Philosophy Born of Struggle and Massacres discussed at ccrri

Philosophy Born of Struggle and  Massacres discussed at ccrri
Speakers at the Philosophy Born of Struggle, Philosophy Born of Massacres Symposium at the ccrri.

Professor Leonard Harris of Purdue University in the United States was the keynote speaker at a symposium on “Philosophy Born of Struggle, Philosophy Born of Massacres”, hosted by Professor Rozena Maart.

Harris is a founding member of Philosophy Born of Struggle which he describes as philosophy that has drawn a group of philosophers together who work from the point of departure of recognising struggles.

Maart is the former Director of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri), housed within the College of Humanities.

‘There are at least two cultural foundations of American philosophy and each has a different association with its heritage and has concretised views on an international level in different arenas,’ said Harris.

‘The principle involves confrontation with unfulfilled democracy, human ravages of capitalism, colonial domination, and ontological designation by race. Liberation from such social consequences and critiques by theories tending to legitimise reprehensible conditions are the distinguishing marks of the African-American heritage. That heritage is reflected in the Philosophy Born of Struggle anthology,’

Maart shared her ground-breaking work on Philosophy Born of Massacres, Marikana the Theatre of Cruelty, published in ACTA ACADEMICA. She probed the possibility of the reasons of reason by interrogating the deconstruction of the subject – the Black man subject as a policeman and the Black man subject as a miner – in respect of the killing of miners at Marikana.

Maart called the massacre a theatre of cruelty, which informs her point of departure for a philosophy born of massacres. Her work addresses the salient features of what marks this relationship between the Black man who considers himself a product of post-modernity and post-apartheid, and the Black man who considers himself the miner.

‘Philosophical thought, when inscribed, has to be a product of time, a product of an event; apartheid in South Africa is a product of the history of racism. Each event exists within another event; each event is part of the history of White supremacy,’ said Maart.

Students Ms Luntu Hlatswayo, Mr Minenhle Dlamini and Ms Philile Langa also gave powerful presentations.

Hlatswayo spoke on her interpretation of philosophy born of struggle in her paper: “Colonial Statues and Symbols in Democratic South African Space. A Philosophical Approach to the aftermath of the National Liberation Struggle”.

Dlamini conveyed both his philosophical insights and his legal theory, bringing philosophy born of struggle into the legal domain through his paper titled: “After the Struggle, after the Massacres. Neo-colonial and Neo-imperial Practices in the New Democratic South Africa”.

Langa spoke on gender-based violence and boy soldiers in Africa, with a strong focus on how feminist theorists have failed to recognise the vulnerability of African boys and young men in conflict areas. She examined the thinking and the construction of feminist knowledge, explaining how struggles blur the lines between and among violence, perpetrator and victim.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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UKZN Scoops Six Awards at MACE 2016

UKZN Scoops Six Awards at MACE 2016
Team UKZN celebrating the slew of awards at the MACE Gala dinner at D’Aria Wine estate in Cape Town.

Team UKZN won six awards at the Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education (MACE) Congress held in Cape Town.

The MACE Excellence Awards celebrate distinction in marketing, communication and advancement in the Higher Education sector in South Africa.

Team UKZN took the following awards:

Executive Director of UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division Mr Lesiba Seshoka congratulated the team on their achievements and for showcasing excellence at the University.

The awards formed part of the three-day Congress themed: “Higher Education and Training in Crisis?”, which included sessions on “Living your Brand – Brand Identity Management during Turbulent Times”, by Mr Aki Kalliatakis, Founder of the Leadership LaunchPad; and an informative session titled “Paid, Earned, and Owned Media Strategy: The Future of Media Content and What it Means for Professionals in Marketing, Advancement, and Communication”, by Ms Vasantha Angamuthu, Chief Strategy Officer at Independent Media.

UKZN alumnus and founder of humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, delivered a keynote address on: “Tough Times Call for Ordinary People to be Extraordinary”.

Speaking on his humanitarian efforts at Gift of the Givers, the largest disaster relief organisation of African origin, Sooliman spoke about heartbreaking scenes they had been exposed to: ‘Every child who dies is one too many.’

He also spoke about the ‘amazing people’ they had met on their journeys to overcome adversity: ‘Africa has heart. Africa has spirit,’ added Sooliman. 

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
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From Herd Boy to Dean of Research

From Herd Boy to Dean of Research
Professor Pholoho Morojele is the new College of Humanities Dean of Research.

A former Lesotho rural community herd boy, Professor Pholoho Morojele, is the new Dean of Research at the College of Humanities.

An associate Professor of Gender and Social Justice Education, Morojele is known for his unwavering commitment to transformation and social justice.

He says he will tackle key challenges facing South African Higher Education, including increasing students’ access, opportunity and success; securing the next generation of academics; epistemological transformation and increasing funding for research within the College.

Morojele said he would devise strategies aimed at ensuring that the projected postgraduate enrolment growth will have adequate funding to meet the objectives of transformation, decolonisation and increased quality and quantity of research output.

‘Our ability to ensure students’ access, participation and success will not be sustainable without the strategic use and mobilisation of financial resources in order to enhance equity and growth targets. Enhancing appointment of honorary and retired professors, post-doctoral fellowships, and the publication of masters and PhD theses in accredited journals, are but a few practical yet strategically significant steps to implement,’ he said.

Morojele will devise differentiated models of research incentives that accommodate the requirement for both quantity and quality research outputs while using funding models that enhance academic staff visibility in the national and international arenas.

The general aim is to enhance the profile of the College of Humanities by securing more research grants and contracts.

‘My role as Dean will be to ensure that the next generations of academics are not only largely Black, women and sexually diverse South Africans, but they must also possess the intellectual and academic capabilities related to research and personal dispositions fundamental for developing the College of Humanities. I believe transformation must be a compulsory condition of academic freedom,’ he said.

In his new role, Morojele brings with him a wealth of experience and recognition as a Prolific Researcher at UKZN in 2012 and 2013 and for his excellent research publication record. Since 2009, he has maintained the status of emerging researcher and in 2013 was one of the Top 30 UKZN researchers.

He is a Commonwealth scholar, having studied as part of his PhD at the Institute of Education, University of London. During his seven-year academic career, Morojele has authored more than 30 scientific publications both nationally and internationally and attended a variety of conferences where he presented various papers including keynote addresses. He has also supervised more than 20 postgraduate students over the past seven years.

His research interests and publications are in gender, rural children’s geographies and social justice in education. Underpinned by critical theories and inclusion of the minority social groups in the mainstream education discourse, Morojele contributes immensely to sustainable futures for the people of the Afromontane (mountains on the African continent).

He uses his wealth of experiences from his rural life as a basis for his conviction that people from the mountains on the African continent have a critical role to play in shattering mainstream myths that tend to associate them with backwardness and primitiveness.

Morojele is confident that 2017 will be the time for laying the foundation for success in the College. ‘Given the enormity of the challenges at hand, it will literally be the case of, more haste, less speed.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
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UKZN Hosts Academic Monitoring and Support Research Colloquium

UKZN Hosts Academic Monitoring and Support Research Colloquium
At the Colloquium are (from left) Ms Jessica Dore, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, Dr Samukelisiwe Mngomezulu, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, Professor Renuka Vithal and Professor Thabo Msibi.

The College of Humanities and the University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) hosted the annual Academic Monitoring and Support (AMS) Research Colloquium on the Howard College campus under the theme: “Enhancing Academic Excellence and Promoting Student Success through Mainstreaming Academic Monitoring and Support at UKZN”.

Opening the Colloquium, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter described AMS as crucial for students. ‘We cannot have excellence without transformation and neither will be achieved without the commitment of all partners and stakeholders. As such, AMS must be located within a discourse of transformation and excellence, recognising students as partners on the road to achieving success.’

Potgieter stated that ‘we cannot implement AMS from a deficit paradigm and that AMS had to take psycho social factors into account.’  

UKZN’s DVC for Teaching and Learning, Professor Renuka Vithal, and School of Education lecturer, Dr Samukelisiwe Mngomezulu, delivered keynote addresses.

Vithal spoke on perspectives and possibilities for enhancing AMS through curriculum review and renewal. ‘Academic monitoring and support interventions, activities and programmes to improve student access, progression and support, have arguably left curricula largely intact.

‘Recent student demands for radical curriculum reforms attest to this. However, when examined historically and internationally in other post-conflict societies, it is clear that this is to be expected given South Africa’s colonial and apartheid history,’ said Vithal.

She discussed a case of a radical Higher Education curriculum reform demonstrating that university curricula embed particular perspectives and are neither neutral nor value free.

