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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

Juan Odendaal on his way to World Champs
2015-03-23

Juan Odendaal
Photo: BOOGS Photography, Andrew McFadden

UFS’s athletes with disabilities are currently excelling in cycling and athletics.

The UFS Para-cyclist, Juan Odendaal, will soon make his debut for South Africa at the 2015 Union Cyclist International (UCI) Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, from 26-29 March 2015.

The Championship event will provide an excellent foundation for re-building the international competitiveness of South Africa’s Para-cycling track team in the build-up to Rio 2016. In a situation where the UCI has hosted relatively few international track competitions over the past three years, the 2015 World Championships will serve as a stepping-stone to the 2016 grand season, when it is expected that the country’s top riders will reach their peak competitive condition.

As the youngest member of the South African team, Odendaal will use the opportunity of competing in the individual time trial and team sprint events to build a platform for an international career will certainly span many years to come.

Another UFS student, Musa Simelane, are excelling and was chosen for the SA Wheelchair Rugby tean, known as the "Wheelboks". They will compete in the 2015 World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in London in October and after that head to Japan to compete in the 2015 Asia Oceania Championships.

On a local level, earlier in March this year, other UFS athletes with disabilities also performed well on the athletics track.

Blind athlete and member of the Bloemfontein Campus Student Representative Council (SRC), Louzanne Coetzee, also had a good 1500m race in the beginning of March when she qualified easily for the World Championships, which will take place in Toronto, Canada, later this year. Coetzee and her guide, Rouxné Jacobs, set up a time of 5:45.86, which is well under the required standard of 6 minutes.

The other blind UFS athlete, Danie Breitenbach, alongside his guide Marius Wessels, broke his own national record for the 800m again on Friday 6 March 2015. In November 2014, Breitenbach’s record stood at 2:15.17. This record now stands at 2:13.57. Chances now are that Breitenbach will reach his goal of running the 800m under 2:10 at the Nedbank National Championship for the Physically Disabled at the end of March 2015.

The other Kovsie stars who will be participating at the Nedbank National Championship for the Physically Disabled are as follows:

Athletes:
• Dineo Mokhosoa
• Louzanne Coetzee
• Danie Breitenbach
• Juanré Jenkinson
• Diederich Kleynhans
• Jacques de Bruyn

Swimmer:
• Johann van Heerden

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