Unlocking the Door to Healthy Relationships

Unlocking the Door to Healthy Relationships
Mr Rod Smith with UKZN staff, psychiatry registrars and psychologists.

Leading family therapist and columnist for The Mercury, Mr Rod Smith, presented talks to staff and Psychiatry registrars on healthy relationships, at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus.

Durban-born Smith, who is a family therapist specialising in Bowen Family Systems, is currently based in Indiana in the United States.

His column has been published in The Mercury on a weekly basis since March 2001, garnering him thousands of followers and making him a household name on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. ‘I have had the privilege of consulting with high-profile, conflicted families who have flown me half the way around the world to assist in finding some manner of resolution to seemingly insurmountable domestic or family-business dilemmas. I have also had the privilege of consulting with the poorest of the poor – inner-city families, and those in developing countries,’ said Smith.

Smith noted that in order to have healthy relationships in the workplace, it is important to recognise that one has three families that are interconnected. These are one’s family of origin (biological unit), one’s current family (new relationships including one’s spouse/partner and friends) and family at work. The characteristics of individuals in the workplace can be traced back to the family of origin. ‘People are fighting because they are bringing yesterday’s balance into today’s world with the wrong people,’ said Smith.

To avoid conflict in the workplace, Smith proposed always seeking clarity, communicating regularly (noting that body language and silence are great communicators) and ensuring that all relations are equal, mutual and respectful. Dr Saloschini Pillay, Manager of Student Support Services in the College of Health Sciences and a huge fan of Smith’s commented, ‘Thank you for your presentation. I am indeed honoured to be in your presence as I regularly read your column. For me it is always important to look at where a person comes from, including their family, their upbringing, culture and traditions in order to have a better understanding of that person rather than adopting a cause and effect relationship that can lead to conflict.’

Smith also gave a presentation on family counselling to registrars from the Department of Psychiatry. Dr Suvira Ramlall, academic leader of the Registrar programme who invited Smith to UKZN, said that this component of family therapy is not part of the registrars’ coursework. Smith encouraged the registrars to construct their own genogram which is a graphic representation of a family tree that displays detailed data on relationships among individuals. It goes beyond a traditional family tree by allowing the user to analyse hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships.

The healthcare practitioners were advised to ensure that the “pathology” doesn’t reside inside but among families so the whole family is the patient and not just the individual as we are all interconnected. ‘Families are very resilient. When a family lets you in, its holy ground,’ said Smith.

He recounted a session with six brothers who, without realising it, sat in their birth order and left one chair vacant. He questioned them and was told that the vacant chair was for their deceased brother. Unbeknownst to the group, they indicated “invisible loyalty” and a connection to their family of origin. ‘The key to anxiety resides in generations of the family and the origin or new family. It is our responsibility to help families to safely unpack their secrets,’ said Smith.

Smith has a Master’s degree in Family Therapy, a Higher Diploma in Education, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Literature. He is also a trained pastor with several qualifications in biblical counselling. Smith lives with his adopted sons, Nate and Thulani.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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Humanities Academic Elected English Academy of Southern Africa President

Humanities Academic Elected English Academy of Southern Africa President
President of the English Academy of Southern Africa, Professor Mbongeni Malaba.Click here for isiZulu version

Academic in the College of Humanities, Professor Mbongeni Malaba has been elected President of the English Academy of Southern Africa (EASA).

EASA is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 1961 to promote effective use of English as a national resource in the region. Membership is open to all individuals and organisations that identify with its mission.

‘During my term of office, I hope to promote greater co-operation between English departments in universities within the SADC region and to continue encouraging closer co-operation with schools, such as the flagship Conference jointly organised by Maritzburg College and EASA, for English teachers at state schools, which has grown from strength to strength during the past three years,’ said Malaba.

The KwaZulu-Natal Chapter of EASA hosted the EASA Conference in 2014 and will host the 2020 Conference in Durban.

Malaba was awarded a BA Honours in English by the former University of Rhodesia, and received a Beit Trust Postgraduate Fellowship to pursue doctoral studies at the University of York’s Centre for Southern African Studies.

