Former President of Botswana Honours Memory of Chief Albert Luthuli

Former President of Botswana Honours Memory of Chief Albert Luthuli
Former President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Mr Festus Mogae (left) greets UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld as he arrives for the 11th Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture.

The former President of the Republic of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogae, described Africa’s first winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and President of the ANC Chief Albert Luthuli as a distinguished man of peace and a devoted Christian.

Mogae, President of Botswana from 1998 to 2008 when he was succeeded by current leader Ian Khama, was delivering the 11th Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture at UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

The lecture - held in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture, the Luthuli Foundation and the Luthuli Museum - was themed Luthuli Remembered.

Mogae said Chief Luthuli was an historic and heroic figure in Africa’s political history. ‘He was a distinct freedom and human rights fighter. His major strategy was peaceful resistance and a passionate belief in peaceful co-existence of people, communities and nations. 

‘We are rightly gathered here today to honour and remember a life well lived.  An exemplary life indeed. Chief Albert Luthuli bequeathed to us a tradition of tolerance, love, mutual respect, multiracialism and, above all, peaceful settlement of differences in all spheres of life.  He remains not only an inspiration to African leaders but also a symbol of peace upon which we should all reflect and from which we should learn,’ said Mogae.

Reflecting on Chief Luthuli’s upbringing, Mogae said a blend of African values and Christian tradition produced a man of distinction with a deep understanding of the values embedded in Ubuntu and the principles of freedom.

‘Chief Albert Luthuli left Zimbabwe at a young age for Groutville village in KwaZulu-Natal where he was further raised under the same Christian and African values and custom by his paternal uncle – also a Chief and a devoted Christian.  Chief Albert Luthuli therefore inherited a balanced mix of African and Christian traditions which, as renowned South African authors Mongane Wally Serote and Kumalo have noted, moulded him and many other leaders of his time into a peaceful but formidable personality.’

Welcoming guests, UKZN Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said people could learn a lot from Chief Luthuli especially in areas of dedication, selflessness and humility, and UKZN would continue to play a role in advancing and preserving this legacy.

Van Jaarsveld announced that from 2018 the University would house the Albert Luthuli Foundation on the Howard College campus adjacent to the UKZN Foundation.

Chairperson of the Luthuli Museum Mr Jabulani Sithole asked what South Africa was doing now to take the baton forward and improve the lives of its people. He said elders were a resource of knowledge and wisdom and it was in this context that the Luthuli Museum welcomed Mogae.

Acting Deputy Director General at the Department of Arts and Culture Mr Vusithemba Ndima said: ‘The lecture has continued, since its inception in 2004, to provide an opportunity for the South African population at large to revisit and relive the legacy of the Chief and the vision of those before us who believed that the future is today.’    

TV and Radio Personality Mr Peter Ndoro co-ordinated questions between the audience and panellists who included Chief Albert Luthuli’s granddaughter, Ms Nana Ngobese, and Sithole and Mogae.

Questions raised included the current political events in Zimbabwe, female representation in government and corporate leadership positions, unemployment among the youth and challenges faced by young people today.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

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UKZN Marks World AIDS Day 2017

UKZN Marks World AIDS Day 2017
Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim (fifth from left) delivered the 2017 World AIDS Day keynote address at UKZN’s Westville campus.

Globally, there are 37 million people living with HIV and there are about 5 000 new infections every day –70 percent of which happen in Africa with South Africa home to one out of five infections in the world.

This is according to the Associate Scientific Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, who was speaking at a UKZN function to mark World AIDS Day.

Exploring the history of HIV/AIDS, Abdool Karim examined the first reported cases by the Centre for Disease Control in the early 1980s. ‘We started to see young people, who didn’t typically use health services, coming in really, really sick and dying shortly afterwards.

‘For some reason, we didn’t see this in southern Africa,’ she said. Fast forward 30 years, and sub-Saharan Africa has become the epicentre for the disease. ‘The heart of our economy, the heart of our society was suddenly being decimated – it really mobilised a whole lot of activists in an unprecedented way.’

Abdool Karim said HIV was discovered by a woman – Nobel Prize winner and virologist Dr Françoise Barré-Sinoussi. ‘A lot of people are unaware that within two years of the first case of AIDS, Dr Barré-Sinoussi discovered HIV, while a year later UKZN honorary doctorate graduand Dr Robert Gallo developed the HIV antibody test.  These two developments really opened the door for us to start to respond to the epidemic in a much more robust and systematic manner,’ she said. ‘The role of activism and social mobilisation in the HIV response is unprecedented in the context of health and there is a lot we can learn from this experience for other health and social challenges.’  

Abdool Karim said ARVs made possible two of the biggest breakthroughs in the epidemic - changing the face of AIDS from inevitable death to being a chronic manageable condition and preventing transmission from infected mothers to infants. She said the transmission rate used to be between 30 to 40 percent but was now down to less than two percent.

She says the use of ARVs in unaffected people could also prevent HIV infection and that in the future, she believes ARV’s will be available either as an injection, or as an implant, or in a way that is more innovative and easier than taking tablets.She said circumcision could reduce infection for men by between 50 to 60 percent.

‘This confluence of knowledge at this point of our response needs to be used to generate innovative and radical ideas on how to change the current high rates of new infections.  This is particularly important in KwaZulu-Natal which is the epicentre of the epidemic.’  She challenged everyone to think about what they could do to make their actions count, starting with knowing their HIV status.

Abdool Karim did her first degree at the then University of Durban-Westville, with majors in microbiology and biochemistry, discovering her passion for immunology. She is acknowledged globally for her lifetime of work in the field of HIV/AIDS and was recently appointed UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV.

