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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

Trade unionist brings today’s policy issues to the table
2017-01-02

Description: Sidney Kgara Tags: Sidney Kgara 

Sidney Kgara currently heads the public-sector union of
Nehawu’s Policy Unit
Photo: Supplied

Sidney Kgara was appointed to the University of the Free State (UFS) Council in January 2015. He was appointed to the Council by Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, in one of three such positions.

Sidney heads the public sector union Nehawu's Policy Unit. The National Health Education and Allied Workers Union is the biggest public-sector union and the biggest union in the public service coordinating bargaining council. It therefore stands to reason that researching and drafting policy on issues such as labour market matters, public health and developments in higher education form the core responsibilities of the unit.

No stranger to university governance and leadership

Nehawu has a number of members working at the UFS and before his appointment, Kgara's only contact with the university was through its UFS members. However, he is no stranger to university governance and leadership. He was a student leader at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the 1990s and as a result has a broad understanding of student governance and university issues.

"Even though it was a different time and the circumstances were different, there is some sense of continuity to the issues we had to deal with then, and the issues that the university faces now," he says.

Kgara’s unique and valuable contributions to the Council

This, together with his experience in policy and research, enables Kgara to make a unique and valuable contribution to the Council.

Kgara is an avid reader and stimulating his mind through reading makes him truly happy. He also loves watching sport and enjoys socialising with friends.

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