Youth Month 2022: Prof Dr Witness Maluleke

Youth Month 2022: Prof Dr Witness Maluleke

June is Youth Month, and this year the NRF is celebrating the youth of the NRF who are working towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us and we hope that you are inspired by the young NRF-affiliated researchers who are helping to ensure a sustainable planet for all.

Prof DrWitness Maluleke is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Limpopo (UL). He is the current Programme Coordinator for the Criminology and Psychology Bachelor of Arts degree and the Extended Curriculum Programme; and the Programme Coordinator for the Honours degree in Criminology. He also offers undergraduate teaching and learning, research, academic citizenship and governance at UL.

He currently holds an NRF Y-rating, recognising him as having the potential to become an Established Researcher within his field.

In 2016, he was awarded an NRF Freestanding, Innovation, and Scarce Skills Doctoral Scholarship. “This award provided me with an opportunity to accomplish my life dream of becoming a Doctor in Policing. I will never trade this rare gesture for anything in my academic journey. My daily prayer is for the NRF to be heavily supported financially by the national government to continue catering for emerging scholars from rural disadvantaged communities like myself. I cannot ask for more, I will always celebrate this organisation.”

This is his story…

I was born and raised in Xikukwani Village within the Greater Giyani Local Municipality, Limpopo Province. I am the first born in a family of five. We were raised by a single mother from 1992, after my father’s assassination. As the first born, I have to play strong for the sake of my brothers and sisters.

I have always tried to follow in my father’s footsteps. He was a police officer who was killed during Apartheid in Katlehong, Gauteng during the unrest of 1992. I was six years old; this influenced my life and my career holistically. My father had served communities and that’s what I also wanted to do. Therefore, I went into policing and it grew from there. This career is my calling; I cannot change it for anything in the world.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles to be where you are today, and what did you learn from it?

Poverty and betrayal.

My mother took care of me with pension money until I was awarded my NRF scholarship, this enabled me to take care of her and my struggling siblings in return. With this scholarship, I attracted better lecturing opportunities from the University of South Africa (UNISA), Department of Police Practice and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Criminology and Forensic Studies Discipline. I will always be indebted to NRF.

As for betrayal: loyal distant or close colleagues, friends and relatives are hard to find. I learned the hard way and my life projections keep on improving on this subject. Above it all, I put God first while investing in my education to eradicate poverty. For me, entering the 21st century and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) without adequate skills, education and knowledge is tantamount to sending youngsters into a snake pit. Importantly, I respect and help others, with the applications of high ethics and morals, and by displaying a positive image.

What is your research focus/area of expertise?

I am a qualitative Rural Criminology researcher with an interest in agricultural crimes, specifically stock theft. My published peer-reviewed research papers are centred around stock theft and I want to establish myself as a well-known researcher and increase my publications record on this subject.

The United Nations identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure “…a better and more sustainable future for all…” by 2030. Which of these goals are you addressing through your research, or in your personal life?

Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

My qualifications are confined to the Criminal Justice System and policing fields. The study fields in question are combined under the ‘Policing’ theme, which is deemed as the scientific study of specific government departments, namely the Department of Police, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and Department Correctional Services, as well as other related stakeholders to cover various issues on crime holistically.

The purpose of a ‘Policing’ qualification is for students (researchers in this regard) to acquire specialist theoretical and applied knowledge about ‘Policing’ activities within the public and private law enforcement environments and the broader justice system at local, regional, national and international levels. The themes covered in this field include the investigation of crime, criminology, current and emerging issues in policing, and management leadership in policing.

This qualification enhanced my knowledge and skills in stock theft investigations, policing matters, forensic science, criminology, and management leadership in the safety and security management fields. This field also refers to a set of processes with specific social functions as it is a universal requirement of any social order to prevail and may be carried out by means of different processes and institutional arrangements, comprising of broad processes of social regulation (stock theft included) underpinning routine activities of everyday life. As such, these are performed by a wide range of agencies and institutions.

What are some of your proudest achievements?

  • The 2022 Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Universities South Africa (USAf) Emerging Researcher award.
  • UL Best Overall Upcoming Researcher in the University, 2021 Vice-Researcher’s Excellence Awards.
  • NRF Y2 Rating: A researcher in this group is recognised by all or the overriding majority of reviewers as having the potential to establish himself as a researcher (demonstrated by recent research products), 2021-2026.
  • Selected to participate in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Future Professors Programme (FPP) Phase 2 Cohort 1 2021-2022.
  • The Vice President of Criminological and Victimological Society of Southern Africa (CRIMSA), for the period of 2021-2023.
  • Approved and appointed by the Executive Committee of Senate of UNISA (SENEX) as the Honorary Professor in the Department of Police Practice, College of Law for a period of three years as from 01 March 2021.
  • 2020 Emerging Scholar Award recipient for the International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 20-22 July, in Athens, Greece.
  • Featured by the following newspapers from 2017-2022: Sunday World, Daily News South Africa, Limpopo Tribune, Press Reader, The Independent on Saturday and Independent Online News.
  • Featured in the 2017 Farmer’s Weekly Magazine.
  • Interviewed by these radio stations from 2017-2021: Energy FM, Capricorn FM Progressive Talk, SAfm – Weekend View, News and Current Affairs and East Coast Radio, violence has been normalised in KZN, 10 October 2017

Overall, I have over 55 publications in peer-reviewed and accredited local and international reputable journals. Seven of my other publications are In-Press for October 2021, accepted for publications. I have three conference proceedings. I have also co-authored five book chapters and other eight non-accredited publications from 2018-2022. I have reviewed more than 25 research papers for local and international reputable academic journals.

During my academic journey, I have attended 22 academic conferences – 12 local and 10 international.

Subsequently, my research on stock theft and other related research subjects has been cited 150 times in the Google Scholar account by well-regarded local and international scholars, with seven h-index and six i10-index, since 2017.

I have supervised over 40 Honours projects at UL and STADIO (formerly known as the Southern Business School) and examined Master’s studies on stock theft subjects, from UNISA and the University of Fort Hare (UFH). Also, I have:

  • Graduated four Master’s students at UKZN, 2017-2018.
  • Graduated seven multi-disciplinary Masters’ students (Criminology) and one Doctoral candidate at UL, as well as one Master’s student (Policing) and one Doctoral candidate with TUT
  • Externally examined for both Master’s and Doctoral candidates at UNISA and UFH.

I am also responsible for acting as the external examiner for undergraduate and Honours levels for the following institutions: University of Venda (undergraduate), UFH (Honours), Walter Sisulu University (undergraduate), and STADIO (Honours).

What are your career aspirations for the future?

I want to become NRF C-rated (Established) researcher. I also want to attend local and international academic conferences to accommodate my growing niche area in stock theft. I want to produce high-quality outputs and sustain my recent productivity in the field of stock theft and produce a body of quality research. I also want to create ongoing engagement in other stock theft-related fields, while demonstrating my ability to conceptualise existing problems on this subject and apply various research methods to address them.

Furthermore, I want to compare myself with other researchers and scientists in this subject area. I want to be at the forefront of finding solutions to challenges facing the world regarding stock theft. Moreover, I want my subject area to bring about quality research work on stock theft and to be competitive in my scientific endeavour. I want to position myself among the best-emerging scholars in the field of stock theft, to increase my visibility nationally and globally.

I want to make a significant contribution to my scholarly understanding of knowledge to address the stock theft epidemic and sustain existing academic discourse in my study field. This will be done by facilitating my reflective thinking and addressing local and global realities of this crime. I want to boost my academic skills and understanding of research methodologies and enhance my technical knowledge.

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