Double Success for Twin Sisters

Double Success for Twin Sisters
Twin sisters, Ms Tia and Ms Tamara Haridew, graduated with Bachelor of Commerce Accounting degrees.

It was a double celebration when twin sisters, Ms Tia and Ms Tamara Haridew graduated with Bachelor of Commerce Accounting degrees.

The siblings, who described their academic journey as exciting and rewarding, said that they are fortunate to have each other to rely on for support.

‘One of the benefits of studying the same course was that we could always help each other if one of us were struggling with any of the modules. We were each other’s biggest motivators, which further contributed to us excelling and passing. This experience has brought us even closer,’ said Tia.

The pair were also recognised as members of The Golden Key International Honour Society last year, as part of the top 15% of academic achievers within their degrees. 

‘This was a big accomplishment for us and the highlight of our academic career. What keeps us going is our thirst for success. We continuously strive to grow, improve ourselves and learn new things,’ said Tamara.

The sisters are currently studying towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy. Thereafter, they plan to serve their articles as part of their journey to become Chartered Accountants.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Nursing Sister fights All Odds to Obtain LLB

Nursing Sister fights All Odds to Obtain LLB
Professional Nursing Sister, Ms Marilyn Arran received a Bachelor of Laws degree.

When Durban-based Professional Nursing Sister, Ms Marilyn Arran decided to pursue studies towards a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 2015, she thought it would be simple juggling work and after-hours studies.

However, she had to endure many life-changing experiences. As a born-again Christian, she believes that the grace of God enabled her to complete her degree.

Her journey started smoothly with her excelling academically in the first two-years of study while she was in full-time employment. ‘I had received a Dean’s Commendation and an award for the top first-year student,’ she recalls. The first obstacle occurred in the second semester of second-year when her academic performance declined due to an increase in her academic and professional work load. With her mind set on completing her studies, she decided to resign from Nursing.

Leaving work resulted in financial difficulties which put a strain on her marriage. She suffered alone as she could not turn to her family due to her Christian beliefs. She was forced to relocate three times, which had a negative effect on her studies and cost her an opportunity at an international law firm in Durban. Two weeks before writing her final examinations, she suffered burns to her face due to an accident.

‘There were times when I suffered from depression. I was on the verge of giving up and even close to committing suicide, but the Lord was with me every step of the way and saved me,’ said Arran.

Arran acknowledges the support she received from many people who were close to her during her studies. She also found it therapeutic to sing worship songs.

Having completed her studies in four and half years, she is back at work as a midwife at St Augustine’s Hospital. With her newly acquired degree, she plans to advocate for human rights. ‘After my experience, I’m interested in helping the vulnerable in society. We don’t know about the struggles that people are silently facing alone. I would like to reach out and let them know that there is hope. I believe that I can inspire others to do better through my testimony.’

Arran is thrilled with her academic achievements and the fact that her relationship with her family has improved. She advises students facing similar challenges to persevere, trust in the Lord and focus on the goal.

Words: Hazel Langa

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Local Musician Graduates with a BCom Degree

Local Musician Graduates with a BCom Degree
Local musician and Bachelor of Commerce graduate, Ms Angel Mazibuko.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Economics and Marketing majors is a step in the right direction for Estcourt-born songwriter, guitarist and YouTuber, Ms Angel Mazibuko.

While the love of music was ignited by her parents at an early age, she felt it was important to pursue Business Studies in order to run her music business in a professional manner.

‘The earliest memory I have of music is of my mother teaching me to harmonise with her when she sang. She was and still is a choir master. My father always had a guitar at home and that’s what got me interested in that particular instrument,’ she reminisced.

On the value of her new qualification she said: ‘Learning about the business world opened up new ideas and led to the understanding that with the right skills, anything can be bottled and sold.’

Mazibuko has done well in the music business. Having decided to learn to play the guitar in 2018, she started playing in public venues and outdoor events around Pietermaritzburg. In 2019 she entered South African Idols and received a golden ticket. The same year, she won residency at uShaka Marine World. Thereafter, she entered the Pietermaritzburg Battle of the Bands competition hosted by the Liberty Midlands Mall and Evo Music and won first place in the solo category. One of the highlights in her music career was opening for The Parlotones at the Ballito Beats music festival. She is currently booked for the International Splashy Fen Festival which will be held in November 2020 if COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Appreciating the business principles learned during her studies, she said: ‘Even before the completion of my degree, I had learned the importance of having a registered business; being on relevant databases; practicing good, systematic and transparent bookkeeping; and marketing my business.’

She added that the qualification has taught her about diversifying her business interests. Apart from music, she works part-time at Papercubes, a manufacturer of ice cubes. Mazibuko has also created a brand called “#Live4Love” which she uses to market her music business on social media. 

She admits that managing her studies and her music business was challenging at times; however, with strong support from her manager and business partner Mr Thuthukani Mwelase, she managed to stay committed to both her passions.

Her family is proud of her academic achievements.

To book Angel Mazibuko, email: papercubes22@gmail.com or follow her on Instagram/Facebook: angel_live4love.

Words: Hazel Langa

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Cum Laude Graduate Contributes New Knowledge to Maritime Law

<em>Cum Laude</em> Graduate Contributes New Knowledge to Maritime Law
Master of Laws cum laude graduate, Ms Chantelle Rousseau.

