UKZN to Host 20th Time of the Writer International Festival

UKZN to Host 20th Time of the Writer International Festival
The 20th Time of the Writer International Festival is on in Durban from 13 to 18 March.

A feast of literary offerings from Africa and the rest of the world will be showcased at this year’s 20th Time of the Writer International Festival in Durban from 13 to 18 March.

The Festival, hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within UKZN’s College of Humanities, will feature some of the country’s most prolific writers.

This year’s Festival themed, The Past Paving the Future, commemorates the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi during World War 1 and features the historic launch of the original isiZulu version of the late Professor Mazisi Kunene’s:  Emperor Shaka the Great, uNodumehlezi kaMenzi.

Announcing this year’s line-up, the Director of the CCA, Mr David wa Maahlamela, said: ‘The 20th edition’s emphasis is on alumni, writers from KwaZulu-Natal, and more importantly, lesser known national writers who are indisputably deserving. The often overlooked genre of short story writing is central in this year’s Festival, while on the other hand we give special focus to the adaptation of literature into film.’

This year’s line-up includes veterans such as Zakes Mda, a recipient of South Africa’s Order of Ikhamanga, to up-and-coming authors such as Sibongile Fisher who won the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize for her gripping tale: A Door Ajar, and Fred Khumalo, Author of: Dancing the Death Drill; Bitches’ Brew and Seven Steps to Heaven.

The CCA together with the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC), will host a panel discussion on the intricacies of the intersection of film and literature, featuring KZNFC’s Chief Operations Officer Jackie Motsepe, and multiple award winning Television Writer, Producer and Director, Busisiwe Ntintili.

Ntintili. is the winner of the Mbokodo Arts Award for Best Film for writing the 2016 box office hit: Happiness is A Four Letter Word.

The panel will be chaired by Anant Singh, a producer of more than 80 films, including: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Yesterday; Red Dust; Cry, The Beloved Country; and the historic, Sarafina.

The Festival’s evening programme is at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on UKZN’s Howard College campus. The daytime programme, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality Libraries Department, takes place at various locations in Durban.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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UKZN and US Consulate Host Debate on Obama’s Legacy

UKZN and US Consulate Host Debate on Obama’s Legacy
First Secretary for Political Affairs at the United States Embassy in Pretoria Ms Tomika Konditi speaks to UKZN students about the legacy of former US President Barack Obama.

A discussion on the legacy of the former President of the United States Barack Obama was hosted by UKZN’s School of Social Sciences in partnership with the US Consulate General in Durban.

The debate on the Howard College campus began with comments by the First Secretary for Political Affairs at the United States Embassy in Pretoria, Ms Tomika Konditi, who focused on Obama’s initiatives to promote youth and education during his historic term of office.

The event itself was held to commemorate Black History Month and to celebrate the political legacy of the first African American President of the United States.

Konditi gave a personal account as an African American woman of how she felt with the First Family reflecting her heritage. ‘I felt a sense of pride. With the Obamas being in the White House, it allowed the world to see African Americans in a different light and dispelled stereotypes we are sometimes associated with.’

She further explained how Obama had encouraged minority students to pursue a post-secondary qualification.

Konditi reflected on the #FeesMustFall movement in South Africa while also revealing that American students have similar demands because of rising tuition costs and have been protesting for a better investment in education.

She spoke about initiatives Obama created to address this issue such as college repayment plans, debt forgiveness plans, increased federal grants, mentorship programmes such as My Brother’s Keeper, campaigns targeting the education of girls called Let Girls Learn, and programmes which promoted education outside US borders such as the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

‘Obama wanted to make tertiary education more affordable and to get the youth excited about the future and education, leading to college success,’ said Konditi.

She also showed a succession of video clips about Obama’s various education programmes. This led to a robust discussion between Konditi and UKZN students on the current state of American politics and the legacy of Obama.

UKZN Politics Lecturer Dr Lubna Nadvi said: ‘This lecture raised some critical points of discussion from students. And we hope to continue this partnership with the US Consulate for yet another lecture.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
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UKZN Earns Two Pan SA Language Board Awards

UKZN Earns Two Pan SA Language Board Awards
Dr Langa Khumalo receiving the award from Dr Rakwena Mpho Monareng, CEO Pan SA Language Board.

UKZN has received two awards from the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB).

One was in the Education Category while the other was for the book Imhlamvu Yelanga, which won in the PanSALB Language and Literature Category.

The awards were in recognition of the work UKZN has done in the promotion and development of official languages, in particular isiZulu. The book is a product of the University Language Board (ULB) literature competition that is an annual event hosted by the University Language Planning and Development Office.

Director: University Language Planning and Development Office, Dr Langa Khumalo received the awards on behalf of UKZN. On reflection of the award he said that UKZN has a clear language programme that seeks to intellectualise isiZulu so that it becomes a language of teaching and learning, research, innovation, science and technology. “This is particularly important in light of the Department of Science and Technology’s recently unveiled roadmap for South Africa’s research infrastructure, which has seen the establishment of a South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) to which I was recently appointed as a member of its Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC),” said Khumalo.

