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Prof Jimmy Volmink receives highest honour from SAMRC Jimmy Volmink receives highest honour from SAMRCFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie – Wilma Stassen<p><span style="text-align:justify;">The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has bestowed its most prestigious award on Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean of Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), for his “exceptional lifelong contribution to medical research and public health".</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><img src="/english/faculty/healthsciences/PublishingImages/NewsCarousel/Nuus2020/JVMRC.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:301px;" />Volmink received the special Presidential Award at the recent seventh SAMRC Merit Awards event. Prof Mike Sathekge, head of nuclear medicine at the University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic Hospital, also received the Presidential Award during the event.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is a celebration and recognition of scientific excellence and contributions by outstanding medical scientists whose work has made an indelible impact in advancing the lives of South Africans," the SAMRC said in a statement. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Past recipients of the Presidential Award include illustrious science leaders who have made a global impact, such as Profs Zena Stein, Carl Lombard and former SAMRC president Malegapuru William Makgoba.</p><p>In its citation, the SAMRC recognises Volmink's contribution to the fields of clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine during a career extending over more than three decades, particularly highlighting the following contributions:  </p><ul><li>Developing and using rigorous methods to evaluate health care interventions relevant for addressing health problems affecting people living in low- and middle-income countries;</li><li>Promoting evidence-based decision-making at local, national and global levels through knowledge translation efforts;</li><li>Advocacy to address health and social inequalities; and</li><li>Building research capacity through training and mentorship.</li></ul><p>In the citation Volmink was also lauded for his longstanding relationship with the SAMRC. “Prof Volmink has a long history of association with the SAMRC, dating back to 1990 when he was appointed as specialist scientist at the then Centre for Epidemiological Research in Southern Africa (CERSA). After completing his DPhil at Oxford, he was invited by the SAMRC to take up the role of founding director of the South African Cochrane Centre (now Cochrane SA). He achieved the rank of chief specialist scientist in 1998. Over the course of more than two decades (either in a full-time or part-time capacity) he continued to contribute to building and guiding the Cochrane SA team. Today, this unit is widely respected for the impact of its research and important contributions to evidence-based healthcare."</p><p>In his acceptance speech, Volmink thanked the SAMRC for an “extraordinary honour", as well as the opportunities and support the institution has offered him during his career. </p><p>“I've long realised that achievement is always a team effort, and it is in that spirit that I gratefully receive this award not only on my own behalf, but also on that of the many people that have contributed to my success and career advancement over the years," Volmink said. He paid tribute to his colleagues and family who have supported and inspired him throughout his career.</p><p>“It has been a real privilege to be able to serve the people of this country by making a small contribution in strengthening science, education and skills development, and I look forward to many years of still being able to making some contribution in that sense," Volmink said.</p><p>Another FMHS colleague was also recognised at the SAMRC Merit Awards event. Dr Stephanus Malherbe, chief medical officer with the Biomedical Research Institute Clinical Team, received the Silver Medal, which is awarded to emerging and upcoming scientists and those committed to capacity development.</p><p>According to SAMRC president and CEO Prof Glenda Gray, the council “is honoured to celebrate these exceptional South Africans who always go to great lengths to produce world-class science aimed at the betterment of the lives of the country's citizens".​</p>
FMHS launches first postgraduate toxicology diploma in Africa launches first postgraduate toxicology diploma in AfricaFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie – Anina Visser<p></p><p>In January 2021, Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) launched a new postgraduate diploma in Medical Toxicology. This diploma is the first postgraduate training programme in medical toxicology in Africa and marks an important milestone for both the university and the broader healthcare community. </p><p>Over the past few years, there has been a growing demand in academia and the healthcare industry for expertise in medical toxicology – the field of medicine dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of patients who have been exposed to either venom or poison. In response to this need, the Division of Clinical Pharmacology successfully developed and launched a Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Toxicology. </p><p><strong>A focus on toxins