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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

Before and After Hector
2014-03-05

 

Björn Krondorfer

The apartheid years. The Anglo-Boer War. Mix these two topics together and you are ensured of a vigorous debate.

This was exactly the result at the Centenary Complex Gallery recently. During a round-table discussion, Kovsie students analysed an artwork by Gerrit Hattingh entitled “Before and After Hector”. The artwork depicts the iconic photo of Hector Pieterson – taken during the 1976 Soweto Uprising – staged as an event in the Anglo-Boer War.

The artwork functioned as the focal point at an exhibition curated by Angela de Jesus.The exhibition formed part of the International Research Forum hosted by the UFS which explored the topic of Societies in the Aftermath of Mass Trauma and Violence.

The ensuing conversation did not disappoint. The photograph evoked a wide range of views and emotions as the students reflected on the historic image representing violent and painful events of our collective past. As the students robustly exchanged their opinions, they developed strategies to support the reconciliation process. The dialogue assisted these students in formulating ways to look back at our history and use this knowledge to carry our society past traumatic experiences.

Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in the Office for Research on Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, was astounded at the level of insight and wisdom the students displayed. “I am pleased that our students came to join us around the table to discuss this portrait which is iconic globally; to engage and also give their own interpretations of what they know, and what they do not know about our historical past. The dialogue about the interweaving of the Hector Pieterson photograph with the story of black victims of the British concentration camps is one of the ways of exploring the views of the younger generation in the aftermath of mass trauma and violence in our collective history,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela concluded at the end of the conversation.

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