‘To the average person, the bill of lading is merely a piece of paper and the prevailing sentiment is that there isn’t much one could possibly write about it.

However, there is a lot more to it,’ says Master of Laws cum laude graduate, Ms Chantelle Rousseau.

Her study, which focused on the legal implications of misdelivery of cargo for carriers and banks, was supervised by Ms Deepa Lamb.

There have been calls in the industry for modernisation by making this bill electronic. My findings were that there are severe legal and financial risks and consequences for carriers and banks when cargo is misdelivered due to the non-presentation of the bill of lading. However, certain safeguards are available to “ease the blow”,’ explained Rousseau.

The study contributes new knowledge to the field of Maritime Law and will hopefully also further Rousseau’s career. ‘There are only a handful of law firms in the country with maritime departments and opportunities are thus scarce. A Master’s in Maritime Law would hopefully improve my career prospects,’ she said.

Rousseau is currently serving her second-year of articles of clerkship with a law firm in La Lucia that specialises in personal injury matters. She hopes to be admitted as an attorney next year and is also considering a two-year course to qualify as an arbitrator.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Compassion for Children and Youth Earns Public Servant an LLM

Compassion for Children and Youth Earns Public Servant an LLM
Mr Mzo Mzimela received a Master of Laws in Child Care and Protection.

Many children in South Africa are left orphaned and in the care of grandparents.

This challenge prompted Mr Mzo Mzimela to embark on a research study which earned him a Master of Laws in Child Care and Protection.

Mzimela is a Child and Youth Supervisor at Greenfields Child and Youth Care Centre, an agency of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development. His study titled: Child and Youth Care Workers’ support in raising orphaned grandchildren was supervised by Child Care and Protection specialist, Ms Willene Holness from the School of Law.

Mzimela aimed to highlight the importance of child and youth care workers (CYCW) in supporting grandparents of orphaned grandchildren. His study revealed that while many grandparents provide emotional support, there are often gaps when it comes to the socio-economic resources required to raise their grandchildren. The study shows how these gaps can be filled by CYCW through caregiving and solutions aimed at alleviating poverty by empowering families to access resources.

‘If social ills persist, the challenge of orphaned grandchildren will remain. The training received by CYCW enables them to assist in addressing the plight of grandparents and orphaned grandchildren,’ said Mzimela. 

With 20 years’ experience in the field of childcare and youth, Mzimela is passionate about the social wellbeing of the youth. ‘I have worked with children in child and youth care centres, children in community settings, children who are in conflict with the law, children living in shelters and children living on the streets.’

He believes that his newly acquired qualification has equipped him with relevant information from a legislative and policy perspective on the rights of children locally and internationally as well as on the various roles of professionals in matters pertaining to children.

Mzimela plans to conduct further research in this field in order to improve the lives of South African youth. ‘Children are facing severe abuse and neglect. As a social service practitioner, I would like to embark on doctoral research focusing on the abuse of children among families,’ he said.

He added that, ‘I was fortunate to have an expert like Mrs Holness on my side! She loves her work and she has a calling in the care and protection of children. Her tireless support, guidance and patience were much appreciated.’ He looks forward to sharing his research findings through a publication with Holness.

 Words: Hazel Langa

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LLM Study Examines Poverty and Patriarchy as Contributors to Child Sexual Abuse

LLM Study Examines Poverty and Patriarchy as Contributors to Child Sexual Abuse
Master of Laws graduate, Ms Vanitha Ramiah.

Deep awareness of the plight of children in South Africa motivated 59-year-old social worker, academic, mother and grandmother, Ms Vanitha Ramiah, to research poverty and patriarchy as significant contributors to the sexual abuse of children.

In her line of work, Ramiah assists many children who have experienced high levels of sexual abuse. Her Master of Laws (LLM) study critically analysed legislative provisions in relation to children, the evidence of child witnesses and medical evidence of child sexual abuse.

Her supervisor, Law lecturer Ms Rowena Bernard congratulated Ramiah and described the study as a relevant contribution to the development of South African law. ‘Child sexual abuse has a long history and is a challenge internationally and nationally. This is due to the vulnerability of children who have a subordinate status in society and whose voices are heard through an adult. Ms Ramiah’s dissertation focuses on the social and legal aspects of child sexual abuse in South Africa. In particular, she addresses two contributory factors that have led to the increase in child sexual abuse, that is, poverty and patriarchy,’ said Bernard.

Ramiah hopes that her research will serve as a catalyst towards changing the patriarchal mind set of a male dominated society, improve levels of awareness about child sexual abuse and facilitate the formulation of strategies to address poverty and patriarchy. ‘I continue to promote the reporting of child sexual abuse cases in circumstances where male domination obstructs such reporting in many households. I have a long journey ahead and will continue to make a difference in the care and protection of children in our country,’ she said.

Her career in social work includes accreditation as a debt counsellor and human resources practitioner, and she has skills in play therapy techniques, having attended the International Play Therapy Conference in Ireland. Ramiah is also accredited by the Irish Association of Social Workers: ‘I recently completed a legal training course at Trinity College (Dublin) on the care and protection of children in Ireland.’

She expressed concern about the possible negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown on vulnerable children and plans to explore this area as a research topic in the near future.

Ramiah lives a balanced life, which includes a daily exercise regime and sound religious principles. She co-ordinates the Care4U Ministry at Kloof Catholic Church and has travelled widely overseas, which has exposed her to many cultures. In 2018, she completed walking the Camino De Santiago in Spain, a UNESCO endorsed Heritage Walk. ‘I have also travelled to Iceland to undertake glacial hiking,’ said Ramiah.

