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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

Kovsie students selected for prestigious study travel programme
2013-05-15

 

Golden Key International Honour Society members, Michael van Niekerk, Siobhan Canavan, Mpoi Makhetha and Cebolenkosi Sokhela, will travel to the USA and China, meeting the best in their career fields.
Photo: Hannes Pieterse
15 May 2013


They are amongst the top 15 percent of academic achievers at the university, and have been afforded the opportunity to travel abroad and meet with leading people in their fields of study.

Kovsie students Michael van Niekerk, Siobhan Canavan, Mpoi Makhetha and Cebolenkosi Sokhela, all members of the Golden Key International Honour Society, will travel to the USA and China. This trip is part of the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP) to learn how their career fields are practiced in another part of the world. The students are part of a select group of outstanding university students from across the world who will be given access to people, places and global perspectives in fields such as business, engineering, medicine, nursing, diplomacy and international relations.

Michael, a fourth-year MBChB student and SRC member of our Bloemfontein Campus, and Cebolenkosi, a third-year BSc Microbiology student will visit Washington, Philadelphia and New York in the USA. As part of the medicine delegation of the programme, they will visit clinics and hospitals to see how their study fields are practiced. Michael’s trip includes a visit to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he will meet representatives of the National Institute of Health, the largest source of funding for medical research in the world. He will also visit Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Mpoi, a third-year BSc Human Molecular Biology student, also forms part of the medicine delegation but will travel to China. "We will be exploring the ancient ways of healing versus the modern medical practices, exploring the medical systems of the country and meeting doctors and professors, visiting the rural areas, and of course, touring the best parts of China,” she said.

Siobhan, a third-year Media Studies and Journalism student, is part of the diplomacy and international relations delegation who will visit Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai in China. "To me it's such an honour to be part of this programme,” she said. “It will give me the platform to not only represent who I am, but also my university and the values that the university has instilled in me. It allows me to be a part of something great that will benefit me in the end."

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