UFS issues statement on student death to staff, students

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Student Representative Council (SRC) leader from the University of the Free State (UFS), Sonwabile Dwaba.
The spokesperson at the University of the Free State, Lacea Loader, confirmed to OFM News that the organisation has issued an internal statement to its student and staff with regards to the passing of the 20-year-old law student, Aphiwe Gcakasi.

This comes after the Student Representative Council’s (SRC) president, Sonwabile Dwaba, earlier this week said the fact that the university had not issued a statement on the death of one of its students even after four days after Gcakasi’s death, was disappointing.

Gcakasi was stabbed and killed on Sunday in Willows, Bloemfontein, and Dwaba said he could not understand how the institution can send out statements on other matters but not the death of one of its own students. OFM News checked the UFS website and social media pages and could not find the statement. Following a subsequent enquiry on where the statement was issued, Loader said the statement was issued on Thursday and was only sent out to staff and students.

University spokesperson, Lacea Loader, refuted statements made by Dwaba, which suggest that the university does not care about the safety of its students. Earlier this week, Loader and the University’s Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Francis Petersen, told members of the media that the institution would be looking at upgrading security measures at the residences, in addition to other measures it is currently working on.

These measures include the accreditation of off-campus providers of student accommodation, a student crime-stop WhatsApp group where students can report crime to police and Community Policing Forums, patrols by marked and unmarked cars as well as the whistle project, which saw both on and off-campus students receiving whistles so that they would alert attention to themselves in harmful or potentially threatening situations. The University said it is also looking into the establishment of a CPF group on the Bloemfontein campus and is continuously running a safety awareness campaign on the university’s communication platforms. A Safety Awareness Week also took place on the Bloemfontein and South campuses recently.

Pulane Choane / OFM NEWS