Final-Year Students Win Prestigious Occupational Therapy Research Project Award

Final-Year Students Win Prestigious Occupational Therapy Research Project Award
The winning students and their supervisor.

UKZN came out tops this year when the Vona and Marie du Toit Foundation awarded its prestigious 2015 Student Research Project Award to a group of final-year Occupational Therapy  (OT) students.  The award is given to the best undergraduate research project out of eight universities in South Africa where OT is presented.  The evaluation was done independently.

The students, Domonique De Klerk, Rochelle Romer, Nthabiseng Masekela and Romaana Abdul-Hamid were overjoyed to learn that the Foundation had selected their project – ‘Exploring how the physical and social environment of a well-resourced crèche in eThekwini influences play in children between the ages of three and four years’- was this year’s Best Project. 

Their study increased the awareness of the impact of the physical and social environment on a child’s playfulness and the need for both caregiver and assistant to play an active role to enhance playfulness. ‘It highlighted the need and importance of making adaptations to the playground to instil a sense of safety, allowing access to play equipment as well as promoting interaction between peers,’ the group said.

The Vona and Marié du Toit Foundation is a legally constituted body that was created to develop and promote the legacy of the teachings of Vona du Toit and more specifically the Vona du Toit Model of Creative Ability (VdTMoCA). It also promotes research amongst younger members of the OT profession.

‘We are delighted to inform you that your group has been awarded the Marié du Toit Research prize for 2015,’ The Foundation’s Chairperson, Jodie de Bruyn said in a letter to the students.

‘We hope that you submit your project for publication and further your studies,’ de Bruyn said.

The group’s De Klerk recently received UKZN’s Distinguished Student Award at the University’s prestigious Annual Scholarships Awards Ceremony.

OT Academic Leader, Professor Kitty Uys said: ‘This award to our undergraduate students is evidence that the Occupational Therapy Division of UKZN is establishing itself as a strong research entity in South Africa. Play is the occupation of the child and the physical and social environment should be engineered to facilitate play.’

Uys said: ‘The use of technology such as “GoPro” pressed for relevant data collection in real life situations and findings will inform Early Childhood Development Centres about strategies to enhance physical and social environments.’

Lunga Memela

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Humanities Student Awarded Prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship

Humanities Student Awarded Prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship
Mr Mfundo Mdletshe, recipient of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship.

Mr Mfundo Mdletshe, a Development Studies student from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) was recently awarded the prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship.

‘I am thrilled to be joining a community of high calibre scholars. And despite what some might think, given the recent events around the questioning of the Rhodes legacy, I am excited about being associated with a scholarship that bears the names of seemingly two distinct men. I certainly look forward to grappling with the legacies of both Mr Mandela and Mr Rhodes with my new classmates,’ said Mdletshe.

The scholarship will assist him financially and represents a beacon of hope for him to pursue his postgraduate studies.

‘Without the scholarship, I would have become part of the statistics of regrettably financially excluded students. I do not only carry my dreams but those of my family too.  As such this scholarship will not only positively contribute to my life (through financial resources and the leadership programme) but will indirectly positively contribute to the lives of my family members too,’ he added.

The Mandela-Rhodes Scholarship aims to help build new generations of exceptional leaders in Africa based on the principles of reconciliation, education, entrepreneurship and leadership.

‘I think this is a bold vision and one that requires a lot of determination to achieve. Africa needs to take ownership of its story and draft its own identity. In the face of on-going debates on transformation of the South African society at large, the unfortunate recent xenophobic attacks, and the call to integrate the African continent, I think more scholarships that believe in Africa and promote critical thinking amongst its recipients are needed more than ever,’ he added.

Mdletshe has been at UKZN for the past four years and feels that it mirrors the harsh reality of South African society. ‘On one hand there are students you can tell come from the position of privilege. On the other hand UKZN attracts a pool of disadvantaged students. It thus made sense for me to read for my Masters in Development Studies in this very Institution.’

‘But over and above that, before applying for this degree I did take some time and researched about the discipline of Development Studies at UKZN and I’m still being impressed by the well-read academic staff of this Discipline to this day,’ he said.

He further thanked the scholarships committee and his family and friends for their constant support and love. His advice to other students: ‘Keep doing the good work you are doing in your society. You are making a difference in someone’s life and that’s what matters.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Study: Cellular Detoxification of Antiretroviral Drugs

Study: Cellular Detoxification of Antiretroviral Drugs
Ms Savania Nagiah.

A breakthrough study by a young UKZN PhD student has the potential to bring down the toxic side-effects of antiretroviral therapy in patients with HIV and AIDS.

Ms Savania Nagiah, a Medical Biochemistry PhD student at UKZN’s School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS), identified a specific epigenetic mechanism (microRNA 124a) as a regulator of a protein that facilitates cellular detoxification of antiretroviral drugs.

Nagiah presented her study titled, “Differential Regulation of ABCC4 by microRNA-124a in HepG2 cells exposed to antiretroviral drugs” at the 2015 College of Heath Sciences Research Symposium held recently at UKZN’s Medical School.

According to Nagiah there are many adverse side effects associated with the long-term use of antiretroviral therapy.

‘Many of the side effects relate to altered metabolism.  The liver is central to metabolic processes,’ she said.  ‘The liver is also the site of metabolism for drugs. The detoxification of these drugs at the cellular level in the liver may play a role in determining toxic outcomes.’

Nagiah’s PhD focused on molecular mechanisms of liver toxicity induced by antiretroviral drugs. She looked at a specific cellular protein (ABCC4) that exports metabolised drugs from the cell.

She studied how different antiretroviral drugs induce different activity of the ABCC4. She then investigated how changes in the activity of ABCC4 may be regulated. She identified microRNA-124a as a negative regulator of ABCC4.

‘Manipulation of microRNA-124a may be a form of therapeutic intervention in antiretroviral-associated liver toxicity,’ she added.  ‘Antiretroviral therapy is a lifelong treatment and the long-term side effects cannot be ignored. By identifying the cause of toxicity at a molecular level, targeted therapies can be developed to address the adverse health outcomes observed like lipodystrophy, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.’

