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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

Statement: Visit of the Portfolio Committee on Education to the UFS
2005-02-25

The chair of the Portfolio Committee on Education (PCE) Prof Shepherd Mayatula has commended the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) for its positive approach to the incorporation of the Vista and Qwaqwa campuses.

According to a statement issued by the university’s communication section, Prof Mayatula said that while there were outstanding issues to address, a platform had been created through the visit of the portfolio committee for the UFS to find solutions.

Speaking at the end of a visit to the Bloemfontein campus of the UFS, Prof Mayatula said: “You know the issues that exist between the three campuses and you know the solutions. You don’t need recommendations from the Committee.”

Earlier today the PCE held a three-way meeting between the PCE, the management of the UFS and the Vista Task Team, representing staff and students at the Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University .
 

The Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University was incorporated into the UFS in January 2004.

The multi-party delegation from the PCE was led by its chairperson, Prof S Mayatula, while the delegation from the UFS was led by the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Frederick Fourie, while the Vista Task Team was lead by Mr Paseka Mokoena.

Following a presentation by the Vista Task Team and a presentation by the UFS management, other committee members also commended the UFS for the spirit in which outstanding issues were being handled.

It was indicated by portfolio committee members that other universities have far more serious problems than the UFS, and that some of these universities have also been visited by the PCE. The UFS appears to be on the road to be an important pilot case for incorporations and mergers.

The issues that were discussed during today’s meeting included the following:

  • outstanding issues in the process of incorporating the Bloemfontein campus of the former Vista University into the UFS, including:
  • staff issues and conditions of service
  • issues of student aid and pipeline students
  • governance of the UFS
  • the long term utilisation of Vista as a site

The Rector and Vice-chancellor of the UFS, Prof Fourie, expressed his appreciation for the role played by the Portfolio Committee on Education in bringing about a common understanding of the transformation issues facing the UFS.

Prof Fourie said the Portfolio Committee’s visit was a useful intervention to bring about a sense of urgency in resolving matters affecting the Vista campus as well as the Qwaqwa campus.

Issued by: Mr Anton Fisher
Director: Strategic Communication
Cell: 072-207-8334
Tel: 051-401-2749
25 February 2005

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