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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

Khayalami residence launches first in-house library
2016-04-21

Description: 2016 KL News Khayalami library  Tags: Khayalami residence launches first in-house library in the country
Bongani Mtotoba (left) and Sinoxolo Gcilitshana (right) at the first-ever 24 hour in-house library at Khayalami residence. The librarian and Deputy Residence Head respectively hope to revive the culture of reading on our Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo: Valentino Ndaba

“It is said that reading means to the brain what exercise means to the body. For that reason, we want to bring back the culture of reading to our students who are, after all, the future replacement of the leadership of our wounded and broken country,” said Sinoxolo Gcilitshana, Deputy Residence Head, and Prime of Khayalami.

Titles such as A Life Ever Lasting by Miranda Hearn, To Live Free by William Wilberforce, Powers of Darkness Powers of Light by John Cornwell, and Character Counts by Charles Dyer are among the 228 inspirational books on the shelves of Khayalami residence’s library. Tuesday 12 April 2016 was a proud moment for the residence as it launched the first library in the country located within a university residence on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.

Last year, Dimpho Jasa, a resident at Khayalami, approached Sinoxolo, who then held the Residence Committee (RC): Academics portfolio, with an idea of forming a book club. Sinoxolo had suggested that a library be established in order to make the book club sustainable. That conversation served as a foundation of the 24 hour in-house library.

“We started with five books last year,” said Sinoxolo, “and ever since we sent the message out, the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen has been supporting us together with the Vice-Rector, Prof Nicky Morgan, as well as the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, and the Head of the Department of English, Prof Helene Strauss.”  

Now, more than 170 young men have access to a growing library that is expected to hold 1500 books by September, when Sinoxolo steps down as the Prime. According to Bongani Mtotoba, the RC: Academics and librarian, some residents have made pledges to help expand the collection. “The response has been quite positive from the guys,” he said.

Borrowers are required to submit a book review upon returning the book. This feedback will be compiled by the English Department into a book available to the public.

Khayalami’s pioneering spirit has also seen the residence run a successful writing competition in 2015. It has since been introduced to the rest of the East College, and now will take place annually.  

For more information on how to donate books or enter the writing completion, contact Sinoxolo on 0783332203 or semsinoxolo@hotmail.com.

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