Nagiah’s in vitro study experiments were conducted at the Medical Biochemistry lab which is headed by Professor Anil Chuturgoon.

She said her work has not yet reached the patient level, but it does have implications for long term therapy development since it has relevance for people experiencing the side effects of long-term antiretroviral therapy.

‘If therapeutic interventions are developed from the findings of my work it will improve the quality of life of these patients and improve adherence,’ she said.

Nagiah is passionate about research and would like to continue with scientific research.

‘I am based at the Department of Medical Biochemistry, which has a predominantly female postgraduate class,’ continued Nagiah. ‘This awesome department is headed by Professor Anil Chuturgoon whose guidance and support has been the driving force behind this ambitious group of young scientists in which I feel privileged to include myself. Dr Alisa Phulukdaree, who was based at UKZN up until last year, is my mentor.  She pushed me to pursue my masters and PhD. I owe any success I have to these two individuals.’

Nagiah is the eldest of three children.  Her 17-year-old sister is in matric and her 24-year-old brother works in the motor industry with their father.  Nagiah’s mother is a teacher.

‘I’m the only person in my family who has taken an interest in science,’ she said.

Nombuso Dlamini

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UKZN’s Public Health Discipline Launches Public Health Interest Group

UKZN’s Public Health Discipline Launches Public Health Interest Group
Dr Saloshni Naidoo and Professor Leslie London.

UKZN’s Public Health Discipline recently launched a KwaZulu-Natal’s Public Health Interest Group.  This was inspired by a talk given by Professor Leslie London, recently at Howard College, a member of the People’s Health Movement (PHM-South Africa), on the history of civil society action in health in South Africa.

PHM is a global network bringing together grassroots health activists, civil society organisations and academic institutions from around the world, particularly from low- and middle-income countries advocating for a right to health.  It has a presence in around 70 countries.

‘Guided by the People’s Charter for Health, PHM works on various programmes and activities,’ London said, and is committed to Comprehensive Primary Health Care and the addressing of the Social, Environmental and Economic Determinants of Health.

London’s talk was intended to make people understand the strength and weakness of civil society mobilisation. ‘Understanding the civil society mobilisation will help build activism going forward and strengthen the system,’ he said. PHM is planning to hold a National Health Assembly in mid-2016 to consolidate a civil society agenda for health.  It will host provincial assemblies in the lead-up to the National Conference.

According to London, civil society after 1994 left everything to government.  The public effectively demobilised.  ‘We forgot that the best way to hold government accountable is through community voice. We should use human rights provision in our constitution to do that,’ added London.

Other PHM objectives include: to promote participation of people and people's organisations in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of all health and social policies and programmes, to encourage people to develop their own solutions to local health problems and to hold local authorities, national governments, international organisations and corporations accountable.

Nombuso Dlamini

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Revealing Deficits in SDGs: The Quest for Bolstering the Alternatives

Revealing Deficits in SDGs: The Quest for Bolstering the Alternatives
Professor Damtew Teferra (far left), among the delegates invited to debate the SDGs in Brussels.

I have beenwritingcommentariesonSustainable Development Goals (SDGs)and their anticipated relevance to Higher Education. AtThe 6thAnnual Donors Harmonization Group (DHG)meeting in Brussels last month, I had the good fortune to engage in a public dialogue on this issue further. At this well-attended event, that included colleagues from the European Union and IIEP-UNESCO in the dialogue, I maintained that the SDGs, which got endorsed in September 2015 (at the United Nations in New York), largely left Higher Education marginalised, as in the era of the MDGs.

It was hoped that SDGs would elevate Higher Education to its rightful position to realise social, economic and technological advancement, poverty reduction and wealth creation, and sustainable global development. Yet SDGs, like MDGs, now present an ambivalent attitude towards the firmly established positions of numerous leading development players which already described Higher Education as key, critical, core, and central. In this editorial, I am calling for other existing and ratified alternative agendas that are more favourable to the sector to be elevated—and vigorously consolidated.

The Evidence

In analysing the 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs (rendered in the headings and sub-headings of the document), through some key words and phrases, I found “development” and “developing countries” mentioned 50 times each—as expected, a very large representation. “Higher” and “tertiary” education and “University” appeared just once each, and university, in fact rather tangentially.

If it is any consolation, “research” and “innovation” collectively appeared 15 times. Research, which appears eight times, speaks to clean energy, agriculture, and marine technology.  Furthermore, enhancing scientific research and increasing scientific knowledge are also mentioned. These however are widely scattered across the targets—none in the section in education.

The Delivery

One of the 17 goals where Higher Education is barely mentioned is Goal 4 which states: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” which lays out a total of 10 targets. I will only draw sections that mention Higher Education, which are 4.3 and 4.b. Article 4.3 stated “By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university”. This is the only time tertiary education and university appear in the major entries of the SDGs.

Article 4.b read “By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries… for enrolment in Higher Education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes”.

As noted under 4.3, the document speaks only about equal access, not about expanding access or strengthening the sector; and the word “university” there is dropped, it appears, casually. Under 4.b, the document only speaks about raising enrolments through scholarships. In summary, the document only speaks about equity and scholarship as regards Higher Education.

The position of Higher Education in the SDGs is only feebly addressed through equity and scholarship opportunities. As I wrote in an earlier piece, the lack of active and seasoned lobbyists for Higher Education is starkly evident in its virtual absence from the SDGs.

The Facts

In a multi-country and multi-institution study on flagship universities which I am co-ordinating, I estimated student enrolment in African HE system at 15 million. Contrasted against this “massifying” system, it is not that hard to imagine the infinitesimal contributions of scholarship opportunities as proclaimed in the SDGs.

Furthermore, research appeared eight times, but scattered around the goals without clearly situating it in Higher Education. Yet research cannot be divorced from Higher Education Institutions in the African context.  Probably except a few countries such as South Africa (and a number of French-speaking African countries), the major hubs for any meaningful research in African institutions remain universities-to be sure a few flagship universities. Even for the major (flagship) universities, their research productivity remains far from satisfactory due to a myriad of reasons. Therefore research articulated outside Higher Education, as rendered in SDGs, are far from meaningful to the immediate need and long-term interest of the continent.

