16 May 2022 | Story Dr Nitha Ramnath




As a public higher-education institution in South Africa with a responsibility to contribute to public discourse, the University of the Free State (UFS) will be presenting the webinar in collaboration with News24 and the Free State Literature Festival.  The aim of the webinar series is to discuss issues facing South Africa by engaging experts at the university and in South Africa.

Some of the topics discussed by leading experts in 2021 included, among others, reimagining universities for student success; corruption in South Africa – the endemic pandemic; South African politics and the local government elections; is South Africa falling apart: where to from here; predications for 2022; and why vaccinate?

First webinar presented on 31 May 2022
There is a perception that the presence of migrants in South Africa is compromising job opportunities and is the source of crime and inadequate service delivery, among other things. People are being stopped on the street by private citizens and forced to produce identification to verify their immigration status. Some political leaders are exploiting people’s grievances for political gain and are making unfounded pronouncements about immigrants. Businesses of migrants are being looted, burned, and destroyed. People’s homes are being invaded and raided for evidence of criminal activity. Frequent attacks are being levelled and people are even killed because of how they look and because of their accent.

Is the focus and targeting of foreigners merely a smokescreen for government’s failures?
These are some of the aspects we look forward to discussing in the forthcoming webinar.

Date: Tuesday, 31 May 2022
Topic: Crime in South Africa – who is to blame?
Time: 12:30-14:00
RSVP: Alicia Pienaar, pienaaran1@ufs.ac.za by 29 May 2022


Prof Francis Petersen
Rector and Vice-Chancellor, UFS


Adriaan Basson

Gareth Newham
Head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme
The Institute for Security Studies

Prof Joy Owen
Head of Department: Anthropology
Faculty of the Humanities, UFS

Judge at the High Court of Cape Town and Judge President of the Competition Appeal Court 

Bios of speakers:

Adriaan Basson

Adriaan Basson is the editor-in-chief of News24, South Africa's biggest website. Before that, he edited Netwerk24 and the daily newspaper Beeld. He is a recipient of the CNN African Journalist of the Year award for news, the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalist of the Year award, and the Taco Kuiper award for investigative journalism. He has reported for Beeld, the Mail & Guardian, and City Press. In 2010, he co-founded the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, nicknamed amaBhungane. Basson has authored four non-fiction books, the latest being Blessed by Bosasa: Inside Gavin Watson’s State Capture Cult (Jonathan Ball Publishers).

Prof Joy Owen

Prof Joy Owen is an academic, mother, and Head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Free State. The former head of department and deputy dean (Humanities) at Rhodes University, Prof Owen spent some time as a visiting lecturer at the University of Münster (Germany) in 2016, and as a TORCH Global South visiting professor at the University of Oxford (UK) in 2019.

Prof Owen’s primary research love is African transnational migration. Her monograph, titled Congolese social networks: Living on the margins in Muizenberg, Cape Town, detailed the lives of transnational Congolese migrants residing in Muizenberg in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Her work homes in on the complex ways in which African transnational migrants create and maintain belonging in post-apartheid South Africa. Focusing particularly on social networks, Prof Owen demonstrates how contingency, strategy, love, and habitus support onward migration (or not).

A second research flirtation is embodied in critical pedagogy that recognises students as knowledge holders and producers through their experiences prior to and during higher education. Students are critical teaching and learning collaborators in classroom spaces, however defined. As an invisible pioneer, ‘Just Joy’ – as described by one of the students she supervises – merges both head and heart in her teaching, as she encourages students to become critically conscious of the world they have inherited and are creating, and the ways in which all forms of oppression can and need to be collectively addressed.

Prof Owen’s work, including her research, teaching, and administrative work, unobtrusively pulls apart academic and social binaries, making the world safer for the appreciation and celebration of difference – the primary marker of humanity.

Gareth Newham

Gareth Newham has spent the past 26 years working to promote public safety and justice in South Africa. In January 2010, he joined the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), which is an independent Pan-African organisation that undertakes policy research, technical support, and capacity building to enhance human security across Africa.

Newham currently heads the Justice and Violence Programme, which consists of a team of people working to inform government policy and practice, and to promote public awareness on effective responses to preventing and reducing violence, crime, and corruption, and improving the performance of the criminal justice system in South Africa.

He regularly publishes both nationally and internationally, and regularly briefs various government departments, parliamentary committees, civil society organisations, the private sector, international audiences, and the media on his areas of work. From 2016 and 2018, he served on the independent ‘Panel of Experts on Policing and Crowd Management,’ appointed by the Cabinet. More recently, he was a contributing author to an internationally published book, titled ‘Police Integrity in South Africa.’

Prior to joining the ISS, Newham held the positions of Strategic Adviser and Special Projects Manager to the Gauteng Provincial Minister (MEC) for Community Safety (2006-2009). He also served as Project Manager in the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (1999-2005), and Project Manager in the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (1995-1998).

Justice Dennis Davis

Judge Dennis Davis, who retired from the bench in December 2020, was educated at the Herzlia School and the Universities of Cape Town and Cambridge. He served as judge of the High Court of Cape Town (since 1998) and Judge President of the Competition Appeal Court (since February 2000). He is honorary professor at the Universities of Cape Town, the Western Cape, Wits and is an extraordinary professor in the University of the Free State Centre for Human Rights. He is also Chair of the Davis Tax Committee and was one of the drafters of the Competition Act 1998 and the Companies Act 2008. He authored 11 books and held visiting professorial posts at the universities of Toronto, Melbourne, Harvard, Florida Brown, Georgetown and New York University. Judge Davis received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Free State in April 2022.


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