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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

NSH breaking the cycle of poverty
2015-09-28

In was a joyous occasion for the Hlomuka family when their last-born walked across the stage to receive her degree. Spontaneous ululating sounded from the crowd as Nozipo Hlomuka knelt before the Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Khotso Mokhele, who conferred her degree.

“At that moment, I thought ‘this is really and finally happening’,” says the young teacher from Qwaqwa, who received a B Ed degree at the spring graduation.

At that moment time stood still for Nozipo, who once believed that, because of financial difficulties, this day would never come.

Across our three campuses, there are many students in similar positions to Nozipo. As many as 60% of students on our campuses are food-insecure, and suffer from hunger. The No Student Hungry Bursary Programme as established in 2011 to provide food-insecure students with a modest food bursary.

In 2014, just when Nozipo thought she could no longer continue studying, she became the recipient of an NSH-bursary.

Although receiving a degree is a huge achievement for Nozipo, her parents, too, were overcome with emotion, to see the first of their five daughters reach this academic milestone. Having only finished grade 8, Mrs Notula Hlomuka, Nozipo’s mother, says it was important for her to see her children finish school, at least. Mrs Hlomuka sold fruit and vegetables which provided the family’s only income.

“It was not always easy. It was never easy. Sometimes, there was no money and not enough to eat, and your children must go to school hungry. We could not afford new clothes for all the children, and the school uniforms were handed down to the younger sibling ending with Nozipo. Those were difficult days. It’s over now. God provided.”


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