Alternative-and Preferred-Agendas

Countries have their own long-term national strategic development plans which project decades ahead. If one contrasts these national strategic plans against the SDGs, considerable disparities become obvious. For instance, the Growth and Employment Strategy Paper (2010-20) of Cameroon, which aspires to become an emerging nation in 2035, places high expectations on Higher Education to play a vital role in its growth and development agenda.  Zambia’s Vision 2030 envisages a ‘nation in which science, technology and innovations [in academic institutions] are the driving forces in national development and competes globally by 2030’.

Moreover, SDGs also display a visible incoherence (in Higher Education) with regional agendas, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Agenda on Higher Education stipulates ‘Build and expand an African knowledge society through transformation and investments in universities, science, technology, research and innovation.’

The just-released, but yet to be ratified, Continental Education Strategy Agenda 2016-25 of the African Union identifies Higher Education as one of its 12 strategic objectives. In a standalone section, Strategic Objective Nine, it states ‘Revitalize and expand tertiary education, research and innovation to address continental challenges and promote global competitiveness.’

It is thus clear that “equity and scholarships” in SDGs stand way too short for Africa’s position to ‘build, expand, revitalize, and invest in’ in Higher Education.

Development Partners: SDGs vs the Alternatives

On average more than 70 percent of research funds for African institutions, predominantly flagship universities, are generated externally. This massive dependency however has often been referred to as one of the most adverse factors to the development of research and innovation in the region.

Development partners are now at liberty in terms of the policy alternatives at their disposal: one more favourable to Higher Education than the other. It is common sense that they would pick the favourable supportive one which is in concert with the contemporary discourse endorsed by multiple players globally. Regardless, nations should continue to pursue their higher education strategies unconstrained by the feeble rendering in the SDGs.


The central role of Higher Education - in advancing knowledge, skills and innovative capacities as well as overcome the myriad regional and global challenges of the environment, climate, health, food security, and energy, among many others-has never been more important, more urgent, and more critical. The SDGs were expected to affirm higher education-explicitly and robustly-in confronting these issues and challenges. But it was observed in the Brussels dialogue that SDGs “poorly framed” Higher Education.

National and regional bodies have already pronounced clearly the critical role of Higher Education. Similarly, development agencies and other global and regional players have also already affirmed-and embraced-it. It is thus imperative that all players-internal as well external-pursue their higher education strategies unencumbered by the tenuous position of the SDGs.

Finally, Higher Education in Africa, and most other developing countries, has grown massively during the era of MDGs-which barely mentioned it. It is highly likely that the sector will continue to thrive even more, regardless of the SDGs - which I maintain fall disappointingly way too short in advancing Higher Education.

Damtew Teferra

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UKZN Alumnus makes History as KZN’s First Black Female Oncologist

UKZN Alumnus makes History as KZN’s First Black Female Oncologist
Dr S’thembile Ngidi.

UKZN alumnus Dr S’thembile Ngidi recently became KwaZulu-Natal’s first Black female Oncologist and the country’s second, following her graduation from the Colleges of Medicine South Africa.

As a sickly child, Ngidi used to marvel at how doctors could put a smile on the face of an ailing child in a few easy steps. ‘That had such an impact on me,’ said Ngidi. ‘I made up my mind well before my teens that I wanted to be in medicine.’

She said she was both excited and overwhelmed by her success. She was not doing this for glory, she said, but she wanted to do something different.

‘I am not a typical person. I have always believed in breaking the boundaries. I don’t believe in limits. I always want to do what most people say I cannot do or that is not for women,’ Ngidi smiled.

‘My parents, especially my father, feel like celebrities because everyone in our community has been phoning to congratulate them for raising a great child.’

The daughter of a nurse and a farmer, Ngidi works at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and was born in Port Shepstone.  She grew up in Gamalakhe Township.

She said that while growing up in the township her parents were very strict.  ‘I was restricted to being indoors. I had a curfew. In order to watch TV, you had to earn that privilege by getting certain marks at school.’

Ngidi matriculated aged 17 from Port Shepstone High School in 2000 with four distinctions. She then pursued her medical studies at UKZN from 2002 until 2006. She said her chosen path was made easier by the people she met at Medical School.

‘UKZN’s retired Oncology HoD, Professor Amo Jodaan, got me interested in oncology. He encouraged us and guided us by keeping us motivated and passionate about what we do,’ said Ngidi.

After doing her two-year internship, followed by one year of community service on her way to becoming a doctor, she then worked as a Medical Officer at an ARV clinic at KwaMashu Polyclinic in 2010. She obtained a Medical Officer post in Oncology later that year. In 2012, she got a Registrar post at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Radiation Oncology.

To this day, she credits the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health for changing her life by awarding her a bursary to pursue her studies.

Ngidi initially wanted to be a dermatologist after she sat in on one of UKZN’s Dermatology HoD, Professor Ncoza Dlova’s lectures. 

‘My love of medicine was ignited by lecturers like Dr Ncoza Dlova and Professor T Madiba.  They encouraged us as students to study further to be specialists. I wanted to be a dermatologist like her then I discovered radiation oncology and knew that’s where I needed to be,’ she said.

‘I would love to be mentored by inspirational and humble women like Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She is one of the women I look up to and she is a first in most things,’ Ngidi said.

Although still basking in her glory, Ngidi has already set her sights on completing her Masters in Radiation Oncology next year – and furthering her studies. She hopes her life story will inspire others who might want to follow in her footsteps. Her research interest is breast cancer.

Her future plans include getting into academia and she would also love to explore other health avenues globally. She is an advocate of healthy lifestyles and regular health screening as strategies to mitigate the impact of non-communicable diseases such as cancer.

‘I always preach that, if you feel a lump, don’t waste any time. Don’t just think it’s something small that will go away. Come forward, get it checked. We need to destigmatize disease and accelerate health education.’

She attributes her success to nothing less than sheer hard work and the importance of devising a plan and sticking to it.

‘It’s always good to know from the word go what you want in your life, because then you can chart your life. I picked my subjects carefully, and made sure I performed at a certain level, and made sure I got the points I needed to get into medicine, and exceeded that just to get in,’ she explains.