Abdool Karim, together with her husband Professor Salim Abdool Karim, recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute for Human Virology (IHV). She has been named among 100 influential and inspirational women around the world by the BBC for her work in science and, in 2013, was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe: Bronze by President Jacob Zuma in recognition of her “outstanding work in the field of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis research and health policy development”.

Mrs Busi Ramabodu of UKZN’s Human Resources Division thanked all those who had made the day a success and acknowledged the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, and his Executive for attending and being tested for HIV.

Hosted by the Human Resources Division and Student Services, the programme included an address by UKZN’s Ms Nomonde Magantolo on the University’s 90 90 90 UNAIDS strategy, while the importance of testing was emphasised by HIV activist Ms Jabu Sikohosana and a demonstration on self-testing for HIV was given by Biosure’s Ms Anne Beltran.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

Photograph: Albert Hirasen 

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Food Security Academic Appointed Agricultural Research Council Deputy Chair

Food Security Academic Appointed Agricultural Research Council Deputy Chair
Dr Joyce Chitja.

Dr Joyce Chitja of the African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) has been appointed Deputy Chairperson on the board of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) for a three-year term.

Chitja, an ARC board member for two previous terms, said she was honoured to be appointed to the new role.

‘I feel positive in my new position despite the grand challenges agriculture is facing in the country and globally. The ARC team I serve alongside are capable and highly committed - some of the country’s best scientists are working in the ARC,’ she said. ‘I see it as a serious responsibility as the ARC is a state-owned entity responsible for agricultural research and for upholding food security in the country, in every sphere of agriculture.’

Chitja’s responsibilities will involve supporting the strategic goals of the ARC, while also filling a second role as Chair of the ARC’s Research, Development and Evaluation Committee.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Albert Modi, and Acting Dean of SAEES Professor Onisimo Mutanga congratulated Chitja on the national recognition for her work in the area of food security.

Chitja completed her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in Horticultural Science and a Master of Social Science in Community Resources at UKZN, before graduating in 2008 with a PhD in Food Security, the first woman in South Africa to do so. She went on to hold a post in the Department of Land Affairs, returning to academia at UKZN in 2010.

Chitja is an experienced agricultural development scientist and food security expert with a rich understanding of agriculture in South Africa, especially challenges in the small-scale farming sector. Chitja has published more than 21 peer-reviewed journal articles and has graduated more than 17 masters and PhD students and many more at honours level.

Chitja was the second runner up in the emerging researcher category in the Department of Science and Technology’s Women in Science Awards in 2012 and has published peer-reviewed articles in esteemed publications, and contributed to book chapters and other publications. 

She was a visiting scholar at Cornell University in the United States in 2011 and continues to host Cornell research students for focused research visits among smallholder farmers. She is also a visiting scholar at the prestigious Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies (STIAS) where she intermittently visits and works with an international team of senior researchers of smallholder farming in southern Africa.

Her current research explores smallholder farming systems in the areas of value chains, land and water use security and access, livelihoods, vulnerability, household food security, gender and empowerment.   She has been awarded multi-year and multi-million rand research projects from the Water Research Commission, enabling the studies of her postgraduate students.

Chitja says her current focus and a source of great joy is her supervision of postgraduate students - two of whom graduated cum laude this year, and have continued into doctoral studies. Her student team are examining small-scale agriculture and food security, steadily earning recognition for the good quality research they produce by publishing and presenting at national and global conferences.

Chitja is also part of an international team on the organising committee for the third International Conference on Global Food Security taking place in Cape Town this month, where she will chair a theme and has been involved in selecting papers.

Words: Christine Cuénod

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Education Student Excels in Dancing

Education Student Excels in Dancing
Ms Amanda Shezi and her dance partner Mr Sakhile Mkhwanazi who achieved great success during this year’s KZN Championships.

Third year Education student Ms Amanda Shezi achieved top rankings in ballroom  and Latin dancing during the KZN Championships 2017 competition.

Shezi and her partner, Mr Sakhile Mkhwanazi, were ranked first in ballroom and third in Latin.

She attributes her success to avid dancer Mr Nkululeko Sibiya who introduced her to ballroom and Latin dance in 2016.

Before that, Shezi had neither danced socially nor entered championship competitions.

She entered two competitions in 2016 with no success. ‘I felt like a failure and I gave up dancing,’ she said.

Sibiya encouraged her back onto the dance floor reminding her that it wasn’t about winning, but rather about the lesson that came with failing. 

‘That was what I needed to hear,’ said Shezi, who rehearsed every day and overcame many challenges, including not having a partner to dance with. ‘Sport has taught me a lot about dedication, loyalty and hard work. I believe that those three components build a champion in all spheres of life,’ she said.

Luckily, Shezi found a partner in Mkhwanazi two weeks before this year’s KZN Championships competition and with him savoured success.

Shezi is also a netball player, having won gold, silver and bronze medals with the Holzer netball team in various competitions.

Words: Melissa Mungroo; Sabelo Nxumalo

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Accounting and Financial Skills Workshop for Entrepreneurs

Accounting and Financial Skills Workshop for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurial workshop held at UKZN’s Westville campus.

UKZN hosted its first Accounting and Financial Skills Workshop for Entrepreneurs on the Westville campus last week.

Speaking at the event, Acting Executive Director: Human Resources, Mr Kishore Gobardan, said empowering people using entrepreneurship and innovation was a key focus of the University’s new Strategic Plan. ‘We’d like to shift the idea from being job seekers to job creators to move the country forward,’ said Gobardan.

Chartered Accountant and UKZN lecturer Dr Rajendra Rajaram examined budgeting for entrepreneurs. Rajaram, who is involved in business rescue and turnaround, underscored the importance of acting on a budget and not just preparing one. ‘Make useful economic decisions based on the preparation of a budget,’ he said.

