UKZN Lecturer Completes Training at Harvard Medical School

UKZN Lecturer Completes Training at Harvard Medical School
Dr Onyemaechi Azu who trained at Harvard Medical School in the United States.

Senior Lecturer in Clinical Anatomy, Dr Onyemaechi Azu, has completed a year of Clinical Trials training at Harvard Medical School in the United States.

‘It was awesome being at the oldest medical institution in United States which has trained so many world class scholars,’ said Azu, who received the Certificate of Completion in Clinical Trials from the institution.

The Harvard Medical School Global Clinical Scholars Research Training (GCSRT) Programme uses a blended-learning approach to provide clinicians and clinician-scientists from around the world with advanced training in methods and conduct of clinical research.

It teaches participants relevant information on conduct, implementation, and analysis of clinical trials, with a focus on the methods of study design, ethics, recruitment, and biostatistical considerations used in designing and analysing clinical trials.

Azu, a plastination specialist whose time at Harvard was funded by UKZN’s College of Health Sciences and the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, said: ‘To be screened and found worthy to study at Harvard Medical School indicated to me that I was equal among my peers globally.’

He said there was an ever increasing need for health care professionals to be properly trained, aligned and orientated to tackle the current highly volatile and evolving disease trends. ‘To do this you need experts with a good grasp of proper scientific rigour and mastery to unlock gaps in knowledge. The training offered by the GCSRT platform fulfils this commitment of alleviating human suffering.

‘It has been a trying period in my career,’ said Azu. ‘Besides travelling frequently, the volume of academic work and its depth and expectations are quite a burden.’

His ultimate goal is to contribute to the training of professionals who have the right attitude to work; especially the league of youngsters he believes can transform the profession into a friendlier and highly sophisticated one. 

Azu has published extensively in the field of Anatomy with research interests in testicular histomorphometry, toxicology, endocrinology, plastination techniques and anatomical education.

Azu says his mentors – who included eminent professors, physicians and scholars – were instrumental in him developing an approach of doing things correctly and he tries to instil that same attitude in his students.

Lunga Memela


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UKZN Marine Biology Students Participate in Ocean Stewards Programme

UKZN Marine Biology Students Participate in Ocean Stewards Programme
Students on board the R/V Angra Pequena excitedly awaiting the official research expedition.

A group of 15 third year and honours students from UKZN’s Marine Biology Programme recently took part in the Ocean Stewards programme during which they met some of South Africa’s top marine biologists and geologists and took part in studies on board the Angra Pequen, a research vessel working on the KwaZulu-Natal coastline as part of the African Coelacanth Ecology Programme (ACEP).

The programme is sponsored by Grindrod and Wildlands as part of their joint Blue Fund initiative, as well as by Sea-Quests, who together have established the Ocean Stewards Programme as a means to develop and attract more students into the marine conservation sector.

Said Conservation Grants Manager for Wildlands, Mr Mark Gerrard,: ‘By building capacity and bringing a new generation of Ocean Stewards into the marine sector, Wildlands hopes to address the key challenges facing marine environments such as degradation, overfishing and pollution.’

The programme included students and interns from the SA National Biodiversity Institute, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the University of Zululand and the University of Cape Town.

The programme allowed the students to spend a few days gaining experience in marine sampling techniques. The UKZN students who took part were required to be enrolled in either the institution’s undergraduate Marine Biology Programme or its honours Marine Biology Programme.

‘Unlike coastal universities in the Western and Eastern Cape which have vessels and technical staff, UKZN students have no opportunity to go out to sea so this was great for them,’ said senior lecturer in UKZN’s Marine Biology programme, Dr Ursula Scharler. ‘We hope that funding will continue so that the Ocean Steward Programme can extend over the next few years.’

Scharler and Dr David Glassom of the School of Life Sciences on the Westville campus were involved in choosing the students and organising involvement in the programme for UKZN.

The research cruise was led by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, together with scientists and students from the South African National Biodiversity Institute, Oceanographic Research Institute, South African Institute for African Biodiversity and UKZN.

Studies were done of the offshore canyons and seafloor (reefs and soft sediments) and associated fish communities and plankton and oceanography.

‘By linking the Ocean Stewards programme into the ACEP Surrogacy project, we aim to conduct vital research work while catalysing the emergence of a strong cohort of future marine conservation scientists and managers,’ said Dr Jean Harris of KZN Wildlife.

Students were also given an introduction to sailing techniques on the opening day of the programme, including a tour around the Angra Pequena.

‘I am so fortunate to be a part of this programme and was really excited to head out to sea on the research vessel,’ said UKZN honours student, Asanda Mthethwa. The cruise set off on the 4 June and returned to port on the 24th.

- Supported by The Blue Fund - a strategic partnership launched by Grindrod and Wildlands to provide funding and support for the sustainable development of coastal communities and conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems.

