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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

Prof Conradie makes UFS proud with prestigious Chemistry award
2015-03-25

Prof Jeanet Conradie and Dr Karel von Eschwege

Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

Prof Jeanet Conradie, Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State (UFS), has received the Merck Medal for 2014 from the South African Chemistry Institute (SACI), for her paper Redox potentials of ligands and complexes. A DFT approach, S. Afr. J. Chem. 2011, 64, 203-209.

Dr Karel von Eschwege, the co-author of the paper is also from the Department of Chemistry.

The medal is awarded to the senior author of the paper, published in the South African Journal of Chemistry in a specific field of chemistry, that is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the discipline. The award for 2014, covering papers published in the period 2010 to 2013, was in the field of Inorganic Chemistry.

As part of the award, Prof Conradie will deliver the Merck Medal Lecture at the presentation ceremony.

In 2014, Prof Conradie was runner-up in the senior category for Distinguished Women Researchers: Physical and Engineering Science in the Department of Science and Technology’s 2014 Women in Science Awards. The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) also invited her to become a member.

Prof Conradie believes to reach a goal, you have to utilise opportunities that come your way. “Remember, results speak for themselves. Any researcher can prove himself or herself this way. Nothing in life is for free; you need to work very, very hard. This is only possible when you love and enjoy your work,” she said.

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