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Businessman Malcolm X pledges R500 000 donation to keep WSU student out of jail

WENDY MOTHATA|

BUSINESSMAN and “The People’s Blesser” Malcolm X has pledged to pay R500 000 in a desperate attempt to get convicted Walter Sisulu student Sibongile Mani out of jail.

Mani was found guilty of theft after she allegedly splashed R800 000 of the R14-million on parties and designer clothes.

The money in question was erroneously paid to her by Intellimali, a service provider contracted by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), in 2017.

Hoping to get Mani out of jail,  Malcolm X took to social media on Wednesday and pledged R500 000 in donation.

“I, Malcolm X aka Business, hereby pledge R500 000 towards the R818 000 that the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student, Sibongile Mani, ‘accidentally’ used from the R14m that was ‘accidentally’ transferred to her bank account, provided the payment of this money will lead to her immediate release from prison.”

Malcolm further urged other concerned entrepreneurs to donate the other R318 000 to round up the R818 000 that she

‘accidentally’ used.

“I urge responsible entrepreneurs to donate the other R318 000 to round up the R818 000 that she ‘accidentally’ used for herself and other students.”

On Wednesday, the East London Regional Court’s magistrate Twanet Olivier said that a suspended sentence

was not appropriate for Mani and sentenced her to five years in jail.

Olivier further said that Mani spent money not on essential items to stay alive, adding that she spent the cash on luxury items “inspired by greed and not need.”

“The court has a duty to impose a fearlessly appropriate and fair sentence even if such a sentence would not satisfy public opinion,” Olivier said.

“The only form of sentence deemed fit by this court is that of direct imprisonment and you are

sentenced to a term of 5 years imprisonment,” said Olivier.

Meanwhile, Mani’s lawyer has argued that she never intentionally tried to deprive the NSFAS of the money in question. 

The state, however, charges that Mani failed to report the error and embarked on a spending spree.   

According to the state, between 1 June, when the money landed in her account, until 13 August,

when NSFAS uncovered the error, she had spent an average of R11 000 per day.

The then accounting major student was due to receive her monthly R1 400 food allowance, but because of what was described in court as a “ridiculous and absurd technical glitch”, R14 million was credited to her account. 

– Inside Education

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WSU student Sibongile Mani sentenced to 5 years in jail for theft of NSFAS millions

THE Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student Sibongile Mani has been sentenced five years’ imprisonment on Wednesday for theft of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) millions.

Mani was found guilty of theft after she allegedly spent R800 000 of the R14-million, erroneously paid to her by Intellimali, an NSFAS service provider, in 2017.

Delivering the sentence, East London Regional Court’s magistrate Twanet Olivier said that a suspended sentence was not appropriate for Mani and that she was not a victim.

Olivier further said that Mani spent money not on essential items to stay alive, “it was luxury items inspired by greed and not need.”

“The court has a duty to impose a fearlessly appropriate and fair sentence even if such a sentence would not satisfy public opinion,” Olivier said.

“The only form of sentence deemed fit by this court is that of direct imprisonment and you are sentenced to a term of 5 years imprisonment,” said Olivier.

Meanwhile, Mani’s lawyer argued that she never intentionally tried to deprive the NSFAS of money. 

The State charges that Mani failed to report the error and embarked on a spending spree.   
According to the State, between 1 June, when the money landed in her account, until 13 August,
when NSFAS uncovered the error, she had spent an average of R11 000 per day.

The then accounting student was due to receive her monthly R1 400 food allowance, but because of what was described in court as a “ridiculous and absurd technical glitch”, R14 million was credited to her account. 

Inside Education

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University drones research facility receives R11m grant

RESEARCH charity the Hans Merensky Foundation (HMF) president (and former University of the Free State [UFS] chancellor) Dr Khotso Mokhele recently signed an R11-million five-year research grant agreement with the UFS to expand the Merensky group for Aerial Geological Image Classification (MAGIC) at the university.

This builds on the HMF’s presence at two South African universities – Stellenbosch University (for forestry research) and the University of Pretoria (for avocados).

The grant to MAGIC will be used to support research programmes, including student bursaries, staff salaries, capital expenditure acquisitions such as high-performance computers, and the drones the project makes use of, says UFS Department of Geology lecturer Dr Martin Clark.

According to him, the group aims to develop drone-based geological imaging in South Africa, with specific attention to mineral and groundwater exploration endeavours.

According to Mokhele, Dr Hans Merensky – whose legacy is facilitated by the HMF – was one of the most influential geologists in South Africa. He discovered, among others, deposits of gold, platinum, diamonds, phosphates and vermiculite.

After several decades of operating in the geological sciences and with his knowledge of soil health, Merensky became a noteworthy conservationist and played a key role in the establishment of the country’s agricultural practices.