View video here

Christine Cuénod


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Re-engineering Primary Health Care in KZN

Re-engineering Primary Health Care in KZN
Head of the Department of Nursing at UKZN, Professor Gugu Mchunu, with her masters students.

UKZN Masters in Nursing students recently organised a seminar titled: “The Re-Engineering of Primary HealthCare (PHC) in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal.”

Attended by 4th year Nursing students, Academics and stakeholders, the student group, led by Mrs Tholi Majozi, presented on the history of PHC in South Africa, highlighting the conceptualisation of the Community Orientated Primary Care (COPC) approach as early as the 1940s in Pholela, KZN.

Majozi touched on the growing burden of disease and poor outcomes despite the relatively high level of input and investment in health.

‘The pressures of a predominantly hospital-centric health care system and emerging epidemics prevent the successful provision of quality comprehensive, integrated primary healthcare to millions of South Africans,’ said Majozi.

‘PHC has shown to improve health outcomes as seen in countries like Brazil, therefore PHC needs to redefine its focus.

‘The scope of practise of health workers, relevant education and training for new graduates should meet the service delivery needs as this will have important implications for health.’

The group discussed the importance of the re-orientation of health practitioners to a community-oriented PHC approach versus a clinical orientated practice. ‘It is important to re-orientate the public health mind-set of professional nurses and clinical specialist teams to enable them to use epidemiological data for action,’ she said.

Group member, Mrs Nana Mwelase highlighted that stakeholder involvement by departments such as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), had assisted in most areas to deal with social determinants.

The place for mental health and traditional medicine in the re-engineered PHC curriculum and among ward-based teams was also discussed.

The group is currently doing its masters course work in nursing, specialising in Community Health supervised by the Head of Nursing, Professor Gugu Mchunu.

Nombuso Dlamini


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New Lecturer Appointed to the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences

New Lecturer Appointed to the Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences
Mr Patrick Zimu.

Mr Patrick Zimu (27) of Pietermaritzburg has joined UKZN’s Discipline of Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences as a lecturer.

Zimu, born and raised in KwaSwayimana, said teaching had always been his passion. ‘I’ve now developed an affection for research,’ he said.

Zimu did his Bachelor of Sport Science degree at UKZN, continuing on to Honours in Sport Science Recreation before completing his Masters in the same discipline.

‘I feel I have been rewarded for my hard work and see this appointment as an opportunity for me to grow and contribute to the University’s vision and that of the country.’

Zimu, who lectured at the Durban University of Technology’s Sport Studies Department from 2012 to this year, said UKZN was renowned for producing quality students equipped for industry.

Zimu said he was motivated by his mentor and former UKZN lecturer, Mrs Maliga Naidoo, to succeed in his career. ‘I was raised in a financially deprived family and community by parents with no formal education. That inspired me to work hard in order to show appreciation for their unyielding efforts to educate me.’

Zimu said: ‘South Africa is challenged by a burden of coronal heart diseases and the majority of the victims are people living in low-socioeconomic communities who can barely afford the conventional gym-based health promotion programmes.’ This made him passionate to prove, through research, that leisure time physical activities could provide the same benefits as gym programmes and to implement the research-based programmes in the communities, promoting their health and wellbeing.

Zimu’s research interests include leisure and health promotion, evidence-based practice and therapeutic recreation. He said he planned to register for a PhD shortly after his appointment.

Lunga Memela


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New student Academic Services Manager for College of Humanities

New student Academic Services Manager for College of Humanities
Ms Karen Sallie.

Ms Karen Sallie, appointed Student Academic Services Manager at the College of Humanities, says she believes her new role will allow her to provide an improved service for students as well as heightened development opportunities for her staff.

‘I am excited and I feel this appointment will allow me to apply my experience in students’ academic services in a positive manner, which is an extension of my current functionality though at a higher level. I look forward to the challenge,’ said Sallie

‘My family and friends are incredibly proud of this achievement and I feel extremely blessed that they want the best for me. They keep pushing me to achieve more,’ she said.

Sallie has been working in academic services for many years at the University starting as an Assistant Faculty Officer in 2004 and moving on to a Postgrad Officer in the former Faculty of Education, and then Senior Faculty Officer to the Principal Academic Administrative Officer (PAAO) within the College of Humanities.

‘These opportunities have helped me to become diligent at looking after the basics which collectively help to create an environment of organisation. My colleagues have cottoned onto the need to look after the basics as they form the foundation for the bigger tasks. Attention to detail is critical,’ said Sallie.

Sallie, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is currently pursuing a Masters in Education: Leadership and Management, believes her competencies match the new position as she has the right combination of skills and experience. ‘The new position will broaden my experience at a higher level of responsibility. As a PAAO I have achieved at the top of that level and with that experience I believe that I can make a positive contribution to an improved best practices philosophy.’

In her new capacity as Student Academic Services Manager, Sallie will be responsible for managing and coordinating student academic administration; the admission of students; on-going management of undergraduate, postgraduate, honours, masters, and doctoral students and managing the doctoral examination process. She will also have to ensure that rules, policies and procedures are adhered to.

