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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

Cohesions and Disruptions Forum
2014-07-15

 
The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the UFS and the Johannes Stegmann Art Gallery, in partnership with the Vryfees, co-presented an artist and academic forum on 18 July 2014.

The forum, ‘Cohesions and Disruptions: Art as a Key to Transformation’, was aptly timed to coincide with Mandela Day. This event formed part of the transformation strategy of the Vryfees arts festival, aiming to support more diversity and cross-cultural, contemporary art programmes.

“Cohesions and Disruptions is part of the new Program for Innovation in Artform Development (PIKO/PIAD),” said Adri Herbert, Director of the Vryfees. “This includes both the cross-cultural OPENLab 2014, a new Australian/South African laboratory for early and mid-career South African artists, and a partnership with the Australian based SituateArt in Festivals initiative, managed by Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart, Tasmania.”

The forum’s keynote speaker was Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin. She is a Narungga, Wirangu, Wotjobaluk woman from South Australia and Victoria respectively. She is well known throughout the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands and broader arts communities. Buckskin’s presentation was titled ‘Building Young Indigenous People’s Lives through Art and Culture in Remote Central Australia.’

Buckskin spoke broadly about her involvement with youngsters – often poverty stricken and sniffing petrol – in remote areas of Australia. She explained how the arts have given the youth a chance at rehabilitation and hope for the future.

After her presentation, she was joined by Dr Willy Nel, lecturer at the UFS School of Education Studies. Dr Nel completed his PhD among the Khomani San in the Kalahari. 

Other forum speakers who presented their work included:
Dr Mari Velonaki, Director of the Centre for Social Robotics at the National Institute for Experimental Art at the University of New South Wales, Sydney;
Dr Nigel Helyer of Sonic Objects; Sonic Architecture, Sydney;
Bec Dean, Curator at Performance Space, Sydney;
Jesse Olivieri, co-founder of Parachutes for Ladies in Sydney; and
Cigdem Aydemir, Vryfees visual artist for 2014.

“Given the histories and present experiences of human rights violations and racial discrimination that indigenous people in Australia and South Africa are subjected to, we are particularly honoured to have Lee-Ann (Buckskin) as a guest speaker,” said Prof Andre Keet, Director of the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. 


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