His other awards include a University of York Scholarship for Overseas Students, a Fulbright African Senior Research Fellowship, and being selected as a Fellow of the Salzburg Seminar on Films. He lectured at the University of Zimbabwe for 18 and a half years, and was an Associate Professor and Head of the English department at the University of Namibia, before joining UKZN in 2009.

His current research and teaching interests are Namibian poetry written in English, Charles Mungoshi’s poetry, short stories and novels; Alan Paton’s and Thomas Mofolo’s works, and Zimbabwean literature.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Promoting African Multilingualism in African Indigenous Languages Teaching and Learning

Promoting African Multilingualism in African Indigenous Languages Teaching and Learning
Delegates at the stakeholders’ meeting to promote the teaching and learning of African indigenous languages.Click here for isiZulu version

The DSI-NRF Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CIKS) hosted a two-day stakeholders’ meeting to promote the use of African multilingualism in teaching and learning, African indigenous languages and African home-grown philosophies.

The Centre is a partnership among five Higher Education Institutions, namely, UKZN which serves as the hub; the University of South Africa; the Universities of Limpopo and Venda; and the North West University.

The initiative aims to promote the use of African indigenous languages and home-grown philosophies to domesticate and achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the “Africa We Want” (African Union Agenda 2063), in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The meeting which was attended by national and international delegates, was honoured by the presence of the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning at UKZN, Professor Sandile Songca welcomed stakeholders and thanked them for their contribution to the launch of an important African initiative. He highlighted the importance of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) and languages in research, teaching and community engagement and noted that UKZN is one of the few universities in the world with an institutional IKS policy that promotes, preserves and protects local knowledge systems and indigenous languages in the global knowledge economy.

Songca underlined the challenges faced by African students due to the African education system’s failure to teach in indigenous languages. ‘Africa is rich, not only in natural resources but also indigenous languages and home-grown philosophies. Our diverse and dynamic indigenous knowledge systems and language heritage should be harnessed as a major resource for African local communities to actively participate in the knowledge economy and spearhead sustainable development within their local communities, on their terms,’ he said.

Mwinyi noted that, after Tanzania gained its independence, the late former President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere promoted Kiswahili as the national language in order to ensure that the country’s more than 120 ethnic groups could communicate with one another. ‘We are gathered here today with the aim of helping people speak and understand, not only Kiswahili, but other African indigenous languages. We need to put our ideas together, so we know where to start and what methods can be used to achieve this,’ he said.

Mwinyi added that he was privileged to be a patron of the initiative. He appealed to the public and private sectors within and outside Africa to support its implementation and activities.

Director of the CIKS, Professor Hassan Kaya said that experiences of the use of Kiswahili (the most spoken African language in the world) could be used to promote other African indigenous languages. He encouraged the teaching and learning of African indigenous languages and home-grown philosophies through a bi-directional learning process. ‘Let us work together to promote the use of our rich African indigenous multilingualism by teaching in our indigenous languages, promoting our home-grown philosophies and domesticating SDGs to attain the aspirations of the “Africa We Want”,’ he said.

Kaya also requested Mwinyi to call on other African leaders to support the initiative. He listed a number of activities that would be undertaken, including:

•    Conducting situational analysis in selected countries and identifying the challenges in promoting African indigenous languages and home-grown philosophies;

•    Creating different platforms to publish and disseminate African multilingual resources;

•    Building African multilingualism capacity, especially amongst the youth in pilot countries;

•    Advancing African multilingualism teaching and learning programmes in African indigenous languages; and

•    Establishing partnerships in different countries with practitioners and institutions promoting African indigenous languages.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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UKZN Commences Early Mid-Term Break as COVID-19 Cases Increase

UKZN Commences Early Mid-Term Break as COVID-19 Cases Increase
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In a bid to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect its staff and students, UKZN commenced an early mid-term break, effective Tuesday 17 March 2020.

This comes in the wake of the University suspending its academic programme, including tests, and cancelling its April Graduation Ceremonies in line with the President’s declaration of a national state of disaster.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, noted that UKZN had already begun implementing measures to ensure that the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is in line with the President’s declaration. ‘The situation continues to change rapidly, and in this regard, the health and safety as well as well-being of the UKZN community - on and off campus - remain a top priority. At this point, UKZN is not aware of any COVID-19 incidents that would require any staff or students to be concerned about exposure on campus or student residence spaces,’ he said.

