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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

Student Council welcomes international students on campus
2017-03-16

Description: International students on Qwaqwa Campus  Tags: International students on Qwaqwa Campus

Some of the guests and International Student
Council (ISC) members during the welcome
function. From the left are: Tatenda Goche (Deputy
Chairperson), Loice Nzombe (Chairperson),
Bulelwa Moikwatlhai (Office of International
Affairs), Jennifer Ashafa (Secretary), and
Takudzwa Nyamunda (Chairperson on the
Bloemfontein Campus)
Photo: Thabo Kessah

SRC President Njabulo Mwali says that the presence of international students on the Qwaqwa Campus is very welcome as it enables students from all over the world to learn from each other.  He was addressing the International Student Council’s welcome function for international students.

“One important area where South African students can learn a lot from international students is hard work. It is an open secret that many of us, as South Africans, are not as persistent as we should be. We give up easily,” he said to an audience of students mainly from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.

Speaking on behalf of the Rectorate, the Registrar: Systems and Administration, Dr Karen Lazenby, assured international students that the UFS is committed to their emotional and physical wellbeing.

International students face various challenges

“Having been an international student myself, I fully understand your various challenges. If you have any ideas on how we can make your stay here as memorable as possible, please help us to help you,” she said.

Both Drs Elsa Crause and Dipane Hlalele, respectively Campus Vice-Principal: Academic and Research and Acting Campus Vice-Principal: Support Services, congratulated students on choosing the Qwaqwa Campus.

“Our campus will give you many opportunities to reinvent yourself both as a person and a student,”   Dr Crause said.

Dr Hlalele added: “International experience is fascinating as it does not only provide different types of knowledge and truth, it also enriches the campus with an African and international footprint.”

The Office of International Affairs also presented its services to students.

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