The language policy is a product of the Constitution, which impels government to develop previously disadvantaged indigenous official languages. It is also complements the Use of Official Languages Act of 2012, which allows for the development of all official languages so that they can be used equally in all spheres of life.

The two PanSALB Awards mean that UKZN is making progress in the implementation of both the constitutional imperative and the satisfaction of a statutory requirement.

UKZN has been doing extensive work in the advancement of isiZulu, which culminated in the momentous launch in November 2016 of the books Inhlamvu Yelanga and a bilingual (English-IsiZulu) glossary of architecture with illustrations, both published by UKZN Press, and the launch of isiZulu Human Language Technologies (HLTs).

The HLTs include an isiZulu spell checker, an isiZulu Lexicon (iPhone and Android Compatible), an isiZulu National Corpus (INC) and an isiZulu Term Bank. These technologies are all open source.

‘While the PanSALB Awards affirm and recognise the progress made in the intellectualisation of isiZulu at UKZN, it is also poses a challenge to the Institution to do even better in the progress towards not only developing isiZulu but other official languages as well,’ said Khumalo.

‘We have set the bar really high for ourselves, but with the #FeesMustFall movement and the decolonisation discourse having put the issue of language at the centre of the debate, we are challenged to show more innovation in advancing African languages as enablers in teaching and learning, research, technology and science.

‘The award is in recognition of our achievements since UKZN introduced isiZulu as a compulsory module. That decision generated considerable media coverage and academic discourse. It is through this robust coverage in both media and scholarly platforms that I believe the University was selected. These two Awards are a celebration of what UKZN has achieved,’ he said.

‘Transformation and decolonisation are two (new) national imperatives currently being debated in Higher Education. Language is, in my view, at the centre of both and I think we have our work cut out for us.’

author : Indu Moodley
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Audiology Students Celebrate World Hearing Day in Clermont

Audiology Students Celebrate World Hearing Day in Clermont
Audiology Lecturers with final year students.

Final year Audiology students took to the streets of Clermont, Durban, to commemorate World Hearing Day.

Accompanied by their tutors and lecturers, the students marched from Clermont Clinic through the taxi rank and to the Clermont Hall spreading messages to the community about hearing loss impact and deaf awareness.

Fourth-year student, Miss Nabeelah Desai, said: ‘This was a class initiative given to us as an assignment for our clinical module: Aural Rehabilitation. The event was about health promotion and prevention – key aspects for audiologists.’

World Hearing Day is an annual event organised by the World Health Organization on 3 March. UKZN students hosted their activities a day early.

The aim of the day was to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world.  The theme for the day was: “Action for Hearing Loss: Make a Sound Investment”.

After the March, students returned to the clinic to do a variety of presentations on hearing awareness, and also visited different sections of the clinic.

Audiology student, Ms Amanda Mkhulisi did a skit for learners from the Siyabathanda Day Care Special School. The presentation was about the dangers of excessive headphone use and loud music.

The community also heard about the appropriate way to clean their ears.

Students touched on prevention, screening for early identification, rehabilitation through hearing devices, captioning and sign language education. The importance of early detection and intervention of hearing loss in infants and young children were emphasised.

All the Clermont Clinic facilities including an HIV unit, a medical/general clinic, a school for children with special needs and an occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy centre, benefited from the event.

There were also discussions with the community about hearing loss. ie risk factors - causes and, prevention.

Students made crafts - including ear crowns - with members of the community while others benefited from the presentations about anatomy and physiology of the ear, hearing loss and ear wax.

Discussions and presentations to taxi drivers at the Clermont Rank concentrated on the dangers of listening to loud music, hearing loss and general ear care.

After the awareness campaign, students handed out information pamphlets, brochures, booklets and flyers to the public regarding hearing loss, ear care and how to communicate with people with hearing loss.

They also distributed pencil cases to children and donated books to the school for special needs youngsters.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
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Joint Research Project Good News for Durban Environment

Joint Research Project Good News for Durban Environment
Together at the launch of D’RAP are (from left) Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, Mr Errol Douwes, Professor Rob Slotow, Professor Mathieu Rouget, and Dr Sean O’Donoghue.

The Durban Research Action Partnership (D’RAP), a joint initiative between the eThekwini Municipality and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has been officially launched at a workshop held at the Durban Botanical Gardens.

The partnership aims to build capacity and increase limited knowledge in key areas related to the environment in the eThekwini Municipality region through specific research projects such as the KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld (KZN SS) Research Programme, the Buffelsdraai Community Reforestation Project, and the Global Environmental Change (GEC) Research Programme.

Aims of this partnership include the co-development of products that will be useful for municipal officers and researchers, including long-term data, publications, handbooks, pamphlets, and scientific and continuous development tools. It has thus far helped graduate 29 students, while 16 masters students and seven doctoral students are currently undertaking research within its programmes.