After consulting with key stakeholders, including the Department of Health; National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD); World Health Organization Africa Region Office (WHO AFRO); as well as the University’s in-house COVID-19 experts, UKZN moved to immediately implement the following measures to protect its community from possible COVID-19 exposure:

•    The University’s mid-term break commenced on 17 March 2020 and the second term will commence on Tuesday 14 April 2020 as per the sessional dates. Online teaching and learning platforms are in the process of being implemented to ensure that all teaching and learning content is available online before the commencement of the second term.

•    Staff will work remotely. Executives and senior managers will consult with their staff to adopt measures to ensure business continuity and for critical and essential staff to be on duty.

•    Because student residences are large communal living spaces which poses a significant risk of large scale exposure and the spread of viruses in general, all leased and University-owned  residences have been vacated, with students given no later than Friday 20 March 2020 to vacate. The UKZN International Office is in contact with various embassies to assist in repatriating international students living in residences.

•    The University will employ various security restrictions to ensure that campuses remain safe, secure and healthy. The main goal is to lower the number of physical interactions on campus, thus slowing the rate of transmission.

UKZN previously announced the following contingency measures and restrictions:

•    Prohibition of all University-related international travel;

•    Prohibition of all University-related non-essential domestic air travel;

•    Personal international travel is strongly discouraged;

•    Extreme caution and judgment should be applied with regard to personal domestic air travel;

•    Anyone returning or arriving from an international destination should advise their line manager at least 72 hours prior to arrival. The line manager will consult the COVID-19 team who will advise on the necessary protection measures; and

•    The University strongly encourages the use of technology for non-essential meetings and events.

Said Poku: ‘Together, we can overcome this pandemic. We appeal to all staff and students to take extreme care during this time and to adhere to the various safety and other measures that have been instituted by our President and his cabinet. We will continue to update the UKZN website as additional information becomes available.’

Words: Ndabaonline


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Health Sciences Provides COVID-19 Training

Health Sciences Provides COVID-19 Training
Coronavirus training on the Howard College campus.Click here for isiZulu version

Under the leadership of Professor Mosa Moshabela, the Dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health at UKZN, the College of Health Sciences has rolled out a University-wide intensive training programme in response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in South Africa.

Staff, including occupational nurses, primary healthcare practitioners, health promoters, HIV counselors, administrative staff in the campus clinics and disability nurses from the University’s five campuses attended a workshop to develop procedures to deal with the Coronavirus. Organiser, Dr Velile Ngidi said the team plans to help practitioners develop and set up systems.

Dr Richard Lessells said the session also aimed to brainstorm ways to detect the virus without spreading it. He noted that those that attended the training know how their clinics work, thus ‘you need to help us help you.’

Explaining transmission of the virus to the campus practitioners, Dr Lilishia Gounder said it attaches to receptors in the lower respiratory tract and then causes a pneumonia like disease. She added that the elderly and those with chronic diseases are most at risk. A check list and a flow chart were agreed on and the use of N95 and surgical masks and the transportation of students presenting with symptoms were also discussed.

The practitioners appreciated the training and requested a follow up session to come up with further plans to bring campus staff up to date on the outbreak.

The health professionals’ workshop was followed by two trainings at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg to equip clinicians and students to deal with the Coronavirus in the various hospitals they are attached to. WATCH - UKZN COVID-19 Training.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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Digital Arts PhD Student Shortlisted for UN Funded Exhibition

Digital Arts PhD Student Shortlisted for UN Funded Exhibition
Digital Arts PhD student, Ms Claire Dongo.Click here for isiZulu version

Digital Arts PhD student at UKZN, Ms Claire Dongo is among 30 artists shortlisted for a United Nations (UN) funded exhibition in the mixed media category. Her research focuses on the fragmented image in 20th and 21st century art practice.

Her submitted artwork is titled The Many Faces of Green Labor.

Through its Green Enterprize Programme, the International Labor Organization (ILO) issued a call for Zimbabwean artists to submit work that expresses the changing world of work in a greener economy, as well as the challenges of a just and inclusive transition from their personal perspective.

Given that the subject matter is wide and complex, Dongo decided to utilise a case study to represent her perspective. ‘Chatbots are part of the green movement and many organisations are adopting them as their audience support agents. My initial perspective from a distance was that the chatbot is replacing the human counterpart and creating unemployment,’ she explained.

