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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

Student gives hope to childhood cancer patients
2015-10-16


Siphokuhle Jama believes that the underprivileged are also destined to reign.

The inaugural ‘Dance and Musical Childhood Cancer Fundraising Day’, held on Saturday 26 September 2015 at the Free State Childhood Cancer (CHOC) Foundation, was “a huge success,” according to Siphokuhle Jama, the organiser.

Siphokuhle is a second-year BSc Agricultural Economics student at the University of the Free State (UFS), who has devoted his life to bettering the lives of the less fortunate. The 21-year-old self-proclaimed motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and budding author was inspired by his humble beginnings to found the Destined to Reign Foundation, which champions various community initiatives in both his home town of Mtata and Bloemfontein.

To support the fight against childhood cancer, the young philanthropist took it upon himself to invite music and dance fanatics either to perform or to enjoy spectatorship for a good cause. The impressive support received from the UFS, Universitas Academic Hospital, and Central University of Technology (CUT), various artists, and the community has contributed towards ensuring that the inaugural fundraiser was a prelude to annual events to come.

Singers, dancers, and poets entertained the audience with vigour, making the day one of the most special for the young children, who spend their days and nights at the CHOC House, with little to do but undergo radiation and chemotherapy and await a discharge date. .

All proceeds went towards basic needs, such as food, toiletries, and clothing for the children residing at the House, which is located in the same suburb as our university. In addition to accommodating dozens of cancer patients and their mothers, the House also assists with the treatment and rehabilitation of children suffering from life-threatening blood disorders. Thus, the fundraiser served to promote awareness of these health conditions.

Siphokuhle’s passion for giving hope to the underprivileged was unveiled by a school community engagement project 14 years ago. He has never looked back.“It has always been in my heart to serve my community,” he said.

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