Mngomezulu spoke on “Being in’ and ‘Being of’: Thoughts on AMS as Practice and as Scholarship: Lessons for Institutional Praxis”.  In the presentation she called for an improved discourse and practice of AMS at UKZN.

Her findings highlight that in the institutional approach to AMS, students are either partially known or totally unknown, and therefore interventions are merely remedial and or at best reactive.

Mngomezulu believes that support programmes, such as intervention, should be organically formulated in ways that consider the entrant student as having experiences, values, challenges and possibilities.

She argues that a holistic approach to AMS presents a possibility to understand students and their nuanced support needs. ‘AMS is not only for one office but it is for the whole university community and joint forces from various university sectors. I am prompted by my personal journey, practice and research experience to ask this question: What is the way forward for AMS at UKZN?’

At the Colloquium, winners for the best presentations for the plenary session and under the three themes (first year student orientation and support, recent innovations in teaching and learning, and the role of language and mediated learning, with the objective of mainstreaming student academic support within the University), were as follows:

Theme 1: Mnqobi Njoko (CHUM/SBEDS) “Access to post-secondary education information at a rural schook: A case of two schools in KZN, Ntabamhlophe

Theme 2: Abdulbaqi Badru, Barbara Mutula-Kabange and Laurien Freeman (UTLO) “Developmental lecturers’ perspectives of Moodle at UKZN”

Theme 3: Anusharani Sewchurran & postgrad students (S. Mbanjwa, N. Zwane, N. Khwela and N. Mthembu) “Reflections on Academic Monitoring and Support”

Theme 4: Veena Lutchmann & Poobendran Govender (CHUM/T&L) “Humanities Access programme: successes and challenges”

Plenary: Nirmala Gopal, Nirvani Naidoo, Velo Govender and Netsai Gwelo (CHUM/SAHS) “De-constructing myths of who’s ‘at-risk’”

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Research on Schools as Centres of Community Life Presented at UKZN

Research on Schools as Centres of Community Life Presented at UKZN
Dr Ingrid Bamberg, a visiting scholar at the Mzala Nxumalo Centre for African Society.

A visiting scholar at the Mzala Nxumalo Centre for African Society, Dr Ingrid Bamberg, presented her research at UKZN’s School of Education under the title: “Schools as Centres of Community Life: Social Link and Social Issues Arising from Education Decentralisation in South Africa”.

Based on an empirical study she conducted among primary schools in a semi-rural community in KwaZulu-Natal, Bamberg discussed conditions of access to quality education.

‘Post-apartheid South Africa set as a major principle the right and the access for all to free and quality basic education. Yet too many children still do not have access to quality education,’ said Bamberg.

Bamberg questioned the coherence of the educational policy and highlighted obstacles to social justice and equity.

In her research, she gathered evidence on how access inequalities occur within a locality.

‘If all the children theoretically have the right to access quality education, only those from high socio-professional origin have effective access to it. Poor children remain disadvantaged and, de facto, social discrimination still takes place.’

According to Bamberg, the statistical approach of the educational policy, mainly based on demographic rather than on socio-economic variables, neglects major issues involved in the measure of access to quality education for all.

‘A comprehensive approach towards schooling practices would prevent dissociating schools from their social environment and account for their role and influence on social dynamics, such as parents and schools strategies, which need to be understood in order to reach effective access to quality education for all.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
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William R Jones Award For UKZN Academic

William R Jones Award For UKZN Academic
Professor Rozena Maart, the recipient of the William R Jones award.

Former Director of the Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (ccrri) housed within the College of Humanities, Professor Rozena Maart, has been presented with the William R Jones award at the 23rd Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference at the A&M University in Texas, USA.

The award is named after Dr William R Jones (1933-2012), a foundational theorist and thinker of Black philosophy in the United States. Jones was known for his infamous text on the theodicy of Black suffering: Is God a White Racist?: A Preamble to Black Theology (1973).

It was his commitment to the independence of Black thinking, and the activity and presence of the Black philosopher in essays such as: The Legitimacy and Necessity of Black Philosophy: Some Preliminary Considerations (1977) that best characterise the legacy and honour he lends to the Philosophy Born of Struggle.

The William R Jones award is a lifetime achievement award given to a senior philosopher who has dedicated their life and work to the advancement of Black philosophy the world over.

This award, decided upon by nominations and majority votes by the board of Philosophy Born of Struggle, honours the dedication, intellectual fortitude, and scholarship of a scholar who has become an indispensable voice and made incalculable contributions to the ongoing struggle for the humanity of Black people the world over.

Executive Director of the Philosophy Born of Struggle Organisation, Professor Tommy Curry, said: ‘Rozena Maart is a thinker who has made multiple efforts to enrich the ongoing conversations in race theory in the United States by demanding that the works and problems illuminated by African thinkers are explored on this side of the Atlantic. Her scholarship has shown the necessity of bringing African theory to bear on questions of White supremacy and sexual exploitation as well as the benefits of comparing the US and South Africa.

‘This scholar has embodied the persona of William R Jones, an Africana thinker and produced work which has touched all corners of our Diaspora. She has established an impeccable record of service to the field of Philosophy, Black Studies, Gender Theory, and Literature.

‘Her work has had a remarkable impact on the aforementioned fields, and she has demonstrated an interdisciplinary competence that few scholars can match. Her scholarship, her international collaborations, and her international reputation are a standard of professionalism that the whole of Philosophy Born of Struggle wish to celebrate,’ said Curry.

Maart described receiving the award as an honour. She also presented and chaired the keynote panel at the conference, where she was joined by her students, Ms Philile Langa and Ms Zaria Govender, on Skype.

Of the students’ work that Maart supervises, she said: ‘Both Philile Langa’s paper, “The Black Man’s Innocence Within the Context of Armed Conflict: A Philosophical Discussion on the Denial of the Victimhood of Black Men”, and Zaria Govender’s paper: “The Impact of Culture and the Inherent Internalisation of Trauma in South African Black Masculinity”, received a hearty round of applause. Professors at the conference were in disbelief that Philile and Zaria were Masters students.’

Upon receiving the award, Maart was congratulated by students, colleagues, family and friends across the country and in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Morocco, Norway and Senegal.

She is currently on sabbatical and still working with students on two research projects while trying to meet deadlines with publishers for her forthcoming publications.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Marine Biologists Focus on Global Change

Marine Biologists Focus on Global Change
UKZN Marine Biology PhD student Mr Christopher Waspe and post-doctoral fellow Dr Morgana Tagliarolo discuss their research in preparation for the 3rd National Conference on Global Change.

Work by several researchers from UKZN’s Marine Biology Department involving the understanding of key challenges facing the earth was featured at the 3rd National Conference on Global Change hosted by the University.

UKZN is the only university in the country to offer a BSc degree programme in Marine Biology, and has been highly successful in its multidisciplinary marine research and training and equipping young researchers to tackle threats facing South Africa’s marine systems.

Research presented at this national conference aimed at the South African postgraduate community, included investigations of how coral, a marine fauna extremely vulnerable to the effects of global change due to its tolerance for only very narrow ranges of temperature, is persisting in intertidal pools in KwaZulu-Natal despite adverse conditions. This could help predict future population trajectories and plan conservation strategies.

UKZN’s Marine Biologists have also set themselves apart in the arena of estuarine health. Estuaries are arguably the most threatened of all South African marine ecosystems as they cover a small surface area but are subject to extreme levels of utilisation. They have important ecological and economical functions, including the cycling of nutrients, enhancing coastal production, are nursery and breeding sites for aquatic organisms and sources of food and sites for recreation and tourism.

Research presented by UKZN students on estuaries included the development of frameworks and management strategies for understanding complex estuarine food web functioning and flow rates (impacted by stressors like dams), essential in these highly dynamic, productive systems that are under stress from human-induced disruptions and increasing extreme climatic events and climate variability.  Estuarine habitats have naturally high variable natural conditions which are being intensified by human activities, leading to unpredictable, extreme disturbances.

UKZN postgraduate students also presented research on zooplankton, which is an indicator of ecosystem health as well as research on the fauna living in disturbed environments such as the Durban Bay, which, before the construction of a harbour, was a sheltered lagoon with exposed sandbanks and mangrove and swamp areas and two vegetated islands near the centre. The Bay is still ecologically important despite losses to development, but habitat loss and sea level rise - two major components of global change - could further degrade the ecological integrity of the Bay.

‘By conducting innovative research into vital marine systems under threat, marine biologists hope to better understand how these systems are changing and minimise the damage these threats could cause,’ said UKZN Marine Biologist, Dr David Glassom.

The Global Change Conference, funded by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation, is part of the Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC), now in its 6th year of implementation.

