involved in writing.“Writing is the travelling of its own landscape; landscapes and rooms that may always have been there,” he said.

He noted that it’s not always an easy process, and that sometimes writers need to explore the abysses, which can be unnerving.

“In this regard it is important to know that emptiness exists,” he said.

He stressed his concern over some of the problems the country currently faces, especially the abuse of state institutions. He was especially worried about the abuse of power. He warned that “power has its own predatory identity,” often abused and misused by those who wield it.

Despite his misgivings, Breytenbach still retains his optimism for the country and its people. He remarked that the country and its many diverse cultures resembles a “fantastic patchwork blanket,” one that should be cherished and protected.

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