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30 November 2020 | Story Nonsidiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied

Acclaimed South African writer, author, and UFS research fellow Zubeida Jaffer was honoured with a lifetime achievement award for her career in journalism during the Standard Bank Sivukile Awards ceremony. 

Passion for journalism spans decades
During the award ceremony on 15 October 2020, Jaffer received the prestigious Allan Kirkland Soga Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognises a sustained and extraordinary contribution to journalism. Jaffer said she never chose journalism, but journalism chose her. She said when she first stepped into a newsroom looking for a holiday job in the 1970s, she did not know she had stepped into her future in news reporting. Since then, Jaffer has earned many accolades in the journalism industry as well as in academia. She also became an acclaimed author, and wrote her third book, Beauty of the Heart: The Life and Times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, during her time as a writer-in-residence at the UFS. While at the UFS, she founded the online media platform, The Journalist, a platform that provides history and context for key issues facing South African journalists. This portal also links students with academics across the country and will soon be extended to the African continent and the diaspora.

Jaffer said she felt blessed to be recognised among the many journalism pioneers in South Africa. 

“It’s extremely wonderful because it came so out of the blue. This year, with COVID-19, I was digging deep, and trying my best to keep focus. I’m very thankful. It’s made me pause, reflect, and realise that a lot of things I’ve done have been of value. When living your life, it’s not that you’re aware of that all the time. There are many people doing great things who don’t always get this kind of recognition,” Jaffer said.

Still a great need for journalists in South Africa 

Talking about journalism today, Jaffer said: “I am often overwhelmed to witness the enthusiasm and determination of young journalists across the country who come from humble backgrounds and inspire those around them. Our country is gripped in a bipolar condition. It is not clear how the healing will come, but it will. The challenge is to keep our minds in balance so that we can be strong enough to root out corruption and gender-based violence, while at the same time fully understanding our blessings as a people.”

UFS alumna Rising Star in Journalism 

In another accolade for the UFS, the Upcoming/Rising Star of the Year award went to former UFS Journalism student Brümilda Swartbooi for her article titled ‘Sy het hard vir ons gewerk’. The article highlighted the senseless killing of a woman outside her workplace, minutes after her husband dropped her off.

Brümilda Swartbooi. Photo: Supplied

News Archive

Tiny microbes may solve large problems of water contamination, says Prof Esta van Heerden
2014-12-08

Small solutions for big problems

According to Prof Esta van Heerden, professor in the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the University of the Free State (UFS), this might hold some truth in current terms of water treatment strategies for waste and industrial effluents.

“There is little doubt in popular literature that eminent water crises are looming, not only with respect to the supply, but quality and effectiveness of various treatment options as well. The UFS’s Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology is partnering with the Technology Innovation Agency to evaluate water treatment technologies that are applied worldwide and to extend these new or adapted options to innovative and interested clients in South Africa,” says Prof Van Heerden.

“The research focuses on using extreme microbes to tackle big contaminations and the results are amazing,” says Prof Van Heerden.

These microbes are fast becoming the stars on sites and developing these exciting systems allows for greener treatment options. It is fascinating that they can deal with metals, including chromium and uranium, cyanide, petroleum and diesel.

Of utmost importance is the development of a treatment for acid mine drainage.

“Interests have been overwhelming and thus far partners have allowed pilot scale development on their sites with very promising results. These initiatives are driven by responsible partners who strive to be innovative and develop sustainable technologies for good quality water that can be released in the environment,” Prof Van Heerden says.

The research group has set up a pipeline to serve the water communities’ needs. It provides an accessible toolkit for water analysis. A tailor-made treatment option is also developed and showcased in the laboratories. It has the added benefit that Geosyntec Consultants, USA, will ensure faster roll-out by sharing their vast experience on any related aspects.

 

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