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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

Experts to exchange insights on historical trauma
2014-02-20

Programme

An international group of scholars and practitioners will meet at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February 2014. This will be the first research symposium in a series of four in which experts will share their insights on the aftermath of mass trauma and violence. The symposium brings together scholars from across the globe whose research explores various aspects of historical trauma in Chile, Peru, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Mozambique, Germany as well as South Africa.

Discussions on South Africa will include the historical traumas of the Anglo-Boer War and the apartheid years. Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, who is co-hosting the symposium with Prof Björn Krondorfer of Northern Arizona University, explains that the gathering is designed as an International Research Forum with the aim to foster multidisciplinary collaborations. The forum is expected to lead to innovative scholarship, new avenues of inquiry and the advancement of knowledge.

The symposium will kick off on Tuesday 25 February with a morning session from 8:45–12:00. The UFS community is welcome to attend this open forum.This session will include speakers such as Prof Kimberly Theidon of Harvard University and Dr Susan Glisson, Executive Director of the William Winter Center for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, will deliver an address followed by a discussion on the Human and Academic Projects at the university as strategies of transformation.

The public session will close with a students’ round-table discussion of the Hector Pieterson iconic photo of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings staged as an event in the Anglo-Boer War.

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