UKZN academic staff involved include Professor Rob Slotow; South African Research Chair (SARChI) representatives: Professor Colleen Downs, Professor Mathieu Rouget, Professor Paramu Mafongoya, and Professor Sarah Bracking, as well as Professor Onisimo Mutanga and more than 15 academics involved directly in student project supervision.

Research has ranged from socio-economic concerns to land use change to ecosystem functions to biodiversity and onwards. Return on investment has been positive, with science being used to inform decision-making.

An area still requiring work as the partnership advances is the integration of knowledge into practice, said Rouget. The partnership is characterised by an adaptive approach, with constant reflection on the efficacy of programme and consequent evaluation.

Municipal officials spoke about the necessity of finding biologists to work on the challenges facing the biodiversity hotspot that is eThekwini, including climate challenges and the dependence on ecosystems.

‘We acknowledge those who have taken initiative in this partnership. Research means little if you can’t translate it into action that transforms lives,’ said UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.

‘There’s a new paradigm of transdisciplinarity emerging, where researchers work with the community to co-create and co-implement,’ added van Jaarsveld. ‘Research is opening itself up, demonstrating the changing relationship between science and society.’

Van Jaarsveld added that D’RAP was part of UKZN developing key partnerships, and acknowledged the agreement for future contributions of the Wellcome Trust Fund to D’RAP.

eThekwini Municipality Manager of Restoration Ecology, Mr Errol Douwes, spoke about identifying local versus global drivers of change, and referred to the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System (D’MOSS) as a research arena given risks associated with open spaces providing ecosystem services. He extolled the benefits of research, from job creation to establishing a green economy and social upliftment, as well as protection of infrastructure through ecosystem restoration.

‘The way forward will be the building of partnerships and promoting green technology, using nature as a template for development,’ said Douwes.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Scientists Win Awards at Agricultural Congress

Scientists Win Awards at Agricultural Congress
From left: Ms Ndumiso Sosibo, Ms Moirah Malepfane and Professor Pardon Muchaonyerwa at the Combined Congress.

Several staff members and students at the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) were honoured for their work in a variety of categories during the annual Combined Crops, Soils, Horticulture and Weeds Congress.

The theme of the Congress was: “Adaptability of Agriculture in a Changing World”.

The award for the best presentation by a Crop Science student went to PhD candidate Ms Slindile Miya, who was supervised by Professor Albert Modi, while Masters graduate Ms Nondumiso Sosibo, supervised by Professor Pardon Muchaonyerwa, received the award for the best presentation by a Soil Science student.

Miya’s presentation was titled: “Overcoming the Challenge of Physical Seed Dormancy in Bambara Groundnut by Scarification - a Seed Quality Study”, while Sosibo spoke on: “Investigating Available Soil Nutrient Levels in Irrigated Wheat Fields in South Africa”.

Miya’s presentation focused on the neglected African legume crop which has the potential to play a significant role as a staple and industrial crop, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, given its drought-tolerance and climate change resilience. A challenge to its successful production is poor crop establishment due to physical seed dormancy.

Her study investigated the effect of scarification on overcoming seed dormancy.

The practical implications of the study are that producers can use scarification to improve bambara groundnut germination, although further research is needed.

Sosibo, who finished her Masters in a record one year, explained in her presentation that South Africa was facing a wheat production crisis because of a reliance on imported wheat. Strategies to relieve this crisis included closing yield gaps affected by factors such as poor soil fertility.

Sosibo provided information to guide the formulation of research and development interventions for resuscitating the ailing wheat industry by determining the availability and variability of essential plant nutrients in soils across geographical regions.

PhD graduate Ms Karin Hannweg received the award for the best paper published in 2016 in an ISI journal. Her paper, co-authored with colleagues G. Visser, K. de Jager and supervisor Professor Isa Bertling, was published in the South African Journal of Botany under the title: “In Vitro-Induced Polyploidy and its Effect on Horticultural Characteristics, Essential Oil Composition and Bioactivity of Tetradenia Riparia”.

Hannweg’s paper concerned a polyploidisation study to assess the Livingstone potato - an edible tuberous vegetable indigenous to Africa - in order to improve the cultivation and utilisation of the crop.

Hannweg works at the Agricultural Research Council’s Tropical and Subtropical Crops Division (ARC-ITSC) on polyploidy effects in horticultural crops.

At the Conference, staff were also honoured with awards and appointments. Professor Muchaonyerwa was a co-author on the best paper published in the South African Journal of Plant and Soil (SAJPS), and Professor Albert Modi and Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi were recognised for their paper being the most cited in the SAJPS.

Professor Bertling was elected as President of the Southern African Society for Horticultural Science.

author : Christine Cuénod
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Focus on Ill Health Prevention, says British Expert

Focus on Ill Health Prevention, says British Expert
Dr Bernhard Gaede, Sir Michael Marmot and Dr Mergan Naidoo.