He suggested that budgets be reviewed periodically – ‘it’s not something that’s meant to be cast in stone and filed away,’ said  Rajaram, citing an example of a textile importer who reviews his company’s budget frequently due to the volatility of the rand/dollar exchange rate.

He reminded entrepreneurs that the main reason for getting into business was to generate a profit. ‘If your business is not profitable, your business is not sustainable and it’s going to close down,’ he said.

Ms Salma Vanker discussed record keeping for small businesses and emphasised accountability and transparency when preparing annual financial statements.

Vanker said literature shows that ‘80 % of small business failure is as a result of poor record keeping.’

She said when preparing tax returns, entrepreneurs should keep records of assets, liabilities and income and expenditure, with supporting documentation, for five years.

She recommended practical solutions to maintain records on free online cloud storage and listed Google Drive, Dropbox, Samsung S-Drive and Apple’s iStorage to keep documents in a safe space.

Vanker suggested using Tiny Scanner, a free app that allows the user to take a picture of a document and translate it into a PDF, which can then be stored online. She also suggested suppliers email invoices as they can be downloaded and easily stored.

She proposed using First National Bank’s free banking solutions or Microsoft Excel to keep good records.

Auditor and lecturer, Ms Hlengiwe Ndlela, spoke on internal controls and business ethics. ‘Internal controls are the foundation for your business - if they are strong, you can trust your employees to do what they are supposed to, because it’s defined.’

Ndlela recommended doing cash counts at the end of each day as a control activity to help prevent theft in a business.  She advised monitoring to ensure internal controls were properly implemented.

She cited the King IV Report on Corporate Governance and encouraged ethical culture, good performance and legitimacy. She advocated developing a code of ethics to ensure that businesses run ethically. Business ethics are ‘something that you choose to do – it’s not a mistake’.

Mr Siva Govender, a tax specialist and lecturer at UKZN, examined tax planning in small to medium enterprises.

Govender delved into the different types of business entities and their tax impact, including Small Business Corporations (SBC) and Sole Proprietors. He emphasised that when a business closed down or when the entrepreneur died, tax obligations still applied.

He cautioned against tax evasion, which could result in imprisonment and/or fines. ‘I love deductions, we all love deductions, but they must be legal,’ he said.

Certified financial planner and UKZN alumnus, Dr Prince Sarpong, took an in-depth look at retirement planning. He encouraged planning early for retirement and diversifying investments. ‘No risks, no rewards,’ he said, but ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. He warned that if it seemed too good to be true, it probably was!

He advised saving immediately, automating savings, using the right retirement vehicle and protecting assets. ‘You are your first major asset,’ he said.

UKZN’s Professor Mabutho Sibanda cautioned against borrowing short term to invest long-term. Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Sibanda emphasised the importance of a “savings culture” instead of borrowing and consuming. ‘We are somehow mortgaging ourselves – we are becoming slaves,’ he said.

Human Resources’s Ms Busi Ramabodu echoed the sentiments of all those who found the workshop informative and useful. ‘I’m certain that after today, your business will be better,’ she said. She thanked everyone who made the workshop a success and promised UKZN would host similar events in the future. 

The workshop was hosted by Human Resources and the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, with support from Corporate Relations.

Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer 

Photographs: Albert Hirasen

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From Demonstrators to Qualified Teachers

From Demonstrators to Qualified Teachers
From left: Mr Molise Nhlapo (Assistant Lecturer), Mr Meluleki Shabalala, Ms Asanda Siphahlanga, Mr Bongokuhle Ndaba, Mr Lindani Mngoma and Dr Lebala Kolobe (Lecturer and Module Co-ordinator).

Staff in the School of Education’s Chemistry discipline are celebrating their latest crop of graduates on the Edgewood campus - students who progressed from demonstrators to fully qualified teachers.

The graduates shared their experiences for the year that they worked together in two of the chemistry modules as demonstrators in the Discipline. Of most concern to them were the challenges of working with their peers who expected a lot from them.

The demonstrators said there was a need for a support base to help them navigate this split role of being both a student and a demonstrator assisting fellow students.

On the positive side, demonstrators said the experience helped them gain a better understanding of content, and increased their confidence in the subject matter and related science process skills.

Demonstrators usually compete for these positions and only a few are selected.

According to lecturer and module co-ordinator Dr Lebala Kolobe, lecturers are responsible for the development of demonstrators.

‘In most cases, students find themselves doing this duty only for a few months,’ said Kolobe. ‘From the lecturer’s point of view, there is no continuity in terms of building this team over a period of time, that would benefit both the students being assisted and the Discipline itself in terms of creating a pool of competent demonstrators. Therefore, the smooth running of this endeavour depends on all parties playing their role.’

‘Demonstrators are completing their Bachelor of Education in Physical Sciences degree after which they expect to obtain teaching positions in schools nearby while they pursue an honours degree in Science Education. So we wish them well in their professional growth and continued collegiality,’ said Kolobe.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

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Construction Studies Students "Build" Hope at Youth Centre

Construction Studies Students
Construction Studies staff and students at the Lakehaven Child and Youth Care Centre.

A visit by students in UKZN’s Discipline of Construction Studies to the Lakehaven Child and Youth Care Centre in Durban elicited smiles, gratitude and hope for 60 children living there.

It also proved to be a memorable experience for the six teams of third year students in the Discipline’s Project Management module.

The Centre caters for the needs of abused, neglected and abandoned children.

Dr Nishani Harinarain of Construction Studies led the initiative, allocating students to teams to handle the unique management-focused outreach project.

Their task, according to Harinarain, was to actively assist the local community, giving practical expression to UKZN’s community outreach aspirations. ‘Students were required to execute a charitable initiative of their choice,’ she said.

