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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.


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First-years excited about new life at university
2017-01-25

Description:Residences welcome class of 2017  Tags: Residences welcome class of 2017  longdesc=

First-years moved into residences at the
Bloemfontein Campus of the University of
the Free State on 20 and 21 January 2017.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

The Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State was abuzz with excitement as first-year students arrived at their new homes and residences, brimming with enthusiasm at starting a new chapter in building towards a professional career.

Although there were some mixed emotions about leaving the nest, most students were excited about the times ahead as they moved into their residences on 20 and 21 January 2017.

Student life and building a career

“I am looking forward to a new adventure, to student life and living at university. Also to build my future here,” said Veruska van Schalkwyk, as her parents, who had driven all the way from Springbok in Northern Cape, helped her unpack at Harmony residence.

Veruska, who will be studying Nursing, said she loved TV programmes like Grey's Anatomy. “Nursing has always been my passion and something I loved. I have always loved helping people.”

University provides a prosperous future

For Okuhle Gubevu, who will also be a first-year in Harmony, the UFS is the ideal place to further her career. “Out of all the research I have done, the University of the Free State is the one university that has a prosperous future for me in my ventures to become an accountant,” she said. “Because of that and because it is not too far from home, I decided on the UFS.”

Mopeli Lebohang will be staying in Outeniqua residence and is keen to work hard. “I heard the course I am studying, B Accounting, is the third toughest course at the university,” he said. “I am excited, because I like challenges.”

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