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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

Distinguished Kovsie medical student bestowed with Abe Bailey Bursary
2013-10-14

14 October 2013

Residence head, SRC member, Golden Key International Honour Society member and now: Abe Bailey scholar as well. These are some of the achievements and leadership titles that Michael van Niekerk, a fourth-year MBChB student at our university, has under his belt.

One of 18 South Africans countrywide, Van Niekerk is to visit institutions in England and Scotland as a recipient of the prestigious Abe Bailey Travel Bursary for 2013. The scholarship acknowledges excellence in academics, leadership and community service and is awarded annually to third-year students and/or junior lecturers not older than 25 years of age.

The recipients of the 2013 Abe Bailey scholarship leave for Cape Town on 20 November 2013 to attend a two-day orientation process. Following this, they will then travel to London and Edinburgh, where they will visit universities, as well as places of interest such as London’s House of Lords.

Van Niekerk, who recently visited the USA as part of the Golden Key International Honour Society’s International Scholar Laureate programme, says it is an incredible honour to be this year’s Abe Bailey recipient for the UFS. "I am very blessed to not only excel in the medical field, but also in leadership and other aspects and I believe that this is absolutely grace from Above. I believe that this is an opportunity and a step to a better future. I don’t believe in being average and believe that this is an opportunity to prove myself and achieve more."

This Kovsie student says he has great plans for the future. "If it is God’s will, I would very much like to specialise in neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery or trauma surgery. I would like to be part of the Rhodes Scholarship and would strive to reach it."

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