Viewed from a distance, Dongo’s artwork highlights this phenomenon, with the chatbot illustration almost covering the human support agent with harsh dripping paint. This represents her initial negative outlook on the subject from a distance but as she dove into the research, her perspective started to change and she realised she had many misconceptions. When one takes a closer look at the artwork, it is made up of smaller fragments of visuals that highlight the positive aspects.

Dongo believes that chatbots are reducing carbon emissions from cars because fewer people travel to work and they contribute to energy saving as human call centres that operate 24/7 use a lot of energy.

‘Chatbots are not creating unemployment, as previously perceived, but are redefining the customer support industry by creating new jobs for designers, developers, animators, Chatbots information analysts and Chatbots information advisors (former support agents) to make them more efficient,’ said Dongo. ‘They improve the working environment by limiting working hours and creating the ability to work from home and improve human well-being. This promotes decent work for all. The photomosaic technique I used adds value to the subject matter as it samples and repurposes found images to tell a different story as a group, which mimics recycling, the most widely known aspect of the green movement.’

The ILO Zimbabwe and Namibia Country Director opened the exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Harare. The opening was well attended by the programme’s partners, which include the UN, the British Council, Culture Fund and Sweden Sverige, among many others. The group exhibition will be on display around the world as part of the ILO’s celebration of its 100th anniversary. It will also be exhibited at the UN headquarters in Geneva.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Law Professor Expedites Adoption of Human Rights Education in SA School Curriculum

Law Professor Expedites Adoption of Human Rights Education in SA School Curriculum
Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Acting Director of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

Acting Director of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies Professor David McQuoid-Mason’s collaboration with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has ensured that a comprehensive human rights education programme be formally adopted nationally in all public schools.

This initiative, the first of its kind in the world, is expected to be rolled out later this year by the Department of Basic Education, embedding a comprehensive Bill of Rights/human rights education programme from Grades 4 to12 in South Africa and the SADEC countries.

‘I was part of the United Nations (UN) Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights team that was involved in promoting the UN Decade of Human Rights and the subsequent proposal for a Decade of Human Rights Education, so I was very pleased to play a small role in assisting the SAHRC with its promotion of human rights education in our schools,’ said McQuoid-Mason.

SAHRC Commissioner Mohamed Shafie Ameermia said that his mandate on Access to Justice at the Commission was to explore ways of embedding a comprehensive Bill of Rights/human rights education programme into the country’s education system.

‘From June 2015 when I first hosted a Colloquium on Access to Justice, involving a multi stakeholder engagement, I invited Professor David McQuoid-Mason, (because of his Street Law expertise and his extensive experience in clinical legal education), to share his expertise with the Commission. Through the resolutions of the Colloquium, we invited the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the Department of Basic Education and other strategic partners on human rights education from around the country, to work on designing the teaching and learning methodologies of embedding a comprehensive human rights education programme.

‘Finally in July 2017, we successfully completed this exercise, and it was acknowledged by the UN Human Rights Council as a first comprehensive human rights education model of its kind in the world,’ explained Commissioner Ameermia.

This project was endorsed by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa together with the SADEC countries- through it Council of Education Ministers (CEM), as a blue print plan of action in creating a comprehensive human rights pedagogy around the teaching, training and learning of human rights education in the life orientation subject of the school curriculum, aimed at reaching over 10 million learners, in line with the aims and objectives of the National Development Plans (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

McQuoid-Mason and his Street Law team, played a pivotal role in this project. ‘Being a key member and part of my section 11 Committee, established in terms of the South African Human Rights Commission Act 40 of 2013, he generously shared his expertise on human rights education from its inception, design, to its ultimate successful completion in 2017. He strategically assisted and guided the Commission throughout the entire process and we are very proud of our efforts in this regard in that, through a strategic multi-stakeholder collaborative partnership effort, it turned out to be the first successful attempt in the world at reshaping a comprehensive human rights education model for learners in a holistic way,’ said Commissioner Ameermia.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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UNP Alumni for Dignity Launched

UNP Alumni for Dignity Launched
UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, receiving a token of appreciation from Ms Mpume Nyandu.

