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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

SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge
2017-02-26

Description: Prof Hussein Solomon, SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, SA and Africa must avoid going over the edge

From left are: Prof JM Moosa (Centre for African
Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India),
Prof Hussein Solomon (Senior Professor: Political
Studies and Governance at the UFS),
Prof Virgil Hawkins (Osaka School of International
Public Policy Studies, Osaka University in Japan), and
Prof Ajay Dubey (Centre for African Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, India).
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

South Africa and the rest of Africa might be standing on the edge of a cliff and therefore conversations are necessary to avoid tipping over. According to Prof Hussein Solomon that was why a conference to address these issues was recently co-hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS).

Prof Solomon, Senior Professor of Political Studies and Governance at the UFS, said the continent and country needed to make the right decisions. “These right choices refer to the correct economic, political, and social policies.”

International delegates attend
Delegates from India, Japan, Zambia, Lesotho and South Africa attended the conference, called A View from the Precipice: Critical Reflections on South Africa and Africa in the 21st Century, on 13 and 14 February 2017 on the Bloemfontein Campus. It was co-hosted by the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), Centre for the Engagement on African Peace and Security, Southern African Centre for Collaboration on Peace and Security and Osaka University (Japan).

Prof Solomon said external actors provided a useful mirror as they gave an idea of how Africa and South Africa were viewed from abroad.

Creating a knowledge-sharing forum
“It is not just about sharing knowledge, but creating a forum for sharing knowledge,” said Prof Virgil Hawkins from the Osaka School of International Public Policy Studies.
Prof Hawkins, who is a visiting professor at the UFS, said a conference like this was one of the cornerstones of the relationship between the UFS and Osaka University. Prof Solomon is also a visiting professor at last mentioned university.

Highlights of conference
Prof Solomon said some of the discussions included that “the ANC government is in crisis and is dragging the rest of the country with it”. Another participant said that 80% of the jobs in the next 20 years had not been created yet – which put the relevance of tertiary education in the spotlight.

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