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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

Faculty of Theology hosts annual meeting of Society for Practical Theology
2015-01-30

From the left are: Prof Yolanda Dreyer (Chairperson of SPTSA, University of Pretoria), Prof Johann Rossouw (UFS), Prof Hussein Solomon (UFS) and Prof Johan Cilliers (Stellenbosch University).
Photo: Michelle Nothling

The privilege of hosting the annual meeting of the Society for Practical Theology in South Africa (SPTSA) fell to the University of the Free State (UFS) this year. Delegates from across the country recently convened on the Bloemfontein Campus to attend the event from 21 – 23 January 2015.

The three-day congress saw several high-profile keynote speakers discussing the topic of ‘Power of religion and religions of power’.

Dr Johann Rossouw from the UFS Department of Philosophy presented a paper on ‘Power, the state and the church in South Africa’. Dr Rossouw regards the cooperation between theologians and philosophers as integral to help us understand the time we live in. Twenty years since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, “the gap between the country we were promised and the country we received is bigger than ever,” Dr Rossouw said. “A South-African Church … cannot but make her voice heard regarding this gap.”

Expert on conflict resolution and fundamentalism, Prof Hussein Solomon from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance scrutinised the compatibility of Islam with democracy. He warned, though, against “the labelling of a conflict as religious on the mere basis of its religious overtones.” Prof Solomon’s paper, ‘Political Islam: trends, trajectory and future prospects,’ not only advocated tolerance and political pluralism, but also pointed to the fact that it is “in the common good of all humanity” to avert a “Clash of Civilizations”.

‘God in granite?’ – Prof Johan Cilliers’ paper – investigated the phenomenon of the monumentalization of religion. Prof Cilliers from Stellenbosch University explained that monuments often have “spiritual character and iconic value, in the sense that it offers a space for the formation or discovery of meaning.” In his presentation he showed, though, that monuments – even those connected to religious motifs – “seldom escape the lure of power”.

The event was organised by the University of the Free State’s Faculty of Theology, Department of Practical Theology.

  

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za .

 

 

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