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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

UFS blows the whistle on crime
2014-03-28


At the event were, from the left: Refiloe Seane, Director: Student Counselling and Development; Anastasia Sehlabo, SRC member for Accessibility and Student Support. Back, from the left: Melissa Barnaschone, Student Counselling and Development; and Mokgawa Kobe, Director: Protection Services.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

First-year students receive 1 000 whistles in project to combat crime.

Numerous safety measures were implemented by the University of the Free State in the past five years to ensure the safety of all the students and staff on all three campuses of the UFS. A large area of the UFS Campus is covered by security cameras. Red poles, equipped with panic buttons that can be activated to call for help, were also erected across the campuses.

At the beginning of 2013, as a further safety measure, whistles were handed out to female students in residences.

At an event on 26 March 2014, Refiloe Seane, Director: Student Counselling and Development, together with her team, handed over 1 000 whistles to the Student Representative Council to be distributed to first-year students. The whistles were sponsored by Prof Nicky Morgan, Vice-Rector: Operations and Mokgawa Kobe, Director: Protection Services.

“Female students are encouraged to use the whistles to call for help when they feel unsafe or are in danger. The objective is, firstly, to discourage criminals without suffering any negative consequences, and secondly, to get the attention of security or any other form of assistance,” said Melissa Barnaschone, Student Counselling and Development.

At the event, Mokgawa said: “The moment you blow this whistle, you say to the potential criminal:

  • I hate what you do
  • I will not keep quiet about it
  • I am doing something against crime.”

 

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