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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

Kovsie conquers Googlefest Zurich pitching competition
2014-07-29

  

Marlize Holtzhauzen
Photo: Supplied

Marlize Holtzhauzen, a final-year Business Management and Leadership student at the UFS Business School, was recently awarded the 1st prize at the Google pitching competition in Zurich, Switzerland.

Holtzhauzen’s winning entry, Rapid Response, is a mobile application for use in emergency situations. In an emergency the application allows the phone to be used as a panic button which contacts emergency services and notifies the family of the user. The app, co-founded by Gerrit Cloete, was selected as one of 10 South African technology start-ups. These were part of the Swiss South African Business Development Programme under the auspices of the Swiss South African Joint Research Programme.

Since its launch on 1 July 2014, the Rapid Response app has had over 400 downloads and is available on app stores. It has also stirred interest in Europe and the USA and is already in use in Southern and East Africa. Holtzhauzen says good team work and a great product will ensure the success of this start-up in the future.

Other South African entries included Drew van der Riet from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN): Advanced Prosthetics Engineering. Gavin Jones of the University of Cape Town (UCT) also entered. He is a Technology Commercialisation practitioner candidate working on the commercialisation of a UCT innovation for the rehabilitation of stroke patients.

For more information contact Marlize on +27(0)83 3270 177 or visit the website www.rapidresponse.co.za .


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