‘The aim was to impart some soft skills to the students to help them become better, more compassionate leaders.’

Activities included the collection of non-perishable food, stationery and sports equipment, fund-raising, ecologically themed drama performances, and “Zumba” dance team activities.

‘The students’ dedication and commitment surpassed all my expectations,’ said Harinarain. ‘We could not fit all the items collected in the bus hired to take us to the Centre, and had to use private vehicles as well.

‘Seeing my students interact with the children and everyone laughing and smiling brought tears to my eyes - this was one of the highlights of my teaching career,’ she added.

Group leaders Mr Isharlan Pillay, Mr Shaylin Rambridge, Mr Shamren Santhcoomar, Ms Zanele Ngcobo and Mr Mohamed Armoed said the experience was a highlight of their degrees. Pillay said that giving back to the community was paramount, and he hoped their contributions would enable the Centre to carry out its daily functions and support its residents.

Rambridge said the experience taught teamwork skills, while Santhcoomar said the effort required was well worth seeing the children’s joy. Ngcobo added that they took the opportunity to share fun water-saving tips with the children and left them with something educational.  Armoed said education was one of the most valuable contributions the team could leave the children with.

Harinarain said the experience brought to mind a quote from English statesman Winston Churchill: ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’

Words: Nishani Harinarain and Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Nishani Harinarain

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Need for Climate Resilient Farming Emphasised at UKZN-Hosted Workshop

Need for Climate Resilient Farming Emphasised at UKZN-Hosted Workshop
Participants at a climate resilience workshop at UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm.

The importance of introducing climate resilient agriculture was highlighted at a workshop on UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm.

Researchers from the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) who are involved in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality’s (UMDM) uMngeni Resilience Project (URP), hosted the half-day workshop at UKZN’s Ukulinga Research Farm to focus on capacity building within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (KZNDARD).

The URP is a climate change adaptation project funded by the global Adaptation Fund through the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). It includes a component that is aimed at improving capacity and sharing learnings between communities leading the implementation of early warnings systems, climate-proof settlements and climate-resistant agriculture, all of which are research targets of the URP.

This component led to the workshop - the first in a series - to train KZNDARD extension officers within uMgungundlovu on climate change adaptation. UKZN and KZNDARD maintain a working relationship under an official memorandum of understanding.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Albert Modi, who is also the project leader for the URP, opened the workshop and thanked KZNDARD officials for their attendance as well as UMDM officials involved in the URP, Ms Lungi Ndlovu and Mr Lindokuhle Khanyile.

‘Part of this component provides the opportunity for SAEES and UKZN to support the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in mainstreaming adaptation practices into its extension services and farmer support programmes,’ said Modi, who emphasised KZNDARD’s importance in contributing to the success of the URP.

Mr Dayanand Chetty, Deputy Manager of uMgungundlovu Extension and Advisory Services at KZNDARD, thanked the University and UMDM for the opportunity and for inviting scientists, extension officers and practitioners from KZNDARD.

‘There is no doubt climate change is happening,’ said Chetty.

He referred to predictions of uMgungundlovu and Pietermaritzburg experiencing high intensity storms more frequently which was increasing requests for protection – such as hail netting - against disasters being received by officials in local government.  This was an indication that climate-related events were beginning to impact local districts.

‘That’s the purpose of us having this partnership - to look at methods of how we can progress and grow our crops, what protection we can offer, and how we can overcome the challenges of a changing climate,’ said Chetty.

‘We are committed to the programme, we’d like to give you our full support,’ he concluded.

Against the backdrop of events like the massive Durban storm in October, KZNDARD representatives emphasised the importance of the URP’s goal of introducing climate resistant agriculture, which includes new and traditional ways of growing food so that farmers have enough healthy food to feed their families.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Christine Cuénod

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Statistics Workshop Enhances Capacity in Biostatistics

Statistics Workshop Enhances Capacity in Biostatistics
Participants at the Advanced Multilevel Modelling in Biostatistics workshop on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The Discipline of Statistics in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS) hosted a three-day Advanced Multilevel Modelling in Biostatistics workshop on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The aim was to enhance capacity in this area of Biostatistics which is the development of methods and theory and an application of statistics in biology, mainly concerned with medicine and health.

Professor Henry Mwambi and Professor Samuel Manda of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) hosted the workshop. UKZN’s Professor Temesgen Zewotir and Dr Tarylee Reddy were among workshop facilitators who covered model diagnostics and statistical computing respectively.

The workshop, which Mwambi and Manda plan to be the first of many, attracted 30 participants, mainly from SAMRC, UKZN, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), Durban University of Technology and Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.

This workshop formed part of the Wellcome Trust’s Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics (SSACAB).

SSACAB is a consortium of 20 African and northern hemisphere institutions, led by the University of the Witwatersrand and including the KEMRI|Wellcome Trust Research Programme, UKZN, the University of Warwick and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The Dean and Head of the SMSCS and the President of the MRC support the SSACAB programme and its related activities.

The Consortium provides funding for masters and PhD studies, and aims to develop and improve biostatistical skills among researchers, with an ultimate goal of creating research nodes of excellence to grow the discipline and a biostatistical network to nurture researchers with advanced skills and expertise.

Mwambi and Manda indicated that similar workshops would take place at least once a year at the institutions which are part of the Consortium. Mwambi added that the kind of training offered by this kind of workshop provided those who did not do further courses after their first degree with the opportunity to be exposed to this kind of advanced training and close knowledge gaps.

Many alumni from UKZN’s biostatistics programmes have gone on to work as biostatisticians and academics in leading medical and bioinformatics research institutes and centres and universities within South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and overseas.

