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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

Kovsie trailblazing track runner sets South African 200 m record
2015-07-16

Photo: IAAF

Wayde van Niekerk became the only South African, and the fourth athlete in the world, to clock sub-20-seconds in a 200 m race on Tuesday 14 July 2015. With this winning time, he became the fourth member of the prestigious quartet, consisting of Michael Johnson, LaShawn Merritt, Isaac Makwala and himself.

The Kovsie gold medallist’s ground-breaking performance saw him beat world-class 200 m specialist and last year's Diamond League race winner, Alonso Edward of Panama.  Van Niekerk crossed the finish line half a metre ahead of Edward, who was followed by Fujmitsu Kenji of Japan in the third place.

Van Niekerk's 19.94-time at the Diamond League meeting in Lucerne (Switzerland) set a national record, and improved on his personal best. In 2010, he claimed the World Junior Championship title in Moncton, Canada, by covering 200 m in 21.02 seconds.

Recently, he made history by defeating the London 2012 Olympic Games champion, Kirani James, of Grenada in the Caribbean.

On 4 July 2015, he surged 0.79 seconds ahead of Kirani in his number five lane, becoming the first African to cover 400m in less than 44 seconds. The Kovsie student won the race at 43.96, occupying 10th place on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League all-time list.

Kovsies were still celebrating the gold medalist’s South African record-setting time of 44.24 on 13 June 2015 when he dominated the Diamond League meeting. At the previous race in New York, Van Niekerk improved on his own national record of 44.38. With an impressive dash to the finish line at that particular event, he surpassed Christopher Brown’s 400 m record.

In addition to the country’s record, Van Niekerk made his name as one of the continent’s record-breakers. On 7 June 2015, he broke the 1986 African 300 m record. Van Niekerk replaced Ivorian Gabriel Tiacoh’s best time of 31.74 with a 31.63 championship win at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting.  Simultaneously, he bettered Morné Nagel’s 2006 South African national record.

Following his outstanding performance, he was positioned in 10th place on the world list in the men’s 300 m.

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