‘I plan to emphasise the need for attention to detail as this impacts all the role players in areas such as personal performance, transparency and accountability, and improving service delivery to staff, students, parents and the public at large.’

Melissa Mungroo


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UKZN Academic receives SA’s Order of Baobab – Silver

UKZN Academic receives SA’s Order of Baobab – Silver
Dr Andrew Ross.

South African President Jacob Zuma awarded the Order of Baobab – Silver medal to UKZN lecturer and Principal Specialist of Family Medicine, Dr Andrew Ross.

The founding member and current trustee of the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation (UYDF), Ross was nominated for the award in recognition of his outstanding work with youngsters from rural  areas, many of whom have gone on to qualify as health care professionals.

National orders are the highest awards South Africa, through the President, can bestow on its citizens or eminent foreigners for exceptional contributions and distinguished service beyond the call of duty.

‘I was speechless partly because I didn’t know I was nominated,’ said Ross. ‘The award is quite prestigious. There are a lot of talented and amazing people out there who get nominated each year and I was surprised they considered the work I have been involved in.’

Ross, the former Medical Superintendent of Mosvold Hospital in the Umkhanyakude District, initiated the UYDF bursary programme to support impoverished youth from rural communities of KwaZulu-Natal as they sought to become healthcare professionals.

His work became increasingly recognised for giving hope in rural communities who use rural hospitals, and for this, Ross was named a Lead SA Hero in 2013, also receiving the Sunday Times–Johnny Walker Award for the Nation’s Greatest Individual in 2014.

It all began in 1999 when Ross started asking community leaders to get members of their communities to each donate R1 to support four learners who wanted to study Medicine, Optometry, Physiotherapy and Pharmacology.  Since these humble beginnings, the UYDF has grown exponentially, today supporting 238 students and boasting 218 health care graduates across 16 disciplines.

More than 90% of students’ progress each year and 71% of UYDF graduates have remained in their rural districts after completion of their work back commitments.

Ross was lauded for this because his work, in line with the National Department of Health’s re-engineering of primary healthcare, addresses the human resource shortages in rural hospitals, thereby improving healthcare to rural communities.

‘UYDF scholarships are only provided to students from rural areas who have obtained places to study health sciences degree at a university,’ said Ross. ‘Furthermore, these youngsters will have shown initiative by doing voluntary work at a local hospital, been selected by a local committee and signed a year-for- year work back contract which they must fulfil upon completing their studies.

Among the latest UYDF graduates is 23-year-old Mr Njabulo Nhlenyama from Mbazwana in the Umkhanyakude District who topped UKZN’s Dental Therapy class and graduated cum laude this year. On the same day, Ms Nontobeko Nsele from Mbazwana, also supported by UYDF, was accompanied by cheers and ululations when she graduated cum laude and as UKZN’s top Optometry student. Nsele received 17 merit certificates and Dean’s Commendations for academic excellence at UKZN.

Ross explained that unlike other bursary programmes, UYDF students are not just awarded the scholarships and expected to succeed thereafter.

‘UYDF provides comprehensive mentoring and financial support to the students and there is strong emphasis on the need for each student to complete their qualification in its minimum duration and return to work in the district hospital from which they were selected.’

Ross said it was essential to provide comprehensive support to ensure mutual success for the student and UYDF.

 ‘The scholarship scheme has been amazing!’ He said he gets a kick from watching the students grow, obtain their degrees and get married, knowing that their families will also benefit.

Ross’s on-going PhD documents the experiences of rural scholars who enter into university and explores how they have progressed in the programme to become professional in their respective fields.

UYDF continues sourcing funds that will make the dreams of many rural youngsters come true. ‘There’s so much wasted potential in South Africa,’ said Ross.

In 2007 UYDF received Discovery’s Excellence Award worth R1million which enabled the Foundation to employ Dr Gavin MacGregor who is responsible for the fundraising and can be reached on gavin@umthomboyouth.org.za

The scholarship scheme has grown from needing a few million rand each year in 2007 to needing more than R15 million a year to provide comprehensive support to the increasing student cohorts which the Foundation supports.

‘An investment in the youth supported by the UYDF is an investment in the future as these young people get an education, obtain employment and help their families out of poverty,’ said MacGregor.

Lunga Memela


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UKZN Hosts Harvard Scholars

UKZN Hosts Harvard Scholars
Department of Infectious Diseases academics with Harvard's Translational Medicine trainees at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

UKZN Clinicians from the Department of Infectious Diseases hosted Harvard University’s Translational Medicine students at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine in Durban. 

The students were part of the unmet medical need and translational solutions, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) course co-organised by the Ragon Institute and co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

UKZN’s Infectious Diseases HoD, Professor Yunus Moosa, welcomed the visiting visitors and detailed the challenges, limitations, and importance of globally relevant and locally responsive research in a resource-limited setting.

