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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 Black Rag Queen wants to give voice to voiceless
2017-02-22

Description: Coronation ball 2017 Tags: Coronation ball 2017

The winners of the 2017 Amanzi Coronation
ball are, from the left: Devina Harry,
Second Princess; Kgomotso Sebusi,
First Princess; Prudence Mahlaba, Rag Queen;
Suhail Peerbhai, Mr Rag; Jordan Nadasen,
First Runner-up; and Mohlale Matlala,
Second Runner-up.
Photo: Gerhardus Bosch


“It is true what they say about your purpose driving you towards your goal. The ride to eventually becoming the first black RAG Queen was motivated by a pure desire in my heart to help other people.”

This is the moving words of Prudence Mahlaba, who was crowned Rag Queen at the Amanzi Coronation Ball on Friday 17 February 2017. Suhail Peerbhai, a second-year BCom Economics student, was crowned Mr Rag 2017.

Giving a voice to the voiceless

Mahlaba says she wants to make a positive impact, “not only on the less fortunate, but also on the voiceless.” The fourth-year LLB student strives to adhere to the vision of the acronym RAG (Receive and Give). RAG is mainly about a good cause in order to make a difference.
“It is beauty with a purpose, practising what you preach, and doing unto others what you want them to do unto you,” Mahlaba said.

It was a night of glitz and glamour as the finalists made a last bid for the sought-after titles at the prestigious event held at the Student Church on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.

Role provide foundation for change
“Becoming Mr Rag is an exceptional feeling; however, this role entails much more responsibility,” Peerbhai said. “At a time like this, it has given me a solid foundation to make a difference in communities that are less fortunate.”

His advice to future participants in the contest is, “to go for it, since it entails the most life-changing challenges students in our era can face. No classroom teachings can provide you with the same values and experiences.”

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