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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

Tough future if nothing changes in Africa
2015-02-20

 

The Department of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS recently hosted a workshop with the Osaka School for International Public Policy and the Southern African Centre for Collaboration in Peace and Security Studies.

The workshop, which was held on Thursday 12 February, had the theme of Perspectives on African Peace and Security. During workshop sessions, thoughts and views on peace and security were discussed for both African and South African circumstances. This was the fourth year of this joint workshop at the UFS.

Prof Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS shared some notes:

“In terms of South Africa, the fact that only 11% of South Africans have a post-school education holds negative prospects for us attaining a so-called ‘knowledge economy’”, says Prof Solomon.

“This also means that unemployment will continue to remain high since, in certain key areas, the South African economy is quite sophisticated, and needs a sophisticated labour force. Therefore, high unemployment translates into further social unrest, especially if one considers that youth unemployment is approaching 50%.”
 
Moving to broader issues in Africa, Solomon states that governance remains a challenge.

“There is a need to move away from Eurocentric forms of governance to more hybrid forms, implementing a mix of western forms of governance alongside more traditional forms.”

“Otherwise, the probability of conflict remains high as we look into the future. The possibility of water wars between African states is distinct.”

“Terrorism too will be with us for some time to come, with three terrorist attacks per day in Africa. Making matters worse, whether it is conflict over water or terrorist atrocities, is the African Union’s inability to resolve these issues. It simply does not have the capacity”, says Solomon.

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