The GCGC encourages the production of new knowledge and information in South Africa to cope with key grand challenges, including understanding a changing planet, reducing the human footprint, adapting the way we live, and innovation for sustainability.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Postgraduate Students Excel at Research and Innovation Day

Postgraduate Students Excel at Research and Innovation Day
Winners at the Postgraduate Research and Innovation Day.

This year’s Postgraduate Research Day at the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science attracted 60 oral and 158 poster presentations – almost double last year’s entry - submitted for review by masters and PhD students from the College’s five Schools.

A new component of the day was the introduction of an Innovation Stream.  This involved a partnership between the College and UKZN InQubate and the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) in which interested students were exposed to ‘research to market’ thinking and given the platform to pitch their innovative research ideas with the best concepts being taken up for further market development and funding. 

Chief Academic Co-ordinator of proceedings, Dr Michael Gebreslasie, opened the day welcoming students, academics, exhibitors and judges and thanking all participants and contributing funders, both within and outside of the University.

UKZN Pro Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship,  Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, encouraged students to see the opportunities in their research for commercial innovation and application, and to provide practical solutions to societal challenges.

The keynote lecture was delivered by the Executive Manager:  “Water Use and Wastewater Management at the Water Research Commission (WRC), Mr Jay Bhagwan, who spoke on: Water and Risks – a Symbiotic Relationship”.

The judging panel comprised UKZN academics as well as external participants from Eskom, Transnet, Toyota, Umgeni Water and other research institutions.

A challenging and competitive environment was created for postgraduate students to present their work while at the same time disseminating knowledge.

Thanks to generous funding from about 50 donors and partners, winners and runners-up of the various sessions received sponsorship to attend international and national conferences.

In the oral section, first prize winners were:  Ms Cwengile Dweba supervised by Professor Hussein Shimelis; Ms Selisha Naidoo supervised by Dr Charles Hunter; Ms Denisha Gounden supervised by Dr Nolwazi Nombona; Mr Sanjeeth Sewchurran supervised by Professor Inno Davidson and Professor Olorunfemi Ojo, and Mr Mutua Samuel supervised by Professor Sandile Motsa.

Second prize oral winners were:  Ms Sharon Migeri supervised by Dr Alfred Odindo;  Ms Lauren Eyssen supervised by Professor Theresa Coetzer; Ms Wakhiwe Mthiyane supervised by Dr Allen Mambanda and Professor Deo Jaganyi; Mr Frederick Chikava supervised by Professor Anne Stark and Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, and Mr Napo Mosola supervised by Mr Moses Dlamini and Professor Jonathan Blackridge.

First prize poster winners in the various streams were: Mr Mxolisi Ndlela supervised by Professor Mark Laing; Ms Gemma Gerber supervised Mr Gan Moodley and Dr Deborah Robertson Anderson; Ms Paulene Govender supervised by Dr Alan Mathews and Dr Michael Brooks;  Mr Andrew Oyieke supervised by Professor  Freddie Inambao,  and Mr Ferdinard Ogbuisi supervised by Dr Tosin Mewomo.

Second prize winners in the poster section were: Mr Alexander Zwolinski supervised by Dr Gus Gubba and Dr Benice Sivparsad; Mr Lorenzo David supervised by Dr Mogie Singh; Ms Vuyolwethu Ndabankulu, supervised by Professor Sreekantha Jonnalagadda;  Ms Rochelle Fourie supervised by Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and Professor Paramespri Naidoo, and Ms Milliward Maliyoni, supervised by Dr Farai Chirove and Professor Kesh Govinder.

author : Sally frost
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Joint Centre for Computational Astrophysics Launched at UKZN

Joint Centre for Computational Astrophysics Launched at UKZN
Professor Jun Yan and Dr Albert van Jaarsveld greet during the official launch of the Joint Centre for Computational Astrophysics that has been established between the two institutions.

UKZN and the National Astronomical Observatory China (NAOC) have officially launched a new Joint Centre for Computational Astrophysics.

The ground-breaking initiative is based on common research interests in astrophysics and cosmology, and in particular in radio astronomy and computational astrophysics.

It is hoped the Centre will facilitate the exchange of students to work on computational astrophysics related to new observational facilities in South Africa and China; employ joint postdoctoral fellows to work on cutting edge astronomy supervised by scientists from South Africa and China;  open facilities - observational, technological and computational - in the two countries to maximise resource usage; to engage with the general public in terms of frontier scientific knowledge and expertise, and to attract funding from the public and private sectors.

The programme was originally proposed in 2015 and is the culmination of tireless efforts by UKZN’s Dr Yin-Zhe Ma, who is based in the School of Chemistry and Physics and with the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), and NAOC’s Professor Xuelei Chen.

The Centre was officially opened by Deputy Director-General for Research Development and Support at the Department of Science and Technology, Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde, and the Consul General of the People's Republic of China in Durban, Mr Wang Jianzhou. 

The Memorandum of Understanding between UKZN and NAOC was signed at the opening ceremony by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UKZN, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, and Professor Jun Yan, Director General of NAOC.

The opening of the Centre coincided with the inaugural China-South Africa Bilateral Conference on Cosmology with Large Surveys.

An evening of public talks on current areas of interest in astronomy added to the programme.

author : Sally Frost
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Humanities Academic Tops Rankings Again

Humanities Academic Tops Rankings Again
Professor Maheshvari Naidu.

Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences Professor Maheshvari Naidu is the College of Humanities’ Top Published Academic and Top Published Woman for 2016.

The rankings are based on productivity units from 2015.

 Naidu, who was the Top Published Woman in the College of Humanities last year, took over as Academic Leader Research in the School of Social Sciences in June this year, but has managed to juggle her own research with the portfolio of Academic Leader.

‘Over the past two years much of my work has focused on issues around Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), said Naidu.

‘To this end many of the students I supervise are working in cognate areas around SRHR. The other research niche areas my students focus on are medical anthropology, migration and transnationalism, refugee and internally displaced, LGBTIQ, gender, and food and water security as well as work around conflict transformation,’ said Naidu.

Several of my research students are also working in the contexts of Higher Education in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Additionally, because much of the work is inter and trans-disciplinary by nature, many of the postgraduate students are from outside Anthropology and located in Health Sciences, Sociology and Conflict Transformation and International Relations.

Naidu is currently supervising 19 Doctoral students and two masters students.

‘Many of my students are women from other parts of Africa,’ she said. ‘My aim is to grow a strong lineage of scholars who can themselves increase the knowledge capital in much more meaningful ways than merely getting a PhD. I find that while we have many applicants who register for doctoral studies, aware of what it entails, many are also being attracted to a PhD and full fee remission for completely wrong reasons.

‘Increasing the critical mass of doctorates in South Africa is much more than a numerical exercise and attaining a doctorate is much more than amassing 80 000 words and believing that one is ready to submit and graduate. On the other hand we also have students who traverse the doctoral journey and emerge as the next generation of researchers and writers, able to work in both academia and applied contexts of the social sciences. It is the critical mass of the latter than we need to nurture.’

Five of her doctoral students and two Masters students are submitting their theses for examination this year

Naidu says she has been invited by American and United Kingdom-based editors Mr Dennis Klas (sociologist) and Ms Edith Steffen (psychologist) to contribute a chapter in a forthcoming Routledge publication titled: “The Continuing Bonds Theory in Bereavement Practices and Counselling”.

Naidu was the Top Published Women academic in the College in 2014 and won a Department of Science and Technology National Award for Research in 2013.

author : NdabaOnline
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Innovative Projects Showcased at Electric, Electronic and Computer Engineering Open Day

Innovative Projects Showcased at Electric, Electronic and Computer Engineering Open Day
Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering students with Dean and Head of School, Professor Cristina Trois, and Academic Leader Professor Thomas Afullo.

Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering students ended 2016 with a bang when they showcased futuristic projects at their annual Open Day on the Howard College campus.

The Discipline’s Academic Leader, Professor Thomas Afullo, said he was impressed by the amount of work participating students put into their projects. ‘In as much as students learn from the past they should also be creative and design new products and services at a high level of performance.’

The final-year Design Project forms the pinnacle of the design activities in the four-year degree programmes. Students have just five intense weeks to come up with innovative designs and work on the projects they then display. The design projects undertaken by the students are a test of their individual abilities to survive as design engineers.

Mr Matthew de Neef won the Most Innovative Design Project in Computer Engineering; Mr Ahmad Khalid received the award for the Best Computer Engineering Final Year Design Project as well as the Final Year Student in Computer Engineering Award, while The Most Innovative Design Implementation by a Final Year Student in Electronic Engineering award went to Mr Muhammed Dawood.

Mr Bernard Bussy won awards for the Best Final Year Electronic Engineering Design Project and the Best Final Year Student in Electronic Engineering.

