News

New smart access cards launched at UP

MARKO SVICEVIC
UP’s new smart access cards will be issued to students, staff and contractors in phases from 20 April. According to UP spokesperson Candice Jooste, to obtain a new smart access card, fingerprints and a photo will be required and therefore access cards will have to be acquired in person. Issuing of new smart access cards will commence on Hatfield Campus from 20 April to 19 May. The new smart access cards can be obtained from the Student Service Centre (formerly known as the Client Service Centre), the reception at the Graduate Centre, and at the shop next to Haloa under the Engineering bridge. 

Read more: New smart access cards launched at UP

SAPS releases latest crime statistics

MARKO SVICEVIC
The South African Police Service (SAPS), in collaboration with Statistics South Africa, have released the latest crime statistics for the period of 1 April 2016 to 31 December 2016. The SAPS report titled “Crime situation in RSA” looks at 17 “community-reported serious crimes” in the categories of contact crimes, contact related crimes, property related crimes and other serious crimes. The statistics show that while many crimes have decreased over the period, armed robbery has increased overall by 6.1%.

Read more: SAPS releases latest crime statistics

Fees Commission continues enquiry into free higher education

HENRI UYS

On 24 March, officials from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) appeared before the Fees Commission. Diane Parker, from the DHET, said that student debt has been increasing since 2012. Parker said, “We did an accounting of student debt which was owed to universities by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students which had built up from 2013, 2014 and 2015.”

The Fees Commission, set up by President Jacob Zuma after #FeesMustFall protests in 2015 and 2016, is still investigating the feasibility of free higher education in South Africa. The Commission is headed by Judge Jonathan Heher.

Read more: Fees Commission continues enquiry into free higher education

South Africa’s junk status

LORINDA MARRIAN AND SAVANNAH PLASKITT

On 3 April, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) – an American financial services company who analyse stocks, bonds, and commodities and publish the results to assist investors – downgraded South Africa to junk status. S&P explained this decision in a statement saying, “In our opinion, the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put at risk fiscal and growth outcomes. We assess that contingent liabilities to the state are rising. We are therefore lowering our long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating on the Republic of South Africa to 'BB+' from 'BBB-' and the long-term local currency rating to 'BBB-' from 'BBB'. The negative outlook reflects our view that political risks will remain elevated this year, and that policy shifts are likely, which could undermine fiscal and economic growth outcomes more than we currently project.”

Read more: South Africa’s junk status

Intervarsity News 3 April

University of Witwatersrand (Wits)

On 24 March, the Wits Department of Journalism hosted the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism, which was awarded to the story of how over 94 mentally ill patients died after being moved to mostly unlicensed NGOs. The event took place in Johannesburg and according to the Wits website, the award of R200 000 went to Suzanne Venter of Rapport for her “Life Esidemeni” story. Taco Kuiper was a successful South African publisher who donated an immense part of his estate to encouraging investigative journalism. He believed in exposing matters of public concern and therefore created a fund for investigative journalism within The Valley Trust, which is partnered with the Wits Journalism Programme.

Read more: Intervarsity News 3 April

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