Words: Hazel Langa

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A Doctoral Journey Across Four Continents

A Doctoral Journey Across Four Continents
Professor Yogi Penceliah with doctoral graduate, Dr Sivashankar Sreenivasan (right) and the late Dr Bongani Mtshali.

- By Sivashankar Sreenivasan

The journey my professor and I shared during my doctoral studies at UKZN was no less exciting than a voyage on a sailboat across the oceans. Like any experienced sailor, I started with confidence and self-belief in my skills and experience. Little did I know that the voyage would span four continents! While I was at the mercy of the weather, the team, resources and above all destiny, I never gave up.

Some four years after graduating with an MBA, I came across an advertisement in a national newspaper calling for applications from interested candidates for the PhD in Administration at UKZN. By then I had approximately 18 years’ work experience and was working in a management position in a public sector organisation in Durban.

I was elated to be accepted as a doctoral student and a formal meeting was scheduled with Professor Yogi Penceliah. I will never forget our first meeting, which was a wonderful beginning. She stipulated her expectations and enquired about mine as well as my intended timeframe for completion.

I wanted to complete the thesis as soon as possible and, given that my only prior experience was the time it took to complete my MBA dissertation, I enthusiastically replied that I expected to complete the thesis in a year. Professor Yogi was calm and collected and reacted, ‘we will see…doctoral degrees cannot be rushed into.’

My proposal was accepted and within a few weeks I received ethical clearance. I started my research with confidence and enthusiasm. Professor Yogi and I presented a paper at a national conference of the Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management (ASSADPAM) the same year. I worked hard to collect information with the hope of submitting my final thesis by July 2013.

My first submission was the Literature Review. She responded promptly and returned the hard copy with her comments. Reality hit when I received the feedback… It was a disaster; neither the language nor the content satisfied Professor Yogi who expected nothing less than 100%. The next challenge was to identify a suitable language practitioner. Surfing the web, I came across a few self-proclaimed “language practitioners” and chose the one I judged to be a good fit only to be proven wrong by my supervisor. Her remarks were no longer kind; she meant business. This was a huge setback.

I was not a full-time student, and was also focusing on my work and my family, including my four-year-old child. I could not progress without completing the literature review. The stumbling block was my lack of understanding of “good literature”. I tried three or four language practitioners but none could deliver on time or meet my professor’s expectations. I felt like a sailor stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean with no resources to complete the voyage.

In January 2014, my job took my family and I to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In a new job at a new place, I needed time to find my bearings. Professor Yogi was understanding and motivated for a deferment for two years. I was able to collect the primary data electronically and conducted face-to-face interviews during my trips to South Africa between 2014 and 2018. Paris Sorbonne University, UAE allowed me access to their library and I was able to successfully progress through my chapters.

I met with Professor Yogi on a trip to South Africa in 2018. She was surprised that I did not bring my work with me. I told her that I felt I was wasting her time and should withdraw.

Professor Yogi remained calm and organised a meeting with the late Dr Bongani Mtshali, one of her students who had just submitted his doctoral thesis for examination, so that I could understand his journey. He travelled all the way from Richards Bay to meet me. He shared that he also experienced challenges with his research and realised that he had to be more dedicated. He found a language practitioner who could meet Professor Yogi’s expectations and shared their contact details and those of the data analyst that he used. He persuaded me not to give up. Dr Mtshali, who graduated posthumously in April 2019, helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Destiny had other plans for me. My contract in the UAE came to an end at the beginning of 2019 and I accepted a job offer in the United Kingdom. The gap between jobs enabled me to focus on my research and I submitted the first draft of my thesis in February 2019. After the third review, I was given permission to submit it for examination in May 2019.

My family and I moved to the United Kingdom and Professor Yogi moved to the United States of America. The three examiners’ reports came through in the third quarter of 2019. The thesis was accepted subject to minor changes.

The PhD journey was a great learning experience. I was blessed to have a supervisor with experience, knowledge, dedication and perseverance to guide me through the process. If I was the captain of the boat, my professor was the compass who directed me towards the destination.

I salute my professor, the guru, guide, and commander without whom I would never have completed this journey. While she did not agree to my dedicating the thesis to her, I take this opportunity to do so.

Dr Sivashankar Sreenivasan is a professional with over 26 years of international work experience in the maritime industry. He is currently based in the Isle of Man and holds position as the Group Head of Shipping within a global grain trading organisation. His research interest are in the area of governance.

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Belle of The Bachelor SA Graduates

Belle of <em>The Bachelor SA</em> Graduates
Ms Michelle Reddy received a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Studies.

Ms Michelle Reddy, who was among the top three finalists in The Bachelor SA, M-Net, graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Studies.

Reddy’s academic journey was an interesting one marked by her day-to-day life as a corporate communications specialist, her choice of self-investment and participating in a reality television show. ‘Whilst having a career and concentrating on postgraduate studies, I also wanted love,’ she quipped. 

She admits that the reality show was an emotional rollercoaster but as a highly focused professional and with support from her family she was able to manage all facets of her life. Reflecting on her journey she said: ‘Whilst shooting, I wrote two of my final exams. I knew could not write a supplementary exam due to the show’s schedule. 

