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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

Twenty years of human rights - a call for reflection on the successes and challenges
2015-02-25

Back from the left are: Advocate Mohamed Shafie Ameermia, Commissioner, South African Human Rights Commission
Advocate Lawrence Mushwana, Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission
 
Front from the left are: Honourable Mahube Molemela, Judge President of the Free State High court and Acting judge of the Constitutional Court of South
Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector External Relations, University of the Free State
Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of the Free State

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the Faculty of Law, and the Free State Department of Education hosted a gala dinner on 19 February 2015 to celebrate the launching of the Free State Provincial Division of the SAHRC, reaffirming their collaborative partnership, and confirming the commitment of the Free State Department of Education to community engagement, constitutional rights awareness, and youth advocacy.

The number of human rights abuses reported to the Human Rights Commission in recent years points to the complex nature of the challenges faced by South African communities. What is most disturbing is that the overwhelming majority of these offences are perpetrated by the youth, said Adv Lawrence Moshwana, Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission.  “The Human Rights Commission is in need of support from government in order to be able to reach all provinces of South Africa”. The expansion of the commission’s services in the Free State and its partnership with the Provincial Department of Education is a great step towards protecting the rights of the most vulnerable communities.

 

Twenty years of human rights (read the full story)

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