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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

Student leaders' hard work rewarded
2013-05-01

Four student leaders on our Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses each received a scholarship of R15 000. Handré Hay, Estine Cronje, Tsepang Lenka and Jean Vermaas were rewarded for the positive impact they had on the student community in the past three years or more. Student Affairs' scholarship programme acknowledges the contribution of student leaders in the upliftment of the student community.

Read what the four have to say about leadership:

Handré Hay:

Handré Hay, a third-year BSc Physiotherapy student who holds several leadership positions on our Bloemfontein Campus, served for two consecutive years on the committee of Armentum residence. He was also a member of the executive council in the Students' Representative Council (SRC) and served in two SRC portfolios. "Leadership is about being able to serve. When people see that you are willing to put other people's interests above your own and that you are willing to serve unselfishly, despite a position of authority, you will get far," said Handré.

Estine Cronje:

Estine Cronje is the current prime of Marjolein residence. This was the second time the fifth-year Psychology student were re-elected to this position."Leadership is very important to me. One needs leaders in everything you do. I believe a leader should never think herself better than the rest and should work as hard as her team. She should command respect, be disciplined, an example to others, accessible and open to the opinions of other people.

Tsepang Lenka:

Tsepang Lenka is the SRC President of our Qwaqwa Campus. Tsepang, who was twice elected as prime of his residence, has already obtained his BA degree in Public and Business Management. He is currently working on his Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). "To me leadership means to serve. As a leader you don't lie to people when things are taking the wrong direction, you stand firm and tell the truth; in that way, people don't lose trust in you. The scholarship inspires me to work even harder," Tsepang said.

Jean Vermaas:

Jean Vermaas is a former SRC member who is currently studying for his LLB degree. Some of Jean's achievements include leadership positions of the Juridical Society and the Broad Students' Transformation Forum. In 2012 he was a founder member of the Student Elders' Council."Leadership is of extreme importance to me. It formed me into the person I am now. Leadership isn't always easy, but in the challenges you face you grow as a leader and as an individual."

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