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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

Famelab, the Pop Idols of science communication
2017-03-09

Description: Famelab Tags: UFS, CUT, Science, Competition, research, British Council, Famelab, NRF

Oluwasegun Kuloyo and Zanele Matsane proved to be
Bloemfontein’s young and wittiest science researchers.
They will represent the Free State at the Famelab
national semifinals in Johannesburg.
Photo: Oteng Mpete

Imagine sharks with laser beams attached to their heads and enzymes that wear coats, and yeasts that stage a coup d’état in your body when agitated. This was all explored at the FameLab Science Communication Competition. 

Hosting the FameLab regional competition was a collaborative effort between Dr Mikateko Hoppener, from the University of the Free State’s (UFS), the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED), and Edith Sempe from the Central University of Technology (CUT), Research and Development Unit. Taking place for the first time in the Free State, the event was held at the UFS Centenary Complex on 2 March 2017.

Witty minds make science fun

FameLab is a competition that promotes science and technology by creating a space for scientists to find their voices and reach public audiences. The Free State regional competition had 18 contestants and two emerged victorious on the day. Contestants had to ensure their three-minute talks were fun, charismatic, clear and entertaining.

The two regional winners were Oluwasegun Kuloyo, a PhD student with the department of Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at UFS, and Zanele Matsane, a Construction Management PhD student at CUT. 

Kuloyo's research deals with the management of the candida yeast which exists in most people’s bodies and which, with a healthy immune system can be kept under control, but when an immune system is compromised, the yeast reacts volatilely and can potentially lead to death in HIV/AIDS patients. 

Matsane’s research is centred on collaborative construction management inspired by the Toyota manufacturing process. She hopes to resolve the silos of construction and bring about a more harmonious and fluid process to construction projects, thus ensuring their successful completion. 

The panel of judges consisted of Oteng Mpete UFS Media Liaison Officer, Dr Elizabeth Conradie from the CUT Innovation Hub, and Prof Willie du Preez from the CUT Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, as well as Robert Inglis from JiveMedia Africa.

Local scientists become jet-setters 
The two regional winners will head to Johannesburg to compete at the FameLab national semifinals, and the South African winner will go on to compete against winners from over 30 countries on an international stage, at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.

FameLab is a programme of the Cheltenham Science Festival and is implemented locally by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), the British Council, and JiveMedia Africa. The competition has been running in South Africa for the past five years.

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