unique to the African continent</strong></p><p>“There is currently a shortage of trained staff with knowledge of poisoning, especially of poisoning by means of chemicals that are unique to the African continent," says Carine Marks, director of the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre​. “The proposed programme in toxicology will aim to address the need to provide training opportunities in this scientific field in both South Africa, and in the broader African continent." </p><p>The application process for this diploma started in 2016, according to Marks. Until then, toxicology was only taught to undergraduate students in the BSc Physiotherapy and MBChB programmes, but from this year onward this field of study will be open to postgraduate students as well. </p><p>“Candidates completing the course will have the practical skills to assist in the diagnoses and management of patients exposed to poisonous chemicals," Marks explains. “They will be able to work in medical facilities where they will be able to advise other healthcare professionals on the management of poisoned and envenomed patients."</p><p>The entry criteria for this 18-month course is a BSc or MSc qualification (NQF Level 7 or above) from an accredited institution as approved by the FMHS. For example, this year's class of 21 students consists of medical doctors, PhD participants, biomedical technologists, pharmacists, paediatricians and emergency medicine specialists, among others. Besides appealing to qualified healthcare professionals, this diploma also aims to reach students from other African countries to establish a diverse student community that benefits the entire continent.<br></p><p><strong>A closer look at spiders, snakes and scorpions</strong></p><p>In Marks' opinion, one of the highlights of this course will be the fifth and final module, which will focus on exposure to biological chemicals such as those found in the venom of snakes, spiders, scorpions and in poisonous plants. “We are planning to make this module available as a short course as well," she says.<br></p><p>Although this postgraduate diploma is the first of its kind, it is supported by well-established institutions such as Stellenbosch University and the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre. Education has always been a strong focal point for this centre. <br></p><p>In 2018, Marks was part of the international team that updated the <a href="">World Health Organisation's Guidelines for Establishing a Poison Centre.</a> Collaboration within the WHO further enables the Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre to be a leading partner in innovative toxicology training and research. “South Africa has a legally binding global agreement to protect public health. Our poison centre has the obligation to detect and respond to events caused by toxic agents, and to inform the WHO if impact on public health is thought to be serious, unusual or intentional, and whether there is a significant risk of spread or release, with the potential to spread across national borders." </p><p>Against this backdrop of international collaboration and resourcefulness, the course promises to provide world-class training to students wishing to expand their knowledge in the very important field of toxicology.  For more information, contact the programme coordinator and chair Carine Marks: <a href=""></a></p><p> <br></p><p><em>Caption: </em><em>Carine Marks, Arina Du Plessis, Tracy Kellerman, Alma van der Merwe, Victoria Mathane and Cassius Phogole are some of the lecturers presenting the new postgraduate diploma in toxicology.</em></p><p><em>Photo credit: Wilma Stassen</em></p>
Let’s celebrate the first one’s celebrate the first oneSusan Lotz, Kim Wallmach & Zandile Kondowe<p>​<br><br></p><p>It's most probably the language in which you'd swear when you get a very sudden fright. Chances are that you also dream in this language. If you're lucky, you'll know nursery rhymes in it, and maybe even a few archaic idioms and made-up words…</p><p>One's mother tongue is an almost instinctive language – often it's knowledge that one just seems to have as an adult, deeply embedded to emerge at the strangest of times. It is fitting to have an international day to mark this very personal and precious resource that helps us to make sense of the world. One's mother tongue, or first language, also serves as a springboard for learning more languages – at times so successfully that some people eventually find it hard to distinguish between their first and second language. </p><p>International Mother Language Day is celebrated on 21 February each year. Honouring this day gives us at the <a href="">Language Centr</a>e great joy and confirms our purpose at a deep level. Language starts with the first language you learn, and the wonder of that first language lives on and through all the other languages you open yourself up for. When you learn to speak and write in a language other than your mother tongue, it stimulates and expands intercultural experiences and dialogue between people. We strongly believe that knowledge of and a passion for different languages can contribute to stronger relationships between people, cultures and organisations. When we promote and nurture language proficiency at the Language Centre, we encourage our students and clients to go all out to learn other languages with us – be it <a href="">isiXhosa</a>, <a href="">Afrikaans</a> or <a href="">English</a>.</p><p>International Mother Language Day invites each and every one of us to stop for a moment and reflect; to think back how it all started for each one of us, linguistically. What is your relationship with the language that first enabled you to name your world? This day gives us an opportunity to honour and appreciate that personal and individual starting point. Marking this day helps to preserve our respective heritages, and encourages us to become part of a linguistically diverse, multilingual and culturally rich society. It all starts with that very important first one, though: the mother of languages.<br></p><p>​<br></p>
