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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

An article, co-authored by Kovsies’ own Miss World, Rolene Strauss, was published recently in a medical journal
2015-02-23

Rolene Strauss

The article, which deals with research on the incidence of multiple losses by children, was published in South African Family Practice.

The study was part of the third-year research project for medical students in our Faculty of Health Sciences. Rolene worked with fellow students, Leischen Branders, Mirandie Claassen, Darienne Saaiman, and Andrea van Staden. Prof Gina Joubert from the UFS’s Department of Biostatistics and Prof Hanneke Brits were the module and study leaders.

In this study, a number of cases involving Bloemfontein children experiencing loss, as well as their reaction to it, were examined.

They divided the incidents into categories in order to address the broad definition of ‘losses’.

Approximately 69% of the children in the study have experienced three or more instances of loss in their lives. About 29% of the children have experienced loss in the category Personal Loss (assault, chronic and terminal illness, amputation, malnutrition, disability, abortion, and miscarriage). The greatest number of losses occurred in the category Interpersonal Loss (87%). This group of children has had to deal with the death of one or more parents/caregivers, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, divorce, homelessness, and instability. In the category, Environmental Loss, xenophobia, unsafe living conditions, inadequate support, poverty, and unemployment were looked at. A total of 82% of the children in the group have experienced losses.

Prof Hanneke Brits, study leader of the group, says the extent of multiple losses by children is a topic that hasn’t been investigated widely.

“The study shows that children should receive special attention in order to help them process the trauma. Supportive care and inter-professional services play a major role in this regard.”

 

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