Ngidi describes herself as a ‘very bubbly personality, but I’m reserved at the same time.’ She lists among her hobbies hiking, running, concerts, attending food and wine festivals, and watching theatre productions.

Nombuso Dlamini

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SARChI Chair at UKZN Raises Awareness of Antibiotic Resistance

SARChI Chair at UKZN Raises Awareness of Antibiotic Resistance
Raising awareness on antibiotic resistance awareness at UKZN.

UKZN commemorated the world’s first Antibiotic Awareness Week on two Health Sciences campuses under the auspices of the newly appointed South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health, Professor Sabiha Essack.

Antibiotics – the drugs used for fighting infections caused by bacteria – reduce illnesses and even death from infectious diseases, however, although they have many beneficial effects, their overuse has resulted in the problem of antibiotic resistance: a global pandemic that needs global solutions.

Essack, who established UKZN’s Antimicrobial Research Unit, said antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria are unaffected by the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. The bacteria survive and continue to increase in number, causing complications.

Antibiotics were first mass-produced in the 1940s and their ability to fight and kill bacteria revolutionised medicine and profoundly impacted everything from agriculture to war, Essack said.  'But after less than 80 years, these miracle drugs are failing. Infections caused by resistant bacteria kill several people around the world each year and there are now a large number of so-called Superbugs each with its own challenges and costs,’ she said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a campaign themed “Antibiotics: Handle with Care” reflecting the overarching message that antibiotics are a precious resource and should be preserved. ‘Antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections only when prescribed by a certified health professional,’ the WHO declared:  ‘they should never be shared and the full course of treatment should be completed – not saved for the future.’

Essack sensitised the University community to the global pandemic by screening the award-winning film “Resistance: Not All Germs Are Equal” in addition to her inaugural public lecture as SARChI Chair entitled: Antibiotic Resistance and Conservation “No Action Today, No Cure Tomorrow”.

She explained that the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance was attributed to the indiscriminate use in human health and agriculture. Statistics revealed that by the year 2015, 10 million deaths will have been caused by this silent killer if urgent interventions are not implemented on a global scale.

Essack presented the following key messages:

•   ‘Antibiotic resistance is a tragedy of the commons that happens when individuals act independently and in self-interest to the detriment of the best interests of a whole group by depleting a common resource.’

•   ‘Antibiotic conservation requires co-ordinated, multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary partnerships underpinned by national and international policies that suspend sectorial interests for public good.’

•   ‘Antimicrobial stewardship promotes the safe, rational, correct, and effective use of antimicrobial agents to promote positive patient outcomes, such as  rapid recovery from illness or infection, the prevention and containment of  antimicrobial resistance; and reduction of health care costs.’

‘Global solutions needed to be geared towards the principles of whole-of-society engagement, prevention first, access not excess, sustainability and incremental targets for implementation, as advocated by the WHO.’

Essack further highlighted the One Health concept – a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of healthcare for humans, animals and the environment – because it envisages that the synergism achieved will advance health care for the 21st century and beyond by accelerating biomedical research discoveries, enhancing public health efficacy, expeditiously expanding the scientific knowledge base, and improving medical education and clinical care.

She lauded South Africa and Ethiopia – the only African countries with national plans to combat antibiotic resistance.  She also strongly endorsed the WHO’s Global Action Plan developed in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the World Organization for Animal Health and the World Bank.

The objectives of the plan are to improve awareness and understanding of antibiotic resistance through effective communication, education and training;  strengthen the knowledge and evidence base through surveillance research; reduce the incidence of infection through effective sanitation, hygiene and infection prevention methods; optimise the use of antimicrobial methods in human and animal health; develop the economic case for sustainable investment that takes account of the needs of all countries; and increase investment in development of new medicines, diagnostics and other interventions.

Essack, the Dean of Health Sciences Teaching and Learning at UKZN, is an expert consultant to the WHO Africa Office on antimicrobial resistance; founder and co-chair of the South African Chapter of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA); and  the country representative on the Global Respiratory Infections Partnership (GRIP).  She serves on the South African Chapter of the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP), the South African Antibiotic Stewardship Programme, WHO’s Technical Working Group on Health Workforce Education Assessment Tools, and is co-founder of the South African Committee of Health Sciences Deans.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Architecture Programmes gets Full Accreditation

UKZN Architecture Programmes gets Full Accreditation
The Architecture Discipline together with the Architecture Validation Board.

The Architecture Discipline together with its accompanying programmes were recently awarded full accreditation by the Architecture Validation Board. The Board had visited the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) to conduct an accreditation inspection for the Architecture Discipline.

The Board spent three days at UKZN and had a full and detailed engagement with the School - specifically with the staff and students in the Discipline of Architecture.

This is a milestone for the School and the Discipline. Previously they had both programmes of the Discipline under conditional accreditation for a duration of two years.

Interim Dean and Head of the School Professor Betty Mubangizi said: ‘The panel members were extremely impressed with the improvements in the School ranging from infrastructure, resources, staffing to the quality of the programmes.’

‘As a result the panel has verbally informed us that we have obtained FULL accreditation for all the programmes in Architecture.  The validation report will be submitted to us in due course. I wish to thank the staff and students for their co-operation and hard work – congratulations and well done!’ she said. 

Mubangizi provided strategic direction that led to the full accreditation – the engine behind the operations however was Ms Slindo Shamase, the School Manager. ‘New to the School and University it is amazing how quickly she came to grips with the processes of the University. She engaged academics and students and ensured that the Studio equipment procured as well as the school aesthetics were in tune with the views of the staff and students,’ she added.

Also speaking about the momentous achievement, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter added, ‘I want to congratulate the Discipline of Architecture on achieving full accreditation. It could not have been done without the role played by the Dean and the Head of Discipline and the staff.’

‘Mr Mthembeni Mkhize and Professor Mubangizi have provided excellent leadership which has led to the outcome. This has also led to Architecture being on an upward trajectory. I strongly feel that in current day society Architecture belongs in Humanities,’ she said.

Melissa Mungroo

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Social Work Academic is the 2015 Educator of the Year

Social Work Academic is the 2015 Educator of the Year
Professor Vishanthie Sewpaul with her 2015 Educator of the Year Award.

