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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

Water erosion research help determine future of dams
2017-03-07

Description: Dr Jay le Roux Tags: Dr Jay le Roux

Dr Jay le Roux, one of 31 new NRF-rated
researchers at the University of the Free State,
aims for a higher rating from the NRF.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“This rating will motivate me to do more research, to improve outcomes, and to aim for a higher C-rating.” This was the response of Dr Jay le Roux, who was recently graded as an Y2-rated researcher by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

Dr Le Roux, senior lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of the Free State (UFS), is one of 31 new NRF-rated researchers at the UFS. “This grading will make it possible to focus on more specific research during field research and to come in contact with other experts. Researchers are graded on their potential or contribution in their respective fields,” he said.

Research assess different techniques
His research on water erosion risk in South Africa (SA) is a methodological framework with three hierarchal levels presented. It was done in collaboration with the University of Pretoria (UP), Water Research Commission, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and recently Rhodes University and the Department of Environmental Affairs. Dr Le Roux was registered for 5 years at UP, while working full-time for the Agricultural Research Council – Institute for Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-ISCW).

Water erosion risk assessment in South Africa: towards a methodological framework
, illustrates the most feasible erosion assessment techniques and input datasets that can be used to map water erosion features in SA. It also emphasises the simplicity required for application at a regional scale, with proper incorporation of the most important erosion-causal factors.

The main feature that distinguishes this approach from previous studies is the fact that this study interprets erosion features as individual sediment sources. Modelling the sediment yield contribution from gully erosion (also known as dongas) with emphasis on connectivity and sediment transport, can be considered as an important step towards the assessment of sediment produce at regional scale. 
 
Dams a pivotal element in river networks

Soil is an important, but limited natural resource in SA. Soil erosion not only involves loss of fertile topsoil and reduction of soil productivity, but is also coupled with serious off-site impacts related to increased mobilisation of sediment and delivery to rivers.

The siltation of dams is a big problem in SA, especially dams that are located in eroded catchment areas. Dr Le Roux recently developed a model to assess sediment yield contribution from gully erosion at a large catchment scale. “The Mzimvubu River Catchment is the only large river network in SA on record without a dam.” The flow and sediment yield in the catchment made it possible to estimate dam life expectancies on between 43 and 55 years for future dams in the area.
 
Future model to assess soil erosion
“I plan to finalise a soil erosion model that will determine the sediment yield of gully erosion on a bigger scale.” It will be useful to determine the lifespan of dams where gully erosion is a big problem. Two of his PhD students are currently working on project proposals to assess soil erosion with the help of remote sensing techniques.

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