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‘Oprah changed the trajectory of my life’ – newly graduated doctorhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6179‘Oprah changed the trajectory of my life’ – newly graduated doctor<p>Years ago, when she was still a child – and queuing in the early hours outside a Soweto clinic for medical attention for her grandmother's hypertension – Boitumelo Theepe made a silent promise to herself that she would be a doctor one day.​<br></p><p>“One of my earliest memories was standing with my granny in the dark, so that we could be seen by the doctor that day. I thought, even then, that there must be a way to make a difference. If only there were more doctors, people wouldn't have to wait so long! It inspired me to become a doctor."</p><img class="ms-rtePosition-2" src="/english/faculty/healthsciences/PublishingImages/NewsCarousel/2018Nuus/Boitumelo1_edit.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /><span></span><p>​Theepe (24) attended the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls and went on to graduate as a medical doctor in December last year at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.<br></p><p>She is passionate about looking at ways to improve the structural functioning of South Africa's health system. “I am really interested in working out how we can put systems in place to release the burden on the healthcare system," she says.<br></p><p>She is also fascinated by science and “how the body works" and is currently working as a medical intern at Groote Schuur Hospital, practising general internal medicine. At the time of the interview, she was one week into her internship and “loving the work".</p><p>“I've been thrown right in the deep end, but it has encouraged me to learn to swim faster!</p><p>“We work with all the chronic lifestyle diseases – including TB, HIV and all infectious diseases requiring long-term management and a holistic medical approach, as well as collaboration with a range of specialists. It basically includes a little bit of everything in medicine.</p><p>“I love it, because we are the first people patients encounter when they arrive at the emergency department. For me, it is like solving a mystery. First, we have to calm them and make sure they are stable, and then make a diagnosis. We get to see a lot of the textbook conditions we studied in medical school. We see people when they are really seriously ill and try to get them back to baseline. Then we follow up, so they don't end up back here," says Theepe.</p><p>“What is also fascinating, is that a lot of the registrars and consultants are doing research, so the hospital is very up to date with a lot of information about diseases. There is just so much we can learn.</p><p>“I am so enjoying helping my patients, knowing that this is somebody's mother, somebody's father or somebody's granny who doesn't have to wait for medical attention."</p><p>Theepe was born in Soweto and raised there by her grandmother, Lydia Nonyana, because both her parents needed to go away to find work. Her father, Tahleho, is a mineworker and her mother, Arcilia, works as a merchandiser.</p><img class="ms-rtePosition-1" src="/english/faculty/healthsciences/PublishingImages/NewsCarousel/2018Nuus/Boitumelo3_edit.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:500px;" /><span></span><p>“My grandmother, who retired this year, raised my cousins and me on her salary working as a tea lady and running errands. She always encouraged me to work hard, never let me miss school and always helped us with homework where she could."<br></p><p>While she was in secondary school in Soweto, she was nominated by her teachers to apply for the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. “I'd given a passionate presentation at school about the effects of HIV on society, and I think my teachers thought I should apply.</p><p>“We had to ask our neighbours to help us complete the forms, because my grandmother has a limited education. We did the best we could. Then the school called me and I went through several rounds of interviews. The final interview was with Oprah Winfrey herself. She handpicked us. In fact, we were the academy's first intake of girls – in 2007.</p><p>“I'd watched her show a few times, but I didn't know much about her. When I met her, I was struck by her beauty. She looked as if she had just jumped out of TV! She has a very warm, relaxed and funny presence."</p><p>Theepe will never forget the day she was told she'd been accepted by the academy. “Parents were crying tears of joy … We all hugged each other."</p><p>She ascribes much of her success to the academy, from which she matriculated with five distinctions. “Besides a strong focus on a good education, the school's core vision is servant leadership. We were encouraged to lead by example and give back to society. That was ingrained in us. The teachers were so dedicated. We were also privileged to have access to many extracurricular activities, as well as community service opportunities. The school allowed me to find out what I am good at."</p><p>The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation also assisted Theepe financially with her tertiary studies. Rebecca Miller Sykes, President of the Foundation, expressed delight about Theepe's success. “We are so proud of Boitumelo," she said.</p><p>“Everyone connected to the school and to the foundation is ecstatic for Boitumelo's graduation, because becoming a doctor will benefit her, her family, her community and the school.  Many young girls imagine themselves as doctors and Boitumelo proves that this dream seem more achievable to younger OWLAG students."</p><p>Sykes said Theepe's special qualities of persistence, patience, and eagerness to learn are good qualities to have as a doctor.</p><p>Asked what role she believes the academy played in Theepe's achievement, she said: “OWLAG students are selected for their intellect and leadership potential, so from the start Boitumelo was well poised to succeed.  The school then provides young women with the resources, opportunity and access to meet their goals.</p><p>“I have faith that Boitumelo will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of her patients.  As a doctor she will provide treatment that saves or improves the quality of their lives, and as a young South African woman she will stand as a reminder to everyone she encounters of the transformative power of education," Sykes added.</p><p>Asked about her future goals in medicine, Theepe said: “For the moment I'll focus on my internship, which offers hands-on experience in every discipline. After that, I'll pick a specialty.</p><p>“At the moment I'm interested in psychiatry and paediatrics. Beyond that I will continue being a health advocate, as a doctor and as someone who hopes to help implement systems to make the health system function better."</p><p>Theepe's interests include singing. She conducted Stellenbosch University's gospel choir last year. “I also like public speaking, reading, spending time with friends and exploring Cape Town."</p><p>Looking back on her life, Theepe can't help believing in destiny. “My life has been a series of events far beyond my imagination. One thing I've learnt is the importance and power of kindness."</p><p>Besides her parents, her role models are her grandmother – “she epitomes a quiet strength" – and Oprah Winfrey. “She basically changed the trajectory of my life. I not only admire her from a distance, but see her as a mother figure. Her love touches so many people. I hope I can be like that through my work in medicine."<br></p><p><br> </p><p><em>Caption: Boitumelo Theepe (right), with Rebecca Sykes, president of the Oprah Winfrey Foundation (left) and FMHS Dean, Prof Jimmy Volmink (middle) at the MB,ChB Oath Taking ceremony in December last year.</em></p><p><em>Insert 1: Recently graduated medical doctor, Boitumelo Theepe.</em></p><p><em>Insert 2: Boitumelo Theepe (middle), with her grandmother, Lydia Nonyana (left) and mother, Relebohile Theepe (right) on graduation day.</em></p>2019-01-15T22:00:00Z 2019-01-15T22:00:00.0000000ZSue Segar
