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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

Young Shimla team reach Varsity Cup semi-final
2017-03-29

Description: Young Shimla team reach Varsity Cup semi-final Tags: Young Shimla team reach Varsity Cup semi-final

The Shimlas will be hoping that some of their stars,
like the brilliant flanker Phumzile Maqondwana, will be
on form in the 2017 Varsity Cup semi-final against
Tuks in Pretoria.
Photo: Johan Roux

The pressure in the Varsity Cup semi-final is on Tuks, which will be reason enough for Shimlas to play with freedom.

This is according to Jaco Swanepoel, Shimla assistant coach, on the big challenge awaiting his young rugby team in Pretoria on 3 April 2017. He says because Tuks are the favourites, it could be to the advantage of the visitors. Maties and the University of Johannesburg are playing in the other semi-final in Stellenbosch on the same day.

Tuks did Shimlas a favour
Tuks’ victory of 43-28 over the Pukke in Potchefstroom on 27 March 2017 helped the Shimlas, who had a bye, to end fourth on the log with 23 league points.
Shimlas had to make use of several new players this year, and few experts would have given them a chance of reaching the semi-finals. Swanepoel says although they are proud of this achievement, only a place among the top four was never their end-goal.
    
Good to be the underdog

The Shimlas lost their league match against Tuks in Bloemfontein with 19-65. This, as well as the fact that Tuks was at the top of the log with 34 league points, underlines the huge task ahead.
“The previous result (against Tuks) is encouragement for the players to show: We aren’t that much worse than Tuks,” says Swanepoel. “Perhaps it is good to be the underdog. We actually have no pressure on us and I hope the players feel the same way.”

Three teams in knockout matches
All three Varsity Cup teams from the University of the Free State (UFS) reached the knockout matches. Apart from Shimlas, the UFS Young Guns played against Tuks in a semi-final in Bloemfontein on 27 March 2017, but lost by 21-45. On 17 April 2017, Vishuis will meet the Puk’s Patria in the residence finals.

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