SharkSafe recognised as a top ocean innovator recognised as a top ocean innovatorInnovus <p>​​​​SharkSafe Barrier™, an Innovus spinout company from Stellenbosch University, was recognised by the World Economic Forum's (WEF)​ digital platform UpLink as one of its top ocean innovators.<br></p><p>UpLink, the WEF's digital platform for scaling innovation and driving progress toward sustainable development goals, unveiled its second cohort of ocean innovators on 22 January 2021. The platform aims to identify and highlight businesses such as SharkSafe PTY as a company with great potential to accelerate the United Nations' goals for sustainable development. This recognition was bestowed during the second Ocean Solutions Sprint supported by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); The Nature Conservancy (TNC); the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI); and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).</p><p>Stellenbosch University's Prof Conrad Matthee, one of the inventors of SharkSafe Barriers™, said UpLink enables next-generation mission-driven entrepreneurs and young innovators to join forces with a trusted community of leading organisations, experts, investors and changers to make a significant impact. "We are immensely proud that Sharksafe was chosen as one of eleven innovations that have the potential to address some of the most important current challenges in the marine environment."</p><p>SharkSafe Barrier™, the first eco-friendly technology that combines magnetic and visual stimuli to deter Shark species considered dangerous to humans, last year also won the prestigious NSTF South32's Lewis Foundation Green Economy award for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation in South Africa. The inventors of SharkSafe Barrier™, are Michael Rutzen, Dr Sara Andreotti, Dr Craig O'Connell and Prof Matthee. Dr Andreotti and Prof Matthee are from SU's Department of Botany and Zoology.</p><p>"Over the next few months, Sharksafe PTY will be further assisted by UpLink to increase the impact of the technology through mentorship, capacity building workshops, exposure and visibility, as well as introductions to potential investors, where applicable," said Prof Matthee. "Sharksafe has now formally joined a growing community of UpLink innovators benefiting from the platform."</p><p>Introducing the top innovators, the WEF said: "The ocean is our lifeline - its health is essential to our health. Finding and elevating promising ocean innovations wherever they may be, connecting them and helping them scale is crucial to ensure we protect one of our planet's most valuable assets. The WEF believes that these innovations have the potential to address some of the key opportunities in the ocean space today."</p><p>Anita Nel, Chief Director for Innovus, Stellenbosch University's commercialisation division that houses the university's technology transfer office, says since they have become involved in the commercialisation of SharkSafe, the project was spin out as a startup company and has grown tremendously. "The fact that the Technology Innovation Agency also invested in them in the past is a huge feather in their cap and evidence that SharkSafe is a well-run and innovative company that is attracting the attention of the world."​</p><p><br></p>
Cancer, Covid-19 and community resilience, Covid-19 and community resilienceProf Vikash Sewram - African Cancer Institute<p>​World Cancer Day, spearheaded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), is commemorated on 4 February each year and is a unifying initiative bringing the global community together to elevate the profile of cancer in a positive and encouraging way. The 2021 theme, <strong>“I am and I will"</strong>, encapsulates the extraordinary spirit and strength of those working in the cancer community. Cancer continues to have a significant impact on people's lives. As we commemorate this day, let us remember and recognise that the continued battle against cancer is not a singular effort. A consolidated response is crucial to achieve victory. Everyone can play a part in ensuring our success.