‘I faced fluctuations, physically and emotionally which resulted in stress-eating. I tried to find quiet time to study and to balance work with trying to find love. Eight kilogrammes later, I was back to square one trying to focus on me again. Thankfully, I passed both exams and searched for a new focus - self-development.’

While Reddy’s area of specialisation is in the field of marketing, the programme offered by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) was a perfect choice as she wanted to consolidate and extend her leadership capability in her organisation. She has extensive experience in marketing having worked as a customer and shopper marketing specialist in Mauritius, Madagascar, Angola and international trade markets. She has started applying what she learnt from her lectures and is confident that her qualification will enable her to navigate her dynamic and complex work environment.

She said that she enjoyed interacting with diverse peers in class, engaging with her lecturers and learning best practice from industry experts during guest lectures.

Reddy is a firm believer in seeking help from people who have travelled the journey. Commenting on the support from the GSB&L she said: ‘I was so grateful to have Professor Cecile Proches as a mentor, confidant and an educator.

‘My family are proud of my accomplishments and encourage me to always read, evaluate and develop beyond yesterday,’ said Reddy.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Supplied by News24


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Hard Work and Dedication the Key for Business Science Graduate

Hard Work and Dedication the Key for Business Science Graduate
Ms Simone Somasundram received her Bachelor of Business Science degree cum laude.

Bachelor of Business Science cum laude graduate, Ms Simone Somasundram is excited about exploring the avenues that her qualification will open for her.

‘My future plan is to be admitted as a member by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute and to use that membership to grow my career in the financial industry. The Business Science qualification has given me the skills that are required and will therefore help me to be recognised by financial institutions,’ said Somasundram.

As a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, graduating cum laude is a reward for Somasundram’s hard work and dedication to academic excellence.

‘I am a hardworking and conscientious person who is determined to succeed. I achieved an A-aggregate throughout my school career and I believe that my dedication and work ethic enable me to produce work of a high standard,’ she said.

Somasundram also attributes her academic success to her family’s support.

‘My family and faith have shaped me into the person I am today. My mom is an account analyst at a major bank, my dad is a deputy principal, and my brother is a chemical engineer. They are my inspiration to achieve my goals. The motto that I live my life by is, “I have a fingerprint that no one else has; therefore, I will leave an imprint that no one else can”,’ she said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Cum Laude Graduate’s Research Provides Insight into the Insurance Industry

<em>Cum Laude</em> Graduate’s Research Provides Insight into the Insurance Industry
MBA cum laude graduate, Ms Ugeshnee Veerasamy Moodliar.

The insurance sector plays a vital role in supporting a sustainable South African economy.

Ms Ugeshnee Veerasamy Moodliar, who was awarded her Master of Business Administration (MBA) cum laude, explored the factors that affect lapse rates in the short-term insurance industry. The study, which was supervised by Professor Mihalis Chasomeris, investigated the policyholder features that determine short-term insurance lapse; the macroeconomic variables that influence such and how short-term insurers manage the lapse.

‘The findings from my research indicated that product type, gender, cluster group, policy duration and sum insured have a statistically significant influence on lapse rate. However, the macroeconomic variables examined were found to exhibit a weak significant correlation with short-term insurance lapse rates,’ explained Veerasamy Moodliar.

‘Recommended approaches to mitigate lapse rate include strategies to retain customers and those that could be applied during the development phase of short term insurance policies. The study will be beneficial to industry stakeholders such as financial intermediaries, insurance underwriters and administrators. It also adds to the current body of knowledge on short term underwriters and the modelling of insurance lapse rates,’ she added.

As a Revenue Manager at Talksure Pty Ltd, an independent financial services provider, Veerasamy Moodliar said that completing the degree will enhance her career prospects.

‘I was pregnant while completing my dissertation; however, I did not compromise on the quality of my studies or my work. My positive approach enables me to deliver a high standard of service to any given task. This has resulted in numerous nominations and awards during my career. Most recently, I received a performance excellence award for my work achievements while also balancing my studies and pregnancy. This qualification will boost my opportunities for career growth and prepare me for a more senior management role.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Medical Doctor Graduates with Diploma in Financial Planning

Medical Doctor Graduates with Diploma in Financial Planning
Dr Seetal Hargovan received a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning.

The need to be financially savvy motivated Medical doctor, Dr Seetal Hargovan to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning.

‘I believe that everyone should understand “how money works” and how to manage their financial affairs. While I am aware that professional financial advisors are available I felt it was important for me to gain deeper insight into the financial sector,’ said Hargovan.

The medical and financial fields might be worlds apart, but the part-time Anaesthetics medical officer and mother of two says maintaining a healthy balance was as rewarding as it was challenging.

‘During the two-year diploma I started working again as a part-time medical officer at Addington Hospital and fell pregnant with my second child,’ said Hargovan.

‘It was challenging to juggle all aspects of my life and I would not have been able to complete my studies without the support of my family. The course is mainly aimed at people already working in the financial field or with pre-existing undergraduate business qualifications that wish to pursue a career as financial advisors. Despite my medical background I was able to cope with the coursework and thoroughly enjoyed the learning process,’ she added.

Hargovan is planning to use her newly acquired knowledge to advance her career and to better manage her personal finances.

