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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

Chemistry Department expands its international footprint
2015-10-14

Prof André Roodt

Prof André Roodt from the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Free State has returned from a research visit at the St Petersburg State University in Russia. The research he conducted at the St Petersburg State University is part of a bilateral collaboration agreement between the University of the Free State and St Petersburg State University.

As part of his visit to Russia (from 17 to 28 September 2015), Prof Roodt presented a seminar at St Petersburg State University, and a lecture at the conference titled: International conference on Organometallic and Coordination Chemistry: Achievements and Challenges.

One of the local Russian newspapers quoted Prof Roodt as “world-renowned expert in the study of chemical kinetics and mechanisms of chemical reactions”. His presentation: Are detailed reaction mechanisms really necessary in (applied) organometallic and coordination chemistry' attracted great interest from the St Petersburg chemists.

The bilateral agreement came to life a year ago when the St Petersburg State University chemists won a grant in a competition to create an international research group, the International Laboratory of Organometallic Chemistry. The Laboratory is headed by Prof Vadim Kukushkin of the St Petersburg State University.

In addition to the employees of St Petersburg University, the research group consists of researchers from Portugal, Finland, South Africa, and Azerbaijan. Together, these groups of scientists are working on the problem of non-reactive metal activation molecules. The main theme of the research laboratory is in the catalysis and activation of metal inert molecules which then undergo significant change, and become meaningful to people chemicals, such as drugs.

As part of this initiative, a bilateral collaboration agreement exists between the St Petersburg State University and the UFS (Russian Science Foundation grant 14-43-00017). Students from our university have visited and conducted research at the St Petersburg State University while some of their students visit and research reaction kinetics at the UFS.

Prof Roodt hosted Valeria Burianova, a student from the St Petersburg University. During her visit at the UFS, she learned about response kinetics. A UFS PhD student, Carla Pretorius, joined the group in Russia where she conducted research on the intermetallic rhodium-rhodium interactions for the formation of nano-wires and -plates, with applications in the micro-electronics industry, and a  potential for harvesting sun energy.

The UFS Department of Chemistry extended its international footprint further with three of its students, Mampotsu Tsosane, Petrus Mokolokolo, and Tom Kama, returning from Switzerland after a six-week research visit in the group of Prof Roger Alberto from the University of Zürich. In return, Prof Roodt hosted a Swiss PhD student, Angelo Frei from Zürich, and taught him more about reaction mechanisms.

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