UKZN Toll-free Student Support Services Telephone Line

UKZN Toll-free Student Support Services Telephone Line
UKZN now has a Toll-free Student Support Services Telephone Line.Click here for isiZulu version

As part of its integrated approach to student support during the current remote learning context, UKZN has implemented a toll-free telephone line that enables students from all four Colleges to call the Student Support Services offices free of charge, Monday-Friday from 08h00-16h30.

The Student Support Services (SSS) offices in the Colleges provide confidential psychological and psychosocial services to registered students. Services include individual psychotherapy, trauma debriefing and counselling, group therapy and support, and life-skills development. 

The Manager of Student Support Services in the College of Humanities, Dr Angeline Stephens, said that the coronavirus pandemic has already had far-reaching consequences for individual, family and community mental health. ‘The impact thus far has also highlighted the intersections between the socio-economic disparities evident in our country and increased vulnerability to psycho-social distress among certain communities.’ 

She added that the issue of access is thus an important component of institutional support to students. ‘The toll-free line makes a significant contribution in this regard by enabling students to call free of charge to access psychological support. This is especially important within the current COVID-19 context. The team at ICS, led by Mr Deano Kannigan and Mr Jarrod Harrington, have done a great job in getting the project off the ground quickly.’

They are currently busy with phase two of this project, which involves the installation of soft phone technology on Student Support Services staff laptops. This will further improve services to students who opt for telephonic consultations. Currently, students can access psychosocial support via email, telephone, and Zoom chat or video conference.

Students can call 0800 800 017 toll-free Monday – Friday, 08h00-16h30 to reach any of the Student Support Services offices in the Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Health Sciences, Humanities, and Law and Management Studies.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Webinar Tackles Racial Discrimination as a Covert Disrupter of Social Cohesion

Webinar Tackles Racial Discrimination as a Covert Disrupter of Social Cohesion
From left: Professors Nirmala Gopal, Jeremy Seekings, and Siphamandla Zondi, Dr Ela Gandhi and Pastor Michelle Tryon.Click here for isiZulu version

The College of Humanities recently hosted a webinar on Racial Discrimination: A covert disrupter of Social Cohesion as part of the College’s Transformation and Leadership Lecture Series.

It featured Professor Jeremy Seekings (University of Cape Town), Professor Siphamandla Zondi (University of Pretoria), Dr Ela Gandhi (Gandhi Development Trust) and Pastor Michelle Tryon (Destiny Fulfilled Ministry) and was chaired by Professor Nirmala Gopal (UKZN).

Seekings discussed ‘what social scientists can contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of racialised inequality and the role that racial identification or labelling, racism and racial discrimination play in this.’ He used research survey data, including survey experiments and vignettes, as well as qualitative research to underpin his presentation. Seekings further discussed the meaning of “structural racism” in the context of contemporary South Africa.

Gandhi spoke from an activist’s point of view on racism as learned behaviour, with an emphasis on racialism, as opposed to racism. She looked into how apartheid led to a learned approach to racism that targeted racial identity, segregation and division. She also addressed the issue of using race to draw conclusions in science, which she regards as “lazy science”. For her, this method usually disguises other reasons that are not race related.

Gandhi pointed out that, ‘The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gross inequality and unequal access to resources that South Africans are faced with and we are consequently observing the different patterns of racism.’ She advised that, ‘we need to unlearn racism in order to move forward as a country.’

In his address, Zondi argued that universities should educate for a new social order that encourages behaviour and mind-set change. ‘It should be education for empowerment and not re-indoctrination… borrowed waters do not last. As Black people, we need to come to terms with our value as human beings rather than as racial beings.’

He contended that ‘no evidence could be found that the country was either effective or winning in the battle against discrimination. Social cohesion remains elusive.’

Zondi added that using race to solve the problem of race should not be the only factor. ‘We should re-imagine an alternative existence through creative measures and not continue to be trapped in the fiction of race. Re-imagine the new citizen that all of us can fit in without questioning our existence.’

