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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

First-years welcomed to the Kovsie family
2017-01-30

Description: Prof Francis Petersen  Tags: Prof Francis Petersen

Newly appointed Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the
University of the Free State, Prof Francis Petersen during
the first-year welcoming.
Photo: Charl Devenish

“How do you like my new blazer? Do you think these stripes suit me?” These were the words of the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State, Prof Francis Petersen, as he took to the stage in his #ProudlyKovsies blazer to welcome the 2017 first-years to the Kovsie family.

The event, which was also the start of the first-year Gateway Programme, took place on Saturday, 21 January 2017, and saw first-years and their parents make their way to the Red Square on the Bloemfontein Campus where they were formally welcomed.

UFS to produce world graduates
As newcomers, Prof Petersen wanted the fresh faces to feel welcome, to feel a sense of belonging. “You are now a Kovsie, and we want you to experience that Kovsie life until you graduate,” he told them.

During his speech, Prof Petersen reassured parents that the academic year would be completed and that the UFS would operate as an institution. He encouraged the students to absorb and gain knowledge and said the university would strive to ensure excellent knowledge. “At the UFS, we want to produce graduates for the world, and we need to ensure that we use our knowledge to uplift society,” he said.

Use differences to benefit from one another
KovsieFM presenters, Tshwaro Thothela and Gontse Choane played host to the gathering and Pura Mgolombane, Dean of Student Affairs, encouraged the first-years to use their differences to benefit from one another and to learn from this opportunity. “Make sure that the good that you do is for yourself, for others and for the university,” he said.

Prof Nicky Morgan, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Rector, welcomed Prof Petersen, his wife Cheslyn, and their two sons, Curtis and Clayton, to the UFS.

The newcomers also had an opportunity to visit their respective faculties and get to know the staff and facilities better.

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