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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 Professor on his new book on Boko Haram
2017-02-01

Description: Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor  Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor

Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor
in the Department of Political Studies and
Governance at the UFS and co-editor of the
book titled Understanding Boko Haram:
Terrorism and Insurgency in Africa
.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Understanding the nature of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria is exactly what Prof Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State (UFS) has set out to do.

Understanding the emergence of Boko Haram
Prof Solomon says tens of thousands of people have been killed in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring states as a result of the violence unleashed by the terrorist group. With the help of his co-editor, Prof Jim Hentz, who is an army colonel and lecturer at the Virginia Military Institute in the US, they set out to “understand the emergence of Boko Haram in a historical, sociological, economic and political context”.

In his book, titled Understanding Boko Haram: Terrorism and Insurgency in Africa, Prof Solomon “seeks to understand the emergence of Boko Haram in a historical, sociological, economic and political context”.

Book launch to take place in Chicago in the US
In his previous book, Islamic State and the Coming Global Confrontation, he analyses the origins and organisational structure of the Islamic State. Although an entirely new topic, but within the broad theme of political Islam, this book focuses more on how Boko Haram has become part of the Islamic State’s franchise in West Africa.

The book, which took more than a year to write, is based on secondary research, followed by primary documents and interviews done on the ground in Nigeria. It will be of much interest to students of terrorism and political violence, insurgencies, African politics, war and conflict studies, and international relations in general.

The official launch will take place at the African Studies Association’s annual meeting and takes place from 16-18 November 2017, in Chicago in the US.

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