Tryon discussed racial discrimination in the religious context, dovetailing her personal experience of it in the religious sector. She looked into how definitions lead to racial discrimination as a covert disrupter of social cohesion. She also imparted a few skills one needs to identify these definitions and their impacts on beliefs and values.

Tryon’s parting advice was, ‘We need to be aware of the internal bias, perceptions and beliefs we have where it relates to racial discrimination. We must all explore how we have been impacted by racial discrimination. We need to be willing to suspend our views so we can see and listen to each other, to link into each other and make space for each other to all sit at the same table. Love and forgiveness will be the cornerstone of our way forward.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Academics Present at Online International Cyber Security Conference

UKZN Academics Present at Online International Cyber Security Conference
Dr Trishana Ramluckan (left) and Dr Brett van Niekerk presenting at the University of Coimbra in 2019.

Two UKZN academics, Dr Trishana Ramluckan (Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Law) and Dr Brett van Niekerk (Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science) co-chaired a special track on cyber-operations and international relations and contributed to three papers presented at the 19th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security hosted online by the University of Chester in the United Kingdom.

The research presented included an assessment of national perspectives on international humanitarian law in cyberspace; a framework for implementing a cyber-secure organisational culture based on change management; and a proposed ontology for “target acquisition” to respond to cyber-attacks. Professor Isabel Martins from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance also contributed to the change management paper, while the other two papers were collaborations with Mr Tim Grant (retired but active researcher, The Netherlands), Dr Daniel Ventre (Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droit et les institutions pénales [CESDIP], France), and Ms Carien van’t Wout (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research).

In addition, van Niekerk participated in a plenary panel on “self-defence” in cyberspace with researchers from the US, Germany and The Netherlands chaired by the conference host, Dr Thaddeus Eze from the University of Chester. He also presented an abstract-only talk related to modelling state responses to cyber-incidents. In total, there were 32 presentations in the main streams and special tracks, eight presentations in the PhD and Master’s tracks, and two key notes and the plenary panel.

Cybersecurity concerns have increased globally, as well as in South Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in cyber-crime activity as criminals target people working from home and provide themed scams. Recent cyber-attacks between Iran and Israel have affected critical infrastructure, and just a week before the conference Australia announced being targeted by a state-backed cyber-campaign.

Ramluckan joined the College of Law and Management Studies in 2017 as the Postgraduate Research Facilitator, where she provided training and support to postgraduates and assisted with curriculum development. In 2019 she began a postdoctoral fellowship in the School of Law, where her research interests include IT governance and legislation in international relations and education.

Van Niekerk was an Honorary Research Fellow with UKZN from July 2014 and joined Computer Science in a permanent capacity in December 2017. He currently lectures the honours network security module, and modules from first and second-year. His research interests include national and international cybersecurity and privacy and cybersecurity in Higher Education. He is the co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Cyber Warfare and Terrorism and associate editor for the International Journal of Information Security and Privacy.

Words: NdabaOnline

Photographs: Supplied


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Music Unlocked Sessions Featuring Fabulous Horns and Fantastic Bass

Music Unlocked Sessions Featuring Fabulous Horns and Fantastic Bass
Talent “Mzukulu” Mbatha.

UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music and iSupport Creative Business proudly present the Music Unlocked Sessions.

The latest edition on 15 July will feature horn trio Temb-Horns, saxophonist Simone van Niekerk, and bassist Talent “Mzukulu” Mbatha. The three will each present a 20-minute set.

Temb-Horns is an ensemble from Tembisa that consists of three horns: Kgethi Nkotsi on trombone, Michael Nkuna on trumpet and Simone Manana on alto saxophone. Nkotsi is a 24-year-old from Tembisa, Johannesburg who is currently studying at UKZN, He started playing in 2013 at the age of 16 at Moses Molelekwa Arts Foundation (MTMAF). Over the years he has played with the likes of Salim Washington, Andile Yenana, Khaya Mahlangu and Neil Gonsalves, to name but a few.

