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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

Top achievers arrive at UFS
2017-01-26

Description: Tshepo Thajane Tags: Tshepo Thajane

Tshepo Thajane, winner of the Kovsies
Star of Stars competition.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Although first-year registration officially started on 23 January 2017 at the University of the Free State (UFS), the Marketing department invited some of the top-achieving matrics in the country to an event on Friday 20 January to assist them with early registration. These high-flying pupils have AP scores of 40 and above, and worked hard to get to where they are today, with driving ambition for their future.

The #StarOfStars
Tshepo ”Doctor” Thajane is the winner of the newly-established Kovsies Star of Stars competition, and as such received a full bursary from the UFS, among other sponsorships. He has enrolled in Actuarial Sciences and will be housed at the Karee residence. When asked what drew him to our university, he responds: “I just loved the university before I entered it, and I chose the UFS because of the respect I was shown.”

Friendly reception
Lendl Ontong will be pursuing his LLB in the Faculty of Law, and has obtained a place in the brotherhood of the Karee residence. The Ontong family hails from Worcester in the Western Cape. Lendl’s father, Mr Lionel Ontong, had this to say of his experience: “The staff at the UFS, especially at the admissions office, is the friendliest group of people I’ve ever come across, and helpful as well. My wife was sceptical when I told her about the friendly treatment I experienced when I phoned the university, but when she witnessed it today, she could see it first-hand. The friendliness is contagious, and even though I’m tired after the long journey, their attitude has rubbed off on me. And my wife now has the assurance that her child is going to be happy here. The atmosphere is one of homeliness. It’s fantastic! Even the netball coach introduced herself to my son and invited him to pop in for a cup of tea, and she won’t even be involved with his university journey. It meant a lot to us as parents.”

Description: Jani Gerber  Tags: Jani Gerber

Jani Gerber and her dad Jaco Gerber.
Photo: Eugene Seegers

Runs in the family

Jani Gerber is a second-generation Kovsie who hails from Port Elizabeth. She won the cultural division in the Matriculant of the Year competition in 2016 and was invited to join the UFS. According to her, she “didn’t even consider another university”.

Her dad, Mr Jaco Gerber, says: “The whole process of application and registration was very efficient and professional. Jani’s older sister, Anri, completed her MBChB at UFS last year and is currently working at the Pelonomi Regional Hospital. Jani has already been adopted by new friends in her residence. She says, “Some charming students welcomed us at the residence, and even helped out when we were unpacking.” Jani has aspirations to sing in the annual Stagedoor and Serenade Singoff competitions.

We welcome all our first-years and look forward to supporting them throughout their university journey!

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