UKZN boasts a strong biostatistics programme and training, and Mwambi hopes to make Pietermaritzburg a centre of excellence in biostatistics.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Christine Cuénod

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Atmospheric Research Group hosts Third Training Workshop

Atmospheric Research Group hosts Third Training Workshop
School of Chemistry and Physics students and staff at the third ATMRES training workshop.

UKZN’s Atmospheric Research Group (ATMRES) recently hosted its third training workshop for masters and PhD candidates, with the topic being Atmospheric Remote Sensing using ground and space borne techniques.

Fifty-two participants, including 18 presenters, attended the three-day workshop, which included a laser safety course. More than half of those present were students from UKZN, UNISA, the University of the WitwatersrandNorth-West University, the University of Fort Hare, the University of Zululand (UNIZULU), the University of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela University.

The annual research project workshop was funded through the International Council for Scientific Union (ICSU) by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the African Laser Centre (ALC). It was held a day before the training workshop on the topic of Stratosphere-Troposphere Interactions and Change, a bilateral initiative between South Africa and France, funded by the NRF-French Embassy Bilateral PROTEA research initiative. 

In the past, UKZN has hosted an Atmospheric Remote Sensing Education and Training (ATM-RESET) workshop to provide French delegates with remote sensing lectures, training, practical exercises and teaching methods.

The third ATMRESET workshop was intended to identify the research goals and plan for the future in terms of Atmospheric Studies in South Africa, with presentations covering a wide range of topics.

The first day focused on atmospheric remote sensing using ground and space borne techniques, the second day on LiDAR and other remote sensing instruments, and the third on ground-based atmospheric remote sensing.

This workshop involved academics and scientists from UKZN, the Centre for Development of Advanced Technologies (CDTA) in Algeria, and the South African Weather Service (SAWS), as well as academics from the University of Réunion Island.

A survey among participants found that student participation and attendance was good and that students responded positively to what they were learning. The general consensus was that the workshop was well organised, with presenters indicating they had enjoyed the experience.

Students generally agreed that presenters were passionate, enthusiastic, well-prepared and knowledgeable, making use of video and practical examples to help clarify the subject matter. Students left with a heightened interest in Earth Observation and in a wide range of remote sensing techniques and instruments.

The annual South African Society for Atmospheric Science conference will be hosted by ATMRES in KwaZulu-Natal in 2018, possibly accompanied by another ATMRESET training workshop.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Sivakumar Venkataraman

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UKZN Wins NRF Excelleration Award

UKZN Wins NRF Excelleration Award
Dr Albert van Jaarsveld (centre) received the Excelleration Award from Ms Justine Cresswell and Dr Rocky Skeef.

UKZN has won the 2017 National Research Foundation (NRF) Excelleration Award for the most improved research performance, measured against a selection of critical indicators.

The award was sponsored by Clarivate Analytics to show the company’s support of the initiative and the acceleration of innovation in Africa.

UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld accepted the prize on behalf of the University.

Derived from the words “excellence” and “acceleration”, the NRF Excelleration Award acknowledges South African research institutions for improved research performances.

At the presentation to van Jaarsveld were the Head of Clarivate Analytics’ sub-Saharan Africa region Ms Justine Cresswell; Life Sciences Regional Manager for the sub-Saharan Africa region, Mr Randall Crisp; Web of Science Regional Manager for sub-Saharan Africa, Ms Tracey October, and the  NRF’s Executive Director: Reviews and Evaluation, Dr Rocky Skeef.

The Clarivate Analytics prize includes a complimentary subscription for 12 months to the Integrity solution, the essential knowledge platform for empowering drug research, discovery and development.

Clarivate Analytics accelerates the pace of innovation by providing trusted insights and analytics to customers around the world, enabling them to discover, protect and commercialise new ideas faster. It owns and operates a collection of leading subscription-based services focused on scientific and academic research, patent analytics and regulatory standards, pharmaceutical and biotech intelligence, trademark protection, domain brand protection and intellectual property management. Clarivate Analytics is an independent company with more than 4 000 employees, operating in more than 100 countries and owns well-known brands including Web of Science, Cortellis, Derwent, CompuMark, MarkMonitor and Techstreet, among others. For more information, visit

Words: NdabaOnline

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USekelashansela Ubambe Izimbizo Nabasebenzi

USekelashansela Ubambe Izimbizo Nabasebenzi
ISekelashansela noMphathi uDkt Albert van Jaarsveld ubebambe izimbizo kumakhempasi womahlanu ngenhloso yokuxhumana nabasebenzi baseNyuvesi.

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ISekelashansela noMphathi uDkt Albert van Jaarsveld ubebambe izimbizo emakhempasini amahlanu eNyuvesi.

Inhloso yalezi zimbizo bekukwakha ithuba lokuxhumana nabasebenzi mayelana nezinkinga ababhekene nazo eNyuvesi.

Ikhempasi yokuqala kwaba eyaseMgungundlovu lapho abasebenzi baphakamise izinselelo ezixhumene nokuncipha kohlelo lwemihlomulo nokuncishiswa kwesibonelelo sokuhambela izingqungquthela okushiya izikhungo zocwaningo zidonsa kanzima. Okunye okwavela okumayelana nezilinganiso zohlelo lokuphathwa kokusebenza, iminyaka yokuthatha umhlalaphansi, ezemidlalo, nokubuyekezwa kwesizindamininingo sezababhizinisi ukuze kufakwe nezinkampani ezisakhula zihlanganyele nezinkampani ezinkulu.

Ongumhleli Wezabakhubazekile uNkk Yanga Khuboni ukhulume ngodaba lokufinyeleleka ezindaweni zokusebenzela kwabakhubazekile. UVan Jaarsveld uqinisekise uKhuboni ukuthi loludaba lungolunye lokuthathwa njengokubalulekile futhi okuphuthumayo e-UKZN futhi sekutholakale nesibonelelo sokulungisa lokhu esikhishwe yi-UKZN Foundation. Ucele abasebenzi ukuthi babalule izindawo ezidinga ukuphuthunywa ukuze zilungiswe ngokushesha.