<br></p><p style="text-align:left;">As we look towards further advancements in the field of cancer in the current year, we cannot but reflect on the havoc, challenges, and the implications that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought in 2020. Cancer organisations globally have faced difficulties in maintaining life-saving services, not only due to a drop in resources but also because of the necessary measures enacted to contain the spread of the coronavirus and fears of contagion on the part of patients. Reports over the past year highlight exacerbated shortages in frontline staff, sometimes redirected to the Covid-19 response; interruptions and delays in prevention programmes, diagnostics and testing, clinical trials and research; difficulties in engaging in community outreach with restrictions on travel and social gathering; and greater barriers to accessing essential medicines in low- and middle-income countries. </p><p style="text-align:left;">For the cancer community, it has no doubt been testing times. For patients, above all, whose access to diagnostics, treatment and care has been hit in so many ways, and who have found themselves often isolated – in clinical consultations and in their daily lives – at a time when they most needed support. And for oncology professionals, trying to do their best while lacking the evidence to define 'best care' in the Covid setting, working within health systems often ill-prepared to deal with the high number of virus-infected patients, and at a time when social distancing made normal professional collaboration and patient care more difficult, and when many healthcare staff struggled with access to the personal protective equipment and testing needed to keep them and their patients safe. </p><p style="text-align:left;">Despite the vast challenges, we applaud the heroism of our nurses, doctors, researchers, volunteers, advocates and other caregivers in oncology from around the world who held the frontline over the past 12 months through the Covid-19 pandemic, understaffed and underequipped, at a great cost to their health, mental health and too often, their lives.<br></p><p style="text-align:left;">A year later and we are now starting to see how organisations and healthcare workers are rallying across the globe to support patients, resume screenings and diagnostics, maintain awareness on the need for prevention and provide a safe environment for treatment. Volunteers have mobilised to deliver medication and even food to patients in need or ensure transportation to care centres. The private sector is developing innovative technologies to reduce the time spent in care settings while maintaining quality of treatment. Digital technology is allowing doctors and research centres to collaborate and share knowledge at a global level, and accelerating the move towards greater patient-centred care. We have begun integration into our new normal everything we've learnt about using information technology to communicate, collaborate and teach remotely, and about the value of interdisciplinarity – looking for answers among classic 'repurposed' or innovative molecules developed for other diseases; virologists and oncologists learning from one another. And at a time when face masks and social distancing are putting up additional barriers, it invites health professionals, not least in oncology, to identify closer with their patients, recognising that the sense of fear and vulnerability in the face of a disease that we don't fully understand, or know how to treat, or even how to avoid, is common to us all.</p><p style="text-align:left;">We certainly live in interesting times that can be seen as somewhat of a paradox. The oncology field has been undergoing a permanent revolution over the past three decades. Molecular diagnosis and new imaging modalities have transformed clinical practice. We have seen the implementation of hormonal and targeted therapy, immunotherapy, CAR T cell technology, genetic engineering, enhanced radiation therapy and nuclear medicine – all of these with great advantages but also non-negligible toxicities. The digital revolution has brought us big data (Data Science) and eHealth Technology. We now interrogate our genetic background, and sequencing and 'omics are in day-to-day use. We measure our health using a proliferation of smartphone apps – not all of them endowed with the same quality or reliability. </p><p style="text-align:left;">However, with these advancements, costs have risen progressively, leading to therapies becoming less affordable and wide disparities in access emerging along geographic, ethnic, gender, age and socio-economic lines. Living longer frequently entails many years of poor health in later life, and often also loneliness – cancer is a disease of the whole body: organ, microenvironment, and the soul, as we know that the health, wellbeing and happiness of cancer patients depend on many factors beyond diagnosis and therapy. So we need to not only give more emphasis on predictive, preventive and personalised medicine approaches, but also participatory, and with a psycho-oncology dimension.</p><p style="text-align:left;">The global cancer burden is estimated to have risen to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths in 2018. One in five men and one in six women worldwide develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in eight men and one in 11 women die from the disease. Unless greater efforts are placed into altering the course of the disease, this number is expected to rise to close to 30 million new cases by 2040. With South Africa's growing population of approximately 59.6 million and an ageing population, the caseload is expected to double by 2040 as well. Cancer remains the the sixth main cause of mortality in South Africa and latest data from the National Cancer Registry reveals that in 2017, 81 607 new cases were diagnosed. Cancers of the breast, cervix and prostate continue to dominate with a similar profile extending into Africa.