Senior Professor in the School of Applied Human Sciences, Vishanthie Sewpaul, was recently awarded the 2015 Educator of the Year Award in the distinguished category by the Association of South African Social Work Education Institutions for her outstanding national and international contribution to social work education. 

‘I feel truly honoured to be acknowledged by my peers nationally. I have tremendous regard and respect for my colleagues, and the recognition from them is very special. I do hope this serves as inspiration for younger academics. Creativity and vision combined with hard work do bring their rewards,’ she said.

Sewpaul also delivered the Terry Hokenstad lecture, to a standing ovation, at the Annual Programme Meeting (APM) and conference of the Council on Social Work Education in Denver where she discussed the topic “Challenges to the West and the Rest value dichotomies: Culture, human rights and social work”.

In the international lecture, she addressed the inextricable relationship between development, democracy, culture and human rights, using the lens of intersectionality.

‘Through colonialism and continued forms of imperialism, the west has an indelible footprint on the rest, with an undermining of the intellectuality and self-confidence of colonised peoples, and the destruction of local traditions and cultures. Perhaps as a reactionary measure, African and Asian traditions are upheld as the core of authentic indigenous cultures, an emancipatory alternative to a hegemonic Western culture,’ she said.

Sewpaul challenged the idealisation of, and the essentialising and normalisation dynamics and discourses around, what are deemed to be monolithic western, Asian and African cultures, and she discussed the implications of these for social work’s simultaneous, and seemingly uncontested commitment to respecting cultural diversity, doing no harm and promoting human rights.

Professor Hokenstad said: ‘Her lecture was clearly a highlight of the C.S.W.E. APM this year. Several educators with whom I visited used the word “inspirational”. Professor Sewpaul accomplished exactly what I had hoped when the lecture was first established, broadening the horizons of U.S. based social work educators.’

Professor Sewpaul leaves UKZN at the end of this year to take up a professorship position in Dubai in January 2016.

 Melissa Mungroo

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Seminar Focuses on HIV and Disability

Seminar Focuses on HIV and Disability
Dr Jill Hanass-Hancock at the seminar.

A study presented by UKZN Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division (HEARD) Senior Research Specialist, Dr Jill Hanass-Hancock, has called for high quality research that investigates HIV-related disability in countries in Southern Africa where HIV/AIDS is endemic.

Organised by the Academic Leader for Research in the School of Health Sciences, Professor Mershen Pillay, the seminar reflected on HEARD’s HIV-Live Project which lauded the successful roll-out of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Southern Africa while raising concerns about the long term needs of managing health and wellbeing when living with chronic HIV. ‘These are currently largely unknown and if unaddressed may pose a risk to our future,’ Hanass-Hancock said.

Preliminary findings of the HIV-Live Project indicate that a large number of people on ART experience functional limitations that could indicate the onset of disability. These may also be negatively associated with health outcomes, livelihood and ART adherence.

Literature showed that people living with HIV, including those on ART, are at increased risks of functional limitations, such as their mental functions, sensory and perception functions, cardiovascular and respiratory functions, digestive, metabolic and, endocrine functions, reproductive and renal functions, as well as muscle and related tissue functions.

Hanass-Hancock said: ‘A large number of participants (35.5%) obtained a weighted score of two or more on the WHODAS 2.0 weighted, indicating possible functional limitations or disability. These limitations were associated with depressive symptoms and decreased adherence and livelihood outcomes. The main driver of this association was mobility limitations in this sample.

One of the more severely affected patients during a previous pilot study said: ‘When I was no longer able to see and walk, that is when I was affected the most.’ This study gave birth to a deeper investigation of the associations of HIV and disability and Hanass-Hancock therefore sees it as a crucial research agenda for research in Southern Africa.

The study was further informed by results from the systematic review that revealed that disabling conditions are experienced by a large number of people living with HIV. It questioned if and how experiences of disability impact key outcomes of health, adherence, and livelihood, and called for integration of rehabilitation into HIV-care.

School of Health Sciences academics from various disciplines agreed that holistic interventions were needed to improve HIV care through recognising the importance of disability in Southern Africa.

Hanass-Hancock has collaborated in this research initiative with academics: Professor Hellen Myezwa, Dr Alison Misselhorn, Mr Bradley Carpenter, as well as Mrs Verusia Chetty and Mr Saul Cobbing from the School of Health Sciences for further research on HIV and disability.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Hosts Indian Diaspora Conference: Celebrating 155 years of Indians in South Africa

UKZN Hosts Indian Diaspora Conference: Celebrating 155 years of Indians in South Africa
Some of the participants and local organising committee members at the Indian Diaspora Conference.

The School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) within UKZN’s College of Humanities, in collaboration with other colleagues both from within UKZN and also from other universities, recently hosted an enlightening Indian Diaspora Conference.  Under the theme of “Ethnicity, Race and Citizenship: Place of Indians in the new South Africa”, it took place at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) Auditorium, Westville campus.

Emeritus Professor Pratap Kumar said, ‘The Conference sought to understand and appreciate as well as to conceptualise Indian presence in South Africa and assessed and took stock of their contributions to the South African way of life as a whole, their troubles and anxieties not only of the past but also of the present.’

One of the keynote speakers at the Conference, Professor Vinay Lal of the University of California Los Angeles, discussed the “Future of Indians in the Diaspora under two modalities of thought and action”.

He stated that diasporic Indians must offer their allegiance to the idea of the nation-state, attempt coalition-style politics with other communities and groups of those who are not only marginalised, peripheral, and disenfranchised, but whose knowledge systems have, through the processes of colonialism and management, and with the aid of Enlightenment notions of science, rationality, and progress, been rendered powerless and superfluous.

‘Diasporic Indians cannot reasonably look to the Indian government for succour and assistance, and whatever the strength of the emotional and cultural ties between them and the “motherland”, their centre of being lies elsewhere. That question, ‘what can India do for people of Indian ancestry abroad’, begs to be effaced.’

‘There is a greater courage, which diasporic Indians have seldom displayed, in reconstituting identity along the lines of political and cultural choices, and in defiance of received categories of knowledge. Perhaps, in this endeavour, placed as many diasporic Indians are in an in-between space, they may yet be in the position of trying to give society a new, at least slightly more human, face,’ said Lal.

