Rhodes University Political and International Studies Senior Lecturer, Dr Siphokazi Magadla, has recently been elected by President Cyril Ramaphosa to form part of a high-level review panel into the work of the State Security Agency (SSA). The panel, chaired by former minister Dr Sydney Mufamadi, is assessing the mandate, capacity and organisational integrity of the SSA.
“In my teaching, I always hope that I show to students that what we teach means something in real life,” said Dr Magadla, who argues that her students are always faced with a dilemma of not knowing what to do with a politics qualification. Dr Magadla teaches ‘The Personal is the International’ and ‘The Post-American World’ at the undergraduate level and ‘Africa and the New Wars’ at the postgraduate level.
She has previously worked as a research consultant for the Security Sector Governance programme of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, focusing on the role of women in peace and security. Her PhD examines the state-assisted integration of women ex-combatants into civilian life in post-apartheid South Africa.
Dr Magadla is the youngest member in the panel, serving alongside former deputy head of the South African Secret Service and former deputy head of the National Intelligence Agency Barry Gilder, academics Professor Jane Duncan, Professor Anthoni van Nieuwkerk, and Professor Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo, former director of the Financial Intelligence Center Murray Michell, lawyer Basetsana Molebatsi, retired General and former deputy national police commissioner Andre Pruis, and former deputy head of the South African Secret Service and former national coordinator of the National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (Nicoc) Silumko Sokupa.
“They could’ve called anyone in Gauteng… when you have that skill that they want, they call you,” said Dr Magadla, who is still in disbelief about her teaching and PhD journey having such impact in the shaping of the nation.
The appointment of the panel follows the President’s announcement of his intention to set up a review panel to assess the structure of the SSA relative to its mandate and enquire into its systems and capacity.
Dr Magadla draws strength from her friend Professor Nomalanga Mkhize’s words, “We do these PhDs so that we can be useful to our society.”
Dr Magadla wishes that her journey will give hope to students in the field of politics, and inspire them to work harder. As she said, “There is a direct connection between theory and practical life.”