Crowdfunding for studies

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As you may well know, I am passionate about forensic science and especially about the medicolegal side of it. Therefore, after finding my passion and calling and after a long absence of studies, I came back to study last year, for a two-year full-time structured Masters in Biomedical Forensic Science programme at UCT. It is really a great programme with great structures and lecturers involved. It is such a privilege to be surrounded by such knowledge and resources. However, to study full-time is hugely expensive. Not so much the tuition fee, but surrounding cost, especially if you study full-time, and more so post graduate. You have to maintain yourself and with post grad, there is just no way of holding a part time job for extra income, or to be involved in extra-income activities. It is just too hectic and more so if the programme is structured, i.e. having physical contact sessions, like classes, practical sessions, etc. Not to talk about the non-stop assignments, deadlines, etc. I am grateful for the bursary and financial support that I have had up to now, but I counted on an NRF grant that would have kicked in now, which specifically pays for living expenses while you do your research project, which I am about to start with. Not on merit but on a silly technical point, I lost this bursary. I must add that my department is fulfilling their part fully and is funding the necessary hard cost of the research project, but there are surrounding and extra peripheral cost in this time and the research period is an exceptionally intense time. For example, I will have to take data every 3 hours for 45 days in a row. It is for this reason that researchers really count on grants as one cannot worry about finances in this time. And there are not many people which can pay study (and related) costs out of their back pockets. Researchers rely on bursaries and grants, which unfortunately I failed to obtain. But I have to move on and I am in the process of applying for other grants but it takes time and it is unlikely that I will receive any grants this year, at a time I need it most to properly complete my Masters, so that I can proceed to Phd. With that qualification I will have more pull to change the system, as I am already trying to do.

For this reason that I decided to go the crowdfunding route, to try and source complimentary income for study related expenses. This includes to some degree personal expenses, which an NRF grants would have covered as well. Here we are talking primarily accommodation and travel expenses. To be close to the university I stay as cheap as I can in a 3 x 3 m room during the week and go home only maybe once a month. Yet, accommodation and travel cost (with the escalating petrol price), are inescapable and strangling costs.

I decided that I am not going to offer anything in return. On this very website we provide years’ research free of charge. I have provided Bloody Lies Too free of charge and in the future will do so with other project’s material as well. What I can offer in return is my unwavering commitment to help change the forensic and legal system to one where investigations and criminal trials are done justly and properly, in the interest of justice. I am already becoming involved behind the scenes in (current) real court cases, pro bono, and I am, in my own time doing research on other murder cases, also pro bono (one including a 30-year old mystery). I am not so much interested in guilt or innocence as I am about sound investigations and honest court testimonies. I love being in court and will be watching expert witnesses (on both “sides”) with a hawk’s eye and will expose them where and when they misdirect and mislead the court, as is so often the case. Also with sloppy and negligent investigate work.

I know the economy is tight for us all, but if you are willing to make a small donation of R50 or R100 on a crowdfunding basis, then you can be assured that I will fight on your behalf for a better justice and legal system, for us all. For that I need to complete my studies and get the best qualification that I can. And every bit helps and will, with great gratitude, be spent wisely towards this goal. Please do not think that a small contribution will not help. There is strength in numbers and every bit helps. (I don’t expect too much reaction so I don’t have a target or specific amount in mind, but to give some context, the NRF grant would have been 90K. If I can secure a quarter of this, it would already help.)

Such contributions can be made into the following account:

TW Mollett, Standard Bank, Acc: 41-470-227-1 – Universal code: 051 001 (You can put your name as reference or not)

If there are any questions in this regard, please feel free to contact me at

Thank you, kind regards

Thomas Mollett

PS: Just a few remarks:

– This initiative is a totally private initiative and should in no way be reflected on the university, department or division, or any of it’s staff. We all need money to study and this is a fundraising method that I am employing on own accord, for study purposes.

– There are many, and usually those without a factual argument, that accuse us of writing books for money. I make no excuses for writing books. I wrote books before I studied and will do so till I die, on anything. Writers write because they have something to say. I am a writer and a forensic scientist, and I combine it. A book is never the first idea or motivation to do a specific investigation. I am pathologically curious by nature and will scratch around until a stage is reached where it can go either way. If there is information that needs to be known, I will expose it in a book or on a website, or wherever. I have never asked a cent for the many TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews that I have granted over many years, and will never. And, there are only a few writers in SA that make money from books. Royalties are about 12%, so you have to sell stacks to make any meaningful amount. Books just don’t sell that well in SA. To bring it out privately, as we have done with BLT and OVTT, is a huge risk. (Not only financially, but we expose ourselves to huge criticism too.) Bloody Lies Too for example was never a commercial idea. We have given away stacks of hard copies, also by ebooks. The landscape format of BLT and OVTT is not popular with bookstores as it does not display well in/on a shelf. We knew that. We could also have put lots more “sensational” images in these books, that may have resulted in higher sales; we did not, out of respect for the families and the victim’s privacy. We only show what is relevant and will do it in whatever format that relays the message best, even if it limits sales. I am doing talks on the cases on a break-even basis and for the love of it.

– Lastly, it is never good to talk too much about ones research project in public, especially in the times close to or during the experimental phase, as this may lead to all sorts of (potentially) confusing inputs and suggestions, but in short, I will be looking at postmortem changes and their influence on the movement and position of the body after drowning in the sea. This information may assist search and recovery teams in determining the location of a drowned body, as well as the approximated time the person drowned and/or was submersed in the water. It revolves around my main interest, pathology, and is an innovative (self-devised) world-first study. It is a very interesting and necessary project that I can pull through to Phd.

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