</p><p style="text-align:left;">It is important to note that about 30% of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioural and dietary risks, i.e. high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use. Many cancers can be prevented by avoiding exposure to these common risk factors. In addition, a significant proportion of cancers can be cured, by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy, especially if they are detected early. There is an urgent need to increase early-stage cancer detection, screening, and diagnosis to significantly improve cancer patients' chances of survival and quality of life. When a cancer is detected at an early stage – and when coupled with appropriate treatment – the chance of survival beyond five years is dramatically higher than when detected at a later stage when the tumour has spread, and the disease is more advanced. Furthermore, early diagnosis can also reduce the cost of treatment. Despite this, millions of cancer cases are found late, leading to expensive and complex treatment options, diminished quality of life, and avoidable deaths.<br></p><p style="text-align:left;">There is no 'one' solution to the country's cancer problem. Barriers exist at the individual, health system, and government level, which prevent millions of people globally from receiving an early diagnosis and better treatment. There are huge disparities in health resources (infrastructure, human resources, access to treatment, etc.) that make populations in Africa, including South Africa extremely vulnerable to developing and treating cancer. Therefore, continued efforts in strengthening the capacity of the health sector, improving access to treatments and supportive services remain core to curbing the rising epidemic of cancer.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em><br></em></p><ul style="text-align:left;"><li><em>Prof Vikash Sewram is the </em><em>Director of the African Cancer Institute at the F</em><em>aculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellen</em><em>bosch University.​</em></li></ul>
US and Paul Roos Gymnasium to develop indoor cricket facility and multipurpose sports field together and Paul Roos Gymnasium to develop indoor cricket facility and multipurpose sports field togetherOperations and Finance<p>​​Stellenbosch University and Paul Roos Gymnasium have signed an agreement to develop a self-sustaining indoor cricket facility on the school's property, facing the main cricket oval. SU will furthermore develop a multi-purpose sports field on a designated portion of its property adjacent to the new indoor facility.<br></p><p>“Funding from Remgro, SU and Paul Roos Gymnasium made this agreement possible, and construction of the new facility to the value of almost R15 million commenced early in 2021. SU is excited about the role this facility will play to raise the quality of cricket training in Stellenbosch", said Prof Stan du Plessis, SU's Chief Operations Officer. The facility will be used by all parties involved.</p><p>Andre van Staden, the rector of Paul Roos Gymnasium, said he is excited that they will be able to develop this indoor cricket facility, which will add a lot of value to the school's cricket programme. “We are looking forward to working in partnership with SU to create a new facility which students and the broader Stellenbosch community can utilise."​</p><p><br></p>
Normalisation of drone use raises new challenges for international law of drone use raises new challenges for international lawCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>Drone-enabled surveillance is fast becoming all-pervasive, having moved rapidly from military combat to other areas of law enforcement and migration control. </p><p>“This raises new challenges for international human rights law and international humanitarian law rights because our civil liberties may be impacted as drones are used to monitor our actions and movements", says international relations expert Dr Raenette Taljaard who recently obtained her doctorate in Political Science at Stellenbosch University (SU). She completed her dissertation entitled A Critical Discourse Analysis of Drone Warfare and Drone Norm Life Cycles under the supervision of Prof Amanda Gouws from SU's Department of Political Science.</p><p>Taljaard analysed a collection of speeches by key policymakers in the Obama administration on the use of drones. This was a time when drone usage became both more widespread and somewhat more visible. She also looked at how drones were represented and used in cinematography and how such representations serve to justify their use in the public's mind. This was contrasted with an analysis of resistance to such normalisation by, among others, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs and transnational global human rights and feminist organisations such as CODEPINK and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.</p><p>Taljaard was interested in how the world talks about drones, the use of force and targeted killing, how it is being normalised, and what the geopolitical and geostrategic implications of this may be.<br></p><p>“The study found that there has been considerable normalisation of drone use by politicians and policymakers as well as in popular culture through cinematography," says Taljaard, adding that such normalisation “represents a fundamental challenge to core principles of international law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law." <br></p><p>“As such, the study flags concerns about what such normalisation may mean for future wars that could use lethal autonomous weapons and the geopolitical consequences of such wars if established prescriptions of international law are eroded.