Mr Nathan Sparks won the award for the Best Final Year Student in Power; Mr Mbusiseni Kubeka won the award for the Best Control System, and Mr Disebo Sesing took the first prize and Mr Nathan Sparks second prize for the Best Final Year Electrical Engineering Design Project.

The Discipline of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering thanked all the students, staff and members of the public for taking part in the event and for their enthusiastic support.

author : Basetsana Mogashoa
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Mechanical Engineering Students Triumph at IASSA Symposium

Mechanical Engineering Students Triumph at IASSA Symposium
From left: Dr Mike Brooks of UKZN, Dr Glen Snedden of the CSIR and UKZN aerospace students Mr Nalendran Singh, Mr Donald Fitzgerald and Mr Creason Chetty.

Two Mechanical Engineering Masters students in the Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG) won a top award at this year’s International Aerospace Symposium of South Africa (IASSA) at the CSIR in Pretoria.

They were Mr Creason Chetty and Mr Nalendran Singh, who scooped first place for their presentation on UKZN’s Small-Satellite Liquid Propellant Booster Engine (SAFFIRE).

Meanwhile, fellow student, Mr Donald Fitzgerald, presented a paper titled: “Design and Aerodynamic Analysis of a Supersonic Turbine to Drive a Turbopump in a Commercial Rocket Booster Engine”.

Chetty and Singh were supervised by UKZN’s Professor Graham Smith and Dr Michael Brooks as well as Dr Glen Snedden of the CSIR.

Their presentation covered a brand new liquid propellant rocket engine, SAFFIRE, whose combustion chamber is fed by two pumps powered by individual electric motors, rather than a conventional gas turbine.

‘SAFFIRE aims to be the first South African rocket engine that uses this unique drive system,’ explained Singh.

‘The presentation intrigued the audience as electropump technology in rocket engines is a relatively new concept. There is only one commercial company we’re aware of that has implemented this technology in a commercial launch vehicle, which they are yet to test.’

Chetty and Singh both enjoyed the experience of the event which heightened their exposure to the aeronautical and aerospace industry and presented an opportunity to interact with experts and professionals in this field.

The students, who were inspired to study in the field by an early fascination with flight, space and astronomy, both aim to continue in the aerospace arena as their careers progress. This interest is fuelled by their involvement in ASReG, a group dedicated to developing aerospace technologies related to rockets and space vehicles and to cultivating skills development in aerospace engineering.

‘Although ASReG is focused on developing liquid and hybrid rocket propulsion technologies, our primary output is skilled engineers who can contribute to high-tech sectors of the economy,’ said Brooks, who co-heads ASReG.

‘The work that our propulsion students do is extremely complex, but Creason and Nalen did an admirable job of flying the UKZN flag during the IASSA event, and we’re delighted that they won first prize for their excellent research paper on turbopump impeller design.’

author : Christine Cuénod
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School of Chemistry and Physics Hosts Annual Nanotechnology Platform Workshop

School of Chemistry and Physics Hosts Annual Nanotechnology Platform Workshop
Dean and Head of the School of Chemistry and Physics, Professor Ross Robinson, addresses delegates at the Nanotechnology Platform Workshop.

The School of Chemistry and Physics hosted a successful UKZN Nanotechnology Platform Workshop at the Graduate School of Business on the Westville campus.

The UKZN Nanotechnology Platform is a cross-campus multidisciplinary group of researchers within UKZN who have an interest in the field.  The workshop was aimed at creating awareness of current on-going projects within the Platform and to provide an opportunity for other researchers at UKZN to be  involved in presentations.

The event attracted about 90 participants from the College of Health Sciences and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The UKZN Nanotechnology workshop is usually a closed university workshop, but this year it hosted two external prominent guests: Professor Derek Gray of McGill University in Montréal, Canada, and Professor Viness Pillay of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. 

Gray’s research interests are in polymer, colloid and surface chemistry, with an emphasis on the surface properties of wood, pulp and paper. Discoveries from his research group have included the first reported formation of liquid crystalline cellulose derivatives, and the first preparation and self-assembly of cellulose nanocrystals to give chiral nematic suspensions and ordered films.

Pillay is a Professor of Pharmaceutics at the University of the Witwatersrand where he holds the NRF/DST Research Chair in Pharmaceutical Biomaterials and Polymer-Engineered Drug Delivery Technologies. He is also Director of the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) Research Unit.

A leading researcher in nanotechnology, he holds a NRF B rating and has the largest patent suite in South Africa in the area of advanced drug delivery.

Apart from their presentations, the two visiting academics also assessed and advised the Platform on its directions and future endeavours. 

The rest of the presentations, both oral and poster, were from staff and postgraduate UKZN students involved in nanotechnology research. Platform Project Leaders also gave an update on their current project.

Prizes were awarded to the best student presentations courtesy of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. The winners were: Ms Kelyshea Naicker (MSc oral), Mr Samson Akpotu (PhD oral), Ms Ntombizodwa Vundla (MSc Poster) and Mr James Amaku (PhD Poster).

The workshop was organised by Professor Vincent Nyamori and Professor Bice Martincigh of the School of Chemistry and Physics.

Said Nyamori: ‘The workshop gave us an opportunity to reflect on our common vision which was Nanotechnology for Sustainable Development.

‘Also, this being the Platform’s second year, the event offered us an insight on how we have progressed and coalesced our various efforts and interests in order to collaborate towards a world class nanotechnology hive.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Two UKZN Stalwarts Retire

Two UKZN Stalwarts Retire
Dr Jane Kerr and Ms Mano Pillay.

Two long-serving UKZN employees – Nursing Management Lecturer Dr Jane Kerr and Administration Officer in the Department of Community Health, Ms Mano Pillay - have retired.

Sixty-year-old Kerr, who has been in the Nursing Discipline for eight-years, has mixed feelings about her retirement.

‘It has been difficult but I have developed from a clinical nurse manager into a junior academic through hard work and determination,’ said Kerr.

She is grateful for the support, experience and growth she received and experienced. ‘The sense of unity among my colleagues in UKZN is remarkable. I am extremely grateful to all individuals I met through local and international associations and the wider UKZN community who have contributed towards my personal and academic development. Teaching nurses in Seychelles and presenting papers at International conference are experiences I treasure and enjoyed dearly.’

Another memorable event was when she was selected by the Dean to present two papers and a poster at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre Conference in Glasgow.

She appreciates all the REACH values, but her order of importance is; 1. Accountability; 2. Client Orientation; 3. Honesty; 4. Respect and 5. Excellence.

Kerr started her academic career at UKZN in 2009 where she has been actively involved in the refurbishing and relocation of the School of Nursing and Family Medicine skills laboratory and has been involved in the procurement of specialised teaching equipment e.g. Sim Man and Sim Mom and Sim Baby.

While studying towards her PhD, she received grants from Sigma Tea Tau (STTI) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, through the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH).

She completed her PhD in 2014.

She has had a varied career, commencing her training at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town; studying midwifery at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg; teaching at Carinus College, Grootte Schuur Hospital and Greys College of Nursing; practising as an Occupational Health nurse in the Metal Box Liquid Packing plant in Isithebe, and working as a medical representative for Adcock Ingram.

Pillay started her journey with UKZN in 1982, joining as a DoH Provincial Administrative Clerk in the Department of Anatomical Pathology. 

In 1991 she was transferred to Community Health (now Public Health Medicine) as a Senior Administration Clerk and then in January 1994 was transferred to Community Health as an Administration Officer.

‘UKZN is my first home,’ said Pillay. ‘I will miss going to work. There are many memorable moments that I shared with my colleagues.’

‘I have worked under five Department of Health HoDs, celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the establishment of Medical School (attended by President Mandela) and the renaming of Medical School. In my time here I’ve seen the expansion of the former University of Natal to the current five campuses of UKZN.’

Pillay said it has been both stimulating and challenging to be part of an institution which helps address the shortage of doctors and aims to give graduates an understanding of public health. ‘As an administrator I have assisted academics with the administration of the community health/public health programmes and the examinations of students. I have always been of assistance to numerous registrars during their four years of training in the Discipline.’

She thanked all her colleagues for their support and co-operation. ‘I have enjoyed my years at UKZN and I believe that good collaboration is very important if systems are to work well.’ 

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email :

UTLO Interns Win Best Presentation Award at 4th AMS Colloquium

UTLO Interns Win Best Presentation Award at 4th AMS Colloquium
Teaching and Learning Director Dr Rubby Dhunpath (far right) with the interns.

Three interns from the University Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) recently won the Best Presentation Award at the 4th Academic Monitoring and Support (AMS) Research Colloquium hosted by the College of Humanities and UTLO.

Mr Abdulbaqi Badru, Mrs Barbara Mutula-Kabange and Ms Laurien Freeman’s paper was entitled “Early Career Academics: Developmental Lecturers’ Perspectives of Moodle at the University of KwaZulu-Natal”.

