Prof Jacob Mofokeng.
The Africa Research Chair for Public Safety at institutions of learning, a first of its kind on the African continent, is expected to contribute extensively to focussed research in finding knowledge-based, innovative solutions that could stem the tide of school/campus-based crimes and, in the longer run, violence on the African continent.
Through his widespread local, continental and international academic networks, Prof Mofokeng, the project leader and Chair-holder will be able to attract the best scholars, researchers and emerging researchers to conduct empirical research on the root causes of crime and endemic violence in learning communities in Africa.
Prof Mofokeng said: “The launch of the African Research Chair for the Campus and School Public Safety is a welcome development. This initiative will go beyond the borders of South Africa, as the idea is to include all 740 institutions of higher learning across the African continent. My own plan is to focus my energy on building capacity for the continental responsibility, which includes fundraising to sustain the activities of the Research Chair beyond my tenure. A large number of African delegates, including ambassadors, are expected to attend the launch event, either virtually or in-person.
“The September 2021 inauguration of the Research Chair in Cape Town, marked the birth of another platform geared to act as a catalyst towards contributing to the ideals of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. In addition, we held an online media briefing in February 2022, with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), Campus and School Safety Training Institute (CASSTI) as well as the office of the Research Chair. These are encouraging developments that depict continental and international support to the activities of the Research Chair,” Prof Mofokeng explained.
Prof Mofokeng will chart the way forward to achieve the mandate of the chair with a focus on the following:
- Spearhead and drive research in respect of innovative solutions for campus and school public safety.
- Drive gender-based violence (GBV) research programmes to find lasting solutions.
- Connect and brand the Research Chair as the driving force and expert for innovative campus safety and security programmes regarding 740 institutions of higher learning in Africa.
- Act as a data collection hub for GBV to assist the South African Police Services (SAPS) and Department of Higher Education (DHET).
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Engagement.
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Engagement said: “The awarding of the Chair symbolises a vote of confidence in the capability of our researchers and scholars at the Faculty, including the quality and impact of their scholarship in shaping societal evolution. This could not have been a more appropriate intervention, as the scourge of gender-based violence has reached an alarming proportion and is terribly worrying. We are excited to launch this magnificent and unique chair at our University. We look forward to engaging other scholars, partners and funders. In preparation for the launch, we have engaged a number of Ambassadors from sister African countries, as well as from outside the boundaries of our continent, since gender-based violence has been ravaging the whole world.”
She added that the University applauds CASSTI for creating a platform to link ideas in the search for innovative solutions to violence in society generally and spaces of learning in particular.
“CASSTI has galvanized collective efforts to this end. Gender-based violence is a terrible social distemper, that, for some time, has been taking root in our learning spaces, which is particularly disheartening”.
“University executive are confronted with a moral question each time we receive a message that a student has become another statistic of gender-based violence - how do we tell a parent that his/her child has become a victim to this vice? The dilemma is that we assume the responsibility of being in loco parentis to students when students they come to our universities. This includes the responsibility of ensuring that learning spaces are free from any form of violence,” she added.
“CASSTI has mobilised us to reclaim our spaces of learning. For TUT, our partnership with CASSTI came in handy in our endeavour to assert our existential essence as a people’s university that makes knowledge work, which has consummated in this partnership – the African Research Chair in Public Safety and Security that will be launched on 7 April, to among others, assist with research on various aspects of gender-based violence,” Dr Papu-Zamxaka concluded.