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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

UFS works closely with employees in the post-Reitz settlement process
2013-05-20

20 May 2013

In the light of an article in IOL News on 18 and 19 May 2013 and in Sunday Independent and Sunday Tribune on 19 May 2013 in which it is alleged that the University of the Free State (UFS) has failed to honour its commitment to the five Reitz employees we are pleased to report on the ongoing process and progress made with respect to their employment.

The university remained consistently true to the settlement agreement and High Court order of 2011 and cannot apologise for complying with the law. It was therefore impossible for us to talk to our colleagues directly until last week when we had a breakthrough meeting, which was cleared by the Human Rights Commission (HRC), and matters were resolved.

The UFS continues to work closely and now directly with the five employees to ensure that their rights as employees remain the highest priority in the post-settlement process.
 
All but one of the conditions of the Reitz settlement (own business) has already been met; however, we are in the process of providing training and support for the establishment of an independent business led by the employees.

After some delays, and frustration on all sides, we have found the right training provider for them and are satisfied that the process remains on track. The business office (furnished) has been allocated at the South Campus in Bloemfontein.

Already in late 2012 the Chair of the HRC expressed his satisfaction with the commitments made by the university to the process. By 30 June 2013 this outstanding commitment to establish an independent company with trained employees would also have been met in full.

Beyond the settlement agreement, the UFS has also committed to providing free education and training to the children of the employees so that their next generation of families emerge as strong, independent, well-trained and productive members of society. The child of one of the colleagues is in fact finishing Grade 12 this year and we are in discussion about possible studies at the UFS. This is our pledge and commitment as a university.

This final step in the post-Reitz settlement is being led by Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector of the University of the Free State.

 

Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director Strategic Communication
Tel: +27 (0) 51 401 2584 / +27 (0) 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 (0) 51 444 6393
Web: www.ufs.ac.za

 

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