What good does it do to treat people and then send them back to the conditions that made them sick?

This is the key question and resulting problem posed by the Director of the Institute of Health Equity in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College in London, Sir Michael Marmot, who spoke at UKZN.

Marmot, the immediate past-president of the World Medical Association, delivered a public lecture hosted by UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health and the South African Medical Association (SAMA). The theme was: “Social Determinants of Health”. 

He is the author of: The Health Gap: the Challenge of an Unequal World (Bloomsbury: 2015) and: Status Syndrome: How Your Place on the Social Gradient Directly Affects your Health (Bloomsbury: 2004). He has been awarded honorary doctorates from 17 universities and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has authored more than 1 100 scientific publications.

In 2000 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth of England, for services to epidemiology and the understanding of health inequities.

While in Durban he spent a morning visiting and addressing healthcare workers at public sector hospitals and clinics before his talk to UKZN academics and students as well as members of the public during which he provided evidence from studies done in high and low income countries on the effect of social factors on health outcomes.

He emphasised that addressing these social determinants was even more relevant in today’s world and focused on the effect the factors had on both physical and mental health.

His input in the field of health inequities has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization in a document titled: “Closing the Gap in a Generation, the key aspects of which are social justice; material, psychosocial and political empowerment, and creating the conditions for people to have control of their lives”.

UKZN’s Family Medicine Specialist and KZN SAMA Chair, Dr Mergan Naidoo, said, ‘These aspects are especially important in the South African context as we are considered to be one of the most unequal societies in the world.’

In his address, Marmot said the Institute of Health Equity in London had the following six objectives in their work towards helping create health fair societies:

1.      Give every child the best start in life.

2.      Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have control over their lives.

3.      Create fair employment and good work for all.

4.      Ensure a healthy standard of living for all.

5.      Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities.

6.       Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention.

Marmot provided evidence that focusing on early childhood development (pre-school) resulted in better school performance and thus easier access to tertiary education and ultimately, employment.

Naidoo said Marmot was a humble and sincere man with a mission to create awareness and provide the impetus for South Africans to seek local solutions for the many issues that plaque the country.

‘The challenge is for us as individuals living in an unequal society to heed his advice and take the appropriate steps to address the problems.’

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email :

UKZN Astronomer Gets Award for Research Excellence

UKZN Astronomer Gets Award for Research Excellence
UKZN Astronomer, Dr Matt Hilton.

Dr Matt Hilton of the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) and the Discipline of Mathematics has received the 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence.

The award is presented in recognition of outstanding research achievements and the earning of international reputation in the researcher’s discipline.

‘This award is a fitting tribute and recognition to one of our high achieving team members,’ said Dr Sudan Hansraj of his colleague’s accomplishment.

Hilton has nurtured a lifelong passion for science, particularly astronomy, cutting his teeth on astronomy books, magazines, documentaries and science fiction novels.

He received his degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Sheffield in England and then completed his PhD at the Astrophysics Research Institute at John Moores University in Liverpool.

Hilton conducted post-doctoral studies at UKZN’s ACRU from 2007-2010 before joining UKZN as a lecturer in August 2012.

Working in observational cosmology, Hilton is now studying galaxy clusters.

‘These are the most massive gravitationally-bound objects in the Universe - they are 100-1000 trillion times bigger than the Sun,’ explained Hilton.

Hilton says cosmologists use the Universe as a “time machine” - more distant objects observed reflect the Universe as it looked billions of years ago, as their light has taken longer to reach us.

In his work, the ‘ingredients’ comprising the Universe can be explored by measuring the growth of galaxy clusters over cosmic time. This includes assessing the amounts of ordinary matter, mysterious dark matter and dark energy, and even the sum of the neutrino masses.

Hilton is currently searching for galaxy clusters with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and doing follow-up observations of some of them with X-ray telescopes (Chandra, XMM-Newton) and with the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), in order to measure their masses.

‘We also hope to observe a large sample of ACT clusters with the South African MeerKAT radio telescope,’ said Hilton. ‘This will tell us about non-thermal emission associated with the intracluster gas.’

Hilton said he was thrilled to receive the award and acknowledged the roles of several mentors including his PhD supervisor Professor Chris Collins of John Moores University, Professor Kathy Romer of the University of Sussex, Professor Chris Conselice of the University of Nottingham, and ACRU’s Professor Kavi Moodley for making his lecturer position at UKZN possible. He also credited his friends and colleagues in ACRU for making his working environment so pleasant.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email :

‘Faith Communities’ Can Help Instil Environmental Responsibility

‘Faith Communities’ Can Help Instil Environmental Responsibility
Bishop Geoff Davies and his wife, Kate, with UKZN staff.

Faith communities can play a transformative role in communicating the message of environmental responsibility because of their extensive communication networks.