USekelashansela ube esephikelela ekhempasini i-Edgewood lapho kwavela lezi zinselelo ukusweleka kwendawo yokupaka izimoto zabasebenzi nabafundi, izigameko zokugqekeza ekhempasini nasezindaweni ezihlala abafundi, ukusweleka kokusekwa kwabafundi basemazweni angaphandle nokungenziwa ngcono kwenqubomgomo emayelana nokuhlukunyezwa ngokoncansi ekhempasini.

Isigaba sasekhempasini i-Westville besinesasasa kakhulu ngokwezithameli ebezikhona. Izinselelo ezingaphakanyiswanga e-Edgewood naseMgungundlovu zihlanganise nalezi ukuguqulwa kwezimokusebenza zabasebenzi kube ezintsha, ukuthuthukiswa kwabasebenzi nokusatshalaliswa kwamakhono ngokubanika amathuba okukhula ezikhundleni zabo. Ephendula, uSekelashansela uthe ukuthuthukiswa kwabasebenzi kuyingxenye ebalulekile eNyuvesi, wabuye wengeza ngokuthi nohlelo lokukhushulelwa kwabasebenzi ezikhundleni luyabuyekezwa ukuze kuqinisekiswe ukuthi ilandela inqubo elandelwa ezweni naphesheya kwezilwandle.

Indlela kubusa emazingazinga, izinhlelokusebenza ezingasebenzi noma ezintulekayo, izindaba ezingezinhle emaphephandabeni, umkhankaso wemali yokufunda i-#FeesMustFall# nezokuphepha ekhempasini kube ezinye zezinselelo ezivele e-Howard College. UVan Jaarsveld uphendule konke okuphakanyisiwe futhi wagcizelela ukubaluleka kwesiko nosimo okuyikho okungumongo wohlelosu lweNyuvesi olusha.

Ugcizelele ukubaluleka kwabantu ekuqinisekiseni ukuthi izinhlelo ezikhona zisetshenziswa ngendlela efanele. ‘Kumele siyeka ukusola izinhlelokusebenza,’ usho kanje.

USolwazi Anand Singh womkhakha weSayensi Yemvelaphi neNhlalo Yabantu ukwamukele ukuguquka kwabaphathi beNyuvesi okwenzeka ngaphansi kobuholi buka –van Jaarsveld, waphinde futhi wasekela ukwakhiwa kwesimo esivuna inhlalo esendaweni ethandekayo’.

‘Asizibophezele ekubeni uhlobo lweNyuvesi esifuna ukuba yiyo,’kusho u-van Jaarsveld.

Ukukhushulelwa esikhundleni akuhambelani neNyuvesi yonke, kubhekisiswa nokukhushulelweni ezikhundleni emisebenzini eyenziwa abasebenzi abangaholelwa i-UKZN, uhlaka lwamaKolishi, udaba lokusabalala kweziqu i-MBCHB ezikoleni ezine kanye nohlelokulelela lwezimoto kube okunye okuphakanyiswe ekhempasini i-Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine session.

Mayelana nobekusabalele emaphephandabeni ngeNyuvesi, uSekelashansela uqinisekise abasebenzi ngokuthi iNyuvesi isebenza kanzima ukukhuculula izinhlelo zayo.

Uthe umgomo we-REACH uzobhekisiswa ezithangamini zangonyaka wezi- 2018.

U-Van Jaarsveld ucele abasebenzi ukuba basebenzise izimisompilo ze-REACH futhi kube khona isibophokubika.

Ngu-Sithembile Shabangu no-Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer

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DRILL Welcomes New Fellows

DRILL Welcomes New Fellows
DRILL Principal Investigators with DRILL Fellows cohort 1 and 2.

The second cohort of 10 Research Fellows has been welcomed into the Developing Research Innovation, Localisation and Leadership in South Africa (DRILL) programme managed by UKZN’s College of Health Sciences (CHS).

An orientation workshop was held for the incoming Fellows to get to know staff, principal investigators, advisory committee members and Fellows from Cohort 1 in addition to understanding the goals and objectives of the programme.

The project secured a significant investment for a five-year period from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. The research training grant funds the training of 20 emerging researchers from UKZN and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (KZN DoH), with the aim of producing world-class scientists, creating new knowledge to address local health challenges.

The second cohort consists of five junior UKZN faculty members drawn from various departments from UKZN’s College of Health Sciences and five Fellows from the KZN DoH.

Programme director of the workshop was DRILL Project Manager, Dr Nisha Nadesan-Reddy, who welcomed the Fellows and introduced speakers. Communicating Principal Investigator Professor Petra Brysiewicz congratulated the new Fellows for being selected and encouraged them to use the workshop to network with their new colleagues and the many other DRILL role players who will support them over the next three years. Co-Principal Investigators introduced the five scientific tracks they lead to help the new Fellows understand the scope of the health issues prioritised under DRILL.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the CHS, Professor Busi Ncama; Manager of Epidemiology, Health Research and Knowledge Management Unit at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Dr Elizabeth Lutge; members of the DRILL Advisory Committee, the DRILL Principal Investigators and Fellows from the first cohort, welcomed the new cohort and stressed the importance of a programme such as DRILL.

They advised the new cohort to commit themselves to the training programme to enhance their research knowledge and skills. ‘What really excites me more about DRILL is the relationship between the University and the Department of Health,’ said Ncama, who added that the DRILL programme had her full support as it matched her vision of supporting emerging researchers who have new and fresh research ideas.