“The main objective of the HMF is to promote and assist in the development of the resources of South Africa and neighbouring territories – particularly such natural resources as soil, water, flora and fauna,” says Mokhele.

He adds that the HMF also aims to promote the health and welfare of South Africans and citizens in neighbouring countries, more specifically, through research, experimentation and demonstration and through the correlation and application of scientific knowledge.

“You have to take the knowledge and translate it into demonstration of what that knowledge can do, and then apply it,” says Mokhele.

The grant is also evidence of the generosity of Merensky’s, who was quoted as saying, “[South Africa] has given to me so much, that I am only too happy to be allowed to help it to develop in some way, and I am grateful to be able to give back to it a fraction of what it has given to me.”

UFS rector and vice-chancellor Professor Francis Petersen says MAGIC is an “exciting project” as research and the development of the next generation of scientists are critical. “This is part of our mandate. This project is one of those catalysts for the development of what the mandate is all about – research output, capacity building, and impact through our students and our research in a broader society.”

He adds that the UFS is highly committed to the MAGIC project and will ensure it receives the maximum support to make it a success.

“What makes me excited about this project is how the research impacts society. This includes developing geological imaging capacity in South African geologists with a Fourth Industrial Revolution skillset, ensuring that they remain competitive in a global market,” says Clark.

He is also of the opinion that many industries will be able to see for themselves how this technology can improve their businesses. “Drone-based geological imaging can be quicker, cheaper and safer for collecting much of the initial information that informs more expensive exploration processes, such as drilling.”

Additionally, Clark says drones are non-invasive and have little to no impact on the environment during data collection. “Drones can also, in terms of safety, collect data from unstable rock walls – historically, geologists would have to take those measurements themselves, with rock falls resulting in a significant number of deaths every year.”

He explains that drone-based imaging has supported research initiatives in the Vredefort Dome heritage site.

“Using drone-collected high-resolution images of meteorite impact melt rocks, along with field observations of how much and where foreign rock components were contained within (clasts), we could make a case for turbulent flow in the migration of impact melt material within the deep crust.”

Clark adds that three papers are currently under way, each predicated on drone imagery that enables new insights into geological processes or the ability to digitally translate geological information inside and outside the classroom.

The growing research group, with Clark as the principal investigator, consists of one PhD student, two master’s students, and two honours students, with several postdoctoral research fellows to follow soon. 

Engineering News

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Teachers need to take charge of their classrooms

PROSPECTIVE teachers learn a lot about individualized instruction in faculties of education. That’s because teachers are encouraged to personalize learning, for each student, as much as possible.

To a certain degree, this makes good sense. An inflexible cookie-cutter approach to education serves no one well.

At the same time, the pendulum has swung so far in the direction of individualization that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most teachers teach groups, not individuals. While classrooms are obviously made up of individual students, teachers are responsible for the entire group at the same time.

In other words, teachers need to take charge of their classrooms. Unruly classrooms are not places where quality learning takes place.

Unfortunately, most education faculties fall short in this area. When I was an education student, I learned next to nothing about effective classroom management. It was something I had to figure out on my own. Many other teachers find themselves in a similar situation.

This places an unfair burden on new teachers. Education professors fill their heads with various educational theories but do precious little to help them take charge of their classrooms. Even worse, they push the misguided notion that teachers should be “a guide on the side” rather than “a sage on the stage.”

By encouraging prospective teachers to stay off to the side rather than stand in the front of the room, education professors make it harder for new teachers to establish their authority. This puts new teachers at a disadvantage right from day one.

A far better approach would be for education professors to focus less on their pet theories and more on how to effectively run a classroom with as many as 25 or 30 students. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Before doing anything, teachers must disabuse themselves of the notion that they are “co-learners” together with their students. While teachers can and do learn new things while teaching, a teacher should have far more expertise in the subject being taught than any of the students. If they don’t, then the wrong person is in front of the room.

Simply put, it’s important to have clarity of roles. Teachers and students are two separate roles, and we should not blur the distinction. After all, we don’t call doctors and patients “co-healers,” nor do we think of lawyers and clients as “co-litigators.”

One of the fastest ways to erode the professional status of teachers is to demote teachers to mere facilitators of learning. Other professions would not tolerate this blurring of roles.

Teachers should also set a firm, but fair, tone on the very first day. This doesn’t mean giving a long lecture about classroom rules, but it does mean making the behavioural standards clear. It’s much easier to loosen the reins later in the year than it is to tighten them.

Finally, teachers must keep their emotions in check. Students often test a teacher’s limits, particularly when that teacher is new. When they do this, they are looking for an emotional reaction. Teachers shouldn’t give them this reaction.

Teaching is a challenging profession. We can make it a lot easier if we equip new teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their classrooms.

— Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher, a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and author of A Sage on the Stage: Common Sense Reflections on Teaching and

Learning.

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Unisa to restart graduation ceremonies

THE University of South Africa (Unisa) has announced that graduation ceremonies will restart from tomorrow after being postponed.

This has nothing to do with COVID-19 as Unisa, as well as many other higher education institutions, have been holding in-person ceremonies for quite some time after pausing them during the height of the pandemic.

The reason for this recent shutdown of the events was protest action with an incident on 15th March caused an in progress Autumn Graduation Ceremony to be interrupted.

On 23rd March Professor Puleng LenkaBula, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, issued a statement announcing the resolution of the protests which were held over salary adjustment disputes. LenkaBula even announced research and a “benchmark study” into salaries in the education sector to further address the situation.

With that fire seemingly put out, Unisa students who are due to graduate can now continue with their ceremonies.

“Unisa is happy to announce that the operations of the university have returned to normality. Thus, the graduation ceremonies will resume on Tuesday, 29 March 2022 as per the planned graduation schedule. The university is already in direct contact with all the graduate designates to advise them of their respective graduation dates and times,” an announcement reads.

“The university apologises once more for the inconvenience caused by the postponement of the graduations. Plans are already in progress for alternative graduation opportunities for the affected graduate designates.”

While this seems like good news there seems to be some confusion around new dates for these events as some students have commented upon on Twitter. Hopefully these can be addressed and those who have worked hard to finish their studies can be rewarded with a proper ceremony.

Inside Education

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Two Gauteng pupils drown at beach during Durban rugby tour

A Grade 10 and a Grade 12 pupil from Hoërskool Birchleigh in Gauteng have drowned during a school trip to the beach in Durban on Sunday.

According to a statement released by the Gauteng Education Department, the school was in Durban from Thursday, where pupils were participating in a rugby tournament and were scheduled to return on Thursday.

 “On Sunday morning, the learners and several teachers went swimming at Durban North Beach, where some learners were reportedly assisted to shore by lifeguards after experiencing challenges. Subsequent to a headcount, it was realized that two learners are missing,” the department said in a statement.

“The search went on until the evening with no success, after which the educators opened a missing persons case at Durban Central Police Station,” said in a statement.

The bodies of two learners were discovered on Monday.

“On Monday, 28 March 2022, the educators were informed that the bodies of two boy learners were discovered about 2km north of the beach from where they went swimming on Sunday.”

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has expressed deep sadness and said the incident was disheartening.

“It’s disheartening that a positive sporting school trip that our learners passionately participated in ended in such a tragic manner. We convey our most heartfelt condolences to the two affected families and the school community at large,” said Lesufi.

Lesufi said that counselling would be provided to the learners upon their return.

“Our Psycho-Social unit has been dispatched to counsel the school community of Hoërskool Birchleigh and this counselling will continue upon return of the learners from Durban,” said Lesufi.

Inside Education

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How The Department of Basic Education Plans To Eradicate Pit Toilets

IN February 2020, Amnesty International said schools in South Africa were characterised by crumbling infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and relatively poor educational outcomes.

Last week, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said it will be intensifying its delivery and monitoring of construction projects to deliver safe and appropriate school infrastructure. This will form part of the departments’ Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative.

The primary objective of the SAFE Initiative is to replace basic pit toilets with appropriate sanitation under the Norms and Standards for school infrastructure.

Currently, 2 814 schools are part of the SAFE programme. The DBE said that the upgrading of sanitation has been completed at 1 564 schools as of 2 March 2022.

At the inception of the project, a total of 3 898 schools were identified at the time as having pit toilets. The DBE said that some schools were addressed under other programs. The rest of the schools are scheduled for completion by the end of 2022/2023.

The DBE said that it is currently engaging with provinces to establish whether there are additional schools that are dependent on pit toilets.

They added, “Early indications are that there are some additional schools in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo”.

The department also provided an update on the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme which was introduced to tackle infrastructure backlogs.

The DBE said, “For the replacement of mud schools and those built of inappropriate structures, the current scope of work on the ASIDI programme includes 330 schools that need to be replaced. Of these, 294 have already progressed to practical completion. The remaining 36 new schools are scheduled for replacement before the end of 2022/23 financial year”.

Amnesty International says that crumbling infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and relatively poor educational outcomes perpetuates inequality and will impact children from disadvantaged backgrounds more.

Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said that for South Africa to comply with both its own constitutional and international human rights obligations concerning education, major change is needed urgently.

The Skills Portal

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Human Rights Commission finds no evidence of racism at the Brackenfell High School in Cape Town

WENDY MOTHATA|

THE South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said on Monday it has found evidence to back the claims of racism at the Brackenfell High School after a private party was attended by whites only in 2020.