‘I gained much insight into the matters surrounding personal finance. In the future, I hope to use both my Medical degree and Financial Planning diploma by working in the financial field as a consultant medical advisor.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Hard Work Pays Off for Summa Cum Laude Graduate

Hard Work Pays Off for <em>Summa Cum Laude</em> Graduate
Summa cum laude graduate, Ms Amy Wagner.

Top achiever, Ms Amy Wagner graduated with her Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) degree summa cum laude in 2019 and achieved the same with her honours degree this year.

Wagner whose list of academic achievements includes being awarded the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship in 2018, said that hard work, faith and a supportive family is her recipe for success.

‘My family, including my mom who is an Art teacher, my dad who is a pastor and my brother who lives in England, have been extremely supportive throughout my studies - not forgetting my long-term boyfriend. They have always encouraged me to consistently give of my best and are very proud that I managed to get the results I was aiming for. My faith in Christ is very important to me and He keeps me going,’ she said.

While she describes her honours degree as the most challenging year at university so far, Wagner also describes it as the most enjoyable as it was an opportunity to expand her knowledge on important issues confronting South Africa.

‘A memorable experience was completing my first dissertation that investigated female labour force participation in South Africa. The process and results were both fascinating and eye opening. I hope to expand on this research for my master’s degree this year. I am confident that my qualification will help me not only in the business world, but in life, as it has presented me with multiple valuable lessons. It will also hopefully help me secure work at an economics-based consultancy firm one day,’ she added.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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PhD Focuses on Enhancing Student Support Services

PhD Focuses on Enhancing Student Support Services
PhD graduate, Dr Thami Mchunu.

PhD graduate, Dr Thami Mchunu’s research offers unique insights into systems thinking within the student support sector.

The study, which was prompted by annual disruptions at South Africa’s Higher Education Institutions, advocates for the adoption of a systems approach to unpack and investigate the dynamism of student support services in Higher Education.

‘The South African Higher Education system is a messy and complex situation which cannot be adequately improved by a linear, rigid approach. Students generally regard Higher Education Institutions as all-inclusive, but the services that they receive are not as holistic as they are supposed to be,’ explained Mchunu.

The research which was supervised by Professor Kriben Pillay and Professor Nqabomzi Gawe was conducted at three South African universities.

‘If a systems approach were to be harnessed properly, institutions would be more conscious of the importance of feedback mechanisms which are in line with being proactive in response to environmental issues. This approach emphasises the importance of viewing a Higher Education Institution as a whole that works towards the same goals, instead of an entity with separate parts,’ said Mchunu.

As an employee in student support services, Mchunu is looking forward to incorporating his newly acquired knowledge to enhance his career.

‘In view of the in-depth research that went into my study, I will be in a better position to engage with authority on pertinent topics and, therefore, make a meaningful contribution to improved relationship management in Higher Education. Suggestions for future research include a country-wide study that would play an important role in integrating systems thinking into Higher Education from a common guiding framework,’ he said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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PhD Study Focuses on Cultural Ecosystem Services

PhD Study Focuses on Cultural Ecosystem Services
UKZN lecturer and PhD graduate, Dr Shaun Mowat.

An abiding interest in social and environmental justice motivated Dr Shaun Mowat, lecturer in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF), to embark on a research study which earned him a doctorate in Economics.

His study, titled: Without the Land We would be like Cows: The Importance of Cultural Ecosystems Services to a Rural Southern African Community, was supervised by Dr Bruce Rhodes a senior lecturer in the SAEF.

As an environmental economist, Mowat regards cultural ecosystem services (CES) as an important source of values and livelihoods of marginalised members of society who are often left out of decision-making when it comes to the extraction of natural resources, especially in rural areas.

He was intrigued by media reports on a proposed mining project at Xolobeni in the Wild Coast region of the Eastern Cape: ‘A friend’s involvement in designating the Pondoland marine protected area provided an excuse to visit the area, and meet and talk to members of the local community. Their version of what had previously only been in media reports intrigued me. Whilst it was quickly apparent that the local community were opposed to the mining, the reasons for their opposition were of great interest.’

Mowat’s field research enhanced his understanding of how much the local community valued the land in question. It also exposed him to the fascinating culture of the amaMpondo. ‘Discussions with the community revealed the importance of the land to their culture, and the importance of this culture to them,’ he commented.

He points to issues surrounding non-market goods and the fact that ecosystems provide a number of services, including CES. He acknowledges that many environmental economists regard CES as an obscure category of total economic value. Mowat’s views changed when he started engaging with the community at Mtentu. Describing his journey of discovery, he said, ‘I could see that a rather narrow view of development would see the community’s rejection of the development option inherent in the proposed mining project as irrational, the situation as paradoxical. The challenge of showing that this was in fact a rational response based on what was valuable to the community appealed to me.’

Mowat’s study developed and tested methods to identify and assess these values, an important step in giving voice to communities for whom such services are a vital component of well-being. He acknowledges the effectiveness of a resistance campaign by the local community and is pleased that his research could make a small contribution to community involvement in future decision-making.

Mowat is grateful for the financial support provided by the National Research Foundation, which enabled him to focus on completing his study. He is also indebted to his family for their support and looks forward to spending quality time with them.

Rhodes congratulated Mowat on his achievement and said that the results of this research call for more deliberative approaches that encourage fairer and more informed resource allocation decision making.

Words: Hazel Langa

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Law Lecturer Graduates with PhD

Law Lecturer Graduates with PhD
Dr Maropeng Mpya graduated with a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The language of human rights and its impact on the African continent was the focus of doctoral graduate Dr Maropeng Mpya’s PhD study.