<br></p><p>“Two specific incidents, namely when Iran shot down a US drone in its airspace and a drone attack on Saudi oil fields have shown how dire a drone war in a place like the broader Middle East might be."<br></p><p>Unsurprisingly, international human rights group, feminist organisations, and the UN Special Rapporteurs, among others, have challenged the normalisation of the use of drones, says Taljaard.<br></p><p>“This is evident in the last report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killing that called for international debates about these burning issues amongst UN member states in 2020.<br></p><p>“In the context of UN disarmament talks on the Convention on Conventional Weapons, expert groups on lethal autonomous weapon systems, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and other like-minded civil society groups are making progress on seeking to call for a ban on lethal autonomous weapon systems."<br></p><p>According to Taljaard, there's a need for greater public awareness globally regarding the significance of some of the broader societal changes these new systems represent.<br></p><p>“We need for much greater clarity and transparency and greater collaboration between academics, civil society, lobbyists and multilateral and regional bodies to ensure a richly textured discourse and policy process regarding drones that will allow their productive leveraging for the benefit of humanity and transcend the 'bad' and 'good' drone binary we see in current discourses on drones."<br></p><p>Another issue that we should also pay attention to is the “vast chasm that exists between technologically-driven war-making decisions vested at the heart of executive power in government and expanded executive powers in the context of wars or public emergencies and the capacity of legislators and legislatures to keep pace and conduct proper oversight." <br></p><p>Taljaard says that even though the use of drones in combat situations has mostly occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, many states around the world are rapidly increasing the development of drones and drone swarm technology. <br></p><p>“We are already at a stage where drone proliferation is taking place globally. There can be little doubt that drones and drone proliferation and the concomitant and ceaseless surveillance will dramatically increase global instability." <br></p><p>According to Taljaard, her findings would benefit, among others, policymakers, legislators, and researchers who focus on the rise of the surveillance state, the use and proliferation of drones, and rising global geopolitical tensions and conflict.<br></p><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Dr Raenette Taljaard</p><p>Email: <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""></strong></a></p><p><strong>ISSUED BY</strong></p><p>Martin Viljoen<br></p><p>Manager: Media<br></p><p>Corporate Communication & Marketing</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Email: <a href=""><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style=""></strong></a> <br></p><p>​<br></p>
All the best for 2021 the best for 2021Wim de Villiers<p>​<span style="color:#58585a;">Dear members of the Stellenbosch University (SU) community<br>  <br> How time flies! The new year is already a week old, so let me without delay wish you all the best for 2021. This is no glib talk – if the last 12 months have taught us anything, it is to truly appreciate the preciousness of life. May this year be good to us all.<br>  <br> The University re-opened on Monday after the end-of-year break, and some staff members and students are already hard at work. Others are making the most of the opportunity to rest up some more for the year ahead, which will no doubt be as demanding as 2020 – if not more so.<br>  <br> Unfortunately, a number of staff, students and other members of the extended University family have passed away over the holidays. We are deeply saddened by all of these losses and wish to convey our heartfelt sympathy to their loved-ones.<br>  <br> The coronavirus pandemic is still wreaking havoc the world over, and we have not been spared its destructive effects. The good news is that a number of vaccines have been developed (we are proud of SU’s contribution to one of the trials;</span> <strong><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7686" target="_blank"><span style="color:#5f213a;">click here</span></a></strong> <span style="color:#58585a;">to read more), and we hope that South Africa will get equitable access sooner rather than later. In the meantime, though, let us remain vigilant and observe all guidelines. Helping to halt the spread of COVID-19 should be everyone’s main concern.<br>  <br> As I reported in December (</span><strong><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7929" target="_blank"><span style="color:#5f213a;">click here</span></a></strong><span style="color:#58585a;">), our University did very well under difficult circumstances in 2020. Thank you, again, to everyone for their selfless contributions. And congratulations to all who succeeded against the odds.<br>  <br> This year, our overarching priorities remain the same as last year – to succeed with the academic project and to remain sustainable as a leading higher-education institution.