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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

Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and forgiveness – Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s take on gestures of reconciliation
2015-02-06

What Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, found over the years talking to Eugene de Kock, was a man tortured by his past. By the deeds he has committed.

“As a result he was confronting these – not as a cog in a machine – but as a person who actually did the deed himself,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela said during an interview [https://soundcloud.com/primediabroadcasting/dr-gobodo-on-de-kock-parole] with Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk. A man taking personal responsibility.

Against the backdrop of De Kock recently granted parole, what, then, is the nature of forgiveness?

“Often people think when they forgive, you forgive and forget. That’s not the point,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says. “Forgiving, in fact, I found is the wrong word. We are using forgiveness for a range of responses. What I find useful in this kind of work is to think about how people change, how people are transformed. In other words, to think about our empathic connection to people who are our former enemies.” In other words: to reach a place where both parties can see each other as fellow human beings. “Somehow when a person expresses remorse – in the way Eugene de Kock has done – it opens a door for the different kinds of relationships to that traumatic past,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says.

In an article for the Sunday Times, Prof Gobodo-Madikizela refers to the motion to immortalise F W de Klerk by renaming Table Bay Boulevard after him. In this piece, she clearly points out that De Klerk is not without blood on his hands. She agrees with Mayor Patricia de Lille’s support of this tribute to De Klerk, though, when De Lille refers to ‘the spirit of reconciliation that Tata Madiba believed in’.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha – who granted De Kock parole – and De Lille “are right in evoking the memory of Nelson Mandela through these important gestures of reconciliation,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela remarks. The need to return to Nelson Mandela’s vision, she adds, remains urgent.

Read Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s full article, published in the Sunday Times, here.
For Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s response to Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and reconciliation, read here.

 

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