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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

Institute launches Human Rights Desk
2013-10-22

 

Attending the launch of the first Human Rights Desk were from left: Prof Teuns Verschoor, former Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, Dr Leon Wessels, human rights activist and lawyer, and Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations.
Photo: Huibrecht Hoffman
22 October 2013

The university has created another beacon for social justice and reconciliation with the launch of its first Human Rights Desk (HRD) on the Bloemfontein Campus. The HRD, which falls under the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, will promote, protect and monitor human rights at the university.

Speaking at the launch of the HRD, Prof Andre Keet, Director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, said the desk will investigate reported violations of human rights on campus. "It will investigate any cases that require investigation, as well as various other projects that serves the university and national and international imperatives as far as human rights is concerned.”

Prof Keet told students and staff in attendance that the desk is an expression of the university's commitment. "As a university, we have to own this particular desk, as a collective entity we should make it work and be proud of it. Our task is to build a new form of productivity into the language of rights, and build a culture of human rights among our students, which we can already see emerging."

Also speaking at the event, Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, said the HRD will be a place where people can come who are hurt. He encouraged students to speak on human rights anywhere in the world. "I want you to think of yourself as a borderless human being, for human rights are not geographically confined. I want you to also hurt when somebody in a mall in Kenya gets hurt."

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