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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

Ex-Kovsie swimming legend passes away
2013-04-03

03 April 2013

The University of the Free State (UFS) expresses its condolences to the friends and family of former Kovsie and swimming legend, Dr Karen Muir. Dr Muir passed away on 2 April 2013 in Mossel Bay, after battling cancer for a number of years.

Dr Muir enrolled at the UFS in 1971 and completed her MB ChB in 1977. Despite her academic prowess, it was in the swimming pool that Dr Muir achieved even greater acclaim.

Dr Muir was the youngest person ever to hold a world record in swimming or any other international sporting discipline. As a twelve-year old in 1965, she beat the then record time in the 110-m backstroke. After her initial success, she went on to set fifteen more world records in a variety of swim strokes.

During her career she won 22 South African Championships, three United States National Championships and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1980.

After matriculating in 1970 from Diamantveld High in Kimberley, she retired from swimming to focus full-time on her medical studies. Since then she practised as a physician in Africa and from 2000 onward, in Canada, after relocating.

“We as a faculty mourn her passing and extend our deepest sympathy to her loved ones, family and friends,” said Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

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