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Sol Plaatje University (SPU) Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Andrew Crouch hosted the Lesedi La Afrika Endowment Campaign Gala Dinner on Friday, 25 November 2022, at South Campus in Kimberley. The dinner raised funds for the Lesedi La Afrika Fund, a three-year fundraising campaign whose goal is to raise R100 million for the future sustainability of the University by supporting scholarships, infrastructure, social impact projects, and staff wellness programmes.

The event, with the theme ‘Sustaining the Future’, brought together the community of Kimberley and the greater Northern Cape. Dignitaries included the Chancellor of the University Judge Steven Majiedt, University Council members, business and local government representatives, SPU staff and guests from the greater community.

This year’s proceedings reflected on the university’s progress after nine years of quality teaching, learning, research, and community engagement. Professor Crouch reflected on the significant progress the university has made in the nine years of its existence, and its approach to a decade of excellence and progress. “Sol Plaatje University started humble and build up to where it is today because of people wanting to bring change in the province and ultimately the country through the power of teaching and learning and producing graduates,” he said.

Progress at SPU has seen tremendous growth in its enrolment figures and staff recruitment, with 60% of its academic staff having PhDs. As part of its decade towards sustainable growth, the institution reviewed its goals and is committed to community engagement and scholarly activity. “The University should be embedded in the community and society and contribute towards producing knowledgeable graduates who plough back to their communities,” Prof Crouch continued.

Mr Qondakele Sompondo, Director for Institutional Advancement at SPU engaged dignitaries on the sustainability of the University through the Lesedi La Afrika Campaign and urged donors to invest. He highlighted the impact the funding will make in the lives of the children of the Northern Cape. “The plight of the children of the indigenous communities (Nama, San, Khoi, and Griqua) and young people of the Northern Cape is something that needs our urgent attention. It may take us years to accomplish but we must do something about it today,” he said. “Through the fund, we want to do something bigger than normal: You will give us money, we will invest it, and from the profit of the money we will award scholarships, this will allow us to augment what NSFAS is doing, funding the poorest of the poor.”

A highlight of the night was when the Anglo American Group, through representatives of its two subsidiaries Kumba Iron Ore and De Beers, took to the podium to announce their commitments to the campaign. Representing the De Beers Group and Kumba Iron Ore respectively, Ms Faith Masuku (Specialist: Community Development & Stakeholder Relations) and Ms Sonja Van Rooyen (Production Manager) pledged their continuous support to the University by announcing legacy gifts to the Lesedi La Afrika Fund. Announcing Kumba’s R20 million gift to the campaign, Ms Masuku encouraged the university to continue with the good work and assured all those present that their company considers Northern Cape its home.

“We definitely see our R20 million donation towards the Lesedi La Afrika endowment fund as a lasting legacy and investment into the future of the Northern Cape. Kumba supports the university’s Lesedi La Afrika endowment campaign because we believe strongly in living our purpose, which is to reimagine mining to improve people’s lives”, said Masuku.

“At Kumba we see education as one of the key levers to improve the lives of young people not only in our host communities where our mines are located, but in the Northern Cape province. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Sol Plaatje University, and encourage other corporates and mining companies in the province to support this beautiful University”, concluded Masuku.

Ms Van Rooyen confirmed the De Beers Trust commitment to the people of the Northern Cape when she announced a R5 million donation to the fund from the Trust. “This gift is a continuation of commitment to the province and its people. Through this gift we want to make a university education available to the youth of this province,” said Van Rooyen.

Gifting an endowment to the University ensures support for today while providing educational and research excellence and innovation far into the future.

This event was the first of three gala dinners to be hosted by the University as part of its decade celebrations. The remaining two galas will be held in 2023 and 2024.