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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

Kovsie fencers dominate the Free State Fencing Closed Competition
2015-10-19


The ultimate clash of the fencing titans Photo credits: Robynne van Zuydam.

Willem Brink and Wanda Verster fenced their hearts out at Free State Closed Competition, winning gold medals in the men’s and women’s category, respectively. These University of the Free State students dominated opponents from the Vrystaat Amateur Skerm Klub (VASK).

Fencers from the VASK retaliated bravely in defense of their honour on Saturday 12 September 2015, with Jurgen Schroder taking home a Silver medal. His team mates, Ruan Coetzee-Schroder and Shaeffer Georgiou, shared the Bronze medal. A winning performance placed VASK’s Danielle Ceronio and Stella Heyns in the Bronze realm.  Kovsie Fencing’s Kayla de Gouveid shared the spot with Stella as a bronze recipient.

It was a clash of the titans as 27 participants formed opposing teams. The University of the Free State (UFS) team, who hosted the competition, showed the guests no sign of mercy as they triumphed.

Wanda was impressed by the UFS’s performance. “The students performed very well, especially considering that most of them started fencing just this year.”

“Willem Brink, who finished with gold, started fencing in 2012.  He finished with a Bronze medal at the Free State Closed competition held earlier, in May 2015 The first fencer to reach 15 wins,” said the Kovsie Fencing representative.

The club will represent our university at the University of Pretoria (TUKS) Open where fencers from the entire country will compete on 25 and 26 September 2015.  The club is also preparing for the University Sports South Africa (USSA) tournament and the Limpopo Open that take place in November and December, respectively. These competitions serve to pave the way for the July 2016 nationals, where Kovsies hope to make their mark as champions.

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