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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

Ivory Coast too dependent on UN to combat violence against women
2015-10-08

During the seminar presented by the Centre for
African Studies (CAS) at the University of the Free State
were, from the left: Thesipo Machabaphala, student in
Gender Studies; Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of CAS;
Dr Peace Medie from the University of Ghana,
guest speaker; and Sesi Mahlobogoane, student in
Gender Studies.

The Ivory Coast is still too dependent on the work of the United Nations (UN) to combat violence against women in the country. There is much talk about ways to address the problem, but the government is still not acting quickly and effectively enough to make a difference in the long term.

These were some of the findings by Dr Peace Medie from the University of Ghana, guest speaker during a seminar series held by the Centre for Africa Studies (CAS) on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State on 1 October 2015.

Dr Medie presented a seminar for students in the Gender Studies programme entitled Women, Security, and Justice: a Study of the Ivorian State’s Response to Violence against Women. Prof Heidi Hudson, Head of CAS in the Faculty of the Humanities at the UFS, facilitated the seminar.

For the sake of internationalisation, the CAS often presents guest speakers from outside South Africa to address its students. In addition , Dr Medie is from Africa.

According to Dr Medie, who conducted some 150 interviews during her research over two years, there was a shortage of resources in the Ivory Coast. This is also the case in several other African countries previously involved in war.

She believes the Ivory Coast should do more to combat violence against women successfully.

She said the UN had a great influence on the way people, especially the police, were thinking about the problem - which included sexual violence against women.

“The UN will not be there forever,” Dr Medie said.

“If response depended only on the influence of an international organisation, what would happen when the UN leaves?”

According to Dr Medie, a shortage of active women’s organisations also had a role to play. She was of the opinion that these organisations should put more pressure on the government to ensure better treatment for women.

“Local organisations are needed because it is not sustainable to depend only on the work of the UN.”


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