<br>  <br> As we said in spelling out the implications of the new Level 3 regulations for SU last week (</span><strong><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=7937" target="_blank"><span style="color:#5f213a;">click here</span></a></strong><span style="color:#58585a;">), we hope to resume all University activities to the fullest extent possible as soon as we can – within the constraints posed by COVID-19, of course. The health and safety of our staff and students come first.<br>  <br> The new regulations are due to expire on 15 January, but as the President indicated in his address on 28 December, the measures will be reviewed at that time on the basis of the state of the pandemic in the country.<br>  <br> A meeting of SU’s Institutional Committee for Business Continuity (ICBC) has been called for 18 January, so that we can carefully consider all pertinent issues and take well-informed decisions on the way forward for the University. Rest assured that we will keep you posted.<br>  <br> None of us can foretell the future, but we can draw strength from knowing that we will be there for each other, come what may. Let’s go forward together, <em>masiye pamphili</em>, <em>saam vorentoe</em>!<br>  <br><strong>Prof Wim de Villiers<br> Rector and Vice-Chancellor</strong></span><br><br></p>
Never too old: 2nd doctorate for Prof Leslie Swartz too old: 2nd doctorate for Prof Leslie SwartzCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>Obtaining a doctoral degree is a remarkable achievement. But to be awarded a second one is quite something special. This is exactly what Prof Leslie Swartz, a distinguished Professor of Psychology at Stellenbosch University (SU), accomplished when he received another PhD, this time in English Studies, on Monday 14 December 2020 during SU's December graduation week, exactly thirty years after obtaining his first PhD. <br></p><p>At the same ceremony, one of Swartz's students, Maura Lappeman, also obtained a doctorate. A second doctoral student, Hildah Oburu, who missed her graduation in April due to COVID-19, was also present to accept her certificate. They are among the more than 40 doctoral candidates that he has supervised over the years.<br></p><p>Swartz has already scooped numerous prestigious awards for his outstanding contributions to the fields of mental health and disability studies. He says that his second PhD shows that nobody is too old or too well qualified to learn more and to grow academically, and that through life, everybody can benefit from the help and care from others (in this case, his supervisors).<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/how-i-lost-my-mother_05b%20(002).jpg" alt="how-i-lost-my-mother_05b (002).jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:246px;height:369px;" /><br></p><p>Much of Swartz's work in mental health and disability studies focusses on issues of care. His doctorate comprises a memoir, <em>How I Lost My Mother</em>, which discusses care issues in an accessible and entertaining way, and a reflective essay on the memoir and process of writing. “Care is central to how society is organised and especially relevant to an ageing society and one affected by a pandemic," says Swartz. “Despite this, care is often made invisible or not spoken about, hence the need for a book like this," he adds.<br></p><p>The memoir is a story of an emotionally complex relationship between mother and son, and of the struggles we all face in negotiating our way between closeness and distance, tenderness, anger and retribution. The book uses humour and story-telling to discuss issues which may otherwise not be palatable to a wide range of readers.<br></p><p>“Many privileged people throughout the world live their lives, and go through the process of dying, supported by vulnerable and poorly-paid people (usually women of colour), and the book discusses the politics of this reality," says Swartz. “There is no other text I know of which deals as directly with the intertwining of emotional intimacy and exploitation of care workers in the context of debility and dying."<br></p><p>According to his supervisors from SU's English Department, Prof Shaun Viljoen and Prof Louise Green, the memoir emphasises how personal narratives can help us communicate complex social concerns. <br></p><p>Swartz says he hopes that by engaging in an emotional journey through personal and social history, readers will make up their own minds about how they feel about the issues he raises.<br></p><p><em>How I Lost My Mother</em> is his second memoir, after <em>Able-Bodied: Scenes from a Curious Life</em> (2010) that chronicles his relationship with his disabled father, and introduces readers to key concepts in disability studies. <em>How I Lost My Mother</em> is due to be published by Wits University Press in March 2021.​<br></p><p><br></p>
