Campuses more secure

The University of the Free State (UFS) has tightened security on its premises to ensure the safety of students.

Stringent efforts include beefing up existing on-campus and off-campus security measures.

Additional measures are closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, 24/7 operational centres, red pole alarms (panic buttons), security patrols, dedicated investigating officers, a student crime-stop WhatsApp group and a whistles project.

“Security measures are constantly being developed and supplemented as the need arises,” Lacea Loader, spokesperson of the UFS, said.

“Students are urged to take cognisance and make use of these services and facilities that seek to address safety and security issues.

“The safety of students is at the fore of the University of the Free State’s agenda.”

Loader said the whistle project, which saw the distribution of 10 000 whistles, was done in collaboration with the police, the Community Policing Forum (CPF) and armed response companies.

She said the UFS Protection Services consistently worked to ensure that security remained tight on the UFS campuses through its 24/7 operational centres.

“Emergencies and crime incidents affecting students may be reported at the centres. The certification of documents and drafting of affidavits are also facilitated at these centres.

“All campuses are monitored by CCTV cameras on a 24/7 basis.”

She said plans were underway to further enhance camera coverage in the vicinity of crime hotspots.

“Recently 107 cameras were upgraded to improve the safety of students. An assessment on the adequacy of lighting was conducted and a process is underway to improve lighting on campuses where a weakness was observed.”

Loader said the red pole alarms (panic buttons) fitted with cameras were installed around the Bloemfontein campus and had been linked to the operational centre.

“Alarms are tested daily. Problems observed are attended to immediately. Security patrols are conduc­ted daily on foot and by vehicles, on all campuses, to respond to student complaints and for visibility.”

She said pole alarms would also be installed on the UFS South Campus.

“Security officers are deployed around the female residences at night. Monthly liaison meetings are held between Protection Services and Housing and Residence Affairs to discuss areas of improvement and alternative options.”

Loader said there was an investigating officer (on standby 24/7 and available to students and staff) who has a fully entrenched relationship with the police investigation unit.

“All cases are fully investigated, and cases being handled by the police investigators are also followed up on by the protection services.”

Loader said security patrols were conducted in areas such as Brandwag, Willows and Universitas, where many students live.

“Joint crime awareness sessions with the police are held to address issues that arise from time to time,” she said.