The Conference also saw scholars and academics both from South Africa and abroad sharing their research on Indian diaspora experiences under the sub-themes of Memory, Biography and History; Gendering Migration; Culture, Heritage and Language; Citizenship, Identity and Belonging, Historical and Contemporary Migrations; Religion, Ethnicity and Community; Literary Identities; Race, Class and Identity; Diaspora and Identity; Public Health, Youth and People and Post-Apartheid discourses on the Status of Indians in South Africa. 

UKZN academics and students that presented at the conference were:

  1. Elizabeth Adetola and Samuel Uwem, (PhD Candidates) ‘Study Experience of Indian Students and Inter-Racial Relations at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’
  2. Christopher Eley (MA Student, History)‘Challenging the Abortion and Sterilization Act of 1975 - The
  3. Abortion Reform Action Group and multiracial activism in 1970's Durban.’
  4. Professor Kalpana Hiralal (Historical Studies) ‘Gender and Migration in the Indian Ocean Region: The Impact on the Wife left behind’
  5. Temitope Ebierein Ige (PhD Candidate, Public Policy) ‘Gender, Migration and Education: A Case Study of Female Immigrants at the University of Kwazulu-Natal’
  6. Gerelene Jagganath, (Anthropology) ‘Highly skilled migrant trajectories’ 
  7. Professor Sultan Khan (Sociology) ‘Indian diaspora’s contribution to Social Welfare Services – Case Study of the former Durban Indian Child Welfare Society’
  8. Professor Pratap Kumar (School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics) ‘Revisiting Indenture in the discourse of the Indian Diaspora’
  9. Professor Brij Maharaj (Geography) ‘South Africa needs an ‘Idi Amin’? The Indian Question in the post-apartheid era’
  10. Joseph Mbalaka, (History Postgraduate Student)‘Malawian Muslim Women: Migration, Settlement, Ethnic Relations, Identity, and the Future in South Africa, a Case Study of Durban and Surrounding Areas’
  11. Mrs Cherry Muslim (Lecturer, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics). ‘The Resident Indian: ‘The Onion Tears’ Revelation’
  12. Dr Lubna Nadvi (Political Science). ‘Born a Pakistani, Raised as a South African, Classified as Indian: Celebrating Multiple Identities in a Globalised World Order’
  13. Mphumeleli Ngidi (PhD Candidate, Department of Historical Studies). ‘Race, Community and Identity: Sporting Club D’Alberton Callies, 1962-1996’
  14. Sunday Oberbhamji, (PhD Candidate, Politics) ‘Life across Borders: A Case Study of Immigrant Nigerian Women in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa’
  15. Perumal, D (Law, PhD Candidate) ‘Hindu Migrant Women and Marriage: Gender, Law and the “Meaning of Wife” in the Natal Courts (1872-1935)’
  16. Sasha Rai (History Postgraduate Candidate) ‘The “Apartheid” of Spaces, Places and Voices: A Feminist Challenge to Religious Patriarchy in the Muslim Community – T.I.P. and the Resurrection of the Family Eid Gah’
  17. Mrs Shabnum Shaik, (PhD Candidate, Anthropology). ‘HIV/AIDS and Muslims in South Africa: The Hidden Disease’
  18. Tashmica Sharma, (Postgraduate Candidate, Geography) ‘Memory, Nostalgia and Reality: A Socio-historical Perspective of the Grey Street Complex’
  19. Professor Anand Singh (Anthropology) and Soomaya Khan (PhD Candidate) ‘From Hope to Despair – South African Indian Medical Graduates and Their Responses to Contemporary Socio-Economic Conditions’
  20. Professor Shanta Balgobind Singh (Criminology and Forensic Studies). ‘Changing Lives: Rehabilitation of Indian Youth addicted to Drugs in Durban, South Africa’
  21. Professor Goolam Vahed (History) ‘Islamic schooling among Indian Muslims in South Africa: a case study of the Orient Islamic School of Durban.’
Melissa Mungroo

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Inaugural Lecture Explores the Role of ICT in Connecting the Global Community

Inaugural Lecture Explores the Role of ICT in Connecting the Global Community
Professor Manoj Maharaj celebrating the special occasion with his family.

Exploring the crucial role that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) plays in connecting human society was the focus of School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic, Professor Manoj Maharaj’s recent inaugural lecture titled: “Connected: The Promise (and Perils) of ICT.”

The lecture, which had an overwhelming attendance, commemorated Maharaj’s appointment to full professorship as well recognising his invaluable contributions towards the vision, mission and strategic direction of the University.

Maharaj discussed the role that technology has played, and is playing, in the advancement of society: ‘While we embrace the positive impact of technology, it is also important that we guard against the unmitigated dangers that it poses.’ He also added that ‘Telecommunications technologies are arguably the most significant achievement of human society.’

Maharaj also spoke about online social networks and how they have changed the way people interact, the role of broadband liberation in economic development and the role of ICT in education and how South Africa can enhance its education system by embracing technology.

‘ICT amplifies everything you do, if you are a good teacher it will make you shine but if you are a bad teacher technology will expose you.’ Maharaj also lamented the terminology used to discuss education funding where often leadership talks of the ‘cost of education’ whereas they should be talking about an ‘investment in education, our youth and hence, our collective future’.

To make the event even more memorable, Maharaj’s daughter, Swetha who is currently training in classical singing serenaded the audience with a powerful musical item. 

College Dean of Research, Professor Marita Carnelley said Maharaj’s lecture was very enjoyable as he was able to present the complex topic of ICT in a way that everyone could understand and really showed how the ‘dots connect’.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor John Mubangizi said Maharaj’s topic could not have been more appropriate as ICT is a valuable tool for improving the quality of peoples’ lives.

Thandiwe Jumo

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Agrihub/Consumer App and system to Benefit uMsinga’s Small Scale Farmers

Agrihub/Consumer App and system to Benefit uMsinga’s Small Scale Farmers
Small scale farmers of eziNgulubeni are set to go digital thanks to the Kandu App.

Empowering small-scale farmers of eziNgulubeni, uMsinga’s informal markets with digital and financial knowledge to ensure their businesses remain profitable is a passion for Bachelor of Commerce student and Enactus member, Mr Lungelo Gabela.

