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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

Meet our Council: Kgotso Schoeman - I’m not afraid of challenges
2016-04-21

Description: Kgotso Schoeman  Tags: Kgotso Schoeman

Mr Kgotso Schoeman
Photo: Stephen Collett

It’s not often that someone is asked a favour by the MEC of Education. However, when it does happen, it is a sign that he has full confidence in you and your abilities. This is exactly what happened to Mr Kgotso Schoeman, one of the Council members of the University of the Free State (UFS).

Mr Schoeman, who was approached by the MEC of Education in the Free State, Mr Tate Makgoe, to serve on the UFS Council, has been involved with the Kagiso Trust for the past 20 years, and now serves as the CEO of Kagiso Capital. The Kagiso Trust was established in May 1985 by anti-apartheid activists, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Beyers Naudé, and Prof Jakes Gerwel, in order to channel funds for the promotion of the struggle against apartheid, and for the upliftment and empowerment of communities. Today, education plays a leading role in the activities of the trust.

Mr Schoeman is now serving his second term on the UFS Council.  At the start of his term, he expressed a particular interest in learning more about the inner workings of universities, and the UFS in particular.  He believes the past two years, have been very informative in this regard.

"I have been very impressed with the academic performance of the UFS, and I have learned a lot about university governance and management during this time.  I do think, however, that there is a lot of room for improvement with regard to transformation at the UFS, especially at academic staff level," he says.

One of the issues that he has become aware of over the past two years, and which concerns him greatly, is the relationship between higher education institutions and the Department of Higher Education and Training.  It relates to another matter of concern: how higher education should be funded in South Africa.

"These are issues I raise at every Council meeting, because I feel these points are important not only for the future of the UFS, but for all higher education institutions in the country," he says.

When it comes to hobbies, Mr Schoeman loves reading. However, it is not fiction that interests him, but rather books on leadership and the changes experienced by today’s society. “In one of the educational programmes we offer, there are opportunities for people to discuss complicated topics, such as transformation. I find it fascinating to see how people can change their point of view in the course of these discussions.”

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