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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

RAG resilience shines despite rain
2017-02-07

Description: Rag 2017 Tags: Rag 2017

Winning float for 2017: Armentum, Vergeet-My-Nie,
and Emily
Photo: Lelanie de Wet 

Although the 75th RAG festivities were challenged by ominous weather, in true Kovsie spirit students and organisers still made a gleaming success of the day. 

Students help to create sunny feeling
On 6 February 2017, the annual float-building activities culminated in the handing over of schoolbags to 150 learners from schools in and around Bloemfontein. This took place at the Rag Farm on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free (UFS), since the morning procession to Twin City Mall in Heidedal had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

“It is of course a huge disappointment to all of us that the events had to be cancelled, but we are grateful for the rain,” said Karen Scheepers, Head of Kovsie Rag Community Service and Assistant Director: Student Affairs.

The evening KFC Rag procession took place as planned, with students having the option of taking part despite the weather. Unfortunately, the Chevrolet Music Festival had to be cancelled.

“The very important actors of today are our students who have worked long hours to build the floats and who have worked together to make this rainy day on the outside feel sunny inside,” said Prof Francis Petersen, incoming UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, when he addressed the crowd at the Rag Farm. Prof Petersen will take up office on 1 April 2017.

Armentum, Vergeet-My-Nie, and Emily take honours
Armentum, Vergeet-My-Nie, and Emily Hobhouse were the overall winners of the 2017 Rag float-building. “It was worth the hard work. Always remember to ask for advice during float-building,” said Pieter Kotze, RC Rag of Armentum residence on the Bloemfontein Campus. “I also want to thank both the RC Rag from Vergeet-My-Nie and Emily Hobhouse.”

The float theme was Proudly South African, and the winning float encapsulated it with local flavours such as Chappies, a Rooibos tea box and a Lion matchsticks box. They also went the extra mile by incorporating each hostel’s logo within a Chappie design.

The Central Rag Committee would like to thank all their sponsors who made the events possible. The Rag Coronation Ball will take place on 17 February 2017, where the new Rag Queen and Mr Rag will be crowned.

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