As the Project Manager of Umtate Wamabovu Project - a farmers’ co-operative and Enactus project consisting of 160 farmers, mostly women, operating on 60 hectares of land Gabela and his team have introduced an app known as Kandu which creates a virtual interactive platform for farmers to access harvesting and farming advice and ensures that farmers are exposed to many more markets around the province and the country. The App which won the inaugural MTN SA Foundation ICT Challenge at the 2015 Enactus National Competition this July will be fully operational by the end of  November and Gabela is looking forward to this innovation benefiting their beneficiaries.

‘The first function of the App is to highlight the problems that our beneficiaries face such as lack of financial literacy skills so that we may tackle them and organise financial literacy workshops for them. So what this App does is tackle the biggest challenge that our beneficiaries face, not having access to markets, this way we are aware of every challenge the farmers face.

‘With Kandu farmers are exposed to many more markets around the province and the country. More consumers which are made up of retailers, wholesalers and individual consumers will know about the nearest farmers to them, communicate with them and cut out the middleman ensuring the farmers are not exploited,’ explained Gabela.

In his ambit of ensuring that there is a consistent flow of income to empower the farmers to provide for their families, the co-operative has introduced a stakeholder known as the Edamame programme. Under programme, farmers have a contract to supply soya beans to the programme thus generating income to pay for their water and electricity bills. This is achieved through the farmers getting the seeds for free, planting and getting paid for the harvest. The soya bean planting started on the 1st of November and harvest season will be January and February 2016.

Looking to the future, Umtate Wamabovu has also introduced a company called Technoserve which assists small-scale farmers from all over Africa in finding markets for their produce, teaching them farming and financial skills amongst other things. The co-operative has also introduced the Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) into the project to get supply farming inputs for our beneficiaries to further assist the farmers to be consistent in generating a profit.

‘With ADA and Technoserve we are going to setup an agrihub system where the farmers store all their produce collectively so they don't get exploited and so they can also get the produce cleansed, processed and sent to the final consumers. On top of that we're planning on introducing the Vodacom M-Pesa as a payment system for farmers so that they are not excluded if they don't have bank accounts, plus bank charges may be too much for farmers so mobile banking is the solution. We are also looking to at a potential sponsorship from Artsolar to introduce solar panels for the farmers so that their electricity problem is eliminated and this will also have a positive effect on the environment. What really touched me was on our last site visit to uMsinga when one of our beneficiaries, the chairman of the co-op, said thank you to me for all the assistance we’re exposing them to even though I felt we hadn’t done enough for them yet,’ said Gabela.

'Our vision for the farmers of uMtate wamaBovu community is to create an efficient ecosystem where the community members use the livelihood assets at their disposal to create innovative, sustainable and income generating entrepreneurial activities. We don’t get paid for the work and time we give to Enactus, it’s purely because of our passion to stretch our abilities and go the extra mile and at the same time changing real people’s lives,' stated Gabela.

Thandiwe Jumo

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The UKZN Griot. Of Democracy and Losing

The UKZN Griot. Of Democracy and Losing

Keyan G Tomaselli*

South Africa becomes more Monty Pythonesque every day.  When the Springboks recently lost to Japan, the sports scribes complained about the faulty game plan and player fatigue. But the politicians’ characteristic riposte was to demand the selection of more Black players.  The zany logic seems to be, if we are going to lose, then we might as well lose ‘democratically’, i.e., via racially representative sides selected by a political committee that knows nothing about sport.  Bafana Bafana’s dismal record has revealed that racial equity is not needed to lose consistently.  We lose because we have become a loser nation.  Losing, pretending failure, is now part of our post-apartheid victimological DNA.

In the 1990s we were a winning nation.  We won democracy, we won the hearts of the world, we won the Rugby World Cup, and we won (with a bit of hanky panky) the 2010 Soccer World Cup bid, even as Bafana failed. We won our dignity, restored freedom of speech, and debated comprehensive visions and missions.  This was a heady time. We were all involved, and worked for the ‘dream of democracy’, non-racialism and inclusion. 

The post-liberation state generated Africa’s leading economy. We have a welfare system bar none for an emerging economy, and an economy that has re-built itself from negative growth and infrastructural decay. Despite chronic under-funding of universities, we have five in the top 500 in the world and millions of students who want education.

Yet the prevailing myth is that ‘nothing has changed’.

Let’s not forget what we have achieved since 1994. The gains in economic growth,significantly increased  graduate throughput and undergraduate massification were effected through hard, visionary work, not endless demands for instrumentalist racial substitution as the key principle for cosmetic transformation that forgets deeper humanistic issues.

To transform rugby SARU started with intergenerational development at school level, not with scorecards so beloved by politicians. Success has to be earned – just as was liberation that took over a century to effect.  Having liberated ourselves, now we imprison ourselves in short-term thinking and opportunistic discourses of entitlement – we want but we don’t want to work for what we think liberation owes us.  We destroy what we build and rebuild what has been destroyed – all in the name of transformation.

Once wealth is destroyed there is nothing left.  While I have no truck with overpaid captains of industry, I was struck when the managing director of a supermarket chain was asked in a press interview what would he do if given R5 000.  His response was instructive, ‘I’d invest it’.  Here is a billionaire who will invest this paltry sum because he understands the value of money, and how savings and investment are the bases of personal and national wealth creation.  Those who do not have wealth often want to spend (or destroy) what they do have.

The similarities with apartheid become more evident every day. As one of my hashtag savvy correspondents observes, ‘My perception is that a “born-free” generation has spawned a faction of Black students whose extreme racial views baffle former Black activists who fought for non-racialism’. The #transformation activists claim the former ‘liberal’ institutions are racist and that they remain uncomfortable and marginalised on campus due to ‘structural’ or ‘institutionalised’ racism or a ‘Eurocentric’ outlook and curriculum. 