This is according to the Patron of the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI), Bishop Geoff Davies, who – with his wife, Kate – delivered the 6th annual Steve de Gruchy Memorial Lecture on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

‘A sustainable future is possible if we establish eco-justice which comprises both economic and ecological justice,’ said Davies. ‘In our present day world there is a huge level of economic disparity, with South Africa being the most unequal country in the world. This is an affront to God. This is not as God intended. He provides for our needs and not our greed.’

He appealed to all faith leaders to lobby for courageous and far-sighted decision making. ‘There is an increasing acknowledgement that it may only be through the intervention of faith communities that we will be able to bring about the changes needed if we are to leave a sustainable world to our children. Climate change is a moral issue and therefore involves us.’

Davies spoke on ecological justice and the need for people to treat the natural environment with respect and justice; ‘that means living in harmony with God’s environment - not pillaging, poisoning and even destroying it.

‘We must recognise that the decisions we humans make shape the future. Our aim, surely, is for a sustainable future. We must therefore make decisions regarding the use of our resources, the establishment of just economic systems, the care of our environment, and a just society that cares for people’s health, their culture and their spirituality.

‘As Christian communities, we have a moral responsibility to God and to other species and to future generations. All of us are being called to action,’ said Davies.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities Professor Stephen Mutula said: ‘This lecture commemorates the life of Steve de Gruchy and is important especially in the area of theology, sustainable development and poverty as it speaks to the country.’

Both Geoff and Kate Davies praised theologian and Christian activist Steve de Gruchy (1961-2010) for contributing to environmental awareness in Christian churches.

During the lecture the Davies outlined what Christian communities could do to contribute, address and overcome environmental threats.

‘We face the dilemma of the divide between social activists who are concerned about the well-being of people, and environmentalists, who emphasise the need to care for the natural world,’ said Geoff Davies.

Climate change is ‘probably the single most serious crisis facing life on the planet as we know it – and it is a moral issue. There is an urgent need for the visionary voice of faith communities to be heard, calling for a different kind of practice, based on morals and ethics, which are essential if we are to bring about a more just and sustainable future for all life on Earth,’ he said.

The Davies also spoke on the ‘Olive Agenda’ (coined by Steve de Gruchy) which concerns poverty, the environment and sustainable development. ‘Society sees the acquisition of money as the goal of life. We have to acknowledge that we can’t get rid of capitalism overnight but what we can do is alter the goals and ethics of our societies - our goals must be the well-being of people and the planet.

‘We have to assess and judge all our economic activities under the question and goal of whether decisions and activities will further the well-being of people and the planet. Money is just a tool, not an end in itself.’

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email :

Technology Innovation Agency Hosted by UKZN InQubate

Technology Innovation Agency Hosted by UKZN InQubate
UKZN’s Professor Deresh Ramjugernath (centre left) and Technology Innovation Agency CEO Mr Barlow Manilal (centre right) with UKZN innovators.

UKZN InQubate, the University’s Innovation and Technology Transfer office, hosted the CEO of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Mr Barlow Manilal, and several colleagues.

TIA is a national public entity which helps bridge the chasm between research and development at Higher Education Institutions and commercialisation. UKZN directly benefits from TIA’s initiatives through their Seed Fund Programme which currently funds several UKZN academics.

The discussion between the TIA and UKZN was facilitated by Pro-Vice Chancellor Innovation, Commercialisation, and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, who outlined UKZN’s three- to five-year research and innovation priorities and roadmap, and partnerships with key industrial players.

While presenting the potential new research focus areas, UKZN Seed Fund recipients from the relevant categories each spoke briefly on their innovative research outputs. Research areas include ICT, space science and cosmology, autonomous vehicles and manufacturing, and genomics and bioinformatics. Ramjugernath stressed his intention of positioning UKZN as a key driver of innovation which has wider societal impact.

Manilal noted that UKZN’s research and innovation priorities were perfectly aligned with TIA’s strategic plan and encouraged UKZN to collaborate and synergise with other Higher Education Institutions in the province for maximum impact.

He explained that, going forward, TIA would adopt forward integration whereby Seed Fund recipients would be taken directly to the Technology Development Fund and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to increase the success rate to market. Further to this, TIA would take more interest in research at early technology readiness levels so as to proactively plan for the next stage.

The discussions were followed by a visit to Professor Tulio de Oliviera’s new Genomics and Bioinformatics platform currently being built at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in collaboration with TIA.

* If you would like to know more about the TIA Seed Fund or believe your research outputs have market potential, contact Dr Umeshree Govender at InQubate (

author : Umeshree Govender
author email :

UKZN Post-Doctoral Researcher to Attend Prestigious Meeting in Germany

UKZN Post-Doctoral Researcher to Attend Prestigious Meeting in Germany
Chemical Process Engineer Dr Mark Williams-Wynn has been selected to attend the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Post-Doctoral Fellow at UKZN and a member of the University’s renowned Thermodynamics Research Unit (TRU), Dr Mark Williams-Wynn, has been selected to attend one of the world’s most prestigious scientific gatherings – the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, from 25-30 June.

