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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

Shack study holds research and social upliftment opportunities
2015-02-10

Photo: Stephen Collett

When Prof Basie Verster, retired head of the Department of Quantity Surveying at the University of the Free State (UFS), initiated an alternative form of housing for Johannes - one of his employees - a decision was made to base research on this initiative. This research project in Grasslands, Heidedal focused on the cost and energy efficiency of green and/or sustainable shacks.

Esti Jacobs from the Department of Quantity Surveying, together with an honours student in Quantity Surveying, a master’s student in Architecture, and young professionals at Verster Berry, helped with the project.

The physical goals of the project were to create a structure that is environmentally friendly, and maintains a comfortable interior climate in winter and summer, as well as being cost-effective to erect. The structure also had to be socially acceptable to the family and the community.

“The intention was to make a positive contribution to the community and to initiate social upliftment through this project. Structures such as the ‘green shack’ may serve as an intermediate step to future housing possibilities, since these structures are relatively primitive, but have economic value and could be marketable,” she said.

Esti explains the structure of the building, which consists of gum poles and South African pine bearers, with a timber roof and internal cement block flooring. The building is clad with corrugated iron and has a corrugated iron roof finish. Additional green elements added to the structure were internal Nutec cladding, glasswool insulation in walls, internal gypsum ceiling boards with ‘Think Pink’ insulation, internal dividing wall and door, polystyrene in the floors, and tint on the windows. A small solar panel for limited electricity use (one or two lights and electricity to charge a cellphone) and a Jojo water tank for household consumption by the inhabitants were also installed.

Esti said: “Phase one of the research has been completed. This phase consisted of an investigation into the cost of an alternative form of housing structure (comparing traditional shacks with the planned structure) as well as the construction process of the physical housing structure.

“Phase two of the research, commencing in February 2015, will last for two to three years. This phase will include the installation of temperature and relative humidity logging devices inside the existing traditional shack and the new green shack. The logs will be regularly monitored by the UFS Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management.

These data will enable the researchers to measure the differences in comfort levels inside the two different structures. The data, together with other information such as building materials and methods, are then processed by software programs. Through the simulation of different environments, building materials, and alternate forms of energy, software models can be used to come up with conclusions regarding more energy-friendly building materials and methods. This knowledge can be used to improve comfort levels within smaller, low-cost housing units.

The UFS will be working with Prof Jeff Ramsdell of the Appalachian State University in the USA and his team on the second phase of the project.

“This research project is ongoing and will be completed only in a few years’ time,” said Esti.

The results of the research will be published in accredited journals or at international conferences.

 

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za.

 

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