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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

Prof Antjie Krog speaks on verbalising revulsion and the collusion of men
2015-06-26

From the left are Prof Lucius Botes, UFS: Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities; Prof Helene Strauss, UFS: Department of English; Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, UFS: Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies; Prof Antjie Krog, UCT: Department Afrikaans and Dutch; Dr Buhle Zuma, UCT: Department of Psychology. Both Prof Strauss and Dr Zuma are partners in the Mellon Foundation research project.

“This is one of the bitterest moments I have ever endured. I would rather see my daughter carried away as a corpse than see her raped like this.”

This is one of 32 testimonies that were locked away quietly in 1902. These documents, part of the NC Havenga collection, contain the testimonies of Afrikaner women describing their experiences of sexual assault and rape at the hands of British soldiers during the South African War.

This cluster of affidavits formed the foundation of a public lecture that Prof Antjie Krog delivered at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on Tuesday 23 June 2015. The lecture, entitled ‘They Couldn’t Achieve their Goal with Me: Narrating Rape during the South African War’, was the third instalment in the Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series on Trauma, Memory, and Representations of the Past. The series is hosted by Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation Studies at the UFS, as part of a five-year research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Verbalising revulsion

The testimonies were taken down during the last two months of the war, and “some of the women still had marks and bruises on their bodies as evidence,” Prof Krog said. The victims’ words, on the other hand, struggled to express the story their bodies told.

What are the nouns for that which one sees? What words are permissible in front of men? How does one process revulsion verbally? These are the barriers the victims – raised with Victorian reserve – faced while trying to express their trauma, Prof Krog explained.

The collusion of men

When the war ended, there was a massive drive to reconcile the Boers and the British. “Within this process of letting bygones be bygones,” Prof Krog said, “affidavits of severe violations by white men had no place. Through the collusion of men, prioritising reconciliation between two white male hierarchies, these affidavits were shelved, and, finally, had to suffer an embargo.”

“It is only when South Africa accepted a constitution based on equality and safety from violence,” Prof Krog said, “that the various levels of deeply-rooted brutality, violence, and devastation of men against the vulnerable in society seemed to burst like an evil boil into the open, leaving South African aghast in its toxic suppurations. As if, for many decades, we did not know it was there and multiplied.”

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