National News

New bill aims to raise legal drinking age


The Department of Trade and Industry has proposed to amend the National Liquor Act by increasing the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) to 21. Currently, the legal drinking age in South Africa is 18.

Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, gave reasons for this decision in a press briefing at Parliament in October 2016: “The first [reason] is that it is a physiological argument, which is saying there is evidence that the brain does not fully develop until the mid-twenties in fact, and that when the brain is not yet fully developed, the impact on the brain of alcohol abuse is much more severe than it is on the fully developed brain…”. Davies said that the consequences of alcohol abuse have decreased in countries where the drinking age was increased. Davies also said that South Africa has one of the highest incidences of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) in the world with approximately 1 million people being affected, and that another 5 million people have sustained damage due to excessive alcohol consumption.

Read more: New bill aims to raise legal drinking age

UP alumnus and rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen laid to rest


On 6 February, rugby legend and UP graduate Joost van der Westhuizen passed away having been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease in 2011. Van der Westhuizen, who previously played for the SA Sevens Rugby World Cup and the Blue Bulls Rugby team, was most notable for his performance in the Springboks Rugby team, during which time he played as a scrum-half in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which saw South Africa become Rugby World Champions for the first time. During his time with the Springboks, he played 89 tests between 1993 and 2003, scoring a then-Springbok record of 38 tries and captaining the team at the 1999 World Cup.

Read more: UP alumnus and rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen laid to rest

UP students arrested as protests continue


Three UP students have been arrested over the last two weeks in connection to this year’s protests.

On 11 October, following the continuation of protest action at UP’s Prinshof campus, EFFSC-UP chairperson and Fees Must Fall representative Amla Monageng was arrested outside the Prinshof campus. Monageng was arrested by Brooklyn SAPS and taken to the Moot police station in Gezina. The following day, Monageng appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates Court where his bail hearing was postponed to 19 October and remained in police custody till then.

Monageng was initially charged with public violence and malicious destruction of property. The UP Fees Must Fall Facebook page claimed that Monageng was “unlawfully arrested” as he was taken into police custody “while he was innocently standing on the pavement outside Prinshof”.

Read more: UP students arrested as protests continue

One hundred free scholarships for SA students


The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme is offering 100 free scholarships to South African students. This programme was signed on 8 December 2016 and is based on a bilateral educational co-operation agreement signed between the Hungarian and South African Governments. The applicant is to be nominated by a Sending Partner. In the academic year 2017/2018 almost 4 000 students can begin studying, with an option of a total of 410 study programmes available in English or in Hungarian, in the framework of the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme.

Read more: One hundred free scholarships for SA students

Damage to research may outweigh property damage at SA varsities


On 27 September, Universities South Africa (USA) shared its concern about the damage to academic programmes and infrastructure by student protesters.

These repercussions are becoming increasingly clear and are supported by Prof. Brenda Wingfield, a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and Professor of Genetics at the University of Pretoria. Prof. Wingfield published an article on Conversation Africa, titled “South Africa’s research output will be the biggest victim of student protests”. In her article, she explained that the Department of Education and Training’s estimated figure of R600 million in damages caused by student protests “is merely the tip of the iceberg”.

Read more: Damage to research may outweigh property damage at SA varsities

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