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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

Researchers urged to re-emphasise regeneration of grassroots
2013-10-23

23 October 2013

Institutions of higher learning have a critical role to play in the promotion and protection of indigenous knowledge systems. This is according to Dr Mogomme Masoga, UFS alumnus and Senior Researcher with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

Dr Masoga was addressing the 6th annual Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Symposium at the University of the Free State’s Qwaqwa Campus.

“The time has come for local communities rich with knowledge to be taken seriously by the researchers doing their work in those respective communities,” argued Dr Masoga.

“Power relations between the researcher and the communities involved in the research process should be clarified. The same applies to the ownership and control of knowledge generated and documented in a community.

“There is an increasing need for democratic and participatory development in our communities. This can be achieved by giving primacy to the interests, values and aspirations of the people at large. There must be a radical move from prevailing paradigm of development that suffers from relying on coercion and authoritarianism. There is a need to associate development with social needs. This will give validity and integrity to the local communities, thereby giving confidence to the leaders and their constituencies.”

Dr Masoga said that the time has come for African universities in particular to “de-emphasise factors that monopolise attention today. Factors like debt crisis, commodity prices and foreign investment, among others, must be replaced by emphasis on the regeneration of the grassroots. Many African universities and research institutions have not lived up to their responsibilities as guiding lights to the continent. However, all is not lost.

“The current global race for knowledge works against so-called developing countries, especially in Africa. There is a far greater need to have a code of ethics drawn up for researchers engaging with local communities, to ensure the promotion and protection of indigenous knowledge systems.”

Meanwhile, a cross-section of papers were also delivered during the symposium. These ranged from Moshoeshoe’s lessons in dealing with poverty alleviation as presented by Dr Samuel Mensah, Department of Economics, to indigenous grasses of Qwaqwa by Prof Rodney Moffett, Department of Plant Sciences. Also presenting lectures were Phephani Gumbi, African Languages; Tshele Moloi, School of Mathematics; Natural Sciences and Technology Education and Dr Tom Ashafa (Plant Sciences).

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