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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

Wrongful suffering must be compensated, Prof Johann Neethling argues
2016-04-20

Description: Prof Johan Neethling, wrongful suffering must be compensated Tags: Prof Johan Neethling, wrongful suffering must be compensated

From the left are Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Neethling, Prof Rita-Marie Jansen, Vice-Dean, and Dr Brand Claassen, Head of the Department of Private Law.
Photos: Stephen Collett

On 11 April, the Faculty of Law held the first of the year’s series of Prestige Lectures presented by Prof Johann Neethling, Senior Professor in the Department of Private Law.  The event was attended by senior faculty members, the Dean of Law Prof, Caroline Nicholson, and the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

In his opening remarks, Prof Jansen said “Prestige lectures are at the heart of a university’s academic endeavour. It would serve the university community well to present them more often, as they go to the heart of important issues that affect society”

Prof Neethling made a compelling case for compensation for wrongful suffering by a child born with impairments. Since the mid-1960s, the actions of wrongful conception and wrongful birth have been recognised in South African law. Wrongful conception is defined as when a healthy child is born as a result of failed sterilisation or abortion, and wrongful birth is when a doctor fails to inform parents of a disability before the birth of their child.

“The reality is that a child born with impairments may indeed suffer (sometimes extreme) pain, loss of amenities of life, which would justify an award of damages,” he said.

So far, the action for wrongful suffering has been dismissed by the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. However, he highlighted several cases where wrongful conception and wrongful birth was recognised by the courts.

“Why can the same approach (for wrongful conception and wrongful birth) not be followed in wrongful suffering claims by accepting that a disabled child seeks to address the consequences of its birth?” he asked.

Prof Neethling is regarded as one of the greatest minds in Private Law, not only in South Africa but in the African continent.

A festschrift, Essays in Honour of Johann Neethling (2015), with contributions from more than 50 of his peers around the world, was also launched at the lecture.

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