Williams-Wynn, a Chemical Process Engineer, is one of five young South Africans nominated by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) for this honour. He was selected after a multi-stage international selection process.

‘I am really excited to have been given the opportunity by ASSAf to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting as it will be a chance to forge links with top up-and-coming researchers from around the world which could include possibilities of future research collaborations,’ said Williams-Wynne.  ‘Being a Chemical Engineer, I am particularly interested in how the research that is being conducted around the world can be applied for the South African and African context, particularly in job, skills and resource development.’

Williams-Wynn said the gathering would also provide an opportunity to learn from past Nobel Prize winners and to get a glimpse of their views of the current state and direction of chemistry research.

Around 400 young scientists from 76 countries will attend this year’s meeting which is dedicated to the field of Chemistry. The participants have been selected to interact and exchange knowledge and ideas with 31 former Nobel Laureates also in attendance.

The annual meeting encourages dialogue and knowledge exchange between academics in the three natural science Nobel Prize disciplines of Physiology and Medicine, Physics, and Chemistry, alternating its field of focus each year. The vibrant group that meets is a mix of generations, cultures and disciplines. The programme features lectures, panel discussions and master classes.

ASSAf, as the official partner of the Lindau Foundation and with funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST), annually nominates scientists under the age of 35 to attend this dynamic forum for exchange, networking and inspiration.

The other South African scientists attending are Dr Hlamulo Makelane of the University of the Western Cape; Mr Frederick Malan of the University of Pretoria; Ms Funeka Nkosi of the University of the Witwatersrand; and Ms Retha Peach of North-West University.

Williams-Wynn can expect a six-day programme with numerous lectures and panel discussions, and potentially the opportunity to discuss his own work at one of the master classes or at the poster session.

‘I am currently researching possibilities in various waste stream recycling processes as an integral part of my Post-Doctoral Fellowship,’ said Williams-Wynn.  ‘As a member of the Thermodynamics Research Unit, this research includes obtaining a better understanding of the chemical thermodynamics behind these recycling processes.’

One of the major fields he is currently investigating is the recycling of electronic waste (e-waste), which includes the operation of a pilot plant for the recovery of rare earth metals from waste luminophorous powders that the TRU has designed and constructed.

Williams-Wynn was supervised for his PhD by Professor Prathieka Naidoo and Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, who is Director of the Thermodynamics Research Unit and SARChI Chair for Fluorine Process Engineering and Separation Technology.

Ramjugernath, who is also the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at UKZN, said:  ‘The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting brings together the leading young researchers globally. It is a significant honour and accomplishment for a young researcher to be chosen to represent their country at this meeting. The University of KwaZulu-Natal is very proud of the achievements of Dr Mark Williams-Wynn in being selected as one of five representatives from South Africa. He is a young researcher who is inspiring greatness through his research achievements.’

For more information go to:

author : Sally Frost
author email :

Usuku Lokukhangiswa Kwamathuba Emisebenzi Emkhakheni Wezokuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali Luhehe Inqwaba Yabafundi

Usuku Lokukhangiswa Kwamathuba Emisebenzi Emkhakheni Wezokuhlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali Luhehe Inqwaba Yabafundi
Abafundi bezokuHlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali ngosuku lwezemisebenzi.

Click here for the English version

Usuku lokuqala lwezamathuba emisebenzi emkhakheni wezokuhlelwa kwamabhuku ezimali obeluhlelwe yiKolishi LeziFundo NoMthetho NezokuPhatha lube yimpumelelo enkulu ngokuhanjelwa yizinkumbi zabafundi abebexoxisana nabebezokhangisa ngamathuba emisebenzi abanayo.

Lolu suku lokwabelana ngolwazi obeluhlelwe umnyango weKolishi Wezokusekelwa Kwabafundi ubambisene neSikole SezokuHlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali, Ezomnotho NezeziMali belusemakhempasini aseMgungundlovu nase-Westville lapho bekukhona nezinkampani ezingama-20 okubalwa eyakwa-Ernst and Young, SAICA, BDO, Grant Thornton ne-PKF – ebezibambe iqhaza.

IDini Eyibamba yeSikole SezokuHlelwa Kwamabhuku Ezimali, Ezomnotho NezeziMali uDkt Mabutho Sibanda uthe bathokozile kakhulu ngendlela abafundi abalusukumele ngayo lolu suku. 'Ukutheleka kwabafundi ngobuningi babo kusithokozise kakhulu. Lo mkhankaso uhambisana nenhloso yeNyuvesi futhi sifuna ukwakha ubudlelwano neziMboni nezoMnotho ukuze kube nobambiswano,' usho kanje.

Abafundi abenza unyaka wesithathu kwezokuhlelwa kwamabhuku ezimali uMnu Ismail Ebraham noNkz Mandisa Mlitwa balibonge kakhulu lelithuba lokuthola ukwelulekwa abasezinkampanini ngamathuba emisebenzi yangamaholide kanye nokuqashwa ngokugcwele, izinkontileka, ezokufunda nokuzithuthukisa.