Titled: Enforcement of “Human Rights” Standards against Multinational Corporations (MNCs), the study asserts that MNCs are an intrinsic part of colonisation, which has resulted in the exploitation of Africans. It was supervised by Professor Nomthandazo Ntlama.

‘The research provides a contemporary critique and offers solutions to the colonial, imperial and racist practices of the Global North’s MNCs towards the Global South generally and Africa specifically. It is ground breaking in that it centres African episteme in solving African problems. Moreover, to dismantle the fallacy of human rights as just another nomenclature of Global North colonialism, the thesis frames the principle of Botho not only in its employment in MNCs, but for a jurisprudence that must underpin every decision making process in Africa,’ explained Mpya.

An academic at UKZN’s School of Law and Director of part-time Practical Legal Studies (Durban) at the Law Society of South Africa, Mpya is looking forward to using his newly acquired knowledge to enhance his career.

‘This qualification has not only put me in the small pool of Africans who have PhDs in South African academia but has generally opened doors for me to serve every African better because I have acquired not just a degree but information that will change Africa for the better. My purpose in life is to serve others. I thank God that He has given me the wisdom to do so and I pray for the emancipation of the African continent. My greatest achievement is seeing my students and the general public achieve their goals, such as resolving their legal problems, going to overseas universities on scholarships, and being excellent attorneys and advocates who do amazing work in serving society,’ said Mpya.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Andile Ndlovu


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PhD Explores Ethical and Legal Issues Associated with the Use of Preimplantation Genetic Testing

PhD Explores Ethical and Legal Issues Associated with the Use of Preimplantation Genetic Testing
Legal expert Dr Sheetal Soni graduated with a PhD.

Legal academic Dr Sheetal Soni’s mission as an expert in Bioethics, Medical and Reproductive Technology Law is to explore how law and science can work together to address complex issues in this niche field.

Her PhD study: Spare-part Sisters and Bred-to-order Brothers: an Ethical and Legal Analysis of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis for the Purposes of Sex Selection and Tissue Typing, aimed to contribute to the body of knowledge on bio-medicine and genetic testing. The study was supervised by Professor Anne Strode and Professor Donrich Thaldar.

‘At first glance, my research seems excessively provocative, but it considers simple questions - can it be ethically and legally justifiable to use this technology to create tissue-compatible donors, and should people have the legal right to choose the sex of their children?’ explained Soni.

The study examined whether preimplantation genetic testing methods such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis could be justifiably applied where persons using in vitro fertilisation desire to either tissue type the resultant embryos for possible tissue donation or select them on the basis of sex, and proposed a regulatory framework informed by ethics.

‘You would think that simple questions have equally simple answers, but these did not! The research had to consider the moral reactions that one can have in response to these questions in light of the existing legal provisions under national and international law. In law, the best interests of children is a fundamental principle, but my thesis had to consider the best interests of future children. It is often challenging to determine the rights of people in a given situation, but to consider the application of principles to the welfare of future people was equally difficult and exciting! My thesis showed that clear, unambiguous regulation is necessary, and provides guidance as to how this would be possible,’ added Soni.

As the South African ambassador to the Association of Ethics and Integrity (Association Ethique & Intégrité), Soni is involved in various projects which are involved in community engagement on these issues at national and international level.

‘I am constantly looking for ways in which I can use my research to benefit society, and have been approached for comment on national policy. I am hopeful that my research will make a significant impact on South African society. In April I was honoured to be invited to write a segment in an international journal which focuses solely on research in CRISPR gene editing, from the perspective of what this technology means for me and South Africa. Historically, African nations have been largely absent from these international conversations, and I try to represent the voice of Africa as much as I can so that we are more involved going forward,’ she said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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Top Law Achievers Graduate Summa Cum Laude

Top Law Achievers Graduate <em>Summa Cum Laude</em>
Law summa cum laude graduates, Ms Courtney Kantor and Ms Lervashni Padayachee.

Law graduates, Ms Courtney Kantor and Ms Lervashni Padayachee are proof that hard work pays off.

For Kantor, graduating summa cum laude and the opportunity to clerk for Justice Malcom Wallis at the Supreme Court of Appeal have been the highlights of her academic journey.

‘There were four of us clerking. We worked hand in hand with Justice Wallis on current appeals and even made our way to Bloemfontein to spend a few days at the court. This was life changing for me as it transformed what had only been dreams into something tangible. I promised myself then and there in his court that I would be back one day as an advocate,’ she said.

Kantor is pleased that her achievement has made her family proud.

‘My single mother was my rock through my years of school and university, checking my homework every night when I was in school and dealing with my anxiety during university. My three older brothers have also been huge supporters, always cheering me on from the side lines. My father supported me financially through all my years of schooling and is very proud to have another lawyer in the Kantor clan,’ she said.

Padayachee’s outstanding academic record earned her various awards throughout her degree. She received the Attorney’s Fidelity Fund Bursary for 2018 and 2019 and the UKZN Scholarship Award since 2016.

‘Studying Law has deepened my understanding and experience of areas that interest me, such as the protection of fundamental human rights and upholding justice. It is a worthwhile qualification as it offers a wide variety of career opportunities,’ she said.

