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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

SAFOS seeks to integrate folklore studies into education
2015-10-15

From the left are: Bahedile Letlala, Dr Elias Malete, Hannetjie du Toit, Dr Sara Motsei, Dr Edwin Mohatlane and Prof Mogomme Masoga.

The University of the Free State was proud to host the national conference of the Southern African Folklore Society which took place on 7-9 October 2015 on the Bloemfontein Campus. The focus of the conference was on how to integrate folklore studies into the 21st century.

Keynote speakers for the conference included Prof Antoinette Tidjani-Alou (Professor of French and Comparative Literature at University Abdou Moumouni), Prof Mogomme Alpheus Masoga (University of Venda), and Prof Mohlomi Moleleki (University of the Free State).

The speakers approached their subjects in great detail, tackling issues surrounding identity, social cohesion, and orality on the African context. One of the main co-ordinators of this event, Dr Elias Malete from the Department of African Languages at the UFS, highlighted one of the speaker’s topics, which focused on the importance of harnessing a collectivistic culture, as the African context does not entertain individualism. When asked about how such a conference fits into the UFS context, and where it could be applied, Malete mentioned the burning issue of the language policy review. He believes that: “The language should be inclusive, in as much as our theme says we cannot entertain individualistic approaches, but need to include everybody.” This is achieved through working with the Language Departments,” he said.

In particular, the topic presented by Prof Moleleki from the Department of African Languages, explored how the self-perception of an African, both as an integral member of his society as well as an independent individual, not only informs but also underpins his identity.

In all the topic discussed, the importance of coherence, transparency, and correctness was noted.

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