Nkuna (20) is the youngest member of the horn section. He started his career as a self-taught musician after which he earned a trumpet section slot at UNISA Wind Band. He is currently studying Music at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Manana is a 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist from Tembisa. He started playing professional gigs while in high school. Among the notable names that he worked with while in high school are Lindi Ngonelo, Mandla Mlangeni, Johnny Mekoa and Khaya Mahlangu, to name but a few.

Music is the heartbeat of van Niekerk’s home. Her dad introduced her and her sisters to the art of music from a young age. Her musical journey began with the piano, but it was the bass guitar and drums that instinctively drew her. In 2010 she had the opportunity of hearing saxophonist, Curtis Kettledas performing live. It was then that she found the instrument that accessed the many facets of her musical world. She attended a few lessons in 2014 to prepare her for her music audition at UKZN, and began her formal education at the University in 2015. She completed her studies in 2018 and continues to further her education through the many musical mentors she encounters. As part of her final exams, van Niekerk hosted her first official show titled “Simply Complexed” in 2019. She managed to pull a crowd of over 650 people. She has played for several events during 2020, with the one that stood out the most being the Nathan Julius Concert at the Hilton College Theatre in February.

Born in Durban, but groomed in Nongoma, Mbatha is a versatile bassist, arranger, composer, producer, studio engineer and music educator. He derives his music style from a diverse range of influences, including Maskandi, Mbhaqanga, jazz, pop, contemporary rock, soul and fusion. As a child in northern KwaZulu-Natal, he grew up listening to people like Mfaz’omnyama, Hhash’elimhlophe, Phuzekhemisi, Mfiliseni Magubane and Soul Brothers, which influenced his signature style of always adding a South African flavour to his music even when playing American tunes. Mbatha started learning to play the bass guitar at the age of 11. He assembled his first jazz ensemble in 2008 and has graced big stages such as the Hazelmere Jazz Festival, Ugu Jazz Festival, Moratele Park and several international stages backing other artists.

Submissions
Musicians can submit a video that is created especially for the concert, which is likely to be a solo performance or minimal ensemble during this time of social distancing. You can also submit previously recorded videos that are not widely available on the internet, and are part of your archive.

Tickets
Music Unlocked Sessions
https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/EventCategories.aspx?itemid=1502020640

Event Details
Music Unlocked Sessions
Temb-Horns, Simone van Niekerk, and Talent “Mzukulu” Mbatha
Wednesday 15 July 2020
You will receive your link before 18h00 and can watch at a convenient time
Tickets R50 or more on donation

Words: Thulile Zama

Photograph: Supplied


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Graduate Reflects on Journey to Horticulture Master’s

Graduate Reflects on Journey to Horticulture Master’s
UKZN alumnus, Mr Mawande Shinga.

Mr Mawande Shinga, who graduated with his Master of Science in Agriculture in Horticultural Science this year, reflected on his journey through degree focus changes to attain a qualification that enabled him to contribute to knowledge of postharvest techniques for protecting citrus fruit against disorders.

Shinga, who attended Mvuthuluka High School in southern KwaZulu-Natal, began his studies in the field of Crop Sciences after developing an interest in agriculture thanks to the agriculture-dependent households he observed in his home village of Mswilili near Port Shepstone. He spent part of his days in his family’s food garden planting, fertilising, irrigating or harvesting crops to contribute to his family’s survival. He took agriculture as a subject in high school, developing his passion for the field.

‘Agriculture will never go out of fashion; it only gets more interesting year after year,’ he said.

Shinga chose to study at UKZN because of its strength in agriculture. Balancing his academic work with athletic activities including jogging and playing soccer, Shinga kept his mind fresh for the demands of long days, assignment submissions, tests, laboratory practicals and more.

After completing his BScAgric in Crop Science, Shinga decided to diversify his knowledge of agricultural plant sciences. He registered for a Master’s in Horticultural Science, aiming to do research in postharvest technology to gain experience both in the field and the laboratory and taking up chess as a hobby to train his mind to focus more sharply.

Supervised by Dr Asanda Mditshwa, Professor Lembe Magwaza and Professor Samson Tesfay, Shinga investigated techniques that could predict rind pitting disorder in “Marsh” grapefruit and reduce the fruit’s susceptibility to this disorder.

