Safety remains concern

2019-02-20 06:01

Despite off-campus safety that remains a challenge for the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof. Francis Petersen, rector and vice-chancellor, is determined to continue creating a safe environment.

He was speaking at a media event on Friday (15/02) at the university where he outlined the latest developments the institution has embarked on.

Petersen said safety and security was a priority at UFS campuses – Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa – among the deve­lopments.

Safety and security of students living off-campus resurfaced after the “mysterious” murder of a third-year student.

The body of the 23-year-old male student was discovered on 12 February in Willows, one of the crime-ridden areas in Bloemfontein.

Mysterious about the student’s murder is that he reportedly had no visible injuries. A passer-by spotted the body of the victim on a pavement under a tree.

Petersen stated that the challenge with security of off-campus students was that the university has no jurisdiction off campus.

Off-campus students are those not staying or boarding at residences within campuses of the university. According to Petersen, off-campus students were soft targets of criminals.

“What we found out is that the most targeting of students living off-campus takes place between the university campus and probably on their way to accommodation off-campus.

“A large percentage of mugging happens after dark.

“Students may be staying till late at computer labs because they do not have access to internet at off-campus accommodation,” said Petersen.

He said the university’s management has implement off-campus security measures in collaboration with external law enforcement agencies such as the police, the Community Policing Forum (CPF) and private security companies.

Petersen said a concerted effort by the UFS to tighten security and safety was accrediting several off-campus residences, 300 presently, and engaging the Mangaung Metro Municipality on the application of by-laws.

He said the police, CPF and security companies in areas where most students reside, conduct regular patrols.

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