Their study formed part of an ongoing research project on Early Career Academics by UTLO. The rationale behind the study stemmed from the mandatory phasing in of Moodle from 2016 to 2018.  The study sought to explore the factors that influences emerging academics decision to use Moodle in their teaching. The Research Interns used a mixed methods research approach, and a purposive sampling method to select potential respondents across all Colleges, using electronic surveys.

The findings showed that Moodle is an effective tool in supporting teaching and learning initiatives; however, there is a need for adequate provision and even distribution of training support across all campuses.

The interns expressed excitement about winning the Best Presentation Award, an accolade which is usually bestowed on academics. They were grateful for the feedback received as well as the votes, which were important to them, as it has encouraged them to continue to explore technology enhanced learning solutions.

The interns said that their internship at UTLO assisted them in their research through the support received from the Teaching and Learning Director, Rubby Dhunpath who initiated the Internship Programme in 2010. They were also grateful for the support received from UTLO Researcher Ms Reshma Subbaye, Ms Christinah Mulaudzi and other staff members.

‘The internship has been very insightful in that it has helped me grow as a researcher and has exposed me to various opportunities within the teaching and learning space,’ said Freeman.

With this accolade, the trio will continue with their studies in their respective fields. Following their internships, Mutula-Kabange will pursue a PhD in Higher Education, Freeman intends pursuing a teaching career while Badru will be focusing on a profession in Information Technology.

author : Reatlehile Karabo Moeti
author email :

Workshop on Climate Change and Poverty Reduction

Workshop on Climate Change and Poverty Reduction
From left: Professor Sarah Bracking, Mr James Nxumalo, Ms Zama Khuzwayo, and Mr Leluma Matooane.

A two-day stakeholder engagement workshop on climate change and poverty reduction co-benefits was hosted by the SA Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment within UKZN’s School of Built Environment and Development Studies.

Interim Dean and Head of the School Professor Betty Mubangizi said: ‘This workshop bears testimony to the vision and mission of UKZN. Professor Sarah Bracking and her team’s research is significant and in line with the UN 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. It contributes to environmental sustainability and resilience and is implicit in policy change for climate change.’ 

The highlight of the workshop was a panel discussion on climate and poverty in South Africa within the context of government public policy, environmental management and climate change in the country.

Keynote panellists included the former eThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mr James Nxumalo; climate scientist at eThekwini Municipality, Ms Zama Khuzwayo, and Director: Earth Systems Science at the Department of Science and Technology, Mr Leluma Matooane.

Nxumalo, who was instrumental in the adoption of the Durban Adaptation Charter for Climate Change, said the world was at a tipping point and that everyone should be playing a role in alleviating global warming. ‘Lives are at risk. We need to respond to the challenges of climate change.’

Using the recent flash flooding in Gauteng as an example of climate change, Nxumalo highlighted that rapid migration and urbanisation put pressure on municipalities and local government. He said climate change and poverty were interrelated and called for forward planning within national, provincial and local government for climate change and proper disaster management.

‘We need to build resilient cities able to respond to the impact of climate change, allocate resources fairly, develop the infrastructure of rural areas but ultimately we all need to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,’ said Nxumalo.

Khuzwayo said climate change polices were lacking in local government with an urgent need for them to align to international policies within the context of a developing country. ‘We are already feeling the impact of climate change. It’s not something that will happen in the future. It is happening now.’

She advised that the silo-mentality had to stop and that the building of working partnerships and consultations with the community was key. ‘Create legacies in any project, especially people-centred projects, and allow for capacity building.’

Matooane spoke on the DST mandate, the policy landscape of climate change and poverty reduction, and the Knowledge Generation Component of the Global Change Grand Challenge (GCGC). 

‘Our purpose is to improve the scientific understanding of global environmental change. It is currently being implemented through various DST-funded research programmes. The DST intends to continuously strengthen global change governance and management structures,’ said Matooane.

Professor Sarah Bracking discussed different types of climate finance that could help fund adaptation, but cautioned against the costs of emerging weather insurance bonds. She congratulated eThekwini for taking action using local revenue.

The workshop also focused on a debate involving the private sector, government, civil society, academia, donors and the public about what forms of intervention and investment, and what interactions between international and national agencies and persons on the ground, are most conducive to reducing poverty and adapting to climate change.

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email :

Pilot Project on Decentralised Clinical Training Platform Debated at Indaba

Pilot Project on Decentralised Clinical Training Platform Debated at Indaba
The Decentralised Clinical Training Platform (DCTP) Indaba was hosted in partnership with the Department of Health and UKZN’s College of Health Sciences.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health and UKZN’s College of Health Sciences recently hosted an Indaba to discuss the roll out of a pilot project on the Decentralised Clinical Training Platform (DCTP) in the province.

The DCTP aims to transform the curriculum to ensure that it produces ‘fit for purpose’ health professionals serving the needs of all communities in KwaZulu-Natal and not just those in the main metropolitan areas. The programme is centered around a primary health care curriculum in line with the National Health Insurance.

Another component of the DCTP is to ensure a steady increase in the student intake in the College of Health Sciences thereby increasing the number of health care professionals in the province. The DCTP will also accommodate the returning 300 Cuban-trained medical doctors who arrive in 2018 to complete their final clinical year of training.

‘The programme will ensure the alignment of the health sciences professional curriculum with Primary Health Care that has a focus on disease prevention and health promotion – as opposed to a curative, hospital-centric approach,’ said Professor Fanie Botha, Director of Professional Services in the CHS.

‘A number of students, including those who will be returning from Cuba will be placed in the decentralised training sites which include Ngwelezane, Port Shepstone, Madadeni and Stanger. This will also assist in the increased intake of medical and health sciences students in the near future.’

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College, Professor Rob Slotow, said: ‘Since its inception in January 2015, the programme has proven to be an invaluable catalyst for the continuous up-skilling of medical and health sciences students who have been placed in various district hospitals throughout the province as opposed to the previous approach where training was concentrated in the metropolitan areas of the eThekwini and Msunduzi municipalities.’

The DCTP is currently being pioneered in the Lower Umfolozi District and Port Shepstone with plans to expand to Madadeni/Newcastle and Stanger in 2017.

Speaking at the function Dental Therapy students Ms Silondiwe Manyoni,   Ms Ncebakazi Tutu, Ms Kumeshnie Archary and Ms Stephanie Kock said: ‘This is a noble programme. It has provided us with the opportunity to reach out to the poorest of the poor and to treat raw pathologies, something we’re not exposed to in the city.

‘We’d like to thank Ngwelezane Hospital clinical staff for being knowledgeable. They treated patients with respect and were very efficient. They practiced Ubuntu according to the Batho Pele principles.’

Optometry students Ms Raeesa Dada and Mr Lutvier Ebrahim presented on their experiences. ‘We felt that the DCTP provided a rich and rewarding experience for us. It was the first time that many of us lived together and we managed to build a strong community, learning about each other’s cultures as students but also more about the patients who reside in these areas. What impressed us was that the patients were extremely grateful for the treatment they received and we learnt a lot from them about the needs of the community.’

Ms Phumelele Yeni and Ms Rachel Wilson presented on behalf of the fifth year Medical class based in Pietermaritzburg for an entire year and rotated through Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Hospital and Ngwelezane Hospital.

They said: ‘We support the DCTP but faced many challenges this year due to the lack of wifi in our residences, the lack of a resource centre, and some residences based too far from the shops with no transport.’ The students further pleaded with management that the final year class should not be based in the DCTP.

Responding to the students, MEC for Health in KwaZuluNatal, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, expressed appreciation at the progress made thus far. ‘We want to acknowledge UKZN for initiating this platform and for being the first of its kind in the country. It was presented at parliament and applauded by all. We are certainly proud of the DCTP which we hope will be rolled out nationally.

‘We want this programme to work not only for our sake but for that of the country as well. Where there are gaps, let’s work together to close them and be mindful that this is a process.’

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal’s Head of Health Dr Sifiso Mtshali allayed fears that final year Medical students may not be allocated space for internship training next year.

‘All of them will be allocated space to complete their internships. Internship training is part of career development for medical doctors and it is not in government’s plans to halt this,’ he said.

author : MaryAnn Francis and Nombuso Dlamini
author email :

Agrometeorology Student Receives Best Poster Award at WaterNet Symposium

Agrometeorology Student Receives Best Poster Award at WaterNet Symposium
Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa with his award.

PhD candidate in the Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) Mr Nicholas Mbangiwa has received the Best Young Water Scientist Award for his poster presentation at the WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium in Botswana.

The theme of the Symposium was “Integrated Water Resources Management: Water Security, Sustainability and Development in Eastern and Southern Africa”.

