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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

Prisca Odero awarded ASA Presidential Fellowship
2015-02-17

Dr Odero (on the right) pictured with Suzanne Baazet, ASA Executive Director at the Awards Ceremony.

Dr Prisca Odero, a Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) fellow, received the African Studies Association (ASA) Presidential Fellow award in Indianapolis, USA, recently.

She was nominated for ASA by Dr Cyril Obi from the Social Science Research Council (New York), and was selected competitively, based on her PhD thesis and applied research work in rural development in Africa. Odero obtained her PhD in Africa Studies from the UFS at the July 2014 Graduation Ceremony.

On 22 November 2014, Dr Odero gave a public lecture at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. The event was hosted by the Political Science Department at the College.

Her paper, titled Sources and role of social capital in smallholder agricultural production: The value of membership of community groups to Zimbabwe rural livelihoods, sought to address the question of whether social capital contributed to the resilience of rural households in the face of economic difficulties and food security challenges. Dr Odero argued that the link between social capital and agricultural production is manifest in the ways in which farmers use social capital derived from membership of groups to alleviate agricultural production challenges.

Smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe, who face constraints in acquiring the necessary resources for production because of failing markets and reduced agri-industry productive capacity, employ a range of methods to deal with these challenges.  She presented an analysis of data collected through focus group discussions with representative groups and through a household survey.

Dr Odero’s research forms part of a book project. While books on agricultural development knowledge do exist, more studies analysing issues and offering solutions from an African perspective would help to address the gap in African knowledge production.

 

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

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