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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

Powering the future
2014-07-10

 

Kovsie students with the organisers at the African Student Energy Summit.

Photo: Rirhandzu Marivate

Powering the future. This was the theme of the first-ever African Student Energy Summit. The event was recently hosted by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town. The summit was even more unique, since it was part of a global series of Energy Summits held simultaneously in the US, Mexico and Scotland.

Sixteen Kovsies, together with students from across South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, DRC, Zambia and Cameroon united at this event. The main goal: to confront pressing energy challenges faced by our continent. During roundtable discussions, these students brainstormed issues such as the accessibility of energy, as well as driving efficiency and sustainability through the use of green energy.

Antoinette Nel, a Kovsie honours student in Spatial Planning, said, “Interacting with different speakers and students on green energy possibilities enhanced my understanding of how much can be done to change the current status quo on energy in Africa.”

During a student parliamentary session, the participants had to come up with recommendations on sustainable energy. These will be compiled in a document and sent to the African Union (AU).

“My biggest highlight was understanding the need for energy by most Africans, not for lighting or industrialised activities but rather for daily livelihood, for basic rights and services such as cooking, health and education,” said Justman Suh, also an honours student in Spatial Planning at Kovsies.

“We are creating spaces to challenge Afro-pessimism in Africa through these platforms,” Dr Elizabeth Rasekoala, Chairperson of Green Shift Africa, said during the summit. 



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