The Fellows from the first cohort emphasised the importance of fully committing to the programme, and attending the various training sessions. ‘This is a fantastic personal development, academic and research opportunity, and I encourage you to make the most of it,’ said DRILL Fellow, Dr Diane van Staden.

Words: Lungelo Khanyile

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UKZN’s Business School hosts Panel Discussion on Economic Growth

UKZN’s Business School hosts Panel Discussion on Economic Growth
Highlights from the Business Breakfast Seminar on Inclusive Economic Growth.

The topical issue of inclusive economic growth was under the spotlight at the Business Breakfast hosted by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) in partnership with Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN).

A discussion, facilitated by SABC journalist Ms Minoshni Pillay, involved panelists the Director of Crescendo Management Services, Mr Moses Tembe; IBV International Vaults founder and CEO, Mr Ashok Sewnarain, and AF Lead’s Managing Director, Dr Emil Nothnagel, debating issues of South Africa’s stagnating growth, corruption in leadership and its impact on the country’s economy, the National Development Plan and state capture.

Tembe said it was imperative for the country’s leadership to develop a culture of accountability and responsibility. ‘As a country we are dealing with the Guptas, Eskom, SAA and people killing each other for no reason meaning our leaders are busy investigating those issues instead of focusing and discussing economic growth and how to take the country forward.’

He said the culture of corruption had to change and only the country’s leadership could bring about that change.

‘The alleged Eskom spending in numbers alone would have been enough to wipe out all of the shacks in South Africa. This would not have only solved the housing issue but would have created employment. We have to get the culture of leadership right from the top so that we can get service delivery right at the bottom,’ said Tembe.

Sewnarain said leadership was about having the courage to do what is right and put the needs of the people ahead of personal gain.

‘As an entrepreneur and a businessman I have to ensure that my staff, supply chain, customers and the community is kept happy because without these people I am nothing. Inclusive growth means united, economic means business, growth means success, therefore inclusive growth needs strong determined leadership to succeed, he said.

Nothnagel stated that South Africa has great policies on a national level but the problem is the implementation on a local level.

‘As a community member, I must stop looking at the municipality and asking them what they will do for me and ask myself what I can do to help the municipality benefit my community. From management to leadership, it is about time we put people in charge that can lead and understand the power that our vote gives us and elect people that will represent us and our communities to the best of their ability,’ he said.

The discussion was followed by a question and answer segment where the audience raised issues of how come there is no regulatory body for leadership in government, the role of the private sector in opening up the economy and gender equality in the work place. Most comments from the audience praised the panel for their insights and called for more events of this nature.

GSB&L’s Academic Leader Dr McDonald Kanyangale said that as a business school creating platforms where issues of national interest could be discussed and debated, such events were important for the School, which looked forward to hosting similar functions in future.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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Excellence Lauded and Rewarded at Architecture Awards

Excellence Lauded and Rewarded at Architecture Awards
Recipients of the 2017 Architecture Awards and Scholarships.

The Architecture discipline within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) held their annual awards ceremony on the Howard College campus.

Students who excelled academically were recognised through various awards and scholarships.

Acting Dean of the School Professor Ernest Khalema congratulated the prize winners saying: ‘The calibre of work that you produce is a testament to your input and dedication. You have shone a light on Architecture.’

He encouraged the students to continue to excel.

Ms Bonnie Bopela was awarded the Nsika Foundation Scholarship for Architecture. ‘It feels great to receive this scholarship. It will definitely help me with my studies. Thank you to the Nsika Foundation.’

The award is based both on academic merit and on financial need and is only awarded to one deserving student a year in their first year of study.’ The scholarship covers tuition and residence fees, for each year of study from the second year of undergraduate studies in architecture until completion of the master’s degree in Architecture, provided satisfactory performance is maintained at each year of study.

Mr Brent Buchanan of Nsika Architecture & Design congratulated Bophela saying she was a deserving student who displayed both academic and technical talent. ‘We invest in students’ education because we believe they are the future and can take the profession further. UKZN is my alma mater and to give back and help students achieve their dreams is inspiration for us.’

Other students who received scholarships and awards were:

Sherwood Bond Bursary Fund worth R5 000

Brian Bernstein Memorial Scholarship worth R20 000

South African Council for the Architectural Profession Scholarship worth R10 000

Garth Moyes Good Fellowship Award worth R1 000

Geoffrey le Sueuer  Scholarship worth R15 000

Words: Melissa Mungroo; Sabelo Nxumalo

Photograph:  Ziphezinhle Biyela; Kanagie Naidoo 

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Celebrating 40 Years at UKZN!

Celebrating 40 Years at UKZN!
Professor Michael Savage.

Professor Michael Savage of the Discipline of Agrometeorology in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) this year celebrated 40 years of teaching and conducting research at UKZN.

Savage, whose career at the Institution started at the then University of Natal in 1977, has been responsible for the development of all the Agrometeorology course content at UKZN. A passionate and empathetic teacher, he is the recipient of UKZN’s 2014 Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA) and also a fellowship from the University in 1996. He received the Council of Higher Education and Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of South Africa national teaching excellence award in 2015.

Savage’s research focus is on topics such as adverse weather, biometeorology, energy balance of various surfaces, micrometeorology and open water evaporation. He developed a unique Agrometeorological Instrumentation Mast (AIM) web-based data and information teaching, learning and research system for the agro-environmental sciences. The AIM system is used by many undergraduates and postgraduates and features real-time data for a number of agrometeorological measurements provided by instruments set up around campus, which can be viewed and downloaded for use in research and as a visual teaching aid. It has also led to the publication of papers in local and international journals.

Savage has also initiated the creation of an isiZulu-English glossary of terms for Agrometeorology to counter the language barrier to learning experienced by many second language English speakers entering university in South Africa. He emphasises the use of live data, visual literacy, technology and glossaries to stimulate growth in the isiZulu language’s capacity for scientific understanding.

