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04 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Prof Cathryn Tonne
Air pollution not only costs lives, it costs money too. Pictured is Prof Cathryn Tonne presenting a guest lecture on air pollution at the Bloemfontein Campus.

Health effects associated with ambient air pollution (AAP) have been well documented. Subsequently, the relationship between pollution and financial outcomes have also become a focus for case studies globally. An Environmental Research journal article revealed that “low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by the global burden of adverse health effects caused by AAP”. 

A high price to pay

In 2012, high concentrations of air pollution caused 7.4% of all deaths, costing South Africa up to 6% of its Gross Domestic Product. According to the recent International Growth Centre study conducted by senior University of Cape Town researchers, this is a direct consequence of the country’s heavy dependence of fossil fuels, a source of health-damaging air pollution and greenhouse pollutants.

Stunted human and economic growth

These South African statistics are attested to by Prof Cathryn Tonne who recently presented a guest lecture on air pollution which was hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) Business School.

“Air pollution can affect economic development through several pathways, and health is an important one. Air pollution is linked to shorter life expectancy, chronic disease, asthma exacerbation and many other health outcomes that result in absenteeism from work and school. These have large direct costs to the health system.” 

Prof Tonne says that air pollution exposure in children is linked to reduced cognitive development, with important impacts on human capital. As a result, children are not reaching their full potential in terms of neurodevelopment, which has an effect on their income prospects and the economy as a whole. 

Resolving a looming disaster

Technology may be employed to radically clean the air. Cities need to lead in the reduction of air pollution by promoting renewable energy, using active transport such as walking or cycling, and investing in infrastructure to make this safe and attractive. 

With researchers playing a major role in strengthening the case for aggressive air pollution control, the government needs to implement policies in order to control sources of air pollution. This global health and economic issue also requires individuals and communities to play their part to improve air quality.

News Archive

Reitz colleagues start their own company
2014-07-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) and the five colleagues implicated in the Reitz incident of 2008 reached the final chapter in the reparation process in restoring the dignity of these colleagues on Thursday 19 June 2014.

Mr Mothibedi Molete and Mss Mankoe Naomi Phororo, Emmah Koko, Nkgapeng Adams and Sebuasengwe Mittah Ntlatseng, former cleaning staff at the UFS, are now the directors of their own cleaning company, Mamello Trading.

Furthering on its promise to assist the new-found company, the UFS has also appointed Mamello Trading as a service provider responsible for services at its South Campus.

It has been six years since the Reitz incident at the UFS and Dr Choice Makhetha, Vice-Rector: External Relations, described the journey of the past six years as a learning experience for all the stakeholders.

“This journey continues as there is still work to be done, but every milestone achieved, deserves a celebration like today’s,” Dr Makhetha said.

In 2010 the UFS signed a deed of settlement with the colleagues which committed the UFS to help them establish a cleaning company. This was followed by a reconciliation ceremony in 2011.

In 2012 the UFS assisted with the registration of the company Mamello Trading.

Dr Makhetha explained that in 2013 the UFS assisted in training the new directors and mentoring them for 12 months. 

Earlier this year, Mamello Trading signed a cleaning contract of four years with the UFS. Three of the directors’ daughters also received bursaries and are currently studying at the UFS.

Advocate Mohamed Ameermia, Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, congratulated the management of the UFS on the reparation and reconciliation process they followed in restoring the dignity of the five colleagues.

The directors of Mamello Trading each had a special message of their journey and thanks. Their messages were as follows:

Rebecca Adams – After the video was exposed, I was hurt and was psychologically affected. By offering their apologies to us, the four students indicated that what they had done was a mistake. As a parent, when a child apologises you must accept that apology.
Emma Koko – I was shocked after the video was shown in public. I had a mother-child-like relationship with one of the students and that video tarnished my image as a human being. During the time of reconciliation these students showed remorse for what they had done.
David Molete – I was devastated, hurt and fearful to meet people. I ended up at a psychiatric hospital and attended counseling services which helped me to heal. The students apologised and I accepted because they were sincere.
Mittah Ntlaseng – The video impacted negatively on my dignity. The UFS assisted us with visits to psychologists. Now I feel I am a business owner and it is an opportunity for me to rebuild my self-esteem. 

Naomi Phororo – Mamello Trading is a business venture which is going to bring changes to our lives and families. The training I have received has enabled me to know how to manage the business.

 

Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27(0)51 401 2584
Fax: +27(0)51 444 6393
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za

  

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