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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 celebrates Kagiso Trust’s 30 years of commitment to the empowerment of impoverished communities
2015-07-15

From the left are: MEC Tate Makgoe, Free State Department of Education; Busi Tshabalala, Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District Director; Dean Zwo Nevhutalu,  Kagiso Trust Trustee  and UFS Director of Community Engagement, Bishop, Billy Ramahlele.
Photo: ?Thabo Kessah

Future sustainable partnerships in education will survive only if all partners are committed, honest, and transparent.

This is the view expressed by the Free State MEC for Education and UFS Council member, Tate Makgoe, during the panel discussion at the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State celebrating Kagiso Trust’s 30 years of commitment to the empowerment of impoverished communities. The topic was “The future partnership models for education in Africa”.

“Over the years, the partnership between the Free State Department of Education, the UFS, and Kagiso Trust has helped to expose the potential in our mainly rural children in the Qwaqwa area of the Thabo Mofutsanyana district,” said Makgoe.

”When we started in 2009, the matric pass rate in the district was 64%, and this rose to 87% in 2014. In Qwaqwa alone, we have managed to build 51 computer and 26 physical sciences laboratories. It was these laboratories that enabled the Free State to be the best performing province in the Physical Sciences in 2013,” added Makgoe.

“None of these achievements would have been possible if all the partners had not been committed to the course. Partnerships built on honesty and transparency are the best model, which we hope to export to other provinces and, indeed, countries,” Makgoe said.

Representing the UFS on the panel was the Director of Community Engagement, Bishop Billy Ramahlele, who added that collaborations can be successful only if the leadership was exemplary.

“As the university, we have had many collaboration with various government departments, and great strides have been achieved only with the Department of Education under the leadership of MEC Makgoe,” said Ramahlele.

”With the MEC on board, the UFS ended up dedicating its South Campus in Bloemfontein to supporting Free State schools. We now have 70 schools that benefit from live television broadcasts of lessons by some of our outstanding academics. This also enables our best academics to make a valued contribution to empowering our teachers. It also allows the university to maximise scarce resources to attain social cohesion,” he said.

In his remarks, Kagiso Trust Trustee, Dean Zwo Nevhutalu, said that Kagiso Trust was looking forward to continue working with its partners to maximise outcomes through limited resources.

“Kagiso Trust will continue to work with the poor and the marginalised and there is no better partner than the government itself. The government provides basic services, and education is one of them. This allows us to be innovative and not just dump books and equipment at schools because we are forced to by our corporate social investment obligations. Therefore, we challenge the government also to be innovative in building a sustainable future partnership model in education,” he said.

Among the dignitaries attending the panel discussion were Kagiso Trust Chairman, Dr Frank Chikane, and the late Dr Beyers Naude’s family.

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