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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

Rag spreads the spirit of Ubuntu in Dinaweng informal settlement
2015-08-25

 

The Rag Committee teamed up with Prowess to create the first pop-up Street Store in Bloemfontein, as part of the Ubuntu Community Store Project. On 22 August 2015, the residents of Dinaweng had the opportunity to get hold of new and second-hand clothing free of charge. Soup and bread were also served to the children and the elders of the area, which is all too familiar to the media for its high unemployment, crime, and prostitution rates.

How do clothes represent Ubuntu?

From Tubatsi Moloi’s perspective, this is the team’s way of demonstrating that Ubuntu does not exist merely as a philosophy. The Rag Committee shows compassion to communities that lack resources essential to leading a dignified life.

“Ubuntu basically means uniting with the community by giving back and also thinking for those who are in need,” says the RAG Committee Executive.

Prowess, a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) run by Kovsie students, initiated the concept which targets homeless and needy individuals unable to purchase clothing. Students from all 26 Kovsie residences and personnel have since supported the initiative by donating to the inaugural Street Store through representatives of Rag in residences.

The Street Store will continue to empower impoverished communities within the Mangaung Metro, and champion these human projects in collaboration with external stakeholders.
“We will also be working with Twee-Toring Church, although it has not yet been confirmed when we will pay them a visit,” said Tubatsi.

Providing basic needs such as clothing has the power to reinstate the dignity of people. Rag and Prowess have taken it upon themselves to practice the ideals of Ubuntu in an attempt to ensure that the less fortunate lead dignified lives.

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