New initiative will tackle pollution in Eerste and Berg River catchmentshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6182New initiative will tackle pollution in Eerste and Berg River catchmentsThe Stellenbosch University Water Institute (SUWI) is taking the lead in the development of a new initiative to deal with the serious pollution problems in the catchments of the Eerste- and Berg Rivers.<p>The Collaborative Governance (Co-Go) initiative was developed by Dr Charon Büchner-Marais, a research associate at SUWI. The aim of the Co-Go initiative is to mobilise academia, industry, government and society to collectively take responsibility of the commons, focusing on the Eerste and Berg River catchments.</p><p>At the launch of Co-Go at Oude Libertas on 5 November 2018, representatives from provincial and local government, and industry partners such as Distell and Spier, expressed their support for the initiative.</p><p>Mr Eric Leong Son, group manager of sustainability at Distell says Distell welcomes the opportunity to partner with civil society, municipalities, academia and the private sector in a non-competitive environment: “In this environment we can form partnerships and take action, based on sound research and science. We value this multiple party partnership and we are committed to work together as engaged partners."</p><p>Ms Heidi Newton-King, director of human resources and sustainability at Spier, said their previous experience with the Stellenbosch River Collaborative offered them an opportunity to move from having only knowledge about the pollution problems in the Eerste River, to making a real connection with the river. This realisation completely changed their approach to dealing with the problem.</p><p>Dr Büchner-Marais says freshwater rivers are amongst the most threatened ecosysterms in the world: “Proverbially speaking, we all live downstream. We need to re-imagine how we deal with socio-ecological systems. Co-Go provides a new governance arrangement where different role players can learn and experiment together in order to solve these complex problems." </p><p>Before the launch, Co-Go worked with students from the Department of Visual Arts at SU to develop a visual representation of its mission, based on Prof Michael Samways' research on Cape dragonflies.</p><p>According to Prof Samways dragonflies are ancient creatures, older than plants, which have shown remarkable resilience over the past 40 to 60 million years, adapting to some of the harshest environmental changes in the Cape. Cape dragonflies are, however, highly sensitive to new threats, such as polluted rivers and invasive trees.</p><p>“Without dragonflies, we will experience an increase in flies and mosquitos and the growth of phytoplankton, leading to loss of fish. Without dragonflies to feed on, birdlife along rivers will also disappear," he warns.</p><p>Prof Samways developed the Dragonfly Biotic Index (DBI), a valuable resource for fast-tracking awareness of pollution or other problems affecting a river, giving stakeholders an opportunity to engage and take action.</p><p>In closing, Prof Nico Koopman, Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, said Co-Go sets an example of how innovative research can partner with business, government, civil society and the arts to face the problem together.</p><p>“This is not corporate showmanship or intellectual gymnastics, but an example of how we need to use all our faculties – hearts, hands and minds – to address this crisis."</p><p>If you are interested in joining the Co-Go initiative, contact Dr Büchner-Marais at <a href="mailto:charon@su.ac.za">charon@su.ac.za</a> </p><p><em>On the photo above, at the back from left to right, are Prof Nico Koopman (SU), </em><em>Eric Leong Son</em><em> (Distell), Lwazi Mankahla (Distell), Prof Willem de Clercq (SUWI). In front, Corbin Raymond (SU), </em><em>Melissa Lintnaar-Strauss</em><em> (</em><em>Department of Water and Sanitation</em><em>), Dr Charon B</em>ü<em>chner-Marais (SUWI), Heidi Newton-King (Spier), </em><em>Nichole  Solomons</em><em> (Spier) and Jacques Rossouw (Distell).</em><br></p>2019-01-15T22:00:00Z 2019-01-15T22:00:00.0000000ZWiida Fourie-Basson
Blitz receives ‘highest’ honour for her contribution to family medicine, educationhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6178Blitz receives ‘highest’ honour for her contribution to family medicine, education<p>Professor Julia Blitz has recently been awarded honorary fellowship to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). This is the 'highest College award' offered by the RCGP, the professional body for general practitioners, family physicians and primary care physicians in the United Kingdom. <br></p><p>Blitz is the Vice Dean: Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).<br></p><div><img class="ms-rtePosition-1" src="/english/faculty/healthsciences/PublishingImages/NewsCarousel/2018Nuus/RCGP_Blitz_SM.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:300px;" /><span></span> </div><p>“Julia [Blitz] has made a major contribution internationally to both undergraduate education and postgraduate training in the context of family medicine," Dr Steve Mowle, RCGP's Honorary Treasurer, who read the citation at the award ceremony held in London, late last year.<br></p><p>“She has also been a massive influence in the pioneering joint work of the RCGP with Stellenbosch University to develop vocational training and the licensing of Family Physicians in sub-Saharan Africa," he continued. </p><p>Blitz has a background in both Family Medicine and Health Professions Education, and Mowle credited her career success to excellence in both patient-centred clinical practice and academics. </p><p>“Julia [Blitz] is a motivated and committed leader and a powerful champion for primary care … Her contribution to the RCGP International work has been invaluable," said Mowle.</p><p>Blitz has collaborated on several RCGP-related projects, including the licensing examination of the College of Family Physicians (CFP) of the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA), and 'Training the Family Medicine Trainers in South Africa', which is now being extended across 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.</p><p>Locally she has held key roles within the CFP, and at an international level she has connections with the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) Institute in Philadelphia and held a position on the executive committee of the Southern Africa FAIMER Regional Institute. </p><p>According to Mowle, these credentials have “contributed significantly to her credibility as a very skilled and knowledgeable leader in undergraduate and postgraduate education".</p><p>Nominations for Honorary Fellowship to the RCGP are made for outstanding work towards the objectives of the college, with a candidate's international standing measured by:</p><ul><li><p>The receipt of prizes/awards granted by other national or international organisations;</p></li><li><p>Writing which has had national or international impact;</p></li><li><p>Whether the person has made a significant contribution to general practice or its development;</p></li><li><p>Having demonstrably furthered the aims of general practice, primary care and the college. <br></p></li></ul>2019-01-09T22:00:00Z 2019-01-09T22:00:00.0000000ZFMHS Marketing & Communication / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie
People in Africa live longer, but their health is poor in those extra yearshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6174People in Africa live longer, but their health is poor in those extra years<p><em>This article was originally published on </em><a href="http://theconversation.com/"><em>The Conversation</em></a><em>. Read the full article </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/people-in-africa-live-longer-but-their-health-is-poor-in-those-extra-years-108691?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20January%206%202019%20-%201204711052&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20January%206%202019%20-%201204711052+CID_ad47368a4b37f5e2507738540e5a3e6d&utm_source=campaign_monitor_africa&utm_term=People%20in%20Africa%20live%20longer%20But%20their%20health%20is%20poor%20in%20those%20extra%20years"><em>here</em></a><em>.</em></p><p>People are now living longer in sub-Saharan Africa than they did two <a href="https://theconversation.com/lifestyle-diseases-could-scupper-africas-rising-life-expectancy-107220">decades ago</a>. This is an achievement, given that life expectancy in the <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2818%2931891-9/fulltext">region</a> went down the drain from the 1990s to the mid-2000s as it choked under the devastating effects of the HIV epidemic.</p><p>The question to ask is whether the additional years are spent in good or poor health. This question matters because how long people live affects the population's state of health and leading causes of disability. Longevity means that these change over time which in turn has implications for policy, planning and provision of services.</p><p>We used information from the <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/gbd">Global Burden of Disease</a> study to calculate healthy life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa. Healthy life expectancy refers to the average number of years that a person at a given age can expect to live in good health, taking into account mortality and loss of functional health.</p><p>The data suggest that people are living many years in poor health in the region. And <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2818%2932279-7/fulltext">our paper</a> shows that there are large inequalities in healthy life expectancy and disease burden between – and within countries – in sub-Saharan Africa. </p><p>This points to the fact that much more effort is needed to increase healthy life expectancy in the region. </p><p><strong>Discrepancies</strong><br></p><p>We found that the increase in healthy life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa was smaller than the increase in overall life expectancy. This indicates that many years are lived in poor health in the region. In 2017, life expectancy at birth in sub-Saharan Africa was 63.9 years, but healthy life expectancy was only 55.2 years. This means that 13.6% of years of life in the region is spent in poor health.</p><p>Life expectancy in 2017 varied by sub region, ranging from 62.4 years in Central Africa to 65 years in Southern Africa. However, in Central Africa 14.4% and in Southern Africa 13.8% of these years are estimated to be spent in poor health, respectively.</p><p>The proportion of years of life spent in poor health varied between countries, ranging from 11.9% in Djibouti to 14.8% in Botswana.</p><p>While women live longer than men, many of these extra years are lived in poor health. The life expectancy at birth for women in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017 was 66.2 years, but healthy life expectancy was only 56.8 years. Thus, women spend 14.2% of their years in poor health. For men, life expectancy was 61.7 years and healthy life expectancy was 53.7 years. Thus, men in sub-Saharan African spend 13% of their lives in poor health.</p><p><strong>Healthy life expectancy</strong><br></p><p>The average healthy life expectancy at birth in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 9.1 years, from 46.1 years in 1990 to 55.2 years in 2017. The increase in healthy life expectancy at birth varied from 0.9 years in Southern Africa to 12.4 years in Eastern Africa.</p><p>Even larger variations in healthy life expectancy than these were observed between countries, ranging from a decrease of 4.9 years in Lesotho (51.9 years in 1990 to 47 years in 2017) to an increase of 23.7 years in Eritrea (30.7 years in 1990 to 54.4 years in 2017).</p><p>In most countries, the increase in healthy life expectancy was smaller than the increase in overall life expectancy, indicating more years lived in poor health.</p><p><strong>Causes of premature mortality and disability</strong></p><p>We calculated a measure known as disability-adjusted life-years, which captures both early death and ill health. In 2017, the leading causes of disability-adjusted life-years in sub-Saharan Africa for all ages and both sexes combined were neonatal disorders, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and diarrhoea.</p><p>However, we observed various dramatic changes in causes of early death and disability between 1990 and 2017. Measles decreased from a ranking of 5th to 20th, heart attacks increased from 16th to 11th, stroke from 12th to 10th, and diabetes from 27th to 14th. We are thus witnessing gradual shift from communicable to non-communicable causes of disease burden.</p><p>There was wide variation between countries in the causes of early death and disability.</p><p>In Eritrea, the top causes of early death and disability were neonatal disorders, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and congenital defects. The most dramatic changes were with conflict and terror (1st in 1990 to 14th in 2017), measles (7th to 74th), tetanus (9th to 82nd), heart attacks (17th to 11th), stroke (12th to 10th), and diabetes (22nd to 15th).</p><p>In the Central African Republic, the top causes of early death and disability were diarrhoea, neonatal disorders, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis. The main changes were with conflict and terror (164th to 9th), measles (7th to 20th), heart attacks (14th to 11th), and diabetes (21st to 16th).</p><p>In South Africa, the top causes of early death and disability were HIV/AIDS, neonatal disorders, pneumonia, interpersonal violence, and diabetes. The most dramatic changes occurred with HIV/AIDS (53rd to first), measles (12th to 55th), diarrhoea (2nd to 8th), and diabetes (from 13th to 5th).</p><p>In the Gambia, the top causes of early death and disability were neonatal disorders, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, diarrhoea, and sickle cell disease. There were substantial changes in rankings for HIV/AIDS (61st in 1990 to 3rd in 2017), malaria (4th to 25th), measles (9th to 70th), heart attacks (13th to 6th), stroke (14th to 9th), and diabetes (28th to 18th).</p><p><strong>Extraordinary progress, but…</strong></p><p>Since 1990, we have seen exceptional progress in sub-Saharan Africa in reducing the burden of communicable diseases, especially measles, tetanus and other vaccine-preventable diseases. However, early death and disability due to these causes remain unnecessarily high in many countries. Immunisation efforts have been helpful, but progress in coverage has slowed in the past decade. Close to 20 million children worldwide, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, didn't receive vaccines against these deadly diseases in 2017. Conflict, inadequate investment in national immunisation programmes, and vaccine stock outs were among the reasons for the stalled progress in immunisation coverage.</p><p>Our report shows that there is an unfinished agenda of controlling communicable diseases – compounded by an increase in non-communicable diseases – in sub-Saharan Africa. The continued burden of disabling conditions has serious implications for health systems and health-related expenditures in the region.</p><p><em><strong>About the author</strong></em></p><p><em>Prof </em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/charles-shey-wiysonge-179980"><em>Charles Shey Wiysonge </em></a><em>is the Director of Cochrane South Africa at the South African Medical Research Council</em></p><p><em>Photo: Pixabay</em><br></p>2019-01-06T22:00:00Z 2019-01-06T22:00:00.0000000ZProf Charles Shey Wiysonge
