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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

Early nutrition impacts on burden of disease
2017-11-15


 Description: Corinna Walsh read more Tags: Corinna Walsh read more

Prof Corinna Walsh during her inaugural lecture on ‘Nutrition in Transition’.
Photo: Stephen Collett 

“The first 1 000 days, from conception to two years, is a critical time to ensure that the early environment is optimal to guarantee the best outcomes,” Prof Corinna Walsh, Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Free State (UFS), said. She delivered her inaugural lecture on Nutrition in Transition on 30 October 2017. 

During her lecture, Prof Walsh explained how an unfavourable early environment impacts on the health and well-being of both children and adults. She gave an overview of the prevalence of hunger and food insecurity in the Free State, and described the shift that has occurred from healthier traditional diets to more unhealthy Western diets accompanied by sedentary lifestyles. These patterns are closely linked to the triple burden of malnutrition, including undernutrition, micro-nutrient malnutrition, and obesity. Finally, Prof Walsh highlighted the double burden of disease, focusing on chronic lifestyle diseases on the one hand, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB on the other hand.

“Preparing for this lecture has given me the opportunity to reflect on the almost thirty years of my research journey, a process that I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Prof Walsh.

“It was a privilege to share the work of my research team with fellow colleagues as well as with family and friends,” she said. Prof Walsh is a National Research Foundation C-rated researcher and also served on the Board of the Medical Research Council from 2005 to 2010.

Foundations for health, growth established early
The first 1 000-day window focuses on the time between conception and the second birthday. “This is a critical period for growth and development,” Prof Walsh said. It is a unique period, as the foundations for health, growth, and neuro-development are established. It also focused on the implications of malnutrition, which is the biggest risk factor contributing to the global burden of disease.


Research identifies burden of disease
Her research has made a considerable contribution to identifying the burden of disease in the Free State. “It focuses on both malnutrition and infectious diseases such as HIV and TB on the one hand, and chronic lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension on the other,” she said. The research team have also implemented a number of interventions to address these challenges, including programmes that have assessed the impact of nutrition-education programmes, household food gardens, and nutrition supplementation.

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