Staff in the Department, Dr Melanie John and Dr Bernadett Gosnell, spoke about their research which essentially rose out of questions that emerged during patient care and ward rounds at King Edward VIII Hospital. Their research topics include diverse infectious diseases such as genital herpes, histoplasmosis, cryptococcal meningitis, parvo B19 viral infection and tuberculosis.

Gosnell said: ‘During discussion it was clear that management guidelines from the developed world are often not practical or cost effective for local application.’

She said there was consensus that locally relevant research is critical to generate an evidence base for adapting guidelines to regional needs.

The HMS course consists of a two-week “bootcamp”, at Harvard, where teaching is concentrated on how unmet medical needs are evaluated and how the routes of ‘translation’ into novel therapeutics are navigated and approved for clinical use.

Course faculty director, Dr Jagesh Shah said ‘Through case studies and interactive discussions with experienced faculty staff, the students gain deep insight into the opportunities and challenges in turning unmet needs into therapies.’  

The course includes lecturers from Harvard and MIT as well as the pharmaceutical and biotechnology commercial sector, including Novartis, Biogen, Genzyme, Vertex and others.

The global component of the class includes an additional week in Durban where students are involved in field work and have exposure to various groups including UKZN’s Department of Infectious Diseases, the HIV Pathogenesis Programme, and the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH), among others. 

While the students were in the country they focused on the HIV epidemic and the complications associated with infection and HAART. They investigated unmet medical needs and the clinical and social solutions to detect, diagnose, and treat the disease.

The course featured assessments of unmet medical needs, case studies of successes and failures in translation, seminars from translational experts, and workshops engaging students in substantive and intensive discussions on current topics.

Harvard scholar from Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Elise Renaud, said: ‘I really appreciate this opportunity to be a part of Harvard's Translational Medicine course because I continue to get a more comprehensive sense of the difficulties in making all our bright ideas practical. They are all possible, but it is going to take a very long time. Thankfully, I get to work with enthusiasts who are as driven as I am and continue to persevere, in spite of huge obstacles, for better global health.’ 

Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Academic recognised as an Outstanding Reviewer for an International Journal

UKZN Academic recognised as an Outstanding Reviewer for an International Journal
Professor Debbie Vigar-Ellis.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance Academic and Marketing Expert, Professor Debbie Vigar-Ellis, has been recognised as an Outstanding Reviewer for the International Journal of Wine Business Research (IJWBR) in the Emerald Literati Network 2015 Awards for Excellence.

Vigar-Ellis was chosen for the award by the editorial team who were requested to select up to two reviewers who contributed significantly to the journal throughout 2014.

The IJWBR is the only journal that provides complete and full coverage across business disciplines, continents and countries, on all issues related to managing wine-related businesses, and its perspective is inclusive of other alcoholic beverages.

Vigar-Ellis, who is attending various marketing conferences in Europe this month, said she was grateful for the award as it reinforced her passion for research.

‘Engaging in reviews provides me with an opportunity to give back to my discipline by participating in the process of quality assurance in research outputs. Engaging in research myself and presenting this at conferences gives me an opportunity to share my research work gives me an opportunity to showcase research work and to link my name to a certain area of research work within the broad marketing field.

‘This creates networking opportunities with leading academics in your immediate field and in others and allows one to get valuable feedback from the top academics on how to improve research and who to collaborate with in international research,’ she said.

Emerald Group Publishing Limited’s Academic Relations Manager, Mr Jim Bowden, congratulated Vigar-Ellis on her achievement and thanked her for her excellent work as a reviewer ‘because without her effort and dedication, Emerald journals would not have the right to be called scholarly’.

Thandiwe Jumo


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Student Vows to Provide Shoes and Jerseys for 5000!

Student Vows to Provide Shoes and Jerseys for 5000!
Ms Mbalenhle Mthembu handing over school shoes and uniforms to excited school kids.

A third-year UKZN Medical student, Ms Mbalenhle Mthembu, has committed to providing 5 000 pairs of school shoes and 5 000 jerseys for  5 000 young children from disadvantaged backgrounds in KwaZulu-Natal.

As a young girl growing up in Doringkop, Stanger, one of Mthembu’s earliest memories was walking bare foot to school. Standing in front of the school assembly one morning, she suddenly felt like the entire school was looking at her feet and cringed! She had lost her parents at a young age and there was simply not enough money around in her remaining family unit to buy her school shoes.

Mthembu (22) triumphed through the adversities and made a vow that one day she would help children to have new school shoes and uniforms.

That young girl is now well on her way to becoming a medical doctor and has begun to make her vow a reality!

Just a few weeks ago, she started a campaign titled: Igniting 5000 Dreams, under the umbrella of her NPO, Enhle Cares Foundation, which was registered in January 2015.

‘We want to ensure that as many children as possible in rural areas won’t have to go to school without shoes,’ said Mthembu, who is known at UKZN as ‘Enhle’.