Mbangiwa previously received a best poster award for his masters research as well as a best oral presentation award at a College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Research Day.

His PhD research, supervised by Professor Michael Savage, involves energy flux measurements and crop modelling in a maize-soybean cropping system at Baynesfield Estate near Richmond.

In his research, Mbangiwa made use of various methods of estimating evapotranspiration and subsequently determining various water accounting parameters such as water productivity.

Mbangiwa completed his undergraduate BSc in Applied Environmental Sciences at UKZN in 2004, returning in 2006 to take up a post as an Agrometeorology Instrumentation Technician. This involved training under Savage.

‘Working closely with Professor Savage had a great influence in my career choice and has been a source of inspiration until today,’ said Mbangiwa.

‘I have always been a hands-on person and love field work and soon my interest in instrumentation and soil-plant-atmosphere processes led me down the academic path I am on now.’

Mbangiwa completed his Honours part-time and then completed his MSc in Agrometeoroloy cum laude in 2012, going on to take up a lecturer position in the University of Botswana’s Department of Physics in the Physics-With-Meteorology-Programme. Now back at UKZN, Mbangiwa plans to continue with research after completing his PhD.

 ‘Agrometeorology is not a common subject and skills associated with setting up automatic weather stations and similar instrumentation are rare in Africa,’ said Mbangiwa. ‘Most postgraduates doing similar research were drawn to my poster to possibly get answers to some of the problems they have with their research and share ideas. Instrumentation used in this research is expensive and many people were surprised as to how a relatively simple crop model such as AquaCrop can perform reasonably well.’

 The Symposium was opened by the Botswana Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Mr Prince Maele.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

Final Year Nursing Students Prepare to Enter the World of Work

Final Year Nursing Students Prepare to Enter the World of Work
Final year nursing students with student counsellor Mrs Wulie Thaver.

An Exit Orientation Programme for final year Nursing students focused on mental health and well-being and preparation for the world of work.

The programme was hosted by the College of Health Sciences’ Student Support Services in partnership with School of Nursing and Public Health Lecturer, Ms Mary Ann Jarvis.

The event, which coincided with World Mental Health Day, addressed students’ personal and emotional well-being as they approach the end of their academic journey and prepare themselves for the transition into the world of work.

The programme, attended by 29 final year Bachelor of Nursing Students, took participants through a multi-perspective overview, addressing core competencies, workplace challenges, and highlighting attributes required by employers and their profession.

Student Counsellor Mrs Wulganithi Thaver presented tips and techniques on compiling a CV, skills to ensure an effective job interview process, and image and grooming with emphasis on appropriate professional attire in a clinical setting. There was also a focus on financial management for new graduates about to earn their first salary.

Student Counsellor Ms Suzanne Stokes presented on students profiling themselves professionally, through the use of social media forums and developing their career and capacity beyond community service.

She encouraged students to focus on their personal mental health and wellness.

Dr Kamilla Rawatlal guided students on managing their own feelings and anxiety around expected traumas they will be exposed to in the clinical setting and also did a presentation on self-care, workplace ethics and professionalism.

The Exit Orientation exercise was aimed at empowering students with the necessary skills to give them a competitive edge in the work environment, and to make them more marketable and confident in order to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of them in their career and personal lives.

Thaver said such programmes were aimed at ensuring students exited Higher Education as socially and professionally competent graduates capable of making a meaningful contribution to the economy and society at large. 

author : Nombuso Dlamini and Wulie Thaver
author email :

Peer Wellness and Academic Mentors Acknowledged for Contributions

Peer Wellness and Academic Mentors Acknowledged for  Contributions
Peer mentors with the programme co-ordinators.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) hosted a series of Peer Wellness and Academic Mentors Certification Ceremonies aimed at acknowledging work done by College mentors. 

The programme, supported by Student Support Services (SSS) and Academic Development Officers (ADOs) in collaboration with the CHS Teaching and Learning Office, is unique to the CHS at UKZN. It has a total of 46 Peer Wellness Mentors (PWMs), 30 Academic Mentors (AMs), all supporting students from their first year through to their final years of study, and operating across three campuses - Westville, Howard College and Medical School.

At the first ceremony, the CHS Student Support Services counsellor Ms Suzanne Stokes made awards to Peer Wellness Mentors and Academic Mentors at a ceremony at the Medical School. A total 16 PWMs and 21 AMs are on the School of Health Sciences’s Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Medicine Programme. Stokes said the Mentor Certification Ceremony aimed to thank the mentors for their contribution to the success of the College’s PWM and AM Programme.

Academic Mentor, final year Medical student, Mr Senzo Nkosi, enjoyed the one-year experience in the programme. ‘This has been a great time for me. It helped me to study more and I benefited more than the people I mentored as the process really boosted my confidence as an individual and a future doctor.’ 

Academic Mentor, third year medical student, Andile Mfene, mentored second year Medical students. He said they received positive feedback from the students.

The Nursing and Public Health PWMs echoed similar sentiments to the PWMs at the Medical School.  The group enjoyed mentoring first year students.

‘I had a busy first semester with the first years but the second semester was too quiet because they didn’t need our help much,’ said second year PWM, Ms Nompilo Dlamini.

The programme was both challenging and rewarding, said second year Nursing student, Ms Aphiwe Gumede. ‘I enjoyed interacting with the mentees. I found that it’s easier to be a mentor if you stay at res, it is kind of difficult if you live off campus.’

Thaver thanked all the mentors and awarded them with certificates of appreciation.

On Howard College, a total of four PWMs and four AMs promote holistic well-being and academic success for the School of Nursing and Public Health.

The third and final Peer Mentor and Academic Mentor ceremony was held on Westville campus with 26 PWMs and five AMs from the School of Health Sciences and Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences being awarded certificates and acknowledged for their role in promoting student wellness and success.

The event also acknowledged the role of the ADOs in supporting students in the College. 

author : Nombuso Dlamini and Lihle Sosibo
author email :

Long Service Awards

Long Service Awards
Staff members who received Long Service Awards from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

Long service awards were handed out to staff of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science at ceremonies on the Pietermaritzburg and Howard College campuses.

Family and friends of award-winning staff members joined in the celebration as the College acknowledged service periods of 15 years, 25 years and 35 years, as well as retirement.

A total of 36 staff members received awards while six were acknowledged on their retirement.

The gatherings were opened by Professor Kevin Kirkman who thanked staff for their loyal service before the presentation of gifts and certificates.

He read out citations by line managers, which detailed the service history of the long-serving staff members.

Six staff members with service totalling 35 years or more were Mr Vinay Sarup, Professor Philip Everitt, Mr Gan Moodley, Mr Vahunth Singh, Mr Gonasilla Ganesan and Professor Jennifer Lamb.   

After the formalities, guests enjoyed a light meal and refreshments.

On a sad note, it was announced that former employee of the School of Life Sciences, Mr Jabulisa Isaac Dlamini passed away the day before the ceremony.  Staff stood for a moment of silence in memory of ‘a cheerful, good-humoured, jovial colleague who was pleasure to work with and always willing to assist.’

author : Leena Rajpal
author email :

Prestigious NRF Rating for Top UKZN Researcher

Prestigious NRF Rating for Top UKZN Researcher
Professor Ncoza Dlova.

Head of Dermatology, Professor Ncoza Dlova, joins top researchers in her field after being awarded a C1-rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The C rating is for established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field who are recognised by their peers as having produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to ongoing engagement within the field as well as to researchers who have demonstrated the ability to conceptualise problems and apply research methods in investigating them.

The C1 rating means while all reviewers concur that the applicant is an established researcher (as described), some of them indicate that she already enjoys considerable international recognition for her high quality recent research outputs.

The NRF’s rating system involves a rigorous process and is a key driver in its aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa, benchmarking the quality of the country’s researchers against the very best in the world. 

‘I am humbled by the accolade and honoured to join the respected and highly ranked SA research community,’ said Dlova, who aims to mentor and produce more NRF-rated researchers in the Dermatology department.  ‘I am happy I am able to apply for bigger grants to facilitate research in my field.’

Dlova, who has been a Dermatologist for 18 years, said when she first joined the department as a Registrar there were no African Dermatologists in KwaZulu-Natal and only two country-wide.

After Dlova, 20 African Dermatologists have qualified from Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, 80% of whom work in either rural areas or in the academic sector.

Dlova, together with her amazing team of consultants in the Dermatology Department, created a nurturing environment, mentoring registrars in preparation for their specialist exams, research careers and commitment to public sector service as well as development of Dermatology as a leading academic field.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email :

Africa has World’s Largest AIDS Population – Abdool Karim

Africa has World’s Largest AIDS Population – Abdool Karim
UKZN commemorated World AIDS Day on the Westville campus.

