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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

Oxford professor unlocks secrets of DNA
2017-03-31

Description: Oxford professor unlocks secrets of DNA Tags: Oxford professor unlocks secrets of DNA

From left are: Dr Cristian Capelli, Associate Professor
of Human Evolution at Oxford University;
Dr Karen Ehlers, Senior Lecturer and Prof Paul Grobler,
both from the Department of Genetics at the UFS.
Photo: Siobhan Canavan

Many people are interested to know more about their history and origins, and with the help of genetics, it is possible to provide more information about one’s roots.

During a lecture at the Department of Genetics at the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Cristian Capelli, Associate Professor of Human Evolution at Oxford University in the UK, addressed staff members and students on the history of our species.

Reconstructing the history of human population
With his research, titled: People on the move: population structure and gene-flow in Southern Africa, Dr Capelli looks at reconstructing the history of human populations, focusing mainly on how the different human populations are related, as well as how they exchange genes.

He said this research could be of great significance to the medical field too. “Knowing what the genetic make-up of individuals is, can give us some information about their susceptibility to diseases, or how they would react to a given medicine. Therefore, this knowledge can be used to inform health-related policies.”

Combining individual histories of multiple people
To understand this research more clearly, Dr Capelli explained it in terms of DNA and how every individual receives half of their DNA from their mother and half from their father just as their parents had received theirs from their parents. And so it goes from generation after generation. Each individual stores a part of their ancestors’ DNA which makes up the individual genetic history of each person.

“If we combine these individual histories by looking at the DNA of multiple people, we can identify the occurrences that are shared across individuals and therefore reconstruct the history of a population, and in the same way on a larger scale, the history of our own species, homo sapiens.

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