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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

Space-based information plays vital role in disaster-risk reduction
2017-02-28

Africa is one of the continents most affected by disasters triggered by natural hazards. The result of climate change is a reality that affects every human being, whether it is extreme heat waves, cyclones, or the devastation of drought and floods. Climate change can provoke injuries or fatalities and affects the livelihoods of people in both rural communities and urban areas. It triggers damage and losses in various sectors of development, such as housing, road infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, telecommunications, energy, and affects routine economic processes leading to economic losses.

According to Dr Dumitru Dorin Prunariu, President of the Association of Space Explorers Europe, space programmes have become an important force defining challenges of the 21st century. “Space observation is essential for climate-change monitoring,” he said.

Dr Prunariu was the keynote speaker at a two-day symposium on climate resilience and water that was hosted by the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC), at the University of the Free State (UFS). He participated in the Soviet Union’s Intercosmos programme and completed an eight day-mission on board Soyuz 40 and the Salyut 6 space laboratory, where he and fellow cosmonaut Leonid Popov completed scientific experiments in the fields of astrophysics, space radiation, space technology, space medicine, and biology. He is the 103rd human being to have travelled to outer space.

The focus of Dr Prunariu’s lecture was: Space activities in support of climate change mitigation and climate resilience.

Description: Dr Dumitriu Dorin Prunariu Tags: Dr Dumitriu Dorin Prunariu

Dr Dumitru Dorin Prunariu, the 103rd human
being in outer space and President of
the Association of Space Explorers Europe.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Space-based information, an extra eye that can detect a way out during disasters
“For governments to support communities affected by any disaster, precise and up-to-date information on its impacts is essential as a way to respond in a timely and effective way,” said Dr Prunariu.

Space-based information (derived using Earth observation, global navigation satellite systems, and satellite communications) can play a vital role in supporting disaster-risk reduction, response, and recovery efforts, by providing accurate and timely information to decision-makers.

“With space-based information, disaster management teams will be able to take note of recently established roads that may not appear in typical maps produced by National Geographic Institutes, but which could be used as emergency evacuation routes or as roads to deliver humanitarian assistance to those who require it in remote areas."

Space-based tools help decision-makers to improve planning
“Space-based tools and spatial data infrastructure is also crucial for policy planners and decision-makers in increasing the resilience of human settlements. Using geographic data and information collected before the occurrence of major disasters in combination with post-disaster data could yield important ideas for improved urban planning, especially in disaster-prone areas and highly-populated regions.

“In the recovery process, information on impact is used by governments to provide assistance to those affected, to plan the reconstruction process, and to restore the livelihoods of those affected,” said Dr Prunariu.

“Space observation is
essential for climate-
change monitoring.”

The symposium was attended by representatives from Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, with various international scientists from Europe imparting their expert knowledge on water and global resilience. The presence of these international experts strengthened global networks.

It isn't important in which sea or lake you observe a slick of pollution, or in the forests of which country a fire breaks out, or on which continent a hurricane arises, you are standing guard over the whole of our Earth. - Yuri Artyukhin: Soviet Russian cosmonaut and engineer who made a single flight into space.

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