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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

Shushing, speaking, politicians, policing
2014-03-18

 
Prof Pumla Dineo Gqola
Photo: Michelle Nothling

Feminist writer, scholar and previous Kovsie staff member, Prof Pumla Dineo Gqola, recently launched her book at the Bloemfontein Campus. “A Renegade Called Simphiwe” explores the life – and controversy – of singer Simphiwe Dana.

The book tells the story of Dana, a rebellious artist and cultural activist. But it also delves much deeper – into the fabric of our society itself. It questions our expectations and reactions to the things that make us shift in our seats.

The politics of silencing
Artists should not involve themselves in politics. They should stick to what they’re good at. Dana and other artists know this silencing finger being waved at them all too well. It is this mentality that alarms Prof Gqola. “I’m very disturbed by the notion of policing our – especially female – artists.” She pointed out that it is mostly female artists in SA who are put under scrutiny, reigned in and censored. Not only by politicians, though. Our public also quickly steps in when an artist seems to step out of ‘their place’.

The proper place of art
“I’m part of the movement that believes art transforms,” said Prof Gqola. South Africa used to be a fertile ground for protest art. This had an immense impact on political and social transformation. “Then something happened,” Prof Gqola let the words linger. “The arts got divorced from its social transformative power.”

Why has art been publically marginalised?

The question remains.

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