ISEM research article wins prestigious sports medicine awardhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6173ISEM research article wins prestigious sports medicine award<p>Dr Pierre Viviers and colleagues from the Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine (ISEM) won the prestigious David Sisk Award for Best International Paper for the official journal of the American Orthopaedic Association.</p><p>Their paper, entitled: “The Diagnostic Utility of Computer-Assisted Auscultation for the Early Detection of Cardiac Murmurs of Structural Origin in the Periodic Health Evaluation" relates to a home-grown computer-driven clinical auscultation device. An auscultation device is a device which listens to the internal sounds of the body to examine the circulatory, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.</p><p>The T. David Sisk Research Awards were established in 2010 to honour the best papers submitted to Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach in clinical, laboratory, and international research.  The winners receive a $2,500 cash prize and a plaque.<br>  <br> Sisk, who died in 2009, was a staunch advocate of a multidisciplinary approach to sports health and left a strong legacy of teaching and collaboration. He served as the chairman of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) Medical Publishing Board of Trustees at the time when the creation of the new journal was proposed.  </p><p>In an interview, Viviers, who is the head of Campus Health Services at Stellenbosch University as well as being associated with ISEM, said the paper provides sports physicians with a tool to assist in decision-making when cardiac murmurs are present in athletes.</p><p>“It is challenging to identify the nature of cardiac murmurs during the periodic health evaluations of athletes because of the difficulty in distinguishing between murmurs of physiological or structural origin. Computer-assisted auscultation (CAA) has, previously, shown promise in supporting appropriate referrals in the non-athlete paediatric population. Our hypothesis was that CAA could have the ability to accurately detect cardiac murmurs of a structural origin doing a periodic health examination in university athletes."</p><p>The study, which used a total of 131 university athletes, concluded that CAA could potentially improve the identification of structural murmurs in athletes. However, more research is needed.</p><p>“Our award came as a surprise. I did not imagine we would win," he said. “The competition is quite extensive to get in. We put a lot of heads together to develop the study protocol for this – so I can put our success down to teamwork. We are very happy that our project ended in a significant way."</p><p>Viviers won the award wearing his ISEM hat and collaborated with fellow ISEM colleagues, Professor Wayne Derman, director of ISEM; Dr Joann Kirby, a sports physician in campus health service and Jeandre Viljoen, a physiotherapist and MA student in physiological sciences. </p><p>“The project started when we read in the Innovus monthly newsletter about a technology company working in the biomedical engineering sphere that was working on developing an electronic stethoscope for use in rural areas. The idea was that nurses and doctors in those areas could use it to diagnose structural heart pathologies, valve lesions and other cases, so that they can refer the patients further.</p><p>“We contacted the project manager and decided to work on the project.</p><p>“What interested me was the fact that in athletes you often hear murmurs because of the physiological changes that occur in the heart during exercise, but obviously underlying conditions can also produce murmurs. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a normal non-structural lesion in athletes and a real problem.</p><p>“So, I thought there might be some interest to look into this. We then wrote a research proposal and got ethical approval and started our research using university athletes.</p><p>“We pitched our pilot study when it was the time of year when we do health screenings with high-performance athletes. We did a pilot study and then published our data."</p><p>Asked what the award means to him, Viviers said: “It means there is definitely a place for pre-participating screening in athletes. We have recommended that further studies take place with more numbers. We believe this tool will assist physicians in the evaluation and decision making in the presence of murmurs in athletes."</p><p> </p><p><em>Caption: Dr Pierre Viviers (middle) receiving the David Sisk Award for Best International Paper from members of the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine.</em></p>2019-01-01T22:00:00Z 2019-01-01T22:00:00.0000000ZSue Segar
PhD graduate’s groundbreaking research will shape second language teaching and learning in futurehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6171PhD graduate’s groundbreaking research will shape second language teaching and learning in future<p style="text-align:justify;">​Dr Valentin Uwizeyimana, who is the first student from Rwanda in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU), officially accepted his doctoral degree on 13 December for the groundbreaking research he conducted on using mobile technologies in language learning, in this case specifically foreign language learning.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">His thesis, <em>An Investigation into the Effect of Mobile-Assisted Language Learning on Rwandan University Students' Proficiency in English as a Foreign Language</em>,<em> </em>is the first research of its kind to be conducted in Africa and to focus on the use of a range of mobile apps to facilitate foreign language learning. In the past, research conducted by scholars have only focused on the use of different apps with the purpose of teaching and learning one or another component of the target language such as vocabulary, reading or listening skills in second or foreign language learning and acquisition. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">His research, by contrast, made use of a multitude of apps at any time and place with the purpose of improving the language learners' overall proficiency – all without the direct involvement of language teachers. This research will offer a solution to the challenge that learners face when the target language is a foreign language, or a language which is not really spoken in their communities.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">While Uwizeyimana will obtain a PhD from the General Linguistics Department at the December 2018 graduation ceremony, his studies at SU has taken him from a Postgraduate Diploma in Second Language Studies in the same department in 2013 to an MA in Technology for Language Learning, which he completed in the Modern Foreign Languages Department in 2015. He was able to complete his doctorate thanks to a three-year scholarship, which he obtained from the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) through the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Speaking about his research, he says: “English is the most spoken language in the world and is a means of social mobility for many of its speakers. Because of this, English has been adopted by many countries as a national or official language. It is also often used as a medium of instruction at different levels of education, even though it is a foreign language in many countries where it is spoken and is also not understood by a large part of those countries' population," explains Uwizeyimana.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In Rwanda, Kinyarwanda, as well as English along with French are considered official languages. However, learners and students are only taught in English. Outside the classroom and lecture halls, Kinyarwanda, which is the sole national language, is used. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“According to the available literature, only 3% of the country's population could actually speak English in 2008. This number might have increased slightly since, due to different factors such as the East Africa regional integration and the language policy favouring English which was introduced in Rwanda."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The reason for the prevalence of English in educational institutions can be traced back to Rwanda's history. Rwanda was originally a monolingual country, with only Kinyarwanda  spoken by its population. In the 1900s, the country was colonised by Belgium and French was introduced. Following the genocide, many Rwandans who had been living as refugees in countries like Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda returned to their home country. However, while living abroad, they had been using English as a common language of communication. Following their return, English became a de facto third official language of the country and in 2003 was added into the constitution as an official third language. Five years later, the government adopted a policy to use English as the sole language of instruction at all levels of education in Rwanda with immediate effect.