Study calls for improved legislation to protect water from mining pollution calls for improved legislation to protect water from mining pollutionCorporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Alec Basson]<p>South Africa needs improved environmental, water and mining legislation to prevent our freshwater resources from being polluted by mining activities, particularly acid mine drainage. To achieve this, our lawmakers should take a leaf out of Germany's legal framework which offers a few helpful tips.<br></p><p>This is the view of candidate attorney Dr Marianca Louw who obtained her doctorate in Public Law on Monday (14 December 2020) at SU's December graduation.<br></p><p>Passionate about human and environmental rights as well as environmental law, Louw focused on South Africa's water and mining law by analysing water quality protection frameworks.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">As part of her study, she compared the country's legal framework with that of Germany and also described and analysed various legal documents, policies and international conventions and treaties on environmental law.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“One of the reasons for comparing our environmental, water and mining legislation with that of Germany is that, in a certain sense, we find ourselves in a similar position to that which faced Germany after reunification in 1990 when lignite and uranium mining activities as well as the chemical industries during the time of the German Democratic Republic left behind a devastated landscape and environment."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Louw acknowledges that the mining sector is one of the critical pillars and drivers of our economy, but says it's also a big polluter of our water. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We need an enhanced water quality protection law that can contribute to the protection of our water resources from acid mine drainage and to ensure we have safe water for continued and sustained economic growth and service delivery." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Louw says we should amend our current legislation so that water and mining permits or licences are regulated by one authority and not by separate entities. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The German legal framework shows that these licenses are better regulated when only one authority grants the water and mining license."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">She adds that just as in the German legal framework, our legislation also needs to provide for a water treatment plant without which mining activities cannot commence.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“After the mining and water permit has been granted to the mining company, it must build a water treatment plant in accordance with regulations to ensure that mine water is treated before, during and after mining operations. This will immediately contribute to the remedying of acid mine drainage, as this plant will continue with the treatment of mine water, even after the closure of the mine."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Louw points out that in Germany, mining companies must pay a deposit as a guarantee before they start operating to ensure there are sufficient funds for remediation after the closure of mines. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“South Africa has a similar financial provision, but it does not provide for a financial guarantee before mining activities commence." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">It should be recommended that if a mining company cannot provide a financial guarantee for remediation after the closure of the mine, a percentage of the mining profit should be paid monthly to the mining authority. If the company fails to do this, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy should close the mine."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Louw says when mining activities cease, a closure and rehabilitation plan must be submitted. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The legislation should be amended in such a manner that the mining company remains liable for environmental degradation until the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy is satisfied with the rehabilitation. Since acid mine drainage is a recurring problem, sufficient financial aids must be provided to ensure the protection of natural freshwater." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Louw, improved legislation is important because mining activities will continue to disturb established drainage patterns, often causing waterlogging and erosion, and lead to the contamination of surface and groundwater, poisoning of food crops, endangering human health, and the destruction of wildlife, ecosystems, and infrastructure and heritage sites.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">She adds that the effectiveness of the South African legal framework to protect freshwater resources from environmental degradation caused by acid mine drainage will depend on solid political will, sufficient human and financial resources and dedicated involvement from all relevant government departments, in close cooperation with the private sector. <br></p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Marianca Louw at the graduation. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Marianca Louw </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Candidate Attorney</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Basson Blackburn Inc </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Paarl</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Email: <a href=""></a> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>ISSUED BY</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Martin Viljoen</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Manager: Media </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Corporate Communication & Marketing</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Email: <a href=""></a> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p><br></p>