Padayachee adds that clerking for Justice Malcom Wallis at the Supreme Court of Appeal, being a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and mentoring in the Students for Law and Social Justice mentorship programme were highlights of her studies.

‘I would like to further my studies. My degree has helped me to secure a job in a law firm, within which I hope to grow and one day become a partner. I’m grateful to my family for their constant love and support as it’s through their many sacrifices that I was able to achieve this success,’ she said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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PhD Study Challenges the Traditional Accounting System

PhD Study Challenges the Traditional Accounting System
PhD graduate, Dr Haruna Maama.

Ghanaian Dr Haruna Maama is the first member of his family to attend university.

From humble beginnings where he walked about 10 kilometres to and from school each day, he completed his PhD study in a record time of 20 months.

Maama’s study focused on integrated reporting, a form of financial reporting that includes information on firms’ value creation activities, especially in terms of how their operations affect society and the environment. In contrast, conventional accounting practices are geared towards the needs of shareholders. Integrated reporting is an under-researched phenomenon, especially in emerging economies like Ghana. The study examined the factors that influence integrated reporting and how it impacts the value, performance, and the cost of capital of firms in developing countries that operate in unique political, social, cultural, and legal settings.

Maama said that he chose to study at UKZN because it is among the best universities in the world. He added that the University changed his perspectives of research and life: ‘At UKZN, I realised greatness can be achieved if you believe and aspire to it. The academic environment at UKZN taught me that universities play a key role in one’s intellectual growth. The School of Accounting, Economics, and Finance has a state-of-the-art research centre and its Microeconomics Research Unit (MRU) promotes knowledge sharing.’

Maama expressed his deep gratitude to his mentor and supervisor, Professor Msizi Mkhize of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance. ‘My relationship with Professor Mkhize was more brotherly than a student-supervisor relationship. I had unfettered access to him. His encouragement, knowledge, and generous support were pivotal to my growth as a scholar. He provided me with an opportunity to express my views, which many students would relish. Our relationship proved that choosing a PhD supervisor is as important as choosing a life partner.’ He also thanked Professor Harold Ngalawa, Dr Adebayo Kutu, and members of the MRU for developing his scholarly knowledge and skills. Last but not least, he said that he owes his success to his parents, wife, family, and friends. ‘My siblings and I grew up thinking that our parents were rich, when, in fact they were not. They ensured that we lacked nothing, especially when it came to our education. They sacrificed so much for us.’

Maama identified time constraints as his major challenge as he was teaching at the Durban University of Technology while undertaking his research. To cope with these demands as well as family commitments, he sacrificed his social life and admits to not getting enough sleep!

Words: Ndabaonline

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Top of the Class for Commerce Graduates

Top of the Class for Commerce Graduates
Bachelor of Commerce summa cum laude graduates (from left) Mr Sriram Maharaj, Mr Ivan Lourens and Ms Phumla Bala.

For Bachelor of Commerce summa cum laude graduates Mr Sriram Maharaj, Mr Ivan Lourens and Ms Phumla Bala, finishing top of their class is validation that hard work and dedication are synonymous with success.

Maharaj received the Pius Langa and Brenda Gourley Scholarships from UKZN in 2017 and 2018 respectively, a much welcome relief from tuition fees.

‘Receiving these scholarships was an acknowledgment of my hard work and financial relief for my family. My experience over the past three years has been fairly comfortable. While the steep increases in workload caught me by surprise, I was able to adjust my methods and cope reasonably well throughout my years of study,’ he said.

With the ultimate goal of pursuing a career in Chartered Accountancy, Maharaj is currently studying towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting and is looking forward to a successful future.

‘My undergraduate qualification prepared me well for the academic challenges of postgraduate work. I believe it will serve as an excellent foundation to build a well-rounded set of core skills that will enable me to make a meaningful contribution to the business world as well as the economy,’ he added.

Lourens commented that, ‘Hard work and determination have defined my degree. Whilst I have had to make sacrifices, it has been very rewarding and worth every minute. I met some amazing people along this journey and the lecturers were always willing to help and go the extra mile to ensure I understood the material. I learnt a lot about myself and how I handle stressful situations. These are things that I will carry with me for life,’ he said.

With aspirations of becoming a Chartered Accountant, Lourens’ immediate plan is to hone his skills at one of the world’s top four accounting firms.

‘I was awarded a training contract by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) which begins in 2021. Their vacation programme enabled me to gain real-world experience and exposed me to the professional work environment. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and privileged to be part of the PWC family,’ he said.

Bala said that a supportive network of family, the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance and friends got her through the challenges of pursing a BCom Accounting degree.

‘I come from a well-rounded and supportive family who have always pushed me to do my best and have been there when I needed them most. All my achievements are because of them. Regular student protests impacted heavily on our studies and resulted in us studying under pressure. Luckily, the lecturers and School Dean did their utmost to get us through. My roommate was also a blessing,’ she said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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PhD Research Explores Inequalities Faced by Persons with Disabilities in the Workplace

PhD Research Explores Inequalities Faced by Persons with Disabilities in the Workplace
PhD graduate, Dr Lindani Nxumalo.

EThekwini Municipality’s Senior Legal Advisor for Employment Law, Dr Lindani Nxumalo hopes to use his newly acquired knowledge to address inequalities faced by persons with disabilities in the workplace.

The PhD graduate who is also a part-time Industrial Relations lecturer at UKZN’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance said that doing his Masters in labour studies particularly Employment Discrimination Law module motivated him to further investigate this area.