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The implementation of this policy became problematic since “most teachers at all levels of education had been trained in French, and the highly qualified ones were the ones who were trained abroad mostly in Francophone countries, and thus were not proficient in English, the specific language which they had to teach in," he explains.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Exacerbating the situation, is the “limited conventional teaching-and-learning materials such as printed books, journals and few computers that are available in Rwandan schools and universities". <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This means that learners are not exposed to a sufficient amount of English input, and there are very few to no opportunities for English output, in other words, there is no use of the target language outside the classroom."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Obtaining English proficiency in the Rwandan context, adds Uwizeyimana, is about more than just learning a new language: “We are a very small country in the middle of a number of huge countries that are more developed than Rwanda and from which we import goods. English and Kiswahili are the languages that are dominant in these countries, which include Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, and then French mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi that uses Kirundi, a language compatible with Kinyarwanda. So, we need mostly English not only when we are abroad, but to communicate with our neighbours for trading purposes."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The huge demand for English educators to allow Rwandans to attain some level of proficiency, explains Uwizeyimana, is also one of the reasons why he was able to obtain a position as an English lecturer at the University of Kibungo (UNIK) immediately after completing his BA in English and Kinyarwanda with Education with Honours at the University of Rwanda. It was this need that spurred him on to expand his knowledge on English language teaching and so he applied for admission to universities in the Netherlands and South Africa. He was accepted at all the universities he applied to, but the Rwandan government would only agree to fund his studies if he opted to study at an African university. In January 2013, he came to South Africa to enrol at Stellenbosch University with a scholarship provided by the government.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">When he arrived at SU, he already knew that he wanted to improve his knowledge in using technology in English language teaching and learning, so that he could make a contribution to the teaching and learning of English in particular, and other languages, in his home country. He also knew that online learning via a computer would not work in Rwanda, since computers are expensive and electricity is scarce in the country. By contrast, the majority of the Rwandan population own mobile phones because they are cheap. Also, citizens in rural areas use solar power to charge their phones when there is no electricity, while university students have access to free wifi on their universities' campuses, and those located in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, have access to free wifi on buses and in public places. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This is the reason why my study looked at how mobile phones and the apps on these devices could be used to attain a higher level of English proficiency, given the growing amount of research showing the potential of mobile technologies in language learning."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Sixty Kinyarwanda-speaking students from the University of Rwanda participated in the study. They were divided into four groups with Group 1 receiving training in the use of mobile technologies in language learning (or MTLL in short); Group 2 using MTLL without having received any training; Group 3 using only additional conventional material like textbooks; and Group 4 not using MTLL or receiving any additional material, but only relying on the classroom instruction. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“We then collected data by means of observation, a survey, an English language proficiency test, a discussion group with the participants and a semi-structured interview with a lecturer at the University of Rwanda. A careful analysis of the data showed that MTLL have a significant effect on the learners' proficiency in English as a foreign language (EFL), and that the learners have positive attitudes towards MTLL and their integration into the language pedagogy." He adds that participants were monitored to ensure that they applied what they were learning. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Uwizeyimana's research is of great importance, not only because it promotes the use of devices and applications that are already popular in Africa as far as English language learning is concerned, but also because the learning model he has developed can be applied to different languages and countries around the world. For Uwizeyimana, the fact that he even completed the research is a great feat. His research nearly did not see the light of day due to the financial challenges he had to overcome while studying in South Africa.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Had it not been for my Masters supervisor Ms Lesley Bergman from the Modern Foreign Languages Department, Prof Frenette Southwood, the Chair of the General Linguistics Department, and my PhD supervisor, Dr Simone Conradie, I would not have made it through all my studies here at Stellenbosch University. They understood all the challenges I had to go through. They secured funding for my PhD, they provided me with money to cover my accommodation and living cost when I was broke, and they reached out to the Rwanda Education Board (REB) and the Rwandan Embassy in South Africa when I had financial problems in my second year of Masters, specifically in 2015. However, it was more than just financial support, they became my people, my friends, my parents from another country. They became my family. They are very social, modest and understanding; when I run to them, I do not call them by their titles and surnames," he says. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Thanks to their support he was also able to spend a semester at Technische Universität Chemnitz, which is one of the oldest and best universities of technology in Germany.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">HIs research was presented at different academic events in Africa and Europe, is SCOPUS indexed, and has been published in the top-rated international journal, <em>Language Policy</em> by Springer, and in the <em>Registrar Journal</em>, which is one of the leading journals published from Indonesia.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">After his graduation, he will return to Rwanda where he plans to help his fellow Rwandans, starting with the university students, to attain a higher level of proficiency in English, French and Kiswahili which are used as second or foreign languages in Rwanda. Furthermore, he plans to help Rwanda in terms of effective implemention of some of the country's current and future projects which involve the use of technology in education. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“I'd also like to replicate my research in other countries and contexts, so that I can provide a more tangible contribution to the scholarship, mostly in the fields of second language studies and technology for language learning."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Southwood, Uwizeyimana showed remarkable tenacity during the years he spent at Stellenbosch University. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“His commitment to achieving his academic goals and his insistence on doing sensible research that will benefit those in his country are commendable," says Southwood. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">While it has been a fulfilling journey for him, there is no denying that it has been one filled with lots of stumbling blocks and sacrifices. He is excited to walk across the podium on Thursday to obtain his doctoral degree.