Africa has about 70 percent of the world’s HIV.

That startling fact was revealed by Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Salim Abdool Karim while discussing the global HIV epidemic at the World AIDS Day commemoration held on the Westville campus.

Abdool Karim said the latest data (2015) showed that 36.7 million people world-wide were living with HIV, which translated into about 40 000 new infections every week.

‘HIV does not affect every country equally but we do know that every single country has reported cases of HIV,’ he said.

Using the theme “Leadership, Commitment and Impact”, World AIDS Day was internationally observed to remember those who have died because of HIV/AIDS and also those affected by the disease.

Abdool Karim referred to a recent World /AIDS Day article he co-authored in the Lancet HIV journal which examined transmission networks and the risk of HIV. ‘Our research results provide new insights into why young women have such high rates of HIV and we do so through analysing the genetic codes of the virus,’ he said.

The study, conducted among about 10 000 people in a rural community in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, revealed that the highest rate of HIV is among young women - below the age of 25. ‘This is something we have known since 1990,’ said Abdool Karim. ‘But now we know that they got their virus from men who are on average nine years older than them. So these teenagers are getting infected with HIV from men in their 30’s.’

‘The men in the 30’s are getting HIV from women in their 30’s, who have a very high prevalence of HIV. In this community, about 60 percent of the women in their 30’s have HIV infection. And why do so many of them have HIV? They got infected when they were young.’

Abdool Karim emphasised the need to find ways to prevent infection, specifically for young women. He said this should go beyond the usual advice of being faithful, using a condom and being circumcised. ‘Being faithful is pointless advice for young girls,’ he said. ‘Because this young 18-year-old girl is going to be faithful to the man who is going to give her HIV, because she can’t insist on his faithfulness.’

‘This is a wily virus and it has beaten us so far, in many aspects. But we are going to outsmart it. We just need time and the technology. We need to be able to do the research and we will defeat HIV,’ he said.

AIDS activist Ms Zonke Ndlovu emphasised that prevention was better than cure. Ndlovu encouraged those present to get tested and to condomise to prevent being infected.

UKZN’s Executive Director: Human Resources Ms Avril Williamson reaffirmed the University’s commitment to ‘unite in the fight against HIV.’ She encouraged all those present to know their status.

Mr Bongani Zondi entertained the audience with a poem while Mr Russel Mnguni and Ms Nontobeko Buthelezi served as programme directors at the event hosted by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, the Human Resources Division and Student Services.

author : Raylene Captain Hasthibeer
author email :

Global AIDS Response Largely Inaccessible to the Disabled – Report

Global AIDS Response Largely Inaccessible to the Disabled – Report
Lead author Professor Jill Hanass-Hancock with co-author UKZN’s Dr Verusia Chetty.

There’s little evidence of providing accessible HIV services to people with disabilities or integrating rehabilitation into HIV care despite the call of the UNAIDS Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS to include people with disabilities in the response to HIV.

This is according to the results of a recent study co-authored by a UKZN academics and published in The Lancet HIV  journal.

Meanwhile, studies in Africa indicate that people with disabilities are at the same or increased risk of HIV while a significant number of people living with chronic HIV require services to mitigate the risk of disability over a lifetime.

The Lancet article, published just ahead of World Disability Day, was co-authored by UKZN Physiotherapist, Dr Verusia Chetty, Professor Jill Hanass-Hancock of the South African Medical Research Council,UKZN’s Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division and a range of key thinkers and implementers in the field of disability and HIV.

While acknowledging the importance of highlighting the need of including people with disabilities in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, the authors warn that ‘concrete actions are needed to ensure pledges do not become further political rhetoric’.

Said Chetty: ‘The new declaration urges governments and funding agencies to commit to ensure that the needs and human rights of people with disabilities are taken into account in the formulation of all responses to HIV and that HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programmes as well as sexual and reproductive health-care services and information are made accessible to persons with disabilities.’

According to the UNAIDS, ‘People with disabilities have equal or greater exposure to all known risk factors for HIV. This is due to the lack of appropriate access to HIV prevention, information and services and the high rate of sexual and gender-based violence against persons with disabilities of all ages. A mix of factors contribute to the vulnerability of young people with disabilities to HIV infection: poverty and discrimination, lack of accessible information on HIV-prevention and exclusion from education and health services, which may increase HIV-risk-taking behaviour, such as unprotected sex.’

Hanass-Hancock, who called for conscious efforts and commitment to include people with disabilities in a recent strategic meeting with international agencies such as UNAIDS, WHO, USAID, UNFPA, civil society and funding agencies during the recent International AIDS Conference 2016 highlighted, ‘We have now evidence from over a decade of research on the relationship of disability and HIV, the exclusion of people with disabilities has finally been acknowledged and a strong statement has been included in the new political declaration. However, this political statement has to be translated into actions by government, funder, researchers and civil society.’

‘One of the core problems is the continued negligence of disability in mainstream research, surveillance and implementation interventions. As a result most mainstream HIV research does not collect data on disability and is therefore “blind” for the needs of a very vulnerable group. We know from small scale studies that people with disabilities lack access to health services, including HIV prevention (sexuality education or HIV testing) and treatment (rehabilitation). We also know that these barriers can be overcome as we have developed promising methods to enhance inclusion, accessibility and comprehensive care. More research is needed to further evaluate or scale up these promising interventions,’ said Hanass-Hancock.

In order to improve inclusion and integration, the authors call for focused policy and programme actions such as international agencies to promote inclusive strategies and disability data gathering; funding agencies to include a compulsory section on disability inclusion similar to gender, and civil society to advocate for disability inclusion in national strategic plans and programmes as well as using clear indicators and scientists to include disability data in mainstream research and surveillance.

author : MaryAnn Francis
author email :

Abafundi BezeMfundo Bathule izinkulumo engqungqutheleni yezocwaningo

Abafundi BezeMfundo Bathule izinkulumo engqungqutheleni yezocwaningo
Abafundi Bezemfundo beSayensi Yokuphilayo abangama-420 bethula izinkulumo zabo ekhempasini i-Edgewood.

Click here for English version

Abafundi bezifundo zokuFundisa iSayensi Yokuphilayo abangama-420 bathule izinkulumo ngemisebenzi yabo engqungqutheleni ebisekhempasini i-Edgewood njengengxenye yoCwaningo nokuFunda kulesimesta.

Ingqungquthela ibikhangisa ngemisebenzi yabafundi yocwaningo futhi ibungaza, ihlonipha futhi itusa iqhaza labo.

Izihloko bezihlanganise ukuqonda kangcono ngokuziphatha kwabafundi besifazane  bebanga lesithupha uma bengena esikhathini esikoleni esisemakhaya e-Phoenix, ukufundisa abafundi mayelana nokungatholi ubuthongo obanele, nokuhlola nokuthuthukiswa kwenhlalakahle yabantu abadala ekaya labantu abadala eThekwini.

Bekunabafundi abangababili abangama-42 emunye ekhuluma isikhathi esiyimizuzu eyi-15 lapho umfundi ngamunye ebenikwa ithuba lokukhuluma ngomsebenzi wakhe.

Ocwaningweni lwakhe, uNkz Minenhle N Xulu ubehlola ukufakwa kwesinemfu esithweni sabo sangasese esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme saseThekwini. ‘Abantu abaningi besifazane bakholelwa ukuthi lempuphu emahhadla ibangela ukulangazelela ucansi futhi yenza isitho sangasese sivaleke okubenza bakhange kwabesilisa,’ kusho uXulu

‘abesifazane abasha bakulangazelele kakhulu ukujabulisa abesilisa ngokocansi kangangokuthi baze bazifake izinto eziwubuthi ezithweni zangasese futhi okubuhlungu ukuthi abazi nangengozi abazifaka kuyo ngokwenza lokhu.’

UXulu uqhamuke nohlelo olubandakanya ukukhombisa ababambe iqhaza izithombe zevidiyo mayelana nokuzifaka isinemfu esithweni sangasese. ‘Ngeqhaza elibanjwe abasifazane sesiyakwazi ukuqonda kangcono ngobungozi kwezempilo okuhambelana nalo mkhuba. Inkoleloze abebenayo ngesinemfu yacaciswa. Abanye besifazane abebesebenzisa isinemfu bathole ukuxilongwa izitho zangasese.’

Abafundi oNkz Slindile Muthwa no Nqobile Mkhize bahlole ngokutholwa othisha abangabafundi mayelana nesifo i-cerebral palsy enkulisa esePhayindane.