‘My studies exposed me to injustices suffered by persons with disabilities in the world of work and I developed an interest in disability law,’ he said.

‘I further discovered that disability was under researched. That motivated me to conduct a study at PhD level to investigate the rationale behind non-inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace despite the existence of disability provisions.’

Supervised by Dr Emmanuel Mutambara and Ms Willene Holness, the study was titled: Transformational Leadership as a Tool to Effectively Implement the Legislation Governing Disability in the Workplace: The case of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. It recommends a leadership approach towards inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace.

‘Persons with disabilities have suffered and continue to suffer inequalities in the workplace. They are stigmatised and not reasonably accommodated as required by law. Consequently, their human rights, particularly the right to human dignity and equality, are compromised. The study’s findings identify transformational leadership as a relevant leadership approach to disability inclusion and provide practical solutions towards their inclusion and advancement in the workplace,’ said Nxumalo.

He added that the PhD has enhanced his academic career and personal development.

‘I have published numerous articles and have been invited to present in conferences. It has further enhanced my research capability, which contributed to my personal development. Furthermore, the research experience has enhanced my teaching capabilities.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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The Airport City as a Driver of Economic Development in KZN

The Airport City as a Driver of Economic Development in KZN
Mr Nhlanhla Mpondi graduated with a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies.

Director of Human Resources Management at the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Mr Nhlanhla Mpondi was awarded a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies.

His thesis, titled: The Impact of Transition of the Durban International Airport to King Shaka International Airport: The Implications for the Establishment of the Airport City/ Aerotropolis, was supervised by Dr Nomkhosi Luthuli of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

Mpondi has had an inquiring mind from a young age and started his professional career as a science educator in his home township, KwaMashu. After receiving a scholarship to study at the University of California in Los Angeles, he changed career paths and joined Transnet as a human resources practitioner. Fast forward to today, Mpondi is now responsible for Human Resources at the EDTEA.

His research topic was inspired by a personal interest in new socio-economic and scientific phenomena that could advance people’s lives. Dube Trade Port, an airport city in Durban is one of the EDTEA’s subsidiaries and Mpondi was interested in investigating how KwaZulu-Natal has benefited economically from the new airport.

‘I was interested in looking at sectors that are regarded as key ingredients for the province’s economic advancement like tourism, logistics, petrochemicals, clothing and textiles, agriculture and information technology and at the new airport’s impact on foreign direct investment and route development to bolster tourism growth in the region,' he said.

He noted that the provincial government’s decision to move the airport from the south coast to the north coast has resulted in an increase of the number of people employed in the airport, which has alleviated poverty in the surrounding communities. ‘Several technology companies including global brands like Samsung have settled at Dube Trade Port to join many more in diverse businesses in agri-processing, manufacturing and cargo handling logistics. The booming property business stretching from Umhlanga to Ballito has been attributed to this aviation inspired industrial hub which is also expected to promote economic transformation as formerly excluded communities are expected to be part of the mainstream growth around the precinct.’

Inspired by Professor John Kasarda, President of the Aerotropolis Institute China, Mpondi is confident that development of the airport city in Durban is indicative of South Africa’s move towards the creation of an aerotropolis similar to world class aviation complexes in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Schiphol in Amsterdam, Frankfort in Germany, Beijing in China and other large airports around the world.

UKZN was an obvious choice for Mpondi’s postgraduate studies since research on an aerotropolis is one of its niche areas. Luthuli, whose research interests lie in this area, said that Mpondi’s study demonstrates the value of an airport city which could not have been achieved if the airport existed as a separate entity as it was when it was located in the south of Durban.

Mpondi’s quest for knowledge has rubbed off on his daughter, who works in Cape Town, and son who is studying in the United States. He also appreciates the support of his wife, Pumla Mpondi.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Supplied


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LLB Empowers Senior Constable

LLB Empowers Senior Constable
Mr Lendl Ganesan received a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree.

Senior Constable at Durban Metro Police, Mr Lendl Ganesan is delighted to be graduating with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree.

Having worked in law enforcement for the past nine years, Ganesan realised the need to enhance his experience with a sound understanding of the fundamentals of South African law. ‘Being attached to a crime unit in the Durban Metro Police, I found myself attending court on a regular basis and being put on the witness stand against seasoned attorneys. As a representative of the state, I realised I needed to increase my knowledge of the law to become more sensitive and responsive to the distinctive needs of the community which I serve.’

Armed with an LLB degree, Ganesan is confident that he will be able boost citizens’ trust in law enforcement as he is now more conscious of human rights and many branches of the law. Even before graduating, he was able to apply what he learnt in lectures to his daily work. ‘My degree has helped me produce better evidence in court, securing more convictions which in turn helps restore the trust of the community in law enforcement,’ he said.

Having studied part-time, Ganesan admits that there were times where he found it challenging to manage his studies and a demanding job. His passion for the law and the career benefits of the qualification motivated him to persevere. Inspired by words found in Invictus by William Ernest Henley – ‘It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’ He advises mature students to always keep their eyes on the prize.

He is currently seconded to the Metro Police Drug Team and plans to complete the Professional Legal Training programme, followed by articles of clerkship. A Master of Laws degree is also on his agenda.

Ganesan expressed his gratitude to his family and his employer.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photographs: Supplied


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