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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.


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Minister Jeff Radebe commends UFS for measures taken to address racial prejudices
2013-10-21

 

18 October 2013


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Minister Jeff Radebe lecture: YouTube video

Mr Jeff Radebe, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, last night delivered a lecture in the Prestige series of the Dean: Faculty of Law, at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS).

In a packed hall with, among others, university students, staff and members of the judicial system, Minister Radebe said that many other academic institutions should look to the UFS when they deal with the challenges of racism in its various manifestations in their midst. “I commend the university for taking drastic measures to address the challenges of racial prejudices in its own backyard,” he said.

“Government can and must provide leadership, but it is the collective efforts of all our people that will ensure that we bridge the racial and historical divides that stand in contrast to our noble virtues as entailed in the Constitution,” the Minister said.

On the topic “Access to Justice” the Minister said that the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has channelled more than 80% of its nearly R16 billion budget to the Access to Justice programme.

Minister Radebe talked about the reintroduction of the Sexual Offences Courts, which attests to the unrelenting resolve to eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence. “Fifty-seven of the department’s Regional Courts are being upgraded to operate as dedicated Sexual Offences courts during the 2013/2014 financial year. We believe that these sexual offences courts will help address the growing challenge of sexual offences in the country, particularly against vulnerable groups.”

The Minister also pleaded with law teachers to avail themselves to preside in the courts in our country to complement the decreasing number of presiding officers that are drawn from the attorneys’ and advocates’ profession. These services are normally rendered by the Commissioners pro bono as part of an endeavour to bring justice to all the people, including the poor.

A challenge that the UFS could help resolve,is the transformation of the legal profession. “We need to increase the number of Law students and in turn increase the number of attorneys and advocates in the pool from which we derive candidate judges,” Mr Radebe said.

The Legal Practice Bill and the transformation of the State Legal Service are the most important initiatives underway by which the Institutions of Higher Learning will make a contribution. “The Bill seeks to establish a single regulatory structure, which will be responsible for setting the norms and standards for all legal practitioners. Members of the public, as primary beneficiaries of the legal profession, will also be represented in this structure. Other important objectives of the Bill are the removal of barriers of entry to the profession for young law graduates who aspire to pursue a legal career, and the introduction of measures aimed at ensuring that fees chargeable for legal services are reasonable and within reach of ordinary citizens,” he said.

The Minister concluded: “Our courts must reflect both the race and gender demographics of our country and so must the university communities in their various capacities as a microcosm of the society we seek to build.”

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