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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

But do you forgive yourself, Eugene de Kock? asks Candice Mama
2015-03-16

From the left are: Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Candice Mama and Prof André Keet, Director of the UFS Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice.
Photo: O'Ryan Heideman

 

Candice Mama: Audio

Candice Mama and her family met with her father’s assassin. Eugene de Kock. Prime Evil. Commander of the apartheid government’s covert Vlakplaas police unit. And what followed from this meeting was one of our country’s most poignant gestures of reconciliation. One by one, each family member expressed their forgiveness of De Kock, and soon afterwards, he was granted parole.

Candice recently visited the Bloemfontein Campus to talk about ‘An Unexpected Encounter with Eugene de Kock: A Journey of Transformation’. The event was a collaborative effort between the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice and Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies.

“What makes it possible to cross the boundary from loss and pain to bond with the person who hurt you?” Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, asked Candice. “I had to educate myself about the when, where, and how, to get a context for Eugene de Kock,” she answered. With the encouragement of her mother, Candice became an avid reader from an early age. She devoured information, so that she could build a picture of this man within a specific historical and political context. What also contributed to this moment of reconciliation for her was De Kock humbling himself and taking full responsibility for his actions.

This meeting was not without inner conflict for Candice, though. “Why am I crying for hím?” she asked herself as she listened to him speak. “Why am I laughing?” she chastised herself as De Kock preened shyly for a group photograph with the family. “Is there something wrong with me to connect with him?” She questioned her values and beliefs. But instead of a monster, Candice saw the true essence of a repentant human being.

But how do you know he didn’t fake it, many people asked. Because it was “one of the most sincere and honest encounters I’ve experienced,” she said. During their meeting, Candice saw a man “crushed by the world”. Everything he believed as a young man, he realised, was a lie.

“Do you forgive yourself?” Candice asked the one question De Kock feared most. And in that moment, he was humanised for her. “When you’ve done the things I’ve done,” De Kock replied, “how do you forgive yourself?”
It remains an open question. But this act of forgiveness gives an entire country hope.

 

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

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