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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

UFS Sasol Library will reopen tomorrow
2007-10-17

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) UFS Sasol Library will reopen again tomorrow (Thursday, 18 October 2007) after a limited fire broke out earlier this morning.

The fire broke out at 05:00 on a work site of a contractor that is carrying out maintenance on the library’s air conditioning system in the machinery room underneath the library.

Employees of the subcontractor were busy replacing the isolation of the air-conditioning when the fire broke out. An employee of the contractor died and one was seriously injured.

The contractor is working on the system at night in order to minimise disruption to library users. The building and books were not damaged.

“The UFS and the contractor exercised strict safety measures before the maintenance project commenced and regular safety training sessions are still presented to employees of the contractor working on the site. The latest training session was done on Monday, 15 October 2007,” said Ms Edma Pelzer, Director of Physical Resources at the UFS.

As a precautionary measure, the library will be closed for the rest of today because of the possible presence of fumes in the building as a result of the fire. A decision was taken to be cautious and to make sure that the air is clean before people are allowed in the library.

The Reitz Dining Hall of the Centenary Complex is available as a temporary study facility for students until 18:00 today. The library will be open again tomorrow (Thursday, 18 October 2007) during normal hours.

Ms Pelzer conveyed her sympathy to the next of kin of the person who died during the fire.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
17 October 2007
 

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