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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

UFS venture cleans up acid mine drainage
2015-07-06

The system that puts oxygen back into the water.

Photo: Supplied

South Africa is one of the most important mining countries in the world, beginning in the 1870s. Although the mining industry has been responsible for significant development and employment, it pollutes the environment and waters sources. Through the joint effort of a well-known mining company, the University of the Free State, and the Technology Innovation Agency (UFS/TIA) SAENSE Group, a new treatment for Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) has been developed.

The system treats the major contaminants found in acid mining wastewater effectively.  
 
The UFS remediation systems use a reservoir tank into which the AMD is pumped. The water then flows passively (without using energy) to the Barium Carbonate Dispersed Alkaline Substrate (BDAS) system. The metals and anions in the AMD react chemically with the barium carbonate and precipitate (form solids). The solids stay in the tank while the clean water is released.

The efficacy and applicability of the research was demonstrated on site in Belfast, Mpumalanga where the team constructed a pilot plant in July 2014. This patented technology has treated 1 814 400 litres of Acid Mine Drainage to date with an outflow water quality that satisfies the South African National Standards (SANS) 241:2006 & 2011 regulations for drinking water.   

Rohan Posthumus from the (UFS/TIA) SAENSE Group said: “At this stage, we do not recommend that the water should be used as drinking water, but certainly it can lower water usage in mines while finding application in dust suppression of washing processes. The team would like to complete a full characterisation of the final released water. There are currently no toxic by-products formed, and even very basic filtration can make the outflow drinking water.”

Prof Esta van Heerden’s research group from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical, and Food Biotechnology has been working on AMD research for some time, but the development of the BDAS system was started in 2013 by post-doctoral student, Dr Julio Castillo, and his junior researcher, Rohan Posthumus.

The data from the BDAS system have led to two publications in peer-reviewed journals as well as a registered patent.

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