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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

Housing strategy must accommodate special needs
2005-10-17

Dr Mark Napier of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) 

South Africa’s housing strategy must give attention to people with special needs, including people with disabilities as well as people living with HIV / AIDS and those in poverty.

This was the view expressed by Dr Mark Napier of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) during his recent presentation to the Housing Research Day organised by the Centre for Development Support (CDS) at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dr Napier previously worked in the national Department of Housing and was involved in shaping the recently launched “Breaking New Ground” housing strategy of Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. 

He said the changing social and demographic trends in South African society, especially after 11 years of democracy, required more flexibility in housing delivery to address the housing needs of different groups of people.  “For example, there are people who wish to or may be required to be spatially mobile because of their work or other reasons. There are also those communities who are vulnerable to disasters,” he said.

According to Dr Napier, housing delivery faced a number of challenges which needed to be addressed, including:

  • the withdrawal of larger construction firms
  • perceptions of low profit margins in the private sector
  • the slow process of developing an emerging contractor sector
  • access to bridging and other finance
  • the ability to retain capacity and expertise mainly at municipal level
  • the acquisition of well located (especially inner city) land

Dr Napier said the new housing strategy – which is called “Breaking New Ground” – tries to go beyond the provision of basic shelter to the establishment of sustainable settlements. It is also tries to be more responsive to housing demand rather than being supply led.

 The new strategy also allows for greater devolution of power to municipalities in the provision of housing, through accreditation to manage subsidies, Dr Napier said. 

He said a survey of people who had benefited from government’s housing programme had shown mixed results, with beneficiaries reporting a sense of security, independence and pride.  Although the location of the houses was poor and there were increased costs, most beneficiaries said they were better off than before, according to the survey.  Beneficiaries also highlighted the problem that they had very little personal choice between houses, sites or settlements.

There was also the perceived failure of developers and municipalities to repair defective houses or adequately maintain settlements, the survey found.
Many beneficiaries also reported that they felt unsafe in their settlements as well as in their own houses.

Prof Lucius Botes, the director of the Centre for Development Support, said the research day highlighted the Centre’s ability to interact with real problems faced by communities, by government, the private sector and civil society.  “This is how we can ensure that the UFS is engaged through our research with our people’s problems and challenges and enables the UFS as a place of scholarship to assist in finding solutions,” Prof Botes said.

Media release
Issued by:Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
17 October 2005   
 

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