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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

“You cannot find Ubuntu in a culture of dominance” – Dr Mamphela Ramphele during second Leah Tutu Gender Symposium
2015-02-28

 

From the left are: Samantha van Schalkwyk, Zanele Mbeki, Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela and Dr Mamphela Ramphele.
Photo: Johan Roux

 

Video message from Mrs Leah Tutu

Session 1: Keynote address by Dr Mamphela Ramphele
Ndiyindoda! Yes, you are a man 

Session 2: Professor Robert Morrell from the University of Cape Town
South African Gender Studies: Setting the context

Session 3: How can we engage young men to act against violence against women?
Panel discussion by Lisa Vetten (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research), Despina Learmonth (Psychology Department, University of Cape Town) and Wessel van den Berg (Sonke Gender Justice) 

Session 4: Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
Self-defence as a strategy for women’s resistance: Reflections on the work of Susan Brison
 

Engaging men to act against gender-based violence in the Southern African context.

This was the theme of the second International Leah Tutu Symposium, hosted by the Gender Initiative of Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies of the University of the Free State (UFS) on Tuesday 24 February 2015.

What does it mean to be man? How can men become active in the fight against gender-based violence? And when does one say: enough is enough? Questions like these set the tone as highly-respected individuals such as Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Prof Rob Morrell, Lisa Vetten and Andy Kawa took to the stage in the Odeion on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Leah Tutu
Unfortunately, Mrs Leah Tutu could not attend this year’s event, but she still managed to send sparks of wit and insight into the auditorium. In her video message, Mrs Tutu referred to the fact that our country has “consigned discriminatory legislation to the rubbish bin of the past”, but we continue to inhabit a divided society.

“We have a constitution and bill of rights that should have sounded the death knell for patriarchy. But women are unsafe across the land,” Mrs Tutu said. “Our freedom cost too much to be left out in the rain,” she urged.

Ndiyindoda! Yes, you are a man
In Dr Ramphele’s keynote address, “Ndiyindoda! Yes, you are a man”, she scrutinised the dominant masculinity model that has supported an alpha-male mentality for millennia. A mentality that celebrates dominance, power and control – where the winner takes it all. How then, can we expect our young boys to embrace the value system of a human rights culture?

“Gender equality is at the heart of our constitutional democratic values. Yet, our society continues to privilege and celebrate the alpha male as a masculinity model,” Dr Ramphele said. This dissonance can only produce conflict and violence.

We encourage our young men to be gentle, communicative, caring people who show their emotions. And when they do, what do we as women do? Do we encourage them?

“Or do we join those who call them wimps, moffies, sissies? How do we respond when they are ridiculed?” Dr Ramphele asked. Are we, as mothers, fathers and grandparents willing to socialise our children to acknowledge a diversity of masculinities as equally valid in our society?

The new man and the new woman of the 21st century need to be liberated from the conflict-ridden dominant masculinity model. They need to be able to shape their identity in line with a value system of human rights as enshrined in our constitution.

Perhaps Dr Ramphele’s message could be summed up by one sentence: You cannot find Ubuntu in a culture of dominance.

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