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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

Kovsies celebrate ‘model of humanity’
2013-07-19

 

Zelda la Grange
Photo: Sonia Small
19 July 2013

   Video clip (YouTube)

Photo gallery
UFS Mandela Day Pledge (pdf)
Zelda la Grange speech (pdf)

The University of the Free State (UFS) joined people around the globe in celebration of the fourth annual Nelson Mandela Day. Long-time Madiba confidant, Zelda la Grange, delivered the main address, inspiring the crowd with anecdotes gleaned from her intimate knowledge of the former president.

La Grange felt that the UFS as an institution can contribute greatly towards the upliftment of South African society.

“Your university has become what we hope for in South Africa – a transformed society whose purpose serves the greater good of humanity. Embrace and nurture what you have here under the leadership of Prof Jansen and his team. And influence society consciously, every day, in the same way as Madiba did for every day of the 67 years of his activism, and beyond.”

As UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, aptly put it, the Kovsie celebrations aim to give thanks to Madiba as a ‘model of humanity’ and for what he has done for all South Africans.

Prof Jansen stressed that the importance of Mandela Day cannot be overstated.

"I think it is incredibly important because the real legacy of Nelson Mandela is that of a man who gave everything he had for the struggle to gain our freedom, our democracy and that we can get along as just human beings and not as a skin colour, a religion or as strangers," he said.

Events began with a clean-up operation by UFS volunteers, Zelda la Grange and the Bikers for Mandela Day, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality and other sponsors. The team cleaned areas in Heidedal and Manguang before returning to the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

Kicking off the campus section of the programme, UFS staff and students formed a ‘human chain’ on the Red Square as part of a wider initiative which was the brainchild of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu – who was the main attraction of the 2012 Mandela Day activities at Kovsies.

The assembled ‘chain’ recited the UFS Mandela Day pledge, whilst snaking around the Red Square and the gardens surrounding the Main Building, before offering interfaith prayers to Madiba in honour of the 67 minutes of selflessness epitomised by Nelson Mandela Day.

To conclude the first part of the celebrations, the No Student Hungry campaign’s patrons, Mrs Grace Jansen and Dr Carin Buys, released symbolic doves and joined the chain in the singing of the national anthem.

Rudi Buys, Dean of Student Affairs, said that the symbolic chain showed the UFS community’s aim to “join together as a country and show our commitment to our people” on the special day.

Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality Executive Mayor, Thabo Manyoni, together with Prof Jansen, welcomed UFS staff and students to the main festivities which centred around a coin-laying ceremony in front of the Main Building. All proceeds of the coin laying are to be contributed towards the NSH. More than R83 000 was raised through the coin-laying ceremony and donations, more than double the amount of 2012.

The jubilant crowd was edged on by OFM presenter, Johrné van Huyssteen, who offered to preside as master of ceremonies free of charge as part of his 67 minutes.

Manyoni stressed that Mandela Day is a celebration and should be regarded as a joyous occasion. He said that Madiba’s ability to take action and inspire change, is the foremost aspect of his legacy, one all South Africans should strive to emulate.

“We should all be the champions in the areas where we are. There can never be another Madiba, but we should all aim to be smaller, better Madibas,” he said.

Zelda la Grange emphasised the life-changing influence Madiba has had on her own life, as well as South Africa in general.

“Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals, for people everywhere, to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did. It is a day of service,” she said.

According to her, certain key characteristics are responsible for Madiba’s vast reverence throughout the world, principles everyone should try to emulate. She mentioned his principles, simplicity, honesty, integrity, discipline and respect for other people even when opinions differ, as the foremost of these qualities.

La Grange also stressed that the goodwill shown on Mandela Day should not be limited to one day in a year, but that we should all strive to live each day according to these principles.

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