He believes that technology can play an important role in learning, and identifies the importance of visual literacy or “iconic” learning to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers. He is keen to see scientific societies contribute to the creation of technical dictionaries in traditional African languages to stimulate equal knowledge transfer.

Savage and his colleagues include an intensive computer literacy training element in their second-year practical sessions, leading to a marked improvement in students’ skills, development and eventual marketability as employees.

‘Teaching is about imparting more than just knowledge; it is also about life skills,’ said Savage.

Despite being one of the most highly qualified academics at the University, in 2014 Savage graduated with a cum laude master’s degree. (Publication in an international journal in 1979 had enabled him to convert his masters then to a PhD).

Savage was the first recipient of UKZN’s Doctor of Science in Agriculture degree in 2010.

Savage continues to arrange various workshops for the training of academics, scientists and practitioners across the country, and is actively involved in making science relevant and comprehensible to the public.

After 40 years at the University, Savage remains enthusiastic and passionate about his subject and still pursues innovative research and dedicates time to training.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Michael Savage

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Education Student Top BMX Rider

Education Student Top BMX Rider
Education student and professional BMX racer Mr Nkosinathi Radebe.

Third year Education student Mr Nkosinathi Radebe smiles when he talks about being an avid BMX rider – and for good reason.

He has been competing in BMX racing since he was 14 years old, starting at the Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park in Mariannhill. He is now a competitor in major national and international BMX events.

‘The life of a BMX rider has a lot of ups and downs - there are many challenges and it is up to the individual whether they succeed or not,’ said Radebe.

He developed a love and passion for the sport when his dad took him and his young brother to the bike park at weekends. This is where he got involved in BMX racing.

Radebe was introduced to Mr Jason Nichole, the former manager at the Giba Gorge track who started the BMX development team. Nichole saw the potential in Radebe and other riders from surrounding communities.

Radebe soon flourished under Nichole’s tutelage and finished third in his first championship finals.

He was promoted to the category of expert rider and had to quickly adapt to the dynamics of racing in that high-level field. ‘I remained grounded and trained harder,’ said Radebe. He then qualified for the National BMX Championships in which he finished third.

Aged 16, Radebe participated in the BMX World Championships in Pietermaritzburg where he got to meet his role models Sifiso Nhlapo, Sam Willoughby and Maris Stromberg.

Radebe went on to wear green and gold jerseys in a number of national and international competitions. He represented South Africa in the BMX Africa Challenge held in Zimbabwe.

His hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed and he landed a sponsorship from Build-It Builder’s Warehouse to help him with his racing kit, fees and bike parts.

Radebe finished second in the Continental Challenge, which resulted in him being ranked No 2 in Africa. He continues to race and sees himself playing a significant role in promoting cycling on the Edgewood campus.

He is a vital component of a UKZN programme promoting cycling as a community initiative and is trying to encourage Edgewood students to cycle from their homes to campus and back to improve their health and support the fight against obesity-related conditions among the youth.

Words: Melissa Mungroo; Sabelo Nxumalo 

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Results of MACE Lab Research on Microplastic Pollution Revealed at Conservation Symposium

Results of MACE Lab Research on Microplastic Pollution Revealed at Conservation Symposium
UKZN researchers Mr Gan Moodley (front, 3rd left) and Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson (front, 4th left) with their postgraduate students from the MACE Lab at the Symposium for Contemporary Conservation Practice.

The Marine Biology, Aquaculture, Conservation Education and Ecophysiology (MACE) laboratory at the School of Life Sciences featured strongly in a session devoted to microplastics and the danger they pose to marine life at the recent Symposium for Contemporary Conservation Practice (SCCP).

UKZN academics Dr Deborah Robertson-Andersson and Mr Gan Moodley lead the MACE research team on the Westville campus, supervising the research projects of many postgraduate students who are part of their lab.

The SCCP explored the practice, science and value of nature conservation, and charted a renewed path towards addressing conservation challenges of the current era.

The Symposium is an initiative of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) in partnership with WILDLANDS, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Environmental Law Association, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Zululand. SCCP aims to develop synergies between conservation implementation and research.

This year’s edition saw the launch of a new marine programme, WILDOCEANS, in addition to its focus on the terrestrial environment.

The microplastics session featured nine presentations, eight of which were delivered by members of the MACE Lab. Robertson-Andersson gave a presentation on the topic of a semi-decadal overview of marine plastic research in KwaZulu-Natal: quo vadis, while Moodley’s presentation was titled Climate Change and Microplastics: Serious Conservation Threats for the Brown Mussel, Perna perna.

‘All of the presentations involved novel research on uptake and effects of microplastics on various marine animals, including fish, mussels, oysters, shrimp, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers,’ said Moodley.

‘These findings raise concern as the ingested microplastic particles (fibres and fragments) pose serious threats to the animals. Microplastic particles taken up by the animals could cause physical damage such as gut blockage or gut abrasions, thereby compromising gut function in these animals, and/or act as vectors of toxicants - heavy metals and persistent organic chemicals (POPs) - which then negatively affect the organism in various ways,’ he added.

Symposium delegates complimented members of the lab on the high level of science and its relevance, and for the smooth delivery of their presentations. Robertson-Andersson and Moodley were also congratulated for their outstanding supervision of the research projects and their postgraduate students.

Despite the challenges, Robertson-Andersson is positive. ‘Twenty years ago, we had things like glasses and tin cans and plastic bottles on the beaches,’ she said. ‘With programmes like “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, people have become more aware of their plastic products. We can do something about it, but it’s up to each individual person, rather than big organisations.’

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Gan Moodley

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