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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

Four modernised controlled environment cabinets inaugurated
2006-07-27

Photographed in a controlled environment cabinet were at the back from the left:  Mr Adriaan Hugo (head of the UFS Electronics and Mechanisation Division), Prof Herman van Schalkwyk (Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS) and Prof Koos Terblans (lecturer at the UFS Department of Physics).  In front is Mr Koos Uys (engineering consultant from Experto Designa who helped with the cooling systems of the cabinets).
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

Different look for research in controlled circumstances at the UFS  

Research in controlled circumstances at the University of the Free State (UFS) turned a new page today with the inauguration of four modernised controlled environment cabinets of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences.

“The controlled environment cabinets, which are situated next to the glass houses on the eastern side of the Agriculture Building on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein, were installed in the early 1980’s.  The cabinets, used for research purposes in controlled circumstances by the UFS for many years, became dysfunctional and needed to be repaired and put into use again,” said Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS.

“The cabinets are used by the agronomics, horticulture and soil science divisions of the Department of Soil, Crop and Climate Sciences to control factors such as the temperature, the intensity and quality of light, synthesis and humidity.  This is done 24 hours a day, with hourly intervals,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

The cabinets are ideally suited to determine the joint and separate effects of these factors on the growth of plants.  The adaptability of plants to climate can also be investigated under controlled circumstances.  All of this leads to a better understanding of the growth and development process of plants, more specifically that of agricultural crops. 

“The effect of these environmental factors on the effectiveness of insect killers such as fungus killers, insecticide and weed killers can also be investigated and can help to explain the damage that is sometimes experienced, or even prevent the damage if the research is timeously,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

A new cabinet can cost between R2-3 million, depending on the degree of sophistication.  “Although controlled environment cabinets have been used for agricultural research for a long time, it has become costly to maintain them     and even more impossible to purchase new ones,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

According to Prof Van Schalkwyk the cabinets were re-built by die UFS Electronics and Mechanisation Division.  Some of the mechanisms were also replaced and computerised.   

“The re-building and mechanisation of the cabinets were funded by the faculty and because the work was done by our own staff, an amount of about R1 million was saved.  The maintenance costs will now be lower as the cabinets are specifically tailor made for our research needs,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

Where all monitoring was done manually in the past, the cabinets can now be controlled with a computer.  This programme was designed by Prof Koos Terblans from the UFS Department of Physics. 

According to Prof Van Schalkwyk the modernisation of the cabinets is part of the faculty’s larger strategy to get its instruments and apparatus up to world standards.  “With this project we have proved that we can find a solution for a problem ourselves and that there are ways to get old apparatus functional again,” said Prof Van Schalkwyk.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel:   (051) 401-2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
26 July 2006

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