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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

Louzanne smashes world record despite strong wind
2017-04-13

Description: Louzanne smashes world record  Tags: Louzanne smashes world record

Louzanne Coetzee and her guide
Khothatso Mokone.
Photo: Johan Roux

Despite the terribly windy conditions at this year’s Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled, Louzanne Coetzee managed to improve her world record in the 5 000 m race.

Record improved by almost 40 seconds
Last year, Coetzee, who works at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS), was the first blind athlete to complete the 5 000 m race in less than 20 minutes.

Her own record in the 5 000 m race (T11 category) was 19:17.06 and with the help of her guide, Khothatso Mokone, she improved it by almost 40 seconds. The new national record now stands at 18:37.23.

Coetzee says the evening before the race the winds were terrible, and she started to wonder what would happen during her race. “Even though the wind was a bit tough, overall it was a good race,” she says.

Overjoyed by exceptional time

She says that when she heard her time was a new record, she was completely overjoyed and could not believe it. “I was aiming to run just under 19 seconds but when I heard that my time was not only a personal best but also a new world record, I was over the moon.”

The Championships took place from 31 March to 4 April in Port Elizabeth. Coetzee and Mokone will be in action in a Grand Prix in Switzerland next month.

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