‘Children have a right to education, but often we don’t realise that children in deep rural areas don’t enjoy the benefits of this right as they are born into poverty stricken families.

‘They have to walk long distances and cross rivers bare foot in cold winter months.’

Several of her friends have joined the Enhle Cares campaign, including 4th year Medical students, Ms Snenhlanhla Maphalala, Ms Vonani Mpangela, Ms Memory Nkosi, Ms Sindisiwe Mabaso, Mr Phila Xaba and Mr Sbusiso Ngcobo as well as the reigning Miss UKZN, Ms Nompumelelo Nkosi, who is also a Medical student, and the country’s youngest doctor, Dr Sandile Kubheka.

The foundation has received support from by Mr Abraham Masinga and Dr Portia-Kheswa Masinga, which it acknowledges gratefully.

Mthembu also thanked her siblings, Nomfundo and Asande Mthembu, for all their support.

The Campaign crusaders visited three rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal - Phangweni Primary School in Escourt, Wiggins Primamry School in Mayville and a school in Maphumulo - where they handed out 90 pairs of  school shoes, uniforms and jerseys to children in need. The campaign is aimed at Grade 1 to 3 pupils at quintile 1 and 2 schools in all 11 KZN districts.

Mthembu plans to mentor high school children in the near future. ‘My plan is that Medical students will mentor kids who want to study Medicine. Engineering students will mentor those interested in a career in Engineering.

‘We want to ignite dreams. We don’t have much, but we want to change lives,’ she said.

She has approached corporates and retailers to help fund the project and is grateful to Mr Jeremy Marshall of Marshalls World of Sport who donated R20 000 to kick start the project. It is hoped that donation boxes for school shoes will be set up soon at the Pavilion and Gateway shopping centres.

Anyone wanting to contribute to the Enhle Cares Campaign should contact Mthembu at enhlecaresfoundation1@yahoo.com; or through Facebook- Enhle Cares Foundation.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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‘Sight-seeing’ trip to Mtubatuba for Development Studies Students

‘Sight-seeing’ trip to Mtubatuba for Development Studies Students
Development Studies students in Mtubatuba.

School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) students were taken on a field trip to Mtubatuba in northern KwaZulu-Natal so, according to their lecturer, Dr Mvu Ngcoya, they could ‘see, smell and taste things covered in lectures’.

The adventure was part of the Agriculture and Rural Development module, headed by Ngcoya.

Students got to visit various places in the town and surrounding areas including the informal market, a cooperative agricultural project, the local health services, a community living near a coal mine and the local Department of Agriculture offices.

Masters Student in Development Studies, Mr Mzimkhulu Sithetho, was in the group of students who saw the harsh realities that market traders face such as the costs of production, transport, and a lack of buying power.

He also heard the story of an elderly woman with 12 grandchildren who uses her pension to care for her family while maintaining her small business. 

‘The visit provided great insight on farming in rural areas and how the informal market is the efficient system in which to sell crops that are harvested,’ said Sithetho. ‘However, the informal markert showed gender disparities as more women were found selling vegetables. This provides an interesting picture of the gendered roles in society where women have been assigned the role of securing food which is reflected in the informal market.’

The students were also introduced to entrepreneur, Mr Thomas Khanyile, who told them about challenges farmers often faced such as drought and lack of adequate infrastructure, while also seeing first-hand the challenges of an organised formal structure that practises permaculture.

They were also given the opportunity to visit the Somkhele coal mine in the Machibini area to meet a group of women who are suffering because of the mining activities and then viewed the new cemetery with exposed graves.

‘We visited these “graves of development” and what we saw was appalling as some of them have caved in due to flooding,’ said Sithetho. ‘Substantial social responsibility by the mine owners is not evident.

‘While we were standing opposite the road to the mine, we counted over 50 trucks line up outside ready to transport the coal from the village to financial capitals of the world, leaving a trail of soot, dust, and sickness behind,’ said Sithetho.

Students also visited the local clinic in the village, where they were told it faces challenges of non-availability of medication for patients, with nurses sometimes paying from their own pockets to support patients.

A final stop for the students was at the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs where senior officials explained the department’s functions to them, specifically the agricultural and environmental aspects.

‘It was good to hear government’s perspective on the issues. We hope Development Studies will continue organising this field trip and that more of these opportunities will be offered,’ said Sithetho.

Ngcoya added: ‘These visits are extremely important for me as a teacher and researcher as I learn from the students and the people we interview. It is challenging to pull off a programme like this but I think that students gain a lot more from discussing deep conceptual stuff in the real world.

‘Our serious reflections and discussions were very informal and often continued late into the night. Surely this is superior to pontificating about things in some dry, detached and air-conditioned seminar room?’

