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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

Pat Fahrenfort throws a spanner in the works
2013-08-24

23 August 2013

Pat Fahrenfort had the audience in stiches while discussing her book, Spanner in the Work: One Woman’s Journey from Factory Floor to Corridors of Power. In addition to her wit being razor-sharp, so was her insight.

The author narrated her winding journey from cold factory floors to the passages of parliament during an event hosted by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. Fahrenfort left school at the age of 15 and started her employment as a factory worker in Cape Town. Through sheer strength of will, she completed a university degree later in her life and went on to work alongside some of our leading political figures and as part of South Africa’s Constitutional Assembly.

Fahrenfort imparted her struggles in the workplace for democracy, justice and equality. Against this background, though, she expressed her disillusionment regarding some aspects of the current political environment in South Africa.

She also regaled the crowd with her ‘stalking’ tactics – back when she was still a fledgling writer – to grab the attention of author Antjie Krog. Fahrenfort attended quite a few functions where the famous author appeared – seemingly by chance – until she got her opportunity.The end result? Krog assisted Fahrenfort to write her own book. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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