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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

Team UFS flexes its debating muscles
2015-08-07


Photo: Nkahiseng Ralepeli debates his way to the finals of the English as a First Language category at the UCT Open.

Team UFS flexes its debating muscles

Friday 24 July 2015 marks the day when the University of the Free State Debating Society (UFDS) outperformed the University of Cape Town (UCT) at the UCT 150th anniversary celebration of its debating union.

Representing Kovsies were Zola Valashiya, Ntsapi ‘Neko, Nkahiseng Ralepeli, Lehakoe Masedi, and Thabang Thembani, who fought bravely for a spot in the finals.

Masedi and Ralepeli broke into the semifinals after seven preliminary rounds, eventually winning the competition. The two students were up against three UCT teams, comprising the current National Champions and Pan African finalists.

This follows the debaters’ outstanding performance at the 2015 South African National University Debating Championship (SANUDC), hosted by the University of Venda. The UFDS commemorated a decade in existence by participating in its 10th national tournament.

After nine preliminary rounds, two teams broke into the grand finals of the two categories: English as a second language (ESL) and English as a first language (EFL). Devon Watson and Nkahiseng Ralepeli were the EFL team who fought their way through to the finals, beating UCT and the University of Botswana.

The inaugural Wits Women’s Debate Open (2014) title holders, Lerato Leteane and Lehakoe Masedi, represented Kovsies as the ESL finalists against the University of Nambia. The ladies rose to the occasion, but eventually emerged just one point short of the Namibian team’s four-point win.

Nonetheless, they were satisfied with their competitive skills, utilising the platform to address the lack of female debaters in the Southern African debating circuit.

 

 

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