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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

News Archive

Wrongful suffering must be compensated, Prof Johann Neethling argues
2016-04-20

Description: Prof Johan Neethling, wrongful suffering must be compensated Tags: Prof Johan Neethling, wrongful suffering must be compensated

From the left are Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Neethling, Prof Rita-Marie Jansen, Vice-Dean, and Dr Brand Claassen, Head of the Department of Private Law.
Photos: Stephen Collett

On 11 April, the Faculty of Law held the first of the year’s series of Prestige Lectures presented by Prof Johann Neethling, Senior Professor in the Department of Private Law.  The event was attended by senior faculty members, the Dean of Law Prof, Caroline Nicholson, and the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

In his opening remarks, Prof Jansen said “Prestige lectures are at the heart of a university’s academic endeavour. It would serve the university community well to present them more often, as they go to the heart of important issues that affect society”

Prof Neethling made a compelling case for compensation for wrongful suffering by a child born with impairments. Since the mid-1960s, the actions of wrongful conception and wrongful birth have been recognised in South African law. Wrongful conception is defined as when a healthy child is born as a result of failed sterilisation or abortion, and wrongful birth is when a doctor fails to inform parents of a disability before the birth of their child.

“The reality is that a child born with impairments may indeed suffer (sometimes extreme) pain, loss of amenities of life, which would justify an award of damages,” he said.

So far, the action for wrongful suffering has been dismissed by the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. However, he highlighted several cases where wrongful conception and wrongful birth was recognised by the courts.

“Why can the same approach (for wrongful conception and wrongful birth) not be followed in wrongful suffering claims by accepting that a disabled child seeks to address the consequences of its birth?” he asked.

Prof Neethling is regarded as one of the greatest minds in Private Law, not only in South Africa but in the African continent.

A festschrift, Essays in Honour of Johann Neethling (2015), with contributions from more than 50 of his peers around the world, was also launched at the lecture.

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