UFH and Raymond Mhlaba Municipality reinforce commitment to make Alice a safer university town

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Earlier today, the Vice-Chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu met with the Executive Mayor of Raymond Mhlaba Municipality, Councillor Nomhle Sango to discuss immediate, practical intervention the University has committed itself to in a bid to make Alice a safer university town.

The meeting was also a courtesy visit to welcome the Mayor who occupied office three months ago.

The meeting comes three weeks after an incident where three female students were attacked resulting in the murder of one, and the hospitalisation of another following an incident of rape. The attack occurred outside UFH premises on the Tyhume river bridge that connects the town of Alice with the UFH campus.

This is not the first incident where UFH students were attacked on this bridge. In 2017, a male student died a day after sustaining injuries during an attack on the bridge.

Accompanying the VC was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Support, Dr Nosisa Mayaba; the Dean of Student Affairs, Mr Lufuno Tshikudo; the Interim Director of the UFH gender-based violence, Dr Rianna Oelofsen; three SRC members led by their President, Ms Siphokazi Mbalo; and representatives from the University’s Properties and Services and Institutional Advancement Department.

The meeting was held at the Mayor’s Office where the UFH delegation was welcomed by the Mayor; the Speaker of the Municipality, Mr Thozama Ngaye; the Manager in the Mayor’s Office, Mr Melikhaya Bekeni; the Director of Engineering, Daluxolo Mlenzana and the Advisor to the Mayor, Mr Mandla Makaleni.

The immediate practical solutions by the University include the felling of the trees that surrounds the Tyhume river, bush clearing, excavating the grounds under the bridge to clear the stagnant water and allow for better flow and also to erect tall lamp posts.

For medium-term solutions, the University proposed that in conjunction with the Municipality, to approach the SAPS to increase police visibility and jointly motivate for the establishment of a satellite police station. The issue of reinforcing certain bylaws to curb the dangers that are lurking was also proposed during the meeting.

Another intervention proposed includes the establishment of a Thuthuzela Centre for rape victims.

These proposals and interventions by the VC and his delegation were greatly welcomed by the Mayor and her delegation who expressed their commitment to join forces with the University.

“We welcome this progressive move. The VC raised pivotal issues and proposed amicable solutions. We need to strengthen our strategic partnership to address the socio-economic challenges faced by the University community and the community of Alice,” said the Mayor who detailed some of the initiatives the Municipality has undertaken following the death of the student, which includes a resolution to establish a Community Policing Forum and the reinforcement of bylaws.

Giving context behind the motivation behind this engagement, the VC said: “The two, UFH and the town of Alice cannot exist without each other. We are like conjoined twins, if one suffers, the other will feel the brunt. If one becomes dysfunctional, the other will also become dysfunctional. The time to point fingers is long gone. We need to work together to find amicable solutions to the challenges that face the 10 000 students on the Alice campus and the surrounding communities.