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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

Shimlas honoured to meet Prof Petersen
2017-04-12

Description: ' A Shimlas and Prof Francis Tags: Shimlas, Prof Francis Petersen
Prof Francis Petersen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, with
Shimla captain, Stephan Janse van Rensburg, in front of
the Main Building.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“I studied at Maties and worked for quite a long time at the University of Cape Town so I am also an Ikey, but now I am a Kovsie. So I am obviously supporting and fully behind the Kovsie team.”

This was what the new University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Francis Petersen, said to the Shimla rugby team at a breakfast on 7 April 2017. The Varsity Cup team was invited to the Main Building by Prof Petersen to congratulate them on a great season. The Rector also thanked the team’s management. “All of them wanted to see you and we have waited quite a few months for you. And thank you for the invite. It means a lot us,” said Jaco Swanepoel, Shimla assistant coach.

Shimlas went in as underdogs

“I was completely stunned by the way you played on Monday night,” Prof Petersen said. 

A young Shimlas team went into the tournament as underdogs, but managed to reach the Varsity Cup semifinal against Tuks on 3 April 2017 in Pretoria. The Shimlas staged a great comeback and pushed the home team until the end. They only lost 21-28 against a strong University of Pretoria team.

The Rector also reiterated the importance of sport within the university. “Sport is a unifier and we should use it more to unite.”

Great privilege to meet the new Rector

“It is a massive privilege for our team to be invited by Prof Petersen for a nice breakfast. To know that we have his support, as well as that of the entire university, means a lot to us,” said Stephan Janse van Rensburg, Shimla captain. 

The Shimlas wanted to make UFS proud by making a difference and it showed during the semi-final. “We played under extreme pressure and went into the semi-finals as complete underdogs. We played for every Kovsie but unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” Stephan said.

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