“While the Commission found, through its investigation, that some of the School’s officials knew about the event, as details of the event were shared by parents/guardians and learners of the School on WhatsApp, Facebook and by word of mouth; and four teachers had been invited in their private capacity, the evidence before the Commission exonerates the school from the planning, funding, advertising or hosting the event,” said the commission.

The human rights commission also found that the school did not host a “whites only matric ball”.

“The Commission found that the School did not host a “whites only matric ball” and therefore did not discriminate, whether directly or indirectly, fairly or unfairly, against Grade 12 learners on the ground of race,” said the commission in a media statement.

The commission further found that the organisers of the event also did not directly or indirectly discriminate against learners on the ground of race.

The SAHRC added that those who are dissatisfied by the conclusions of the Commission’s findings in the Brackenfell High School case are entitled to take the matter to court for review.

In November 2020, throngs of enraged EFF protesters descended on Brackenfell High School in protest against alleged racism at the school.

This after information about a ‘whites-only’ matric farewell leaked online and went viral, igniting a spate of violent clashes between residents and protesters in the area.

According to the City of Cape Town, the EFF submitted an application to protest in the Brackenfell area in November 2020 and thereby accepted the responsibility to comply with national legislation and ensure a peaceful protest was carried out.

Several videos surfaced on social media when the violence broke out between the EFF members and parents outside the school premises.

President Cyril Ramaphosa described the confrontation outside the school as deeply regrettable.

“At this most important and difficult time for matriculants not only at Brackenfell High School but around the country, the spectacle of parents and protestors coming to blows at the school gate is deeply unfortunate,” said Ramaphosa at the time.

Inside Education

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Durban University of Technology shuts down four campuses following violent protests

THE Durban University of Technology (DUT) has temporarily closed down four of its campuses with immediate effect following violent protests last Thursday.

In a media statement, the university said that the Steve Biko, ML Sultan, Ritson and City campuses will be closed after a group of protesters started a violent attack on Thursday afternoon.

Staff based on the closed campuses will be working remotely.

Only essential services staff will remain on campus.

“Despite our appeals to the South African Police Service for assistance, we were unable to prevent the attacks, even though law enforcement was tipped-off yesterday about the planned protest action.”

While other campuses are temporarily closed the university said that the academic programme will continue online.

“Please note that the academic programme will continue online, so lectures are not suspended. We will closely monitor the situation and we will not hesitate to evacuate the residences should we deem it necessary, based on the potential risks on our students, staff and university property.”

The university said the protesters violated the COVID–19 protocols and damaged property.

“The protestors forced their way onto the Steve Biko Campus in Durban, violating the COVID-19 protocols, turning violent, damaging property and traumatizing staff, in a well-orchestrated attack.”

The university said that staff that are affected by the protest can visit DUT wellness office.

“We urge staff to please consult with the Employee Wellness office (ewp@dut.ac.za) at Human Capital Services, if they require professional support and assistance following the traumatic attacks today.”

The university urged the staff and students to check updates on staff email system, student email accounts and on the DUT website www.dut.ac.za.

The university has been plagued by violent protests since the beginning of the year. Students are aggrieved mainly by the online registration process and delays in National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding.

The university reopened three campuses this month after they were closed when three staff vehicles were torched at Steve Biko Campus in February, a number that has since increased to more than 10.

It was granted a court interdict against its entire Students Representative Council and EFF SC members from protesting near any if its campuses.

DUT registrar Dr Maditsane Nkonoane told the portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation that they had spent close to R1m on security due to alleged poor police and public order police support since the beginning of the year.

Inside Education

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School Sports| King’s College welcomes former Bafana Bafana defender as head of sport

THE King’s College and Preparatory School started the year with a new executive of sports, who is also a former Bafana Bafana player.

Ricardo Katza represented South Africa from 2005 to 2010 in which he captained the side for eight matches during his tenure in the national team.

The former footballer said he was contacted by a member of the Board of Governors at The King’s College in August last year. “I last spoke to him in 2017. When he mentioned that the head of sports left the post, I was the first one who came to his mind. [It also] offered me and my family a three-in-one situation (school, sports and church) on one campus,” he said.

Katza said there are a number of goals he hopes to achieve at the school in his new position. He mentioned there have been challenges, but change is taking place on a solid foundation.

“We have decided to work on three things this year. [We want to] work with children as people and not just as athletes who do sport at the school. We want to improve and raise the standards of the nine sporting codes, to get the learners to compete and not just participate. With our coaching staff, we want to have staff with qualifications per sporting code and heading the nine different sports.”

Looking to the future, Katza is looking to obtain his Union of European Football Associations A and B football coaching licence next year in Ireland.

Fourways Review