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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

MSc student plans to FEED our hungry planet
2015-01-27

Photo: Hannes Pieterse

Since attending the 2014 Youth Ag-Summit in Canada, Lisa Coetzee – an MSc student in Plant Pathology in the Department of Plant Sciences at our university – developed a plan to address hunger:

FEED – Forum of Education, Empowerment and Development.

Coetzee, together with a junior lecturer at Plant Sciences, Marguerite Westcott, started this student association to tackle the issue of food insecurity head-on.

Education, empowerment and development “are keywords vital to the solutions to poverty. Hunger is an issue which is found in our own homes. One in every four South Africans is food insecure. Hunger kills more people every year than Aids, malaria and TB combined,” says Coetzee.

“This forum allows awareness to be raised about the hunger situation locally and globally. FEED is talking about hunger and it is assisting in reducing it by reaching out to communities which are in need.

“FEED is the generation which is going to make a difference in eradicating hunger,” Coetzee continues. “We want students to think about how they can feed the hungry through what they are studying”. For Coetzee it is a high priority to ensure that the youth are aware of the importance to feed our hungry planet in a sustainable way.

Her philosophy on relieving hunger and increasing food safety is to enhance the efficiency of crop production, ensure crop security and reduce mycotoxins in the food we eat.

During the 2014 summit, Coetzee was elected to represent the African delegates on the Youth Ag Summit Committee. Ever since, she has been enthusiastically active in the agricultural community. As 43% of the globe’s farmers are women, Coetzee also feels she acts as a voice for female farmers in South Africa.

An important lesson Coetzee has learned is that there is power in one person to make a change – that we should start small but think big.

If you would like to get involved in this project, contact Lisa Coetzee on +27(0)51 401 9681 or email coetzeela@ufs.ac.za.

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