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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

UFS law researcher part of international project to produce human trafficking reference book
2017-03-17

Description: Human trafficking reference book Tags: Human trafficking reference book


Trafficking in Persons has been in the spotlight as an ever-growing crime around the world. Research being done in South Africa by various universities over the years has yielded results that are internationally recognised.

Part of this work has been done by Prof Beatri Kruger, Research Associate at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of the Free State (UFS), who has been involved in research that has created awareness around the world on various methods of human trafficking in Africa. She is currently working on co-authoring a chapter in the International Handbook on Human Trafficking to be published by Palgrave, the first of its kind and a major reference work in this field, with Marcel van der Watt, a lecturer at the University of South Africa (Unisa) Department of Police Practice. The reference book is a massive international project that will have more than 60 international contributors and will be published in 2018.

Contribution to international research
The chapter is titled: Breaking bondages: Methods to control victims, ‘Juju’ and human trafficking. It explores the methods used by Nigerian and other West African traffickers, namely “juju” rituals, to subdue their victims for sexual exploitation in various parts of the world. The chapter further charts various physical, financial and the psychological control mechanisms, essential in establishing an informed counter-trafficking global response.

The book and other research being done is a step in the right direction in further understanding specific practices, and can be used to augment international research, support the work of NGOs, law enforcement agencies and individuals who work with victims worldwide, to be able to understand the tools used by perpetrators, and to stop the crime from growing.

Prof Kruger said there were new opportunities at the research division of the UFS Centre for Human Rights to explore human rights violations that occur in human-trafficking scenarios, thus contributing towards more efficient strategies to combat this crime.

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