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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

Inaugural lecture: Prof André Pelser
2004-06-04

Tendencies and changes in the South African population structure in future decades.

Within the next five years South Africa will for the first time in the past century enter a period where the death rate will exceed the birth rate, largely due to the impact of HIV / AIDS.

According to sociologist Prof André Pelser, sociologist at the of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Sociology, the death rate exceeding the birthrate is only one of three demographic trends which will fundamentally change South Africa’s population structure in the following decades.

He was speaking at the UFS in Bloemfontein during his inaugural lecture as professor this week.

Prof Pelser said that according to some models the South African population will decrease within the next five decades by between 10 and 26 percent.

A second important trend which will impact on the population structure is the progressive ageing of the population.

He said the group above 65 years is the only age category in the South African population which will witness sharp increases in the next few decades.

In the next 50 years, the group younger than 15 years will reflect a decrease of 39% and those older than 65 years in South Africa will increase by approximately 110% in the next two decades.

“The systematic “greying” of the South African population will create the same economic and welfare issues as those with which governments in some more developed countries are already grappling,” said Prof Pelser.

A third trend affecting the South African population structure is the constant decrease in life expectancy.

Life expectancy at birth for the total population is projected to decrease from approximately 62 years at the beginning of the 1990’s to 43 years in 2015-2020, with sharp differences between the various population groups.

These tendencies and changes to the South African population structure have serious implications, he said.

For example, he said, the reduction in life expectancy could compromise national development objectives.

“It is estimated that more than a quarter of the economically active population will be infected with HIV by 2006,” said Prof Pelser.

The increase in the population, in age category 65, will place a financial burden on government and the economically active sector.

“Especially worrying is the fact that ever-increasing proportions of the state budget will be allocated to health and welfare services and this at the expense of other priorities like education, infrastructure, criminal justice system and trade and industry, to name but a few,” he said

“A comprehensive and integrated strategy is thus vitally important in addressing the overarching issues caused by changes in the population structure,” said Prof Pelser.

 

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