Interim Dean for the School, Professor Betty Mubangizi, said: ‘The severity of poverty in South Africa is far worse in rural areas than in urban areas. Sadly rural areas are often out of sight and out of the minds of researchers and policy-makers. Trips of this nature are thus significant as they conscientise our students to the harsh realities of the rural/urban divide. I commend Dr Ngcoya and look forward to seeing more of these trips taking place in future.’

Melissa Mungroo and Mzimkhulu Sithetho


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Law Graduate Realising her Goal

Law Graduate Realising her Goal
Ms Ludfia Samed.

Her goal of becoming a judge or magistrate has been the motivation for law graduate Ms Ludfia Samed’s successes, the latest of which is her appointment as a candidate attorney at leading law firm, Livingston Leandy.

Samed, who graduated with an LLB in 2013 completing her practical legal training and writing her attorney’s admission exam the following year, says studying Law at UKZN opened up great opportunities for her in the legal field.

‘My experience of studying law was challenging but very interesting,’ she said. ‘I was always fascinated by what causes an action to become a law and the full process of that. It exposed me to great opportunities, especially the annual Law Professions Day during which we would be introduced to various firms and the profession as a whole. My future plans now include being admitted as an Attorney, which happens early next year,’ she said.

As a Candidate Attorney, Samed’s duties entail appearing in the Magistrate’s Court for various applications. When she is not busy with her legal duties Samed is involved in her other passion - sport.

‘I started playing netball at the age of 10 and went on to represent KZN for two years. I also am actively involved in squash and swimming. Sport is a way of helping me de-stress and cope with the pressures of work. At times it provides that “break” from the office allowing me to let off some steam.

‘I now play netball for Chatsworth Netball Union. Our team has been together for five years and we have enjoyed great success, even winning the A Division league,’ she said.

Samed is confident her goal of being a member of KZN’s judiciary will become a reality.

Thandiwe Jumo


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Students Learn as they Teach at KZN Schools

Students Learn as they Teach at KZN Schools
Newlands East Secondary School pupils enjoying their tuition.

UKZN Finance students promoting financial literacy at KwaZulu-Natal high schools say the experience has been a learning curve for both themselves and the pupils.

Students Mr Mahomed Seedat, Mr Alex Chang, Mr Chadley Allkins, Ms Shulka Manickchund, Ms Letitia Moodley, Mr Thabang Ngubo, Mr Yatishen Naidoo and Mr Kreegan Govindsamy are all part of a mentorship programme born out of a partnership between the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

The programme which has been running for three months involves the students adopting a school which they visit regularly to provide training and advice to the pupils.

This training aims to enlighten pupils on markets and stock investing which they need to know about in order to participate in the JSE Investment Challenge. 

The JSE Challenge is a national financial literacy competition which provides South African high school pupils and university students with opportunities to explore the world of investing by trading JSE-listed shares through a virtual portfolio.

Manickchund, who has adopted Glenhaven Secondary School in Verulam, described the experience as a ‘fulfilling journey that further developed her appreciation for education’.

For Ngubo, whose adopted school is Newlands East Secondary, the learning is a two-way street as the pupils’ grasp of financial concepts is empowering him with new knowledge.

‘This experience has greatly enhanced my financial knowledge because if the pupils have questions I have to ensure I have the answers,’ he said.

Allkins, whose school is Kingsway High in Amazimtoti, said the experience has been educational and rewarding, while for Naidoo, whose school is Kharwastan Secondary, the pupils’ dedication to the teaching and learning process has been the greatest reward.

‘It is wonderful to see that youngsters can commit themselves to understanding concepts that I only encountered in my third year of finance,’ he said.

2014 JSE Investment Challenge winner and finance honours student, Mr Brian Masondo, who is leading the mentors, says the main focus now is to rethink their strategies to ensure pupils don’t lose interest and are successful in the challenge.

‘Teams started off with high hopes of winning the overall challenge but have shifted their attention to the monthly challenge to increase their trading activity on the platform.  The challenge is starting to get very competitive and both the students and mentors have got the hang of it,’ said Masondo.

 Thandiwe Jumo


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I-UKZN ithuthukisa izichazamazwi zemikhakha ehlukene zesiZulu nesiNgisi

I-UKZN ithuthukisa izichazamazwi zemikhakha ehlukene zesiZulu nesiNgisi
Izethameli emhlanganweni wokucobelelana ngolwazi lwezichazamazwi zibambe izingxo ezinohlonzo.

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Umbono we-UKZN ukuthi bonke abafundi babe nezichazamazwi zesiZulu nesiNgisi uma besemakilasini yilokhu okuyimbangela yomsebenzi owenziwayo wokuthuthukiswa kwezichazamazwi zemikhakha ehlukene.

Ihhovisi leNyuvesi lezokuHlelwa nokuThuthukiswa koLimi (ULPDO)libambe umhlangano wokucobelelana ngolwazi ngokwakhiwa kwesichazamazwi sesiZulu obusekhempasini e-Westville lapho bekuthuthukiswa khona umhlahlandlela ozosetshenziswa yimikhakha ehlukene okubalwa kuyo ezobuHlengikazi nezemiDwebozakhiwo.