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It's the hardships that eventually motivated me, because I would sit here working on my research, then realise that there is nothing for me out there if I don't finish my PhD and do it in the shortest period of time. During those difficult moments, you sacrifice everything. You ignore and forget everything else including your family, friends and your own life at some points, and finishing the work at hand becomes your main focus. Sometimes it gets too much, you think about it, become sad and discouraged, and I personally sweat a lot in those moments, but you never give up because you are hopeful that the best is yet to come".<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Dr Valentin Uwizeyimana</em><em>  </em><em>from Rwanda with the academics that supported him academically, financially and emotionally during the years he studied in South Africa and completed his groundbreaking research on using mobile technologies in language learning for foreign language learning. From the left are M</em><em>s Lesley Bergman from the Modern Foreign Languages Department, Dr Valentin Uwizeyimana, Uwizeyimana's PhD supervisor, Dr Simone Conradie from the General Linguistics Department, and Prof Frenette Southwood, the Chair of the General Linguistics Department.</em></p>2018-12-20T22:00:00Z 2018-12-20T22:00:00.0000000ZLynne Rippenaar-Moses
Thuthuka helps young aspiring accountants at SUhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6165Thuthuka helps young aspiring accountants at SU<p>​​As a means of providing funding to black chartered accountants in South Africa, the <span style="font-family:ubuntu, helvetica, arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;background-color:#ffffff;">South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA)</span> Thuthuka Bursary Fund, formerly known as the Institute of Accountants and Auditors, was created. SAICA is rated among the top accountancy bodies in the country.</p><p>Benefiting from the Thuthuka Bursary Fund at Stellenbosch University (SU) at present are two Bachelor of Accounting students, Bradley Tito and Curtley Olyn.</p><p>The Bursary Fund has assisted many struggling students in the past and helped them complete their studies to be able to achieve their dream of becoming chartered accountants. Cartley Olyn, a 20-year-old from Campbell in the Northern Cape, says he is excited about doing his BAccounting honours in 2019 and articles thereafter.</p><p>Cartley says he learnt of the bursary fund through a representative of SAICA who once visited the school he was attending, the Douglas High School.</p><p>He continues: “The representative gave a talk in which he made mention of the bursary. In matric, a year later, a friend of mine who attended the University of Johannesburg (UJ), brought me an application form and I applied to be accepted at SU. Initially I was informed that my application was unsuccessful because, at the time I I didn't comply with the requirements. However, a few months later one of the coordinators of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund here at SU advised me to apply for the bursary again and this time I was accepted."</p><p>Cartley says ever since he heard of the Institute, he has had his eyes sights set on obtaining the bursary and studying towards becoming a chartered accountant, because he knew his mother would not have been able to cover the costs of him attending university. </p><p>He added: “The bursary is unique in that it does not only give us money to finance our studies, but it also lends us academic support and opportunities to develop leadership skills, to do community service and to socialise with other people who are also holders of the the bursary. This has really helped me during my time here at Stellenbosch University.,"</p><p>Cartley says his mentor truly believes in him and really inspires him to do the very best he can academically. He has taken a decision to do his utmost towards passing the degree cum laude. He has been on the bursary now for three years and it will also finance his honours degree.</p><p>The second recipient of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund who hopes to be graduating, is 21-year-old Bradley Tito from Mitchell's Plain in Cape Town.</p><p>Bradley says before his aunt told his parents about the bursary, they were considering taking a loan to finance his education</p><p>He says: “This would've placed an enormous financial strain on them. The fact that I received the Thuthuka Bursary meant that there was no need for my parents to incur any debt to fund my studies as the bursary covers all the necessary costs."</p><p>He adds:" My biggest highlight at SU so far has been meeting people from different walks of life. They have really been an inspiration to me as they have made me aware of all of the hardships that our society as a whole has been facing. They made me realise that we are often so caught up in our own bubble, thinking that our problems are the only ones that matter, when in fact there are much larger problems out there that require all of our attention."</p><p>In 2019, Bradley hopes to complete his honours degree in Accounting after which he will do his articles which comprise three years of training – during this period  he will write two board exams and, if successful, he  will be eligible to register as a chartered accountant.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><br> </p>2018-12-17T22:00:00Z 2018-12-17T22:00:00.0000000ZAsiphe Nombewu/ Corporate Communication
Dr Nyasha Magadzire from Zimbabwe knows about perseverancehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6155Dr Nyasha Magadzire from Zimbabwe knows about perseverance<p>​​​After completing her Masters in Geoinformatics in 2011 at Stellenbosch University, Dr Nyasha Magadzire (31) moved back to Zimbabwe in hope of finding a job and settling back in her home country, but the move only resulted in a year of unemployment.<br></p><p>“That same year, my Masters supervisor (Prof Helen de Klerk) encouraged me to apply for a  PhD position advertised by the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), the application was successful and, being newly married at that time, I made the bitter-sweet move back to South Africa."</p><p>Coming from a Geography and Environmental Studies background, Nyasha says her PhD required her to delve into quite a lot of ecology and statistics, which was a huge adjustment for her but she managed.</p><p>“I had very supportive supervisors; they are so passionate about teaching, and spending time helping you." she said.</p><p>Nyasha said being a wife and juggling a PhD full time was not easy, but luckily her husband  made the move to South Africa to pursue his studies at Stellenbosch University as well.</p><p>“We eventually had a baby in 2016."</p><p>She described this period as quite hectic as she was not sure how having a baby right in the middle of her PhD would impact on her studies, especially being on a bursary and aiming to finish in record time. </p><p>“It took me a while to break the news of my pregnancy because I was worried I would have to stop my studies."</p><p>To Nyasha's relief, her supervisors were extremely supportive and allowed her to work at her own pace as she transitioned into juggling the PhD and motherhood.</p><p>Nyasha`s research focussed on the role of fire in modelling fynbos species, particularly in the face of climate change; it came up with several interesting points like how strong an influence fire has on the distribution of fynbos species, which plants are likely most vulnerable to changes in climate and fire regime, and several others.</p><p>“The point of the research was to improve our understanding of the drivers and underlying ecosystem processes the shape vegetation distributions in the Cape Floristic Region. A key point that came out here is that changes in fire regime will likely have a greater impact on vegetation in fire dependent ecosystems than changes in climate in the future." </p><p>“While fire is important for the regeneration of most fynbos plant species, too frequent fires or the occurrence of out of season fires will negatively impact the persistence of these plants."  </p><p> “Scientists anticipate fire regimes will be greatly altered as a result of climate change, most fynbos vegetation takes a long time to recover, if you have a fire every two /three years, it never has enough time to reach maturity before the next fire, we need to start thinking about how this will affect our landscapes especially in terms of conservation."</p><p>She said private citizens can contribute to conservation efforts by respecting and maintaining the integrity of areas that still hold fynbos species, planting indigenous plants and keeping an eye out for invasive alien plant species like wattles, which take a lot of water from our indigenous plants and act as fuel for fires.</p><p>Nyasha is the second born in a family of four kids, her mother is a believer in education.</p><p>“She taught us that anything can be taken away from you but your education remains, it widens and broadens your horizons and possibilities."</p><p> </p><p><br> </p>2018-12-12T22:00:00Z 2018-12-12T22:00:00.0000000ZAsiphe Nombewu/ Corporate Communication