He experimented with using carboxy methylcellulose, encapsulated with coatings made from edible moringa leaf extracts, to inhibit the occurrence of postharvest citrus disorders, saying this technique is known to enhance fruit quality.

Using visible to near infrared spectroscopy (Vis/NIRS) to predict possible postharvest citrus disorders, Shinga suggested this research could aid South African citrus farmers in predicting disorders without destroying fruit, a beneficial tool in an industry where according to Shinga more than 75% of citrus produced is exported.

While making the change from Crop Science to Horticultural Science for his Master’s was challenging, Shinga said he was able to adapt successfully thanks to support from his colleagues and supervisors. He thanked everyone who contributed to his project.

Shinga hopes to one day proceed to PhD studies, despite personal circumstances not allowing this at present. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown have made finding employment a challenge, but driven to keep his mind sharp and to be productive, Shinga has been exploring ideas for self-employment.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


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International Guest Lecture on Dynamic Presencing for MBA Leadership Students

International Guest Lecture on Dynamic Presencing for MBA Leadership Students
Professor Olen Gunnlaugson from the University of Laval in Montreal in Canada.

The 2020 MBA Leadership students were treated to another profound guest lecture when Professor Olen Gunnlaugson from the University of Laval in Montreal, Canada, presented on the Contributions of Dynamic Presencing to Theory U.

Gunnlaugson is an Associate Professor in Leadership and Organisational Development, where he journeys into the human dimensions of business with his students through MBA courses in leadership, management skills and group communications. He has an eclectic research background in leadership growth, development and consciousness-based approaches to transformation, as well as contemplative and generative practices of communication.

Gunnlaugson is one of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L)’s international associates, and as a research editor has guided both Drs Kriyanka Moodley and Thea van der Westhuizen (GSB&L Leadership doctorates), to publish from their theses on Theory U. Moodley’s chapter has been published in the first volume of Advances in Presencing (2019) and van der Westhuizen’s chapter will be published in the third volume in 2021.

The two-hour presentation offered a deepening perspective on Theory U (one of the components of the Leadership module), as Gunnlaugson has just published a new book Dynamic Presencing.

‘The move to online teaching and the advent of Zoom technology meant that we could engage an international presenter for the MBA class with the greatest of ease’, said Professor Cecile Proches, coordinator of the MBA Leadership module and one of the lecturers, together with Professor Kriben Pillay and Moodley.

‘The wealth of critical resources on Theory U that Professor Gunnlaugson’s scholarly research has provided to the academic community world-wide, and with which our students engage, also meant that our students, through the guest lecture, were engaging with a highly respected academic-practitioner in the field of leadership presencing,’ added Pillay.

After the presentation, many students gave positive feedback, with one stating that it was very valuable to learn about the different dimensions of presencing and how it illuminates one’s life’s journey.

‘It was a pleasure to offer the Zoom lecture on Dynamic Presencing to your students. I sensed an openness to post-conventional and more developed forms of presencing, something this work develops and catalyses. For those who wish to explore more on Dynamic Presencing, don't hesitate to be in touch with me directly on LinkedIn,’ wrote Gunnlaugson after the presentation.

Words: Kriben Pillay

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Secures COVID-19 Rapid Tester

UKZN Secures COVID-19 Rapid Tester
From left: Professor Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lungi Mkhize-Kwitshana are excited to receive the ILEX equipment for COVID-19 testing.Click here for isiZulu version

The College of Health Sciences (CHS) at UKZN has secured an advanced instrument called the ILEX Genehecker (ultra-fast pcr) valued at $10 000 to conduct rapid testing for COVID-19.

The instrument was donated by the Gift of the Givers following a request by UKZN researchers, Professor Anil Chuturgoon, Dr Veron Ramsuran and Dr Lorna Madurai. The latter is a collaborator in the COVID-19 testing platform.

This instrument was handed over to UKZN on 25 June and was placed at UKZN’s Microbiology Laboratory at the Howard College campus, a laboratory facility currently used for testing for COVID-19.

