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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

‘This university gives me hope’
2013-10-02

 
4 October 2013
Photo: Stephen Collett

“This is a university that gives me hope. It has a willingness and a capacity to care,” Brand Pretorius said at a farewell function at the UFS.

He served the university as honorary professor in the Department of Business Management since 1991 and delivered the Brand Pretorius lecture for the past two decades. His recent lecture dealt with the topic “Guidelines for sustainable personal success in business – lessons I learnt”.

He retired as CEO of McCarthy and as an executive director of the Bidvest Group on 1 March 2011. Currently he serves as a non-executive director on the boards of the Barclays Africa Group, Reunert, RGT Smart, Tata Africa Holdings and Tongaat Hulett. He is the non-executive chairman of Italtile Limited.

Pretorius said at the farewell function the UFS is still a source of inspiration and pride. The leadership has a lot of courage and commitment and embraced change. “They embraced the fact that we are living in a different world.

“The vision of the UFS is inspirational. It wants to be recognised for academic and research excellence. The university became a pioneer in reconciliation in a very difficult world. Change comes with pain, and the UFS dealt with it in a worthy manner.

“I am proud of this institution because it still strives for high standards, the right principles and values and it has respect for all people.”

Pretorius said the university’s heart is in the right place. “It is a beacon of hope of what the rainbow nation will be in South Africa one day. Reconciliation is a sign that this is happening.”

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