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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) successfully virtually hosted the Seventh Forum for Audit, Risk and Forensics (FARF) Conference 2021 themed: An Entrepreneurial Flair Within Each Initiative-a Thought Too Far Perhaps? The FARF Conference 2021 was held from Thursday, 18 November to Friday, 19 November 2021.  

The programme Director for the opening session was DUT’s Mr Alan Khan, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs. He began by acknowledging all esteemed guests and shared some of DUT’s recent achievements saying despite the challenges of lockdown, DUT is embracing the future by following its ENVISION2030 strategy to improve lives and livelihoods. Khan then introduced the DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Zizwe Mthembu who delivered the welcome address and set the tone of the conference. 

“It is an honour for Durban University of Technology to host the 7th edition of the Forum for Audit Risk and Forensics (FARF) Conference. On behalf of DUT’s People, Council management, staff and students, I welcome you warmly. It is my hope that this conference will avoid the notoriety associated with platforms such as this, which sees participants only converging for a few days to talk. This Conference is themed: An Entrepreneurial Flair Within Each Initiative-a Thought Too Far Perhaps? We hosted another Risk Conference under the theme: Marrying the Science of Excellence with the Art of Risk Leadership. These two themes remind me of an old adage, to leave is to risk dying as individuals and as organisations. We die literally and figuratively. One day there is a moral hurdle that confronts us while we still live as practitioners in the world, including in the higher education sector,” said Prof Mthembu. 

He highlighted that in the two days of the Conference they will be relying on risk audit and forensics experts to advise them as institutions on how they could innovate in their functions and practices, without threatening the future existence of their universities. 

Ms Reshma Mathura, Executive Director: Finance at UNISA conducted a powerful presentation on the Role of Universities in the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. 

“Thank you to the Conference organisers for inviting me to speak at this Conference. It certainly is a privilege indeed, and I am pleased to be back home. My presentation really focuses on the essence of what I believe. I am looking at what is required to promote entrepreneurship growth both in South Africa and globally and that is the entrepreneurship ecosystem and I’m looking at the role of universities in this ecosystem. Poverty really is a problem when it comes to developing countries, especially in Africa. Combined with poverty, we are sitting with massive inequality. South Africa takes the golden trophy. Every time when we look at inequality and that is really the difference between the richest and poorest state in our country,” said Mathura. 

She spoke at length about how entrepreneurship can save South Africa from poverty, encouraging institutions to use their powers of passing knowledge and training to encourage students to be entrepreneurs, where they will be job creators instead of job seekers. 

Speaking on Combined Assurance- a Fraud and Forensics Context was Ms Refiloe Ramaphakela, Chief Audit Executive: SARS. She highlighted of combined assurance, looking at whether risks are mitigated through good governance.

“Risk management and control implementation in an organisation is vital. So we as professionals we know we work within an organisation and those three components, governance, risk management and control are crucial. If we are weak on the those, there’s a high chance that the strategic objective or intent of an organisation might be in jeopardy because they are not well measured or well managed,” said Ramaphakela. 

Mr Nhlanhla Cele, Executive Director:  Institutional Planning at University of Zululand (Unizulu) facilitated a panel discussion on Combined Assurance Hurdles-a Focus on second and third Lines of Assurance. His panellists were Ms Annalene Marais, Chief Financial Officer: Sol Plaatje University (SPU), Ms Nontuthuko Mbhele, Chief Financial Officer: University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Mr Lonwabo Krayiza, Chief Financial Officer at University of Venda (UniVen). 

Presenting on the Internal Reporting Reimagined was Dr Reno Morar, Chief Operation Officer (COO) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Another panel discussion on the Business Model of a Higher Education Institutions (HEI) – Hurdles & Opportunities for Improvement was facilitated by: Prof Ashley Ross, Associate Professor: Homeopathy, Faculty of Health Sciences at DUT. The panellists for this discussion were Ms Leana Griesel, Senior Director: Institutional Research and Academic Planning, University of Free State (UFS), Prof Heather Nel, Senior Manager: Strategy, Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and Dr David Mohale, Director: Special Projects, Vice Chancellor’s Office at DUT. 

Prof Bhekisipho Twala, Executive Dean: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at DUT held a robust presentation on the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the Fluidity within an Emerging Reality. He was followed by Dr Lavern Samuels, Director: International Education and Partnerships at DUT who also gave a meaningful presentation titled: The Internationalisation within the Higher Education Sector – So Close, Yet So Far an Opportunity? 

All the presentations were followed by thought provoking engagements between the speakers and the participants. 

Summing up Day one of the FARF Conference 2021 was Dr Pavitra Pillay, Deputy Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences at DUT. She expressed her gratitude to all the esteemed speakers and participants for commitment in making the Conference a success. 

The opening session of Day 2 of the Conference was facilitated by Ms Yonela Tukwayo, Executive Director: Marketing and Communications at Walter Sisulu University (WSU). 

It resumed with a panel discussion on Deepening the Value Proposition – a Professional Association’s Perspective which was facilitated by Ms Sibongile Motloung, CAE: WRSETA. Discussing the POPI Act – a Higher Education Sector Context was Mr Jerall Toi, Chairperson: USAf POPIA Forum; Institutional Information Officer: Stellenbosch University. This presentation was followed by yet another panel discussion on Panel Discussion: Data Analytics as Driver of Optimal Decision-making which was facilitated by DUT’s Chief Information Officer, Dr Progress Mtshali. 

Speaking on Whistle-blowing and how it reshapes governance within this landscape was Ms Ntokozo Mngadi, General Manager: Whistle-Blowers (Pty) Ltd. Day 2 was filled with exciting presentations from the experts sharing their expertise on risk management. It also included the selection of the new FARF Committee for 2022. 

Giving a vote of thanks and closing remarks was DUT’s Chief Risk Officer, Mr Sikhuthali Nyangintsimbi who thanked the speakers and participants for their commitment and contribution to the conference over the two days. 

Pictured: Some of the speakers of the FARF Conference 2021 

Simangele Zuma 

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