The (exclusively Black) student experience at the Universities of Venda, Limpopo, Zululand, Walter Sisulu where the curriculum often remains Eurocentric, doesn’t attract a # because of their staff profile.  At the former institutions, students are predominantly middle class, while at the rural campuses they are mainly lumpenprolateriat.  Is it any wonder, then, that the eminent French critical scholar, Manuel Castells, remarking on ‘transformation’, wryly observed that ‘transformation’ is a word that South Africans use when they stop thinking and start making social conversation over a glass of wine.   Are the whiners the wine drinkers - characters in a Monty Python satire?

Does transformation hinge on claiming that a pre-given White racist institutional culture exists and that Blacks must necessarily hail themselves as perpetual victims?  

In which case, ‘transformation’ can never be completed.  Has Verwoerd been proven right and Paolo Freire wrong?  God forbid.

·     Keyan G Tomaselli is a Wits graduate, a UKZN Professor Emeritus, and works at the University of Johannesburg.  He can be transformed at

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author’s own.

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UKZN Astrophysicist Searches for Missing Matter

UKZN Astrophysicist Searches for Missing Matter
The European Space Agency’s Planck satellite (lower left corner) continuously maps the light created by moving electrons in galaxy clusters. The detected light, shown in the upper left corner, shows the existence of diffuse gas lying outside the central region of galaxy clusters.

A group of astrophysicists, including UKZN’s Dr Yin-Zhe Ma, may have solved a long standing problem in cosmology, which is the study of how the Universe expands. Dr Ma is a new member of UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (which is housed in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science) and the School of Chemistry and Physics.

A number of telescopic observations of the Universe tell us that only 5% consists of the ordinary matter that we encounter in everyday life. The remaining 95% is made from a combination of a mysterious substance called “dark matter” and “dark energy”.

Ordinary matter is composed of baryons which are subatomic particles such as protons and neutrons that make up the things around us - like our human body, objects that we encounter in everyday life, our planet and our galaxy. However, most of the baryons in the Universe occur in the form of an intergalactic, low density gas which makes them hard to detect directly. This is known as the “missing baryon problem” in astrophysics.

By observing, through the Planck satellite telescope, the oldest radiation in the Universe which is known as the cosmic microwave background, Dr Ma and his team may have discovered the missing baryons in and around certain galaxies.

This may be deduced because the motion of gas inside and around these galaxies indicates that these regions contain roughly half of the total amount of baryons in the Universe. If the distribution of the ordinary matter in outer space is similar to that of dark matter, then it seems likely that all of the baryons will be found in and around the galaxies.

A paper describing the study has been published in Physical Review Letters, where it was highlighted as an Editor’s suggestion.


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Agricultural Economics Graduate Presents at International Conferences

Agricultural Economics Graduate Presents at International Conferences
Dr Patrick Hitayezu giving his presentation at the IAAE Conference in Milan.

UKZN academic Dr Patrick Hitayezu, who recently completed his PhD degree in Agricultural Economics in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), presented two papers from his PhD research at two high-profile international conferences during the course of 2015.

One paper was presented at a conference themed “Our Common Future under Climate Change (OCFCC)” held in July at UNESCO and Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France. The Conference built on recent climate studies to deliver scientific messages for the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP21) to be held in Paris in December 2015, which seeks to assess the implementation of political responses to climate change globally.

During a session on perceptions of climate change, Hitayezu presented the findings of his study on factors shaping climate risk perceptions among small-scale farmers in the Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal. The study applied a behavioural approach to help understand why farmers living in the same region would perceive local climatic changes in different ways. His findings indicated that perceptions tend to differ based on farmers’ underlying learning processes, with major implications for the climate change information communication policy in South Africa.

Keynote speakers at the OCFCC included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and France’s Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal.

Hitayezu presented another paper at the 29th triennial conference of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE) held in Milan, Italy, in August. The conference was themed “Agriculture in an Interconnected World”. His presentation, given during the land-use session, showcased the application of a mixed-multinomial logit model to the assessment of attitudes and constraints governing small-scale farmers’ land-use change decision-making in the Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal.

This study revealed that social motives such as food security override income generation and ecological incentives, which are the common foci in agricultural land use policy in South Africa. The study also showed that decision-making regarding agricultural land-use change is governed by economic factors, social influences and agro-ecological characteristics, with implications for sustainable land use policy in South Africa.

Hitayezu was supervised by Professors Edilegnaw Wale and Gerald Ortmann of Agricultural Economics in SAEES.

Patrick Hitayezu and Christine Cuénod

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Centre for Indian Diaspora Studies (CIDS) launched at UKZN Gala Dinner

Centre for Indian Diaspora Studies (CIDS) launched at UKZN Gala Dinner
From left: Professor Pratap Kumar, Dr Zweli Mkhize and Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The founding idea of the Centre for Indian Diaspora Studies (CIDS) was launched recently at a Gala Dinner at the Durban City Hall, as part of UKZN’s Indian Diaspora Conference.

The Centre is envisaged as a primary platform to systematically conduct research on the Indian Diaspora in South Africa, and to offer seminars, workshops and short courses on Indian languages, cultures and histories.

Speaking at the event, Emeritus Professor within the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC), Professor Pratap Kumar said: ‘Durban is the main region where a majority of the South African Indian communities reside, so the Centre, operating within UKZN, would profile their presence and interests and engage various stakeholders at various government-levels, business, community and the global Indian community. The Centre would be the intellectual hub of the Indian diaspora within South Africa, for the engagement of scholars as well as civil society.’

UKZN’s Professor Salim Abdool Karim added that the Centre will be seen as a celebration of the Indian community and will reflect on the ongoing role they play in society whilst also allowing for open collaboration and discourse in an effort to strive for excellence in Higher Education.

The Indian High Commissioner Mrs Ruchi Ghanashyam said: ‘Within the Centre will be a Diaspora Museum that will contain artefacts and documents relevant to the Diaspora. We call on the public to assist with the provision of these remnants of history to showcase the significant progress of South African Indians.’

The Conference and launch of the Centre came at a time in which the KZN province experienced racial tension and hate speech directed at Indians in South Africa by anti-Indian mobilisation groups. Speaking at the launch, Durban businessman Mr Vivian Reddy called on the business community to reach out to bring together the Indian and African communities.

‘We cannot hide away from these issues. I hope to engage with UKZN management to host a symposium for the African and Indian Business community. We must all play a part in nation-building and look at things positively,’ said