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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

Learning to serve, serving to learn
2013-10-18

 

At the Community Engagement Open Day were, at the back, from the left: Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations; and Rev Billyboy Ramahlele, Director of Community Engagement. In front are, from the left: Selby Lengoabala, Betlehem Unit Manager; Councillor Job Tshabalala, Acting Executive Mayor; and Councillor Isaac Tshabalala, Strategic Manager in the office of the Executive Mayor of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality.
18 October 2013

The university held its first Community Engagement Open Day in order to honour outstanding individuals and highlight programmes that advance its civil responsibility. Hosted by the UFS Community Engagement Directorate, local community members, students and staff gathered in the Callie Human Centre at the Bloemfontein Campus, displaying what they do to empower communities.

Partners in Community Engagement (CE) and Service Learning (SL), local government, community-based research, student volunteer groups, Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) and private business interacted with guests at their various information stalls. Faculties and departments displayed their distinctive programmes and demonstrated a renewed commitment to change lives through sharing knowledge, rendering services and fostering empowerment among communities.

In recognition of outstanding service, commitment and excellence in the field of community engagement and service learning, some staff members, researchers and some partners received the Vice-Rector’s Award for Community Engagement. Among them was Prof Matie Hoffman, who was honoured for his longstanding involvement in research at the Boyden Observatory. He is currently at the forefront of renovations for the planetarium at Naval Hill. In the category for external partners, REACH and Heidedal Childcare were awarded for demonstrating commitment towards their partnership with the university. The acting Executive Mayor, Job Tshabalala, also received an award on behalf of Dihlabeng Local Municipality Mayor, Tjhetane Mofokeng, for their involvement in education and social cohesion programmes. During his keynote address, the Director of Community Engagement, Rev Billyboy Ramahlele, emphasised the contribution that community engagement has on the two major strategic programmes of the university, namely the Academic and Human Projects. He pointed out that CE creates a platform on which students learn to appreciate human diversity in a real and unprotected set-up.

The interactions of the Open Day are expected to raise awareness, cultivate understanding among partners, encourage solid alliances and bring to the fore an acknowledgement of community engagement as the integral part of higher education.

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