A group of friends, patriots and alumni of UKZN have formed a not-for-profit company, UNP Alumni for Dignity NPC to pool resources and skills to make a positive contribution towards addressing the challenges confronting South Africa.

UNP is the fond nickname of the Pietermaritzburg campus when these alumni attended the University in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Speaking on behalf of the group, which is presently comprised of 200 alumni, Ms Mpume Nyandu, who is responsible for marketing, communications and stakeholder relations for UNP Alumni for Dignity NPC, said that studying at UKZN during the ‘dying days of apartheid and the birth of democracy … moulded us as young people and greatly influenced who we were to become as adults.’ 

Launched in early March, Nyandu said that the company’s mission is to ‘contribute meaningfully to the sustainable development of UKZN, its underprivileged students and the feeder communities surrounding it.’

She added that they have engaged with stakeholders, including Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku and Minister Blade Nzimande, to understand the challenges and opportunities at the University. ‘Our aim is to achieve maximum impact for every Rand spent. Over the next few weeks we will announce our programme of action to all stakeholders.’

Funds to the tune of R100 000 were raised at the launch and the group is confident it will raise sufficient funds to implement a high-impact programme of action. Speaking on behalf of University Management, Acting Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo commended the group for their efforts. ‘As the University’s largest stakeholder group, we believe that efforts by alumni can go a long way in assisting current students and the broader community. We are grateful for the work you are doing and look forward to more initiatives like this and we also call upon all our alumni to continue with such meaningful engagements.’

An accomplished mountain-climber, Nyandu believes trekking up mountains, including Mount Kilimanjaro, stands her in good stead to raise awareness and funds for various causes. She plans to climb Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, to raise funds for schools later this year. ‘Plans are underway for a programme of mountain climbs to fundraise for the UNP Alumni for Dignity NPC and I hope to take some alumni on some of these,’ she said.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Sihle Mthethwa


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Nursing Students Participate in Spirit of Adventure

Nursing Students Participate in Spirit of Adventure
The second-year Nursing students with their academics and support staff at their team building.

‘This is an experience that we will never forget. We learnt so much in a short period of time, not only about teambuilding and leadership, but about one another and ourselves,’ said UKZN student, Ms Dana Du Toit, following a Spirit of Adventure team building event at Shongweni Dam for second-year Nursing students.

The event involves outdoor adventure in a bid to promote personal and interpersonal growth. Nursing lecturer, Mrs Silingene Ngcobo said it has been one of the learning activities for the second-year Nursing programme since 1994.

Qualified instructors expose students to a variety of activities including team development theory and group dynamics. ‘This assists students to cope with group work/teamwork, which drives all the projects at second-year level, and beyond through to their professional life,’ Ngcobo said.

The Community Health Nursing module introduces students to preventative and promotive health activities. ‘At this level they are required to work in teams on various projects involving diverse communities (Cato Crest, Point and Austerville) and to engage with various stakeholders in these communities. The Spirit of Adventure is part of the multidisciplinary learning approach adopted by the Discipline. During this excursion, students also meet and engage with staff in a more relaxed environment,’ Ngcobo added.

Du Toit said students had an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of diversity in their class and added that the challenges they encountered forced them to communicate and interact with one another.

‘We participated in activities such as group dynamics, an obstacle/assault course, snake pit, a rafting race, potjiekos competition and abseiling. Everyone was willing to participate, even in things some students never thought they would do in their lifetime such as abseiling from a great height,’ said student Mr Lindelani Kubheka. He remarked that this promoted personal growth as students were forced to leave their comfort zones and confront their fears.

‘As a group we grew closer than ever before. Being placed at random, we got to interact with classmates we had never interacted with before and developed a strong bond. We broke down barriers that had kept us apart and were brought together especially during the night activity where we laughed, cried and danced together while showcasing our various talents and performing skits,’ he added.

‘We learnt to leave no member behind and to support and help one another. We realised that all things are possible, and that fears can be conquered. Finally, we learnt the importance of unity and teamwork and that, as future leaders, if serving is beneath us, then leading is beyond us,’ said Du Toit. 

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photographs: Supplied


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Accounting Students Engage with Leading Accounting and Auditing Firms at Career Exhibition

Accounting Students Engage with Leading Accounting and Auditing Firms at Career Exhibition
Participants at the 2020 Accounting Professions Day.

