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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

Lecturer’s debut novel wins ATKV Prize for Fiction
2015-10-14

Dr Francois Smith
Photo: Johan Roux

Kamphoer made its debut on the literary scene just over a year ago, and on 11 September 2015, it was declared the best novel by the Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV). This is not the first time Kamphoer has been recognised as literary gem. Earlier this year, the novel was shortlisted for the W A Hofmeyr Prize as well as the Huisgenoot Tempo Award.

Dr Francois Smith, the author, joined the University of the Free State (UFS) as a lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French at the beginning of this year. Prior to entering the academic sphere, he dedicated about 11 years of his life to editing for a publishing house. Certainly, helping other people write and produce books thoroughly prepared him for authorship.

For three months, Smith spent eight hours a day creating his award-winning masterpiece. The secret of success lies in the ABC formula. “The ABC for writing is Apply Back to Chair. You have to go and sit down and start typing,” he says.

That is when passion meets imagination, albeit at times, one might also need inspiration. Smith applied this winning formula meticulously, and it has resulted in over 30 000 copies of Kamphoer being sold since July 2014.

He was taken aback by the novel’s warm reception. “I wrote a book, finished it, and knew that it wasn’t bad but I never for one moment imagined that it would be such a big commercial success,” he said.

About Kamphoer

The book which Smith describes as a good but not an easy read about a disturbing subject is the true story of a woman who was brutally raped during the South African War and left for dead.  After the traumatic experience, she dedicates her life to helping others deal with similar ordeals, re-encountering her rapists in the process.

About the award

Kamphoer emerged as an exceptional contribution amongst two other finalists. Kerneels Breytenbach’s Ester as well as Harry Kalmer’s ’n Duisend stories oor Johannesburg were also competing for the prestigious award.


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