Lo mhlangano ubuphethwe uMnu Mpume Mbatha oyisazi kwezokwakhiwa kwezichazamazwi zesiZulu oneminyaka engaphezulu kwama-30  kulomkhakha. UMbatha ubalule ukuhlela ngaphambi kokuthuthukisa isichazamazwi njengesinyathelo esibaluleke kakhulu, uphinde wagcizelela nokubaluleka komhlahlandlela wokubhalwa kwesichazamazwi  ochaza ngezingxenye ezahlukene zesichazamazwi ukuthi kumele zihlelwe kanjani.

UMbatha, oyinhloko ye-National Lexicographic Unit uthe bangaphezulu kwamaphesenti angama-80 abantu abakhuluma isiZulu KwaZulu-Natali.

Umhlangano ubuye waba nezingxoxo ebeziholwa uSolwazi Abednego Maphumulo obengusihlalo wohlelo lokwakha umhlahlandlela ozosetshenziswa yimikhakha ehlukene ekwakheni izichazamazwi.

Umqondisi we-ULPDO uDkt Langa Khumalo uthe iNyuvesi isemkhankasweni ohlelekile wokuthuthukisa amatemu emikhakha ehlukene. “ Ongoti bezolimi nongoti emikhakheni ehlukene bachitha isikhathi eside benkankanya amatemu ngesiNgisi nangesiZulu emihlanganweni esuke ihlelwe i-ULPDO.’ Lokhu kwenziwa ngokubambisana nehhovisi leBhodi Yezilimi i-Pan-SALB lesifundazwe saKwaZulu-Natali.

UKhumalo ubonge uMnu Mbatha nabo bonke abebebambe iqhaza ngokuba yingxenye yalomhlangano

u-Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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DVC Humanities Heads Delegation to Meet with Mauritian President

DVC Humanities Heads Delegation to Meet with Mauritian President
From left: Prof Driekie Hay-Swemmer; Prof Gregory Kamwendo; Dr Oomandra Nath Varma (Mauritius Institute of Education); DVC Prof Cheryl Potgieter and President of Mauritius, Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

A delegation from UKZN’s College of Humanities, headed by Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter, recently visited the newly inaugurated President of Mauritius, Her Excellency Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

The delegation was in Mauritius to conduct a review of two PhD cohorts which the School of Education is running on the Indian Ocean Island. Professor Potgieter was accompanied by Dean and Head of School of Education Professor Gregory Kamwendo and College Dean of Research Professor Driekie Hay-Swemmer.

The Mauritian President, the first woman president of Mauritius is a highly rated academic and is very familiar with the South African science system. She is the recipient of various international awards including the L'Oréal–UNESCO Prize for Women in Science (2007) and the African Union Award for Women in Science.

At the meeting held at State House, the Mauritian President acknowledged UKZN’s standing as a research led university and mentioned her engagements with Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, one of South Africa’s leading HIV and AIDS researchers from UKZN’s Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA).

The President indicated her support and endorsed the partnership between the College of Humanities and the Mauritius Institute of Education as a direct outcome is increasing the number of academics in Mauritius who hold doctoral degrees. A suggestion by the President is for UKZN to consider extending a formal partnership with the University of Mauritius.

Professor Potgieter and her team are exploring the option as currently the College of Humanities has academics who collaborate with and assist the University of Mauritius with various academic endeavors.

Melissa Mungroo


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Academic a Judge in National Architecture Competition

Academic a Judge in National Architecture Competition
Architecture Lecturer Mr Juan Solis (third right) who has been selected as a judge for the KZNIA Award competition.

Architecture Lecturer Mr Juan Solis has been selected as a judge for a national architecture competition organised by the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architecture (KZNIA).

Solis is among a select group of architects asked to visit 27 built projects in KwaZulu-Natal and to select the best architecture projects in the region for 2014 which will go forward to the national competition later this year.

‘It was a great honour for me to participate in this community activity representing the University. Being the only academic member of this panel allowed me insight into the province’s recent architectural projects and to further understand the complexities and social implications of these projects and to stay updated on the architectural landscape.’

Solis and the other judges visited all the buildings over three days with a brief to identify four major criteria: architectural excellence, user benefits, historical values, renovation and restoration, and social Influence.

Projects varied from an exquisitely designed beachfront house with an unlimited budget to a village project for 800 children housing mainly orphans to a site on a former industrial area that incorporated wetlands as a design concept.

There was also a house completely off the electrical grid as well as a renovated colonial building in Pietermaritzburg.

‘It is quite clear that there is a trend to produce projects that are sensitive to the environment,’ said Solis. ‘The architectural industry is responding to the realities of South Africa with architectural designs and technology aimed at addressing the environmental crises and the need to be eco-friendly and sustainable.’

