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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.


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Leadership and responsible citizenship: key themes at the Global Leadership Summit
2015-07-09

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Leadership and responsible citizenship have been the main topics of discussion at the Global Leadership Summit which started on 5 July at the UFS Campus in Bloemfontein, and will continue until 17 July. More than 103 international delegates from various universities in Asia, the United States, and Europe, as well as 40 student delegates from the University of the Free State, are attending.

Kick-starting the summit talks was Prof Joel Samoff (Stanford University) who led discussions on transformation in institutions around the world. “Transformation is a constantly-changing interaction.  It is not a single objective, but a process, “ he said. This was followed by a robust panel discussion with student leaders of the UFS and those from James Madison University, Mount Holyoke College, and Rutgers University, who described the journey of transformation at their various universities.  “Young people are leading themselves in a different way, the context of the society we live in has changed,” said a UFS Student.

Keynote speaker, Zelda la Grange, gave an account of her experiences and the colourful journey of discovery of a “different” South Africa, working with President Nelson Mandela for 19 years, a journey that is the subject of  her book, “Good Morning Mr Mandela “. Under the theme “Breathing the same air: A metaphor for human solidarity, Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies led a talk with Candice Mama, the daughter of slain anti-apartheid activist, Gelnack Masilo Mama, one of the victims of the former hit squad commander, Eugene de Kok. Candice inspired the audience with her philosophy on life and letting go of trauma: “Forgiveness is a process, and one needs to forgive to be able to be liberated from anger and bitterness,” she said.

Dr Lis Lange, Vice Rector: Academic, UFS spoke of citizenship and freedom, focusing on the responsibility that humans have to create ethical, positive, and meaningful interaction in their daily lives and in their societies across the globe.

As part of the programme, delegates will visit the Qwaqwa Campus on 10 July 2015, where they will interact with the leadership of the campus, its staff, and students, and enjoy an arts and cultural experience of the Eastern Free State.  The summit will end with a visit to various sites in Bloemfontein, where delegates will engage in community-based outreach activities in disadvantaged communities around the city. 

UFS to host second Global Leadership Summit

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