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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

Consumer Science at the UFS awards three PhDs
2015-07-08

Dr Gloria Seiphetlheng, Dr Natasha Cronje, Dr Ismari van der Merwe and Prof Hester Steyn.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

For the first time in its history, the Department of Consumer Science in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) earned three doctorates at one graduation ceremony this year. This week three PhDs were awarded to Ismari van der Merwe, Natasha Cronje, and Gloria Seiphetlheng at the Winter Graduation that took place on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Electrochemically-activated water is widely used in the food and other industries, due to its excellent environment-friendly properties. However, it is not used in the textile industry yet, because too little research has been done to determine the possible positive and negative impact it may have on textiles.

With the thesis, The evaluation of catholyte treatment on the colour and tensile properties of dyed cotton, polyester and polyamide 6,6 fabrics,  Dr Cronje, a lecturer in the UFS’s Department of Consumer Science, and Dr Seiphetlheng from the Serowe College of Education in Botswana,  provided major new information with the thesis, Anolyte as an alternative bleach for cotton fabrics. This information is essential when considering the application of catholytes and anolytes in the textile industry.

Electrochemically-activated water divides water in catholytes and anolytes. The anolyte part is used as a disinfectant and bleach. It is not really suitable for domestic use, as it can cause colour loss in coloured textile products. However, it can be used in the hospitality industry where white sheets, towels, etc., are used and washed on a regular basis.

The catholyte part of the water has properties similar to washing powder. It can also be used in the textile industry as washing liquid.

According to Prof Hester Steyn, Head of the Department of Consumer Science and supervisor of all three PhD candidates, this electrochemically-activated water is also very eco-friendly. “It has a short shelf life. If the electrochemically-activated water isn’t utilised, it returns to normal water that wouldn’t harm the environment. No water is therefore lost, and no waste products are released that would contaminate the environment,” she says.

Dr Van der Merwe’s research focused on Degumming Gonometa postica cocoons using environmentally conscious methods. A lecturer in the Department of Consumer Science, she demonstrated that simple and environmentally-friendly methods can be used with great success to procure wild silk from the cocoons of the Gonometa postica worms living in the camel thorn trees found in the Northern Cape and Namibia.

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