Solis then explained how young architects are now looking at sustainable projects, including green roof undertakings which are covered in his lectures.

Four of the projects will be selected for an Outstanding Architecture award and go forward to the national competition in October, while five others will get commendations.

Melissa Mungroo


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Wedding Bells for Yunibo Trusts Heart Surgery Survivor

Wedding Bells for Yunibo Trusts Heart Surgery Survivor
Celebrating Gabby's anniversary since her double open heart surgery.

It is another dream-come-true for Pinetown’s Gabriella Grobbelaar (24) who will be walking down the aisle on 25 July 2015 after recently celebrating a year’s survival from double open heart surgery.

Grobbelaar’s fiancé, Michael Pretorius, surprised her by popping the big question shortly after she had started on her road to recovery from the operation which took place at the Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre on 09 April 2014 with the help of UKZN medical students Ms Rachel Wilson, Mr Yusuf Khatib and Mr Bonginkosi Mafuze who founded Yunibo Health Trust.

Her condition was initially diagnosed when she was just six weeks old but it was decided that an operation was not necessary as the defect often corrects itself in children around the age of seven. However, Grobbelaar was in and out of hospital as a child.

Grobbelaar spent her childhood unable to play sport and pursue some of her hobbies. Her family struggled to pay cumulative medical bills and she remembers, as a teenager, being put on 2000mg penicillin daily for six years to avoid getting rheumatic heart disease.

‘I just wanted to live a normal life, like everyone else… As my condition declined, my mitral valve started to leak progressively and I went through periods of being in and out of heart failure,’ Grobbelaar said. She said she also missed a lot of school because of her weakened immune system.

Wilson’s second-year MBChB class was studying the heart when she learned of Grobbelaar’s unique heart condition and invited her to be examined by her classmates during a student enrichment session at the Clinical Skills Laboratory headed by Dr Margaret Matthews.

The founders of Yunibo Health Trust approached the general manager of Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre, Mr Niresh Bechan, who helped set up the necessary surgical team to operate on Grobbelaar, correcting a congenital ventricular septal defect she had with mitral regurgitation as part of the hospital’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

Her family, fiancé and Yunibo Trust recently met to celebrate Grobbelaar’s first anniversary as a heart surgery survivor.

‘We’re so proud of Gabby,’ said her mother, Mrs Betty Grobbelaar, who was very excited about the wedding.

She said all that was happening was very rewarding because it had been a long road with lots of time was spent in and out of hospitals, and with Gabby’s teachers not believing she was ill.

‘To find a solution to the problem is a real blessing. I thank god till today!’

Mrs Grobbelaar said she was happy because Gabby’s confidence levels soared; she had increased chances of bearing grandchildren and live the full cycle of life.

She was also excited to be welcoming her first son-in-law who described Gabby as: ‘kind, sweet, very generous and innocent’ – all of which made her in his eyes very cute.

Grobbelaar’s mother and two sisters were involved in planning Pretorius’ beach proposal.

‘I was really surprised because we had spoken about the whole marriage thing but thought we would put it off for a few more years,’ said Grobbelaar.  ‘It feels awesome!’

Gabby said she had no reason to be angry and mope around in life because she was given a second chance. ‘It is possible to be helped, even by complete strangers. I want to do the same for others.’

At first she said she felt bare but has become comfortable with her operation scar and what it represents. She recently went for her final check-up and the doctor said it was safe to not hold back and start pushing her heart a bit more in order for her to reach her full potential.

‘I can exercise and I feel much happier now. I’m more than alive. I feel like I can conquer the world.’

Her family, including 87 year-old granny, Avo, said: ‘Everything in our lives, since Gabby’s operation, has improved. For everyone in our family, the quality of life has gone up in leaps and bounds.’

The couple now looks forward to a country wedding at Tala Valley followed by a honeymoon in Mozambique.

Yunibo Health Trust has, since Gabby’s story, assisted 12-year-old Nomcebo Thwala from the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal who had a rare eye disorder.

Mafuze said Thwala had been lost in the system and not been seen for follow up by doctors. ‘Now she's being helped and monitored by Dr Kapil Moodley and UKZN Ophthalmology Head of Department, Dr Linda Visser.

They have also proceeded to assist two-year-old Brooklyn from Durban who has a rare blood disorder and requires section 21 medication which needs to be imported from other counties adding up to approximately R17 000 per month to survive. The Trust is helping to raise funds to see the patient through.

Although the Trust has not yet made contact with 17-year-old Matthew from Durban who is in desperate need of a heart and lung transplant, the students have been following his story in the media and hope to continue his efforts to encourage people to become organ donors.

‘What we want to do now is to impact locally but be globally recognized,’ said the Trust.

Yunibo will do an official launch later on this year so that people can pledge to the work we they do.

South Africa’s youngest doctor, Dr Sandile Kubeka, was the first to pledge to the Trust and is said to pledge a considerable amount that was not revealed.

Lunga Memela


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