‘Ukuxhumana nabezinkampani kuwusizo kakhulu ngoba manje sesizokwazi ukuthatha izinqumo sinolwazi olufanele mayelana nemikhakha esingayilandela uma sesiphothule izifundo zethu,’ kusho u-Ebraham.

UMlitwa uthe ukuba nalolu suku oluqondene ngqo nezokuhlelwa kwamabhuku ezimali bekufanelekile kakhulu lapho kuba khona ukuxhumana umuntu nomuntu phakathi kwezinkampani nabafundi.

‘Ukuhlangana kwethu njengabafundi bezokuhlelwa kwamabhuku ezimali kuchaza ukuthi singabafundi sithole ithuba lokuhlangana sabelane ngezinhloso nemibono ngoba akugcwele kakhulu njengasembukisweni wezemisebenzi waminyaka yonke,’ usho kanje.

author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email :

National Budget Reviewed During Discussions at UKZN

National Budget Reviewed During Discussions at UKZN
Participants at the Post Budget debate at UKZN.

The School of Accounting, Economics and Finance’s Macroeconomics Working Group (MWG) hosted a Post budget debate to enable participants to share views on the 2017 National Budget.

Academic and Economist Mr Ayanda Meyiwa delivered a presentation titled: “On the Country’s Vision, the State of the Nation and the National Budget 2017”, while UKZN’s Academic Leader, Taxation, Dr Suren Pillay, gave an overview of the tax implications.

Meyiwa’s talk focused on the growth of the country’s economy and factors that hinder it such as inequality, poverty and unemployment.

‘The growth of our economy is dependent less on people applying for jobs and more on looking at entrepreneurship as a source of job creation,’ he said. ‘This involves investing in education and skills development. The fact that debt is increasing is a worrying factor as it will take years for South Africa to recover and reach the targets set by the National Development Plan.’

Sugar tax, a proposed VAT increase and the fuel levy were among topics covered by Pillay.

‘The tax side does not look very good for us as we have a large deficit and SARS targets have been increasing every year,’ said Pillay. ‘It is probably not surprising that a new tax bracket has been introduced making our tax system more progressive. VAT is a big contributor to tax and would be good for our deficit but hard on the consumer as it will mean they have to pay more.’

MWG founder and the School’s Academic Leader for Higher Degrees and Research, Dr Harold Ngalawa, said debates such as these were vital because the Budget was of national interest and everyone needed know how it affected them.

‘As academics, we need to sit down and share our knowledge on topical issues of national importance such as the national budget,’ he said.

‘My personal opinion is that the Budget was flat and void of a vision to take the country out of its persistently poor economic performance.

‘It was perfect as an accounting exercise aimed at seeing government and the country through another year but it failed to provide hope that the fiscal authorities have solid plans to grow the country, create jobs, fight inflation and stabilise the economy generally.’

author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : Thandiwe Jumo

Law Academic to Serve on Magistrates Commission

Law Academic to Serve on Magistrates Commission
Mr Maropeng Mpya.

Law Lecturer Mr Maropeng Mpya has been selected by the Society for Law Teachers of Southern Africa Association to serve as its representative at the Magistrates Commission.

The Magistrate Commission is a constitutional structure aimed at overseeing the entire magistrate judicial structure, which includes training, appointments, and discipline of magistrates.

Commenting on his appointment, Mpya said: ‘As a representative of the Society for Law Teachers of Southern Africa I represent academia’s contribution to the Magistrates Commission.

‘To serve on this Commission means one is contributing to the national building of an excellent judicial system and more importantly ensuring that all South Africans acquire the full benefit of competent magistrates and a dignified legal system.’

Mpya will serve on the Commission for a three-year term within the Ethics sub-committee as well as the Legislation sub-committee.

‘I will use my legal skills to help strengthen and enrich the Commission in its dealing with Magistrates. Further, my role in the Commission is to increase public confidence in the judiciary and justice in general,’ he said.

author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email :

First Year Law Students Take Oath

First Year Law Students Take Oath
First year Law students take an oath during a Pledge Ceremony hosted by the School of Law.

First year students at UKZN’s School of Law took an oath during a Pledge Ceremony at the Howard College Theatre during which they committed to act with integrity- both as students and legal practitioners - and be guardians of South Africa’s Constitution.

Keynote speaker, Constitutional Law Expert Professor Karthy Govender, encouraged students to focus on their strengths and invest in their future. ‘If you are not disciplined, you won’t achieve,’ said Govender, emphasising that they needed to have a vision of just where they wanted to be in four years’ time.

During the ceremony, students pledged to abide by the rules of the University, to treat their fellow students and staff with respect, to use resources in a proper manner, and to give of their best as students.

Student Ms Mbali Nzuza said being an argumentative person, she chose Law because it intrigued her.

Asked what she hopes to achieve during and after her studies, Nzuza said she wanted to make the world a better place, ensure that justice was done and fair and equal rights are implemented.

