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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

Another L’Atelier feather in the university’s cap
2013-07-24

 

Pauline Gutter, winner of this year’s Absa L’Atelier competition
Photo: Supplied
23 July 2013

"Dagbreek: Die Dagbreker" - interview with Pauline Gutter (YouTube)

A former Kovsie won the Absa L’Atelier competition – South Africa’s most prestigious art competition – for the second year in a row.

Pauline Gutter, who completed her BA Fine Arts degree at the UFS in 2003, is the second artist from the Free State to win the competition, which is in its 28th year of existence. In 2012, Elrie Joubert, another former Kovsie student from the Department of Fine Arts, won the competition as well.

As overall winner, Gutter receives a cash prize of R125 000 and six months’ residency in the studio apartment Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France.

Her winning entry, Die huweliksaansoek, is an interactive work consisting of a 1.8 m high association-rich obelisk, an engraved plaque, a small TV monitor and a farm-line handset. A video of a bull standing in a crush while semen is being drawn from it, is displayed. The viewer is invited to listen in voyeuristically. The soundtrack for the text is composed of statements and comments made by participants in the programme “Boer soek `n Vrou”. The question highlighted by the work, is, “does a farmer choose his future wife in the same way he breeds his stud animals?”

Pauline says her association with the farm, principled parents and strong family ties serve as inspiration for her work. To express her artistic voice in a contemporary environment is to be a close observer of society, she says. “It’s to ask questions which confront the viewer in a provocative way.”

Her advice to new artists is “hard work, sustainability and commitment. Keep looking until you find the place where you fit in.”

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