‘Abantwana abane-cerebral palsy bayakwazi ukufunda futhi baxazulule izinkinga njengengxenye yezifundo zabo kodwa konke kuncike ohlotsheni lwesifo esibaphethe. Kuncike futhi nasekutheni isifo sibucayi kanganani. Bavumelekile ukuthi baye esikoleni kuphela uma bezofundiswa abantu abanamakhono okufundisa abantwana abanalesi sifo, abanesineke futhi ababathandayo abantwana,’ kusho uMthwa.

Abafundi bazame Izinto eziyibonelelo ezifana nezimpahla zokugqoka, ezokuhlanzeka, imbewu, imidlalo namaphakethe yokudla emiphakathini abasebenza kuyo.

Ekhuluma ngomsebenzi wabafundi uDkt Angela James uthe:’ Umphumela wokungenelela kwabafundi ezindaweni lapho besebenzela khona muhle kakhulu kubafundi ngoba bazuze lukhulu ngabakubonile.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
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Mandela Rhodes Scholar Strives for Leadership in Education

Mandela Rhodes Scholar Strives for Leadership in Education
Ms Simangele Msweli.

A masters candidate in the School of Life Sciences, Ms Simangele Msweli, has been awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in recognition of her academic excellence and leadership abilities.

Msweli, who is doing her degree under the supervision of Professor Steve Johnson, is investigating ecological facilitation in two indigenous plants (Sabea grandis and Thunbergia atriplicifolia) - which look similar and often coexist - to examine whether shared pollinators cause competition or assist the species.

Growing up close to the isiMangaliso Wetland Park (IWP), Msweli learned about the environment during high school excursions to the park. Her relationship with the IWP grew and they granted her a bursary for her undergraduate studies at UKZN.

Msweli’s interests do not stop with the natural environment, however, as she has been involved in several societies, including the Golden Key Honour Society, serving as President for the UKZN branch in 2015 and as service director in the previous year.

She is also part of the executive committee of the South African Youth Climate Coalition (SAYCC), and has been extensively involved in the Black Management Forum.

Msweli was also the recipient of an Abe Bailey travel bursary which enabled her to take part in a tour of universities and institutions in the United Kingdom. The bursary included a leadership and professional development course run by the Mandela Rhodes Group, which piqued Msweli’s interest in becoming more involved with the Group and benefit from the leadership programmes it offers.

She hopes that developing her leadership skills and forming connections with other young leaders will help her to start projects she is passionate about, primarily in the field of education in Africa. Msweli was involved in the Uplift Youth in Africa Group - founded by UKZN in June 2014 - which aims to facilitate mentoring and the dispensation of academic advice to school children in Africa.

In Uplift Youth in Africa, Msweli works with disadvantaged schools in the Paulpietersburg area in northern KwaZulu-Natal. A successful project included raising R45 000 to take 50 students from three different schools on an educational careers tour to Winkelspruit where they learned about law careers, and they also visited Greytown to hear about careers in aeronautics.

Msweli, who thanked UKZN for all the opportunities it had provided for her, plans to continue through to study for a PhD.

Msweli also recently received funding to attend the Student Conference on Conservation Science in England next year and take part in a one-month internship at the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Student Breaks Records at Powerlifting World Championships

Student Breaks Records at Powerlifting World Championships
Darien Bester lifting his way to world records.

An honours student in the School of Life Sciences, Mr Darien Bester, took part in this year’s Global Powerlifting Committee World Championships in Knjazevac, Serbia, breaking three world records!

The records he set were for a 330kg deadlift, a 330kg squat, and a 215kg bench press for a combined total of 875 kg lifted.

Bester, 22, who matriculated from Maritzburg College in 2012, began weightlifting following exposure to what he describes as ‘its welcoming community’ after watching videos online and deciding to put his above-average strength to the test.

Bester is completing an Honours degree in Biological Sciences under the supervision of Professor Colleen Downs, on the placement of green plant material in raptor nest focusing on Crowned Eagles.

He says it has been challenging balancing Honours and his training which sometimes takes up to three hours a day, four days a week, but he has managed the sacrifices needed in order to excel in his chosen sport.

He said the experience of travelling overseas for the first time to compete was a privilege and he now knows he is capable of competing internationally.

‘I was overjoyed to break the Global Powerlifting Committee’s world records as the goal for this year was just to qualify and attend the World Championship,’ said Bester. ‘My goals have always been the same - to be the strongest I can be. I see the records as stepping stones for me to reach my long term goals.’

Bester aims to complete a postgraduate certificate in education after completing honours and begin teaching at high school level afterwards.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Optometry Lecturer Awarded PhD in Dublin

Optometry Lecturer Awarded PhD in Dublin
Dr Diane van Staden thrilled on obtaining her PhD.

A Lecturer in the Discipline of Optometry at the UKZN College of Health Sciences, Dr Diane van Staden, has been awarded her PhD from the Dublin Institute of Technology, a college that was a key partner in the establishment of the first ever Portuguese-language optometry programme on the African continent.

Van Staden was on a scholarship from the Irish Aid-funded programme.

‘I am extremely humbled by my PhD achievement,’ said van Staden. ‘Prior to being offered the Dublin scholarship, I had never considered doctoral studies and having grown up in Wentworth, there was always the perception that such achievements were for an exclusive few from privileged backgrounds.’

Van Staden joined UKZN from the development sector in 2011, having previously worked in academia at the University of the Free State where she completed a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

She says she always had an interest in public health and aspired to leadership within a public sector organisation as she saw these fields as pivotal in instituting development-linked change within society.

Van Staden obtained her Bachelor of Optometry degree from the then University of Durban-Westville in 1998. After practising as an optometrist in Cape Town for four years, she decided to pursue her interests in the then emerging field of public health optometry.

She contributed to the development of optometry in various capacities within Department of Health in both the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, including the training of nurses and other mid-level personnel in primary eye care and vision screening.

In her doctoral research, van Staden designed a framework for the development of optometry in countries where the profession and its services have not previously existed.

Van Staden says she hopes results of her research will help inform planning for refractive error service provision and eye health planning towards the reduction of the global burden of blindness and vision impairment.

During her PhD study in Ireland, she was based in Durban travelling to Dublin periodically during the five-year term of her scholarship.  While completing research work she became a wife and then a mother to two active boys, now aged three and four.  She achieved all this while juggling a full teaching and research supervision load within her optometry discipline and other personal commitments.

‘I can only say that it is by God’s grace, hard work and determination that I managed to successfully complete my PhD in the time while juggling all these roles.  I encourage all aspiring postgraduate students to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves as they open up a whole new world of learning and opportunity for meaningful contribution,’ added van Staden.

author : Lihle Sosibo
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Virologist Rated Among Renowned Researchers

Virologist Rated Among Renowned  Researchers
Dr Michelle Gordon shares her excitement about her NRF C3 rating.

A research leader, PhD Virologist and Senior Lecturer in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Dr Michelle Gordon, has been rated a C3 researcher by the National Research Foundation (NRF). 

The NRF rating system is a key driver in the Foundation’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a tool for benchmarking the quality of researchers against the best in the world with NRF ratings allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. The rating system encourages researchers to publish high quality outputs in high impact journals.

‘I am delighted by the news that I have been rated among prominent international researchers by the NRF. This means that my research is recognised both nationally and internationally. My collaborations with researchers in Spain, Brazil, the US, Belgium and France has helped in raising my research profile internationally,’ said Gordon.

Probed about her remarkable passion and interest in Bioinformatics HIV ARV drug resistance, Gordon, said Bioinformatics was where biology meets computer science and it was a skill that enabled biological scientists to analyse their own data. Gordon’s interest in drug resistance began even before the national ARV roll-out in 2004 and she cautions that drug resistance is something the country should be proactive about.

Gordon supervises four PhD candidates and one masters student at the HIV Pathogenesis Programme and is involved in many research projects. Her main research focuses on HIV ARV drug resistance.

She has extensive bioinformatics experience and has co-authored several papers on the characterisation of HIV-1 subtype C and is also a co-author on several bioinformatics papers.

Gordon spoke about an important publication by her PhD student, Dr Reshmi Samuel, which describes HIV-1 drug resistance mutations that were found in a group of HIV positive women who received treatment during their pregnancy and at delivery to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies.   The technology that was specifically used in this instance, called next generation sequencing, enabled her research group to identify drug resistant viruses that would normally not be detected by standard resistance testing assays. This study found that 65% of the patients had virus with drug resistance mutations which could cause their future treatment with the same or similar drugs to fail.

Gordon intends to further strengthen her research group capacity for testing novel ARVs as well as understanding the structural implications of drug resistance mutations.

In that hectic schedule, Gordon makes time to be involved in what she loves - art and craft. Gordon also plays bass guitar in a band with her husband, Kevin, and enjoys baking cakes with her daughter, Giselle, and son, Alex.

author : Lihle Sosibo
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