‘This generous donation will greatly enhance our existing capacity to provide rapid results of COVID-19 tests for both our staff and students. At the same time, by extending our testing facility to external stakeholders we are able to generate much needed third-stream income for the University,’ said Chuturgoon, who is the Acting Dean of Research at CHS and a lead researcher in the COVID-19 testing platform at UKZN. ‘The generosity of the Gift of the Givers and its founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman who is an ardent supporter of his alma mater, UKZN, is notable at a time when UKZN and other universities across the world grapple to contribute to the alleviation of this pandemic.’

Chuturgoon pointed out that the ILEX equipment gives a turnaround time of six hours compared to the usual 24-hour turnaround time using existing equipment. 

Dr Veron Ramsuran, another lead researcher commented: ‘We are very excited to have access to this advanced technology which will have a huge impact with regard to speedy turnaround times, particularly for high risk situations.’ His sentiments were echoed by researcher Dr Lungi Mkhize-Kwitshana, who noted that ‘the instrument would also contribute to and enhance the excellent research endeavours within the College.’

Sooliman said, ‘What makes UKZN extra special is the quality, resilience and expertise of individuals and departments that continuously raise the bar for others to emulate. Gift of the Givers COVID-19 samples are tested at this very same UKZN facility. The professionalism, expertise, research ethic, humility and sincere dedication to humanity is unmistakable. Supporting such an institution with an ILEX pcr testing machine, to be honest, is just not enough. Professor Chuturgoon and his team of stalwarts do incredible justice to a great institution.’

Words and photograph: Lihle Sosibo


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Medical Student at the Frontline of COVID-19

Medical Student at the Frontline of COVID-19
Mr Kapil Narain conducting COVID-19 tests in the heart of the Inanda community in Durban.Click here for isiZulu version

Final-year Medical student, Mr Kapil Narain, has served at the frontline of COVID-19 by conducting community testing for the past five weeks.

His efforts are part of the government’s ambitious community screening and testing programme – an unprecedented and proactive response involving the deployment of community health workers (CHWs) to undertake door-to-door testing. President Ramaphosa announced the mobilisation of almost 60 000 CHWs across the country to drastically ramp up testing.

‘Having some medical training, I could not bear witness to the destruction of COVID-19. Amidst an intensifying pandemic that has overwhelmed health systems and healthcare workers, I felt a responsibility to be actively involved and volunteered.’

Narain joined the Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health Institute (MatCH), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), to engage in widespread testing. He formed part of the Northern eThekwini response, which has 13 teams, comprising CHWs, nurses, doctors, drivers, and logisticians from the Department of Health (DoH) and several NGOs. Over this period, he covered various designated sites in Phoenix, Tongaat, KwaMashu and Inanda.

‘Every morning would begin with meetings with all teams and co-ordinators from the DoH in a community hall or centre with physical distancing precautions observed. Here we received instructions pertaining to testing sites and thereafter proceeded to collect test kits, registers, personal protective equipment (PPE), and forms. We would then scout for an appropriate site in the designated area. I would don the PPE and stay in the mobile clinic, whilst the rest of the team captured patients’ details and discerned close contacts before sending people to me for testing.

‘I tested between 50 and 70 people a day. Most people were anxious; however, I reassured them that the process is quick. In addition, I advocated for proper hand washing, use of alcohol based sanitisers, physical distancing and masks. At the end of every day, samples would be dropped off at a National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) mobile, and we would report stats and hand in forms to the co-ordinators.’

Narain identified several challenges. ‘There was poor mobilisation in some areas. With testing, there is also an increased risk of transmission but we were provided with PPE. Furthermore, the community health centre in Inanda where we used to discard medical waste, recorded infections amongst its healthcare workers and had to close, resulting in the halting of testing. Also, in one community, a team was allegedly hijacked – highlighting the dangers of community work.

‘Despite these challenges, it was a humbling and inspiring experience to engage with CHWs and South Africans in various communities. I would like to thank the MatCH and the DoH for providing me with this opportunity to serve.’

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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