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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

Grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation provides significant boost for graduate and postdoctoral studies in the Humanities
2013-05-19

20 May 2013

The Andrew W Mellon Foundation has made an award of US $500 000 [c. ZAR 4.85 million] over three years to support graduate and postdoctoral studies in the Humanities at the University of the Free State (UFS).

The award will underwrite 20 postgraduate studentships and postdoctoral fellowships, as well as annual postgraduate skills training workshops and a research seminar programme, amongst other initiatives. Already underway following national and international advertisement, the programme has attracted highly qualified young scholars from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as from the United Kingdom and the United States. While their fields of study include history, politics, anthropology and development studies, most of the research projects have an African focus and a marked historical dimension.

Postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students alike are associates of, or are registered in, the Centre for Africa Studies. Several of them, have already published articles in international refereed journals. Chapters in books, edited collections and single-authored monographs are all in the pipeline.

“The application to the Mellon Foundation was made in the context of UFS' strategic plan and the priority given to the importance of fostering and consolidating postgraduate and postdoctoral research. Together with other funding, this grant gives the university the opportunity to develop graduate studies in the Humanities in such a way that it surpasses many South African universities and approaches that of the best universities in the country,” says Prof Ian Phimister, Senior UFS Research Professor.

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