Dr Etienne van Wyk.
In a special welcome message, Dr Etienne van Wyk, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology and Interim Campus Rector of the Soshanguve campus emphasised that the launch was a first of its kind for any university in the country. “We are here today to celebrate the launch of the first ever Campus Community Safety Forum (CCSF) established in terms of the South African Police Act 68 of 1995. We are also celebrating the launch of the TUT Victim Empowerment Centre (VEC) at the Soshanguve Campus, which is not only the first such centre within the TUT family, but also the first VEC on any campus in Southern Africa where staff and students are trained in respect of GBV and CCSF,” he said.
Similarly, in a congratulatory message from the Office of the Vice Chancellor, Dr Caroline Selepe, Senior Director: Strategic Support also highlighted the uniqueness and importance of this launch. “The launch of the Campus Community Safety Forum, which is a first for Africa, is extremely important and far reaching, not only for Gauteng, but for South Africa and the continent at large,” she said.
Dr Selepe emphasised the important benefits of the launch for students to the 320-strong GBV student activist group who were part of the audience at the Student Centre. These benefits include:
- The student safety cadet project will be implemented within various campuses that are part of involving student drive and campaigns against crime on our campuses.
- It will cultivate a culture of public service and crime prevention skills during their student lives and beyond.
- It will assist the students with critical knowledge towards GBV offences, diversity and equality.
- It will teach them the importance of gender and tribal parities on and off campus, as future leaders of this country.
- It will prepare students for the working world and the importance of teamwork in a working environment.
Of particular interest from the keynote speaker’s address, Prof Kholo Rakubu (acting) HoD Safety and Security at the Faculty of Humanities, was her reflection on the history of GBV in South Africa and the implications for society. She said there were no proper mechanisms in place to ensure that our parents received professional assistance when experiencing sexual violence during their student years on campus, at higher learning institutions. This led to them succumbing to this hideous violence resulting in parents who were broken in the long run.
Prof Kholo Rakubu.
Furthermore, Prof Kholo highlighted the negligence of institutions of higher learning to assist these victims and perpetrators correctly. “Institutions of higher learning presented readiness to host students however, they neglected the most critical part – support and the establishment of services such as a Victim Empowerment Centre.”
According to Prof Kholo, a university should first prove how it is going to accommodate students’ psychological, emotional, and social well-being as a result of GBV, before ait welcomes students.
Collaborating partners from the national South African Police Service (SAPS) who are experts in the fields of GBV&F as well as community safety forums were part of the distinguished speakers who addressed the audience. These included Colonel Madimetja Dolo: Head Office Division Visible Policing and Operations, who read the campus community safety forum pledge; Major General Thokozani N Mathonsi -Head: Social Crime Prevention and Visible Policing who spoke about the legal implications of a Campus Community Safety Forum; and Johannes Maleka, Chairperson of the Soshanguve Community Policing Forum, also pledged their support to this programme.
The audience was in awe by the special tribute made to the women of Mzansi by Calvin Mogajane, a GBV student activist at the Soshanguve campus, who is a visually impaired author and TUT radio presenter. He has published three books, the first at the tender age of fifteen. In his tribute, he said, “Strong women of Mzansi, you love, even when love means pain. You provide the garden of happiness to the children who are fatherless. Know that what is inside you is a star made, but you are far more precious than stars. Lead the way and we shall have guidance under the shoulders of the blessing of your heart. The women of Mzansi, you are the true meaning of sacrifice.”
Dr Annah Sefolosha, Director of Health and Wellness spoke about how violence has emerged in general and become a norm in society, but that TUT is not embracing any form of violence as part of its culture. She said; “The issue of campus violence has emerged with frightening regularity. TUT is no exception to this crisis. TUT does not advocate for any form of violence, we advocate for an environment that is free of violence and conducive to teaching, learning, and living,” she concluded.
Dr Teddy Setshedi, the initiator and project leader of the GBV&F empowerment programme, who received a heartfelt standing ovation from the audience as he was making his way to the stage, concluded the launch. In his closing remarks he shared that an unpleasant encounter he had with the police during his younger years elicited his desire to initiate this programme. This particular incident left him devastated and he thereafter became a student activist against violence, wanting to help the youth to overcome all forms of ferocity. “It is my passion to align myself to assist the students, and this is the platform,” he concluded.
The Victim Empowerment Centre services are available to all registered TUT students suffering from or have suffered any form of gender-based violence and femicide. The centre will be open on Monday's from 08:00 - 15:00 at the Soshanguve South Campus Building 5.
There is also after-hours free counselling service available from SADAG: 0800 6878 88
For more enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org