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24 May 2019 | Story Eloise Calitz | Photo Charl Devenish
Gangster book Discussion
From left: Jacques van Wyk from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Cathy Dlodlo, news editor from OFM; Pieter Roux from the UFS Business School; Alta Vermeulen from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance and Pieter-Louis Myburgh, author

A packed Odeion Auditorium at the University of the Free State was welcomed by Professor Helena van Zyl, Head of the UFS Business School. The reason being, a panel discussion with award-winning investigative reporter and author, Pieter-Louis Myburgh, on his much-publicised book Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule's Web of Capture. The programme took the form of a panel discussion. The panellists included Pieter-Louis Myburgh, author; Jacques van Wyk from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE); Cathy Dlodlo, news editor from OFM; Alta Vermeulen from the UFS Department of Political Studies and Governance; and Pieter Roux from the UFS Business School.

In his introduction, Myburgh said he was happy that he was able to come to Bloemfontein and have the discussion, since South Africans should cherish freedom of speech and a free press.

The research for the book took 13 months to conclude, and during this time he spent a lot of time in the Free State and Bloemfontein. He mentioned that the book gave him the opportunity to present a condensed account of what he discovered; he could therefore share more, as opposed to just reporting on a story in the newspaper. For him, investigative reporting should always be fact based and open to scrutiny.

Some of the topics raised by the panel was concern about the perception that investigative journalists are focusing more on corruption in the public sector and less on the private sector. This was, however, discarded as a myth, as Myburgh pointed out that he exposed both private and public sector dealings in order to provide the full scope of involved parties.

Focusing on whistle blowers, the panel challenged the verification of whistle-blower information. Myburgh responded that journalists never use only one whistle-blower’s evidence, since that is merely the start of the investigation. Further investigation was necessary, and facts had to be verified. With that said, there is still a lot to be done with regard to the protection of whistle-blowers, he concluded.

The floor was opened to the audience, which provided the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about what was mentioned during the panel discussion. The audience eagerly participated in the discussion. In conclusion, Myburgh reiterated that society plays a vital role in keeping those in power to the promises they make.

After the discussion, the audience had the opportunity to have their books signed by the author.

News Archive

UFS physicists publish in prestigious Nature journal

Description: Boyden Observatory gravitational wave event Tags: Boyden Observatory, gravitational wave event, Dr Brian van Soelen, Hélène Szegedi, multi-wavelength astronomy 
Hélène Szegedi and Dr Brian van Soelen are scientists in the
Department of Physics at the University of the Free State.

Photo: Charl Devenish

In August 2017, the Boyden Observatory in Bloemfontein played a major role in obtaining optical observations of one of the biggest discoveries ever made in astrophysics: the detection of an electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave event.
An article reporting on this discovery will appear in the prestigious science journal, Nature, in October 2017. Co-authors of the article, Dr Brian van Soelen and Hélène Szegedi, are from the Department of Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS). Both Dr Van Soelen and Szegedi are researching multi-wavelength astronomy.
Discovery is the beginning of a new epoch in astronomy
Dr van Soelen said: “These observations and this discovery are the beginning of a new epoch in astronomy. We are now able to not only undertake multi-wavelength observations over the whole electromagnetic spectrum (radio up to gamma-rays) but have now been able to observe the same source in both electromagnetic and gravitational waves.”
Until recently it was only possible to observe the universe using light obtained from astronomical sources. This all changed in February 2016 when LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) stated that for the first time they had detected gravitational waves on 14 September 2015 from the merger of two black holes. Since then, LIGO has announced the detection of two more such mergers. A fourth was just reported (27 September 2017), which was the first detected by both LIGO and Virgo. However, despite the huge amount of energy released in these processes, none of this is detectable as radiation in any part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Since the first LIGO detection astronomers have been searching for possible electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave detections. 
Large international collaboration of astronomers rushed to observe source
On 17 August 2017 LIGO and Virgo detected the first ever gravitational waves resulting from the merger of two neutron stars. Neutron star mergers produce massive explosions called kilonovae which will produce a specific electromagnetic signature. After the detection of the gravitational wave, telescopes around the world started searching for the optical counterpart, and it was discovered to be located in an elliptical galaxy, NGC4993, 130 million light years away. A large international collaboration of astronomers, including Dr Van Soelen and Szegedi, rushed to observe this source.
At the Boyden Observatory, Dr Van Soelen and Szegedi used the Boyden 1.5-m optical telescope to observe the source in the early evening, from 18 to 21 August. The observations obtained at Boyden Observatory, combined with observations from telescopes in Chile and Hawaii, confirmed that this was the first-ever detection of an electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave event. Combined with the detection of gamma-rays with the Fermi-LAT telescope, this also confirms that neutron star mergers are responsible for short gamma-ray bursts.  
The results from these optical observations are reported in A kilonova as the electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave source published in Nature in October 2017.
“Our paper is one of a few that will be submitted by different groups that will report on this discovery, including a large LIGO-Virgo paper summarising all observations. The main results from our paper were obtained through the New Technology Telescope, the GROND system, and the Pan-STARRS system. The Boyden observations helped to obtain extra observations during the first 72 hours which showed that the light of the source decreased much quicker than was expected for supernova, classifying this source as a kilonova,” Dr Van Soelen said.

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