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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

Japanese researcher engages students on border issues
2017-03-02

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From the left: Dr WP Wahl, Tungamirai Kufandirori,
Sayaka Kono, Eddie de Wet and Emme-Lancia Faro
at the first academic conversation of 2017, hosted
by the Student Communities Office.
Photo: Eddie de Wet

How can we ensure humanity across borders – even if they don’t truly restrict us?

This was one of the discussions at the first academic conversation of 2017, hosted by the Student Communities Office, a division of Student Affairs. The discussions included the issue of Lesotho’s incorporation into South Africa, focusing on how ethnicity has mattered in ongoing arguments.

Basotho ethnicity

Students and staff were invited to engage with Sayaka Kono, a research fellow at the Department of Historical Studies at National University of Lesothoa, and guest speaker, on 14 February 2017 in the Equitas Senate Hall on the Bloemfontein Campus. The topic was Reconsidering Border Issues in Africa: Ethnicity, apartheid and the political independence of Lesotho.

Kono completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in International and Cultural Studies at Tsuda College in Japan. Her research interests lie in the area of ethnicity and she is currently completing her PhD on Basotho ethnicity and the former Bantustan system in South Africa.

Legacies of colonialism

A series of academic conversations was started in 2016 and aims to get top academic achievers and leaders to rub shoulders with renowned international scholars and leaders. This investment hopes to create a sense of responsibility to stretch boundaries and get the engagement culture flowing at the UFS.

According to Kono, borders of African countries are one of the living legacies of colonialism. They have reshaped the local society in various ways such as causing ‘ethnic’ or natural resource conflicts. The aim of her research is to reconsider these border issues in Africa through the perspective of ethnicity in the eyes of Basotho who have been divided by the border with South Africa for more than 100 years.

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