Project Zero funding helps Matie dreams come truehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6156Project Zero funding helps Matie dreams come true<p>​​<br></p><p>For many prospective university students and their parents, the burden of student fees is something that keeps them up at night. Thankfully, through funding initiatives like Project Zero, many students from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) can complete their studies without financial worries or student debt.</p><p>In 2015, the Faculty launched Project Zero, an initiative to reduce to zero the actual cost of studying at SU for talented students. Project Zero bursaries, together with the University's recruitment and merit bursaries, cover the recipients' tuition, accommodation and living expenses.</p><p>At the 2018 December graduation, five Project Zero recipients will be graduating. Kamir Arjun (BAcc), Salona Burdhu (BCom Actuarial Science), Levern Fortuin (BAcc), Panashe Hakutangwi (BCom Actuarial Science) and Aishah Karaan (BAcc) will all be receiving their respective degrees.<br></p><p><img alt="ProgramGrads.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/ProgramGrads.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:400px;" /><br> </p><p>(<em>In the photo above: Panashe Hakutangwi</em>)<br></p><p>According to Kamir, the Project Zero bursary helped him to achieve his dream of pursuing a degree in the business field. “I love the world of business, it absolutely fascinates me. Ever since I was a young boy, I used to make products and sell them. From that moment, I knew that I needed a set of skills that can empower me to make sound financial decisions so that I can be financially free as an adult, which led me on the journey to becoming a chartered accountant."</p><p>Kamir says that the bursary also took away all financial burdens, which helped him to have a more enriching Matie experience. “Project Zero removed one of the biggest financial overheads from me – student debt. The bursary gave me peace of mind knowing that I can study and not have to be stressed about how I am going to afford my studies."</p><p>After graduation, Kamir plans to pursue an honours degree in Accounting at SU and hopes one day to provide mentorship to students who are also following the Chartered Accountancy path.</p><p>For Salona Burdhu, getting funding through Project Zero made her feel like she was part of an amazing family. “It has helped me with networking, as I got to meet other recipients of the bursary who were studying in the same field, and over the years we've created a support structure and memories were made with wonderful friends."<br></p><p><img alt="ProgramGrads-3.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/ProgramGrads-3.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:400px;" /><br> </p><p>(<em>In the photo above: Salona Burdhu</em>)<br></p><p>Salona also plans to pursue an honours degree in Actuarial Science at SU and hopes to gain enough experience in the future so that she can one day innovate the actuarial profession.</p><p>Levern and Aishah says they wouldn't have been able to achieve their goals without the bursary funding. “Project Zero has motivated me to continuously work hard throughout my studies, without the weight of student debt on my shoulders. The cost of tertiary education is an ongoing struggle and many are still unable to enter the doors of university because they do not have the means to afford it's benefits. Project Zero has opened those doors for me in order that I may reap those benefits," says Aishah. </p><p>Levern plans to continue her studies at SU next year and hopes to use her qualifications in job opportunities abroad.</p><p>The Project Zero bursary is based on the academic merit of black, coloured and Indian students. If you wish to contribute to the Project Zero initiative or apply for a bursary, contact the Faculty Manager, MJ Brooks, at 021 808 2078 or <a href="mailto:mjbrooks@sun.ac.za">mjbrooks@sun.ac.za</a> for more information.</p><p>Photos by Stefan Els. </p><p><em>In the main photo from left to right: Levern Fortuin, Kamir Arjun, Aishah Karaan. </em></p><p>__________________________________________________________________________________</p><p><strong>Other stories on the Project Zero bursary:</strong></p><p><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5532">http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5532</a></p><p><a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=3977">http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=3977</a><br><br></p><p><br> </p>2018-12-12T22:00:00Z 2018-12-12T22:00:00.0000000ZCorporate Communication/Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Rozanne Engel]
POCA toothless against gangs, argues experthttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=6158POCA toothless against gangs, argues expert<p>​​What do residents of the Cape Flats, Westbury in Johannesburg, and the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth have in common? They live in constant fear as gang members continue to kill each other and innocent people on a daily basis. <br></p><p>And while many solutions have been put forward to deal with gangs, one of the major problems is the ineffectiveness of anti-gang legislation. <br></p><p>This is according to Dr Delano van der Linde from the Faculty of Law at North-West University. He obtained his doctorate in Criminal Law on Thursday (13 December 2018) at the sixth graduation ceremony of Stellenbosch University's December graduation. <br></p><p>“The Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), enacted to combat, among others, organised crime, money laundering and criminal gang activities, has been inadequate to deal with criminal gangs because of several textual, institutional and constitutional shortcomings," says Van der Linde who conducted the study because criminal gang activity and the prosecution thereof under POCA is underdeveloped and under-researched. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It became clear that, although criminal gang activity contributes disproportionately to both national and (the Western Cape) provincial crime statistics, the study of criminal gang activity from a <em>legal perspective</em> was completely neglected and was deserving of a comprehensive investigation as to why our anti-gang legislation is not working and what potentially could be done to remedy the situation."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Having done a comprehensive analysis of the legislative history of POCA and each crime and punishment under the Act, Van der Linde found that POCA is substantially similar to the common law and equally ineffective when it comes to dealing with gang activity. He points out that POCA was supposed to supplement the common law which failed to disrupt the way gangs operate. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Save for maybe the crime of gang recruitment, POCA doesn't add much to the arsenal of common law crimes such as conspiracy, incitement, public violence and the common purpose doctrine that could address group-based criminality. The crimes under POCA are basically similar to the common law crimes."