Firms representing the spectrum of accounting and auditing professions in South Africa converged on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses to participate in Accounting Professions Day 2020.

The annual event hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies’ Student Support Services and the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF) saw the firms advising students on the various career avenues available to them within the profession and also provided a platform for them to recruit some of the University’s top Accounting students.

Dean and Head of the SAEF, Professor Mabutho Sibanda thanked the firms for their participation and support. ‘Your willingness to come here, spend resources and bring staff to engage with our students is highly appreciated. It is our desire to inspire greatness as a School and as UKZN to make sure you get quality graduates.’

Among the 18 companies that exhibited were Nolands who were exhibiting for the first time, PKF, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), Standard Bank, the National Treasury, KPMG, the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) and the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA).

SAIPA Consultant, Master’s in Accountancy student at UKZN and Accounting in CTA tutor, Ms Ayesha Omarjee who represented her employer, said that this was an opportunity to promote SAIPA’s Project Achiever programme and inform students about different career options.

‘The SAIPA Project Achiever programme prepares young Accounting professionals academically and practically to write the Professional Evaluation Exam and earn the prestigious designation of Professional Accountant (SA),’ she said.

Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting student and BCom Accounting graduand, Ms Lungelo Ndlovu said the event was eye-opening. ‘Such events help us to find out about the different career options out there. The industry is very broad; not all firms are the same. Before today I did not know I can do my articles at a bank,’ she remarked.

Words and photographs: Lungile Ngubelanga


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SAMA Pledges R550 000 to Support #IMadeADoctor Campaign

SAMA Pledges R550 000 to Support #IMadeADoctor Campaign
Excitement as UKZN receives the R550 000 cheque from SAMA.

In an attempt to ensure that all Medical students at UKZN with historical debt can register for the 2020 academic year, the Medical Campus Representative Council (MCRC) launched the #IMadeADoctor Fundraising campaign.

The students were delighted with the news that the South African Medical Association (SAMA) had donated R550 000 to the campaign. Within a two-week period, the campaign raised R1 million, reaching its first milestone and ensuring that all 188 students were able to register.

‘The Junior Doctors’ Association of SAMA also strongly motivated for a donation and in the end the decision to assist was an easy one. Investing in future Medical professionals is important and this is a tangible way in which we can make a difference,’ said SAMA Deputy Chairperson, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa.

Mzukwa hopes that the donation will motivate others to help make education a reality for those who struggle financially.

‘We’ve taken this step as it involves Medical students who form part of our healthcare community as a medical association. But it should also serve as a message to institutions and associations who represent professionals in other fields where there are students who need financial assistance, and who will benefit from their generosity,’ he added.

Ms Xoliswa Njapha, MCRC Student Services representative said, ‘We are delighted with the donation from SAMA.’ She has been spearheading the campaign together with final-year student, Mr Thanduxolo Dube, the College of Health Sciences and the University’s fundraising arm, the UKZN Foundation. A further R8 million is required to pay off the total historical debt.

Dube commented, ‘When we learnt that SAMA had pledged over half a million towards our campaign, we were excited. As the news settled, we felt humbled by the gesture. This was more than we expected. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to SAMA. The donation goes beyond making a difference to the prospective doctors on the verge of exclusion and also reaches their families and society. I also want to thank the College of Health Sciences management. We came together to work on this project and the teamwork paid off. It is only through negotiations and compromise that we can grow a strong leadership team both as student and staff leaders.’ 

Dube called upon UKZN alumni and other organisations to also contribute.

Professor Busisiwe Ncama, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences, thanked SAMA. ‘We are overwhelmed by this kind gesture from our colleagues at SAMA. Both their national and provincial offices came together to support our students after hearing their plea. Thank you for assisting in ensuring that we are able to graduate more doctors in the country.’

The South African Medical Association was formally constituted on 21 May 1998 as a unification of a variety of doctors’ groups that had represented a diversity of interests. SAMA is a non-statutory, professional association for public, and private sector medical practitioners. It is a voluntary membership association that exists to serve the best interests and needs of its members in any and all healthcare related matters.

Words: MaryAnn Francis and Vernon Kinnear

Photographs: Supplied


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