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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

Meet Dr Aliza le Roux, Prestige Scholar
2013-07-10

 

Dr Aliza le Roux
Ground-breaking research on gelada ape made waves.

Photo: Sonia Small
10 July 2013


Dr Aliza le Roux is an NRF Y2-rated senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Entomology on the Qwaqwa Campus. She joined the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Scholars Programme (PSP) in 2013.

Dr le Roux has devoted the past decade to research on the cognitive and communicative skills of wild mammals in the arid regions of South Africa and the highlands of Ethiopia.

She spent four years as postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, leading to ground-breaking work on the cognitive and communicative underpinnings of gelada monkey behaviour. This was published in Nature Communications and created waves in the international scholarly community.

Most recently, Dr le Roux has focused on the paternal care of an eccentric canid– the bat-eared fox. She is convinced that we have much to learn about ourselves from animals outside the primate order. This unusual little fox eats mainly termites, and males – rather than females – take care of the offspring. The reason why, is still a mystery Dr le Roux hopes to unravel. Little is known about the physiological stress that foxes face, or how paternal care affects the father, the mother, and the pups. Even in humans, the true impact of paternal care is poorly understood.

With this ground-breaking project, Dr le Roux hopes not only to describe the ecology and physiology of fatherhood, but also how a father’s care can affect the cognitive development of his offspring.

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