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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 Library book launch programme fosters dialogue between students and authors
2017-03-30

Description: Library book launch 2017 Tags: Library book launch 2017

The University of the Free State (UFS) Sasol Library has hosted a series of book launches since 2016, bringing to the Bloemfontein Campus various new and seasoned authors who share their stories with the campus audiences. The Launch Your Book at the Library Programme hosted two authors on 23 March 2017, Itumeleng Sekhu and Marcia Ramodike. Both authors spoke about their life-changing experiences and shared their heart-wrenching stories, filled with courage and hope. 

“Libraries must take the lead in creating dialogue, expression of ideas and inculcating a culture of reading and writing. This programme was also established to bridge the gap and find ways to encourage students to read and write, by creating a platform where they can interact with authors and see that people who write books are ordinary people with real stories to tell,” said Marcus Maphile, Assistant Director: Library Marketing and Community Engagement.

Speaking about her book, Itumeleng Sekhu described her experiences from childhood and her life as a disabled person after being severely burnt in a fire accident in her home as a baby.  She said: “I tried to commit suicide several times because I had lost hope. Eventually after failing to do so, I realised at some point that it was time for me to let my light shine through.” She wrote her book, titled What Do You See?, which has received substantial media coverage, to encourage others who live with painful experiences, disabilities and what she terms “internal wounds”, hoping that her experiences could help to heal them.

Marcia Ramodike’s book, An Empty Pride to a Full Price, paints a picture of her life as a youth grappling with adult issues. She describes her pain after her mother’s death, and her constant battle with the legacy of the difficult socio-economic conditions she grew up in. When students asked Ramodike what she thought the right time was to write a book, she responded, “today is the right time to write your story”.

The UFS Library has hosted 16 book launches since 2016, with the biggest being the launch of Zubeida Jaffer’s book Beauty of the Heart. The programme aims to provide access to information and to share and debate ideas in support of democracy and freedom of speech.

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