Nzuza aims to become an advocate and specialise in Criminal Law.

Before reciting the pledge with the students, Lecturer and a member of the National Consumer Tribunal, Professor Tanya Woker, encouraged them to think carefully about the words as they constituted a legal and binding agreement. 

The students handed in their signed pledge on stage while collecting a copy of the South African Constitution.

author : Sithembile Shabangu
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UKZN Co-Hosts Summer School on Transformative Religion

UKZN Co-Hosts Summer School on Transformative Religion
Participants at the Summer School.

“Transformative Religion: Religion as Situated Knowledge in Processes of Social Transformation”, was the theme for a Summer School held on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

The School was co-hosted by UKZN’s School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) in collaboration with the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS), the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Stellenbosch University and Humboldt University in Germany.

The Summer School explored religion as a form of “situated knowledge” that could be useful in shaping human agency with debates focusing on “transformative religion” in processes of social transformation in transitional societies.

UKZN’s Professor Roderick Hewitt said: ‘This has been a developing partnership between these four institutions for more than 10 years which has led to a cross-fertilisation of ideas and is also important for collaborative purposes.’

Professor Andreas Feldtkeller of Humboldt University in Berlin said: ‘This partnership allows for the enrichment of the study of theology and religion and has an impact on students. The Summer school allows them to present their research and to be active participants.’

An International Research Doctoral Group (IRDG) that has been formed was described by Professor Jeremy Punt of Stellenbosch University as ‘an ongoing project, still in the development phase in which both staff and students of the four universities are able to conduct joint research as part of their joint doctorates’.

Professor Ignatius Swart of UWC said: ‘This Summer School is likely to continue because of its success rate. It has the ability to grow further and we’d like more universities to get on board. The value of this Summer School has also enriched the team of lecturers over the years.’

Also presenting their research at the Summer School were UKZN academics:

·         Professor Raymond Kumalo on: “Convergences of Christianity, Politics and Xhosa Culture in the Burial of Nelson Mandela: An Asset for a Nation in Transition”.

·         Dr Federico Settler on: “Migrant Reforming Religion: A South African Perspective”.

·         Professor Johannes Smit on: “J.T. van der Kemp’s Link to the British Anti-Slavery Network and his Civil Rights Activism on Behalf of the Khoi (1801 – 1803)”.

·         Ms Cherry Muslim on: “Transformative Religion: Religion as Situated Knowledge in Processes of Social Transformation”.

·         Dr Sibusiso Masondo on: “Women in African Traditional Religion: a Contemporary Perspective”.

·         Professor Beverley Haddad on: “African Women's Resistance Practices: Indigenising Anglicanism in South Africa”.

author : Melissa Mungroo
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ENT Specialists and Audiologists Advocate for Action on Hearing Loss and Ear Health

ENT Specialists and Audiologists Advocate for Action on Hearing Loss and Ear Health
Raising awareness for Hearing Loss and ear care during the World Hearing Day in a Symposium held at UKZN.

UKZN’s ENT Department joined the World Health Organization (WHO) and countries across the world to raise awareness for Hearing Loss and its economic impact on World Hearing Day in a Symposium held on 2 March.

This campaign contributes to ENT-UKZN’s outreach programme, ENT-CARES (Client Access and Referral Expansion Service) into communites that traditionally have had poor access to medical treatment. ENT-UKZN runs a clinic for blind and deaf clients on Tuesday mornings at the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.

The aim of the Symposium was to raise awareness and promote ear health and hearing care across the world. This year’s theme was “Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment”. The theme draws attention to the economic impact of hearing loss.  According to WHO, unaddressed hearing loss poses a high financial cost to the economy globally and has a significant negative impact to those affected. The awareness and advocacy event held at the Nelson R Mandela Medical School saw ENT specialists, reasearchers, NGO’s including  parent groups and organisations that represent the deaf, audiologists from the university, public sector and private, occupational therapists and teachers for the deaf shared information and strategies to address hearing loss and ear related problems.

Prevention, screening for early identification and rehabilitation through hearing devices, captioning and sign language education were among the strategies that were discussed as means to mitigate hearing loss and its consequences.

‘We should advocate for quality and modernised education for the deaf, education that will integrate the deaf and blind with society. Blind and deaf people should be provided with education that will provide them better chances of employment and enable them to contribute to the economy of this country,’ said  Justice Zack Yacoob, President of the Blind and Deaf Society of KZN.

Another important but often overlooked area highlighted is involvement of parents in decision making. ‘Parents are a critical part of the puzzle who are often undervalued. An empowered parent is a powerful force to seeing hearing challenged children reach their full potential! In order to see more parents become actively involved in their child’s journey, we need to see parents as equal partners. Linking parents up with fellow parents and introducing them to other deaf and hard of hearing people to learn from, is critical in seeing a parent becoming empowered’ was  the  message  from Dr  Birdsey  from  Hi  Hopes.

author : Lihle Sosibo
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