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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

Leah Tutu - from a humble heritage to a matriarch of devotion
2013-10-18

 

Leah Tutu
18 October 2013

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Leah Tutu Symposium: YouTube video

There are treasures in life, but owners are few
Of money and power to buy things brand new
Yet you can be wealthy and feel regal too,
If you will just look for the treasures in you …

The joy and the laughter, the smile that you bring;
The heart unafraid to love and to sing;
The hand always willing to help those in need;
Ones quick to reach out, to labour and feed.

So thank you for sharing these great gifts inside;
The caring, the cheering, the hug when one cried.
Thanks for the energy, encouragement too,
And thank you for sharing the treasures in you. (Author unknown)

With these words, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe embodied the celebration in honour of her mother, Leah Tutu.

On Thursday 17 October 2013, the Annual Intercontinental Leah Tutu Symposium was launched at the UFS’ Bloemfontein Campus. Dignitaries and students alike flocked to the Centenary Hall where friends and family shared their immense love and respect for Ms Tutu.

Approaching the podium, Eunice Dhadhla (co-founder with Ms Tutu of the Domestic Workers Union) started humming and in an instant the audience had risen to their feet and the words “My mother was a kitchen girl. My father was a garden boy. That’s why I’m a unionist”, reverberated through the hall.

“I am what I am today because of her,” Dhadhla said of Ms Tutu. They have walked a long hard road together to ultimately unite domestic workers across the globe. Stretching her small body to its full length, Dhadhla imparted one of the most valuable lessons she has learned from Ms Tutu, “Stop crawling, stand up and walk for yourself.”

As soon as Dr Sindiwe Magona – acclaimed writer and poet – ascended the stage, her energy rushed across the room with electrifying intensity. Her high regard for Ms Tutu as public icon as well as a mother, wife and friend, was palpable. Belting out line after line of a poem she wrote especially for Ms Tutu, the audience echoed their agreement in a mutual exchange.
No sooner were they seated, than Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Prof Jonathan Jansen had the crowd roaring with laughter. Archbishop Tutu’s familiar chuckle peppered his story of how he came to propose to his wife. It was clear, though, how much he reveres Ms Tutu’s presence in his life. With enormous awe, he revealed her innate power, specifically during difficult times in our country’s past – from weathering death threats against her husband to public humiliation.

But despite adversity and heartache, in front of the Centenary Hall, this matriarch stood up and beamed joy into everyone present.

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