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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

Law postgraduate student awarded IAWJ and Faculty of Law bursary
2017-03-02

Description: Association of women judges gala dinner 2017 Tags: Association of women judges gala dinner 2017


The University of the Free State Faculty of Law, in conjunction with the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) South Africa Chapter, hosted a gala dinner on 25 February 2017, in Bloemfontein, to raise awareness on the development programmes that women judges in South Africa, and specifically in the Free State, are involved in.

Focus on development of upcoming legal professionals
The event was a glamorous occasion attended by high-ranking officials in the Free State judiciary and Faculty of Law staff and students. Central to the evening’s events was the launch and presentation of the IAWJ/UFS Faculty of Law bursary that was presented to Mbali Mathebula, who is enrolled for an LLM at the UFS in 2017. Judge Mahube Molemela, Judge-President of the Free State High Court, and Chancellor of the Central University of Technology (CUT), presented the bursary to Mbali, commending her for choosing a poignant research thesis that focused on the rights of children with disabilities in South Africa. Judge Molemela expressed the importance of perseverance through study, and self-development as the key to a successful career in Law.

Transformation in the legal profession still a challenge
Some of the speakers of the evening included Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law and programme director, Judge Soma Naidoo, who gave introductory remarks, and Judge Mandisa Maya. In her remarks, Judge Maya outlined some of the prevailing challenges that women judicial officers still face, despite decades of reforms in the legal profession. She said: “Women in the judiciary are torchbearers who inspire and empower others, especially young women, and should strive to achieve high moral standards and exceptional scholarship.”

IAWJ mentors upcoming legal professionals
Judge Naidoo said the association had, over the past seven years, partnered with universities such as UFS, University of Pretoria (UP), University of South Africa (Unisa) and University of Cape Town (UCT) to support students through social outreach programmes. She noted the involvement of corporates and other legal professionals as key to their success. Judge Naidoo said the IAWJ had been instrumental in providing training for legal professionals in areas such as trafficking in persons across the Southern African Development Community (SADC), supported by the US Embassy in Pretoria, and had held health and wellness programmes for legal officers around the country.

The gala dinner was a celebration of the successes of the association over the years, and an opportunity to reflect on the important issues that women face in the legal profession, as well as a call to action for students and young legal professionals. The proceeds from the evening will be used to further mentor and develop law students around the country.

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