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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

Dialogue between Science and Society series looks at forgiveness and reconciliation
2013-03-24

 

Taking part in the discussion on forgiveness and living reconciliation, were from left: Olga Macingwane, a survivor of the Worcester bombing of 1993; Dr Juliet Rogers, a Scholar on Remorse from the University of Melbourne in Australia and Dr Deon Snyman, Chairperson of the Worcester Hope and Reconciliation Process.
Photo: Mandi Bezuidenhout
24 March 2013

How do you, as a mother who lost her only daughter, forgive the man who claimed responsibility for the attack that killed her?  How do you forget his crime while travelling with him across the world?  

These were some of the questions posed to Jeanette Fourie at a Dialogue between Science and Society series on forgiveness and living reconciliation. Jeanette, whose daughter Lyndi was killed in an attack on the Heidelberg Pub in Cape Town in 1993, was one of three people telling their stories of forgiveness while dealing with traumatic experiences. 

Sitting next to Letlapa Mphahlele, the man who owned up to the attack that killed her daughter, Jeanette spoke about their story of forgiveness traveling the world together, spreading the message of forgiveness and conciliation. 

"Don't ever think you can forget, because that’s not possible. What you do with the pain is to find peace, and that's what forgiveness does. Forgiveness allows you to stop all the dialogue in your head on why he did it. You don't forget, you confront it and you deal with it." 

Letlapa, Director of Operations of Apla, the military wing of the PAC at the time of Lyndi's death, spoke about dealing with the response to his crime. "Sometimes you wish that you were not forgiven, because now you have the great burden of proving that you are worthy of forgiveness."

Also telling her story of forgiveness was Olga Macingwane, a survivor of the Worcester bombing of 1993 in which four people were killed and sixty-seven others injured. Four people were sent to prison. In 2009 Olga met one of the perpetrators, Stefaans Coetzee, and what came out of that meeting, is her story. 

"When I met Stefaans I was very angry, but when you sit down with somebody and listen to him or her, you find out what the reasons were that made him or her do something. I can say that I forgave him." 

Facilitating the conversation, Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor on Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, said the seminar was meant to get in touch with the truth that forgiveness is possible. 

"Before we had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa, the experts always said that forgiveness was not possible in these stories of the past. And then the TRC came into life as a response to mass atrocities. For the first time in the history of these traumatic experiences, of political traumas, we witness something that we have never seen.  Even us on the TRC, although it was framed as reconciliation, we never imagined there would actually be stories of forgiveness emerging out of that process, and then we witness that this too is possible." 

Others who took part in the two-hour-long seminar, were Dr Juliet Rogers, a Scholar on Remorse from the University of Melbourne in Australia and Dr Deon Snyman, Chairperson of the Worcester Hope and Reconciliation Process. They spoke about the dynamics behind the processes of engagement between victims/ survivors and perpetrators. 

The Dialogue between Science and Society series was co-hosted by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. 

 

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