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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.


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Prof Oriel Thekisoe receives prestigious TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award
2014-07-07

 Prof Oriel Thekisoe
Photo: Sonia Small
Prof Oriel Thekisoe from the UFS was named recipient of the prestigious TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award. The announcement was made during the 16th Annual NSTF-BHP Billiton 2013/2014 Awards Gala Dinner held in Johannesburg on Thursday 3 July 2014.

Prof Thekisoe is an Associate Professor in the university's Department of Zoology and Entomology at the Qwaqwa Campus.

He has been recognised as an emerging researcher for his outstanding contribution to Science, Engineering and Technology (SET).

"It is a great honour for the university to learn that Prof Thekisoe has won the award of the National Science and Technology Forum. This is a very competitive award and speaks of the quality and depth of talent at the UFS as we prepare the next generation of scientists and scholars,” said Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

"I hope that the award will inspire our current science students to work harder in pursuing the discovery of new methods and techniques which will improve our livelihoods,” Prof Thekisoe said after receiving the award from the Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor. “I am grateful to the Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Neil Heideman, for believing in me. I am also grateful to my former lecturers, Profs Peter Mbati, who is now the Rector of the University of Venda, and Noboru Inoue, from Japan’s Obihiro University, for grooming and inspiring the scientist in me.”

"Prof Thekisoe is at the forefront of the research development activities at the Qwaqwa Campus,” said Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS. “He serves as a mentor to many of the younger scholars on the campus. As one of the Vice-Chancellor's Prestige Scholars at the university, he has the potential to become one of the most prominent researchers in his field in the country."

The Vice-Chancellor’s Prestige Programme (PSP) supports the accelerated scholarship of junior UFS researchers in the first five years after obtaining their PhDs. The prestige scholars participate in an intensive programme of support that includes international placement and intensive mentorship.

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