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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

Training in critical medical skills receives preference at the UFS
2015-07-24

The UFS bought a new simulator for surgeons to learn how to perform laparoscopic operations. During the launch of the simulator, Dr Mathys Labuschagne (left), Head of the Clinical Simulation and Skills Unit, illustrates to Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the faculty, how the simulator works.
Photo: Rene-Jean van der Berg

The Clinical Simulation and Skills Unit in the University of the Free State (UFS) Faculty of Health Sciences purchased a new laparoscopic simulator for R1.2 million recently. The simulator will be used to teach postgraduate medical students how to perform laparoscopic surgery. The UFS is currently the only university in the country, and one of only two institutions in South Africa, that own such a simulator.

The Lapsim simulator, from Surgical Science in Sweden, is a highly sophisticated computerised tool for the training and improvement of laparoscopic surgical skills in postgraduate students within the surgical disciplines.

“The purpose of a simulator is not to replace training on patients, but to help registrars in acquiring basic laparoscopic surgical skills,” says Dr Mathys Labuschagne, Head of the Clinical Simulation and Skills Unit.

These skills include depth perception, hand-eye-coordination, instrument handling, precision and speed, which are essential before operations can be performed on patients.

Prof Gert van Zyl, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, says this simulator is very important for the UFS to train registrars more effectively in theatre work.

“Not only registrars will benefit from this, but qualified surgeons may also make use of it to improve their skills.”

The simulator is pre-programmed for different medical conditions that laparoscopic surgery is traditionally used for. Programmes can be selected for procedures such as sterilisation, cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal), endometriosis, etc. The simulator even makes it possible simply to practise eye-hand coordination, and to apply stitches internally.

Watch the short video explaining more about the Lapsim simulator.

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