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van der Linde says the ineffectiveness of POCA is supported by the increasing number of gang-related murders with about 21,6% of all murders committed in the Western Cape (during the 2017/18 financial year) being attributed to gangs. <img class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="DelanovdLinde.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/DelanovdLinde.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:303px;height:455px;" /><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Another problem with POCA is that the punishments for gang members are also extremely weak – ranging from three to eight years (which can be increased by aggravating factors such as committing gang-related crimes close to schools) or the alternative of a fine." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van der Linde points out that there are also several other issues with POCA that make its application potentially unfair to persons who stand accused of offences under Chapter 4 of POCA, which specifically deals with criminal gang activity.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“POCA is too broad and uncertain due to potential interpretation(s) of 'criminal gang' and 'criminal gang activity' under POCA. These are 'open' definitions and a court does not necessarily have to follow them." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Consequently, a court can find persons guilty under POCA even though they do not strictly comply as such under the text of the Act. This is unfair to persons who may potentially fall under the scope of POCA – as they do not adequately have fair warning as to what type of conduct would constitute illegal behaviour."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van der Linde adds that that one of the sentence enhancements or aggravating factors under POCA is unconstitutional and violates of the freedom of association.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Section 10(3) makes it possible to increase a person's sentence for <em>any crime</em> merely because he or she is a gang member. A gang member who is found guilty of a speeding offence can therefore face increased punishment if he or she is a gang member."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It is arbitrary and irrational to increase someone's sentence on this basis. Section 10(3) should be restricted to gang-related offences. It must be amended so that it can only apply to gang members (or active participants) who committed offences 'for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal gang' ". <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Gang leaders</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van der Linde points to several strategies from foreign and international law that could be incorporated into our legal system – or in some instances would only require a novel application of the common law. Drawing from international criminal law, he makes suggestions and offers alternative mechanisms for a new mode of responsibility for gang leaders in holding them liable for crimes committed <em>by their subordinates. </em></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Under international criminal law, leaders of military and civil organisations can be held responsible for the actions of their subordinates as well as where such persons have committed atrocities. Similar modes of liability can easily be introduced into South African law." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The common law imposes, for example, criminal liability for omissions such as creating a dangerous situation and not preventing harm from ensuing. Gang leaders could be held responsible for creating a dangerous situation (a gang) and not quite obviously not preventing harm from ensuing." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Van der Linde this would make it easier for the State to <em>prove</em> that gang leaders gave instructions to commit certain crimes. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Where a gang member commits a crime on behalf of a superior, the superior could be held liable as if he or she committed the crime him- or herself. These common law methods are much simpler to prove than the arduous statutory scheme under POCA." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He says his study also provides a comprehensive interpretive guide to the text of POCA and makes several substantive and absolutely necessary suggestions for the amendment to the text. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Amendments to the definitions of 'criminal gang' and 'gang activity' are formulated making it compulsory for courts not to deviate from it." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Chapter 4 of POCA also heavily relies on previous convictions and hearsay – which are normally impermissible forms of evidence. The inclusion thereof could render a trial unfair if the State does not rely on the appropriate legislation for its inclusion. Van der Linde suggests a provision similar to that in Chapter 2 of POCA which makes the inclusion of these forms of evidence permissible. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He says POCA's textual, institutional and constitutional shortcomings must be addressed to more effectively deal with criminal gang activity but also to protect the accused's constitutional right to a fair trial. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van der Linde is critical of the newly-established Anti-Gang Unit saying it is merely a plaster and a temporary solution to a bigger socio-economic problem. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It was reported that up to 85% of police stations are understaffed and gang hot spots are disproportionately under-policed compared to areas such as Stellenbosch with a lower crime rate."  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He urges academics, community leaders and civil society to do more to motivate further legislative intervention. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The increase in the number of gang-related incidents (in particular murders) shows there is a constitutional failure on behalf of the State to protect its citizens from all forms of violence." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Van der Linde says the three branches of government (the executive, legislative and the judiciary) will benefit the most from his study. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The inhabitants of the Cape Flats will ultimately benefit if my suggestions are to be implemented." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">He plans to present his research findings to the legislature and the law reform commission.<br></p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><strong>Main photo</strong>: Some of the tools gangs use in their trade. (Pixabay)<br></li><li><strong>Photo 1</strong>: Dr Delano van der Linde at the graduation ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els<br></li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr Delano van der Linde</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Faculty of Law (Vaal Campus)</p><p style="text-align:justify;">North-West University</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tel: 016 910 3634<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">E-mail: <a href="mailto:Delano.vanderLinde@nwu.ac.za"><strong>Delano.vanderLinde@nwu.ac.za</strong></a> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>        ISSUED BY</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Martin Viljoen<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Manager: Media</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Corporate Communication</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Stellenbosch University</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p style="text-align:justify;">E-mail: <a href="mailto:viljoenm@sun.ac.za"><strong>viljoenm@sun.ac.za</strong></a> </p><p><br> </p><p><strong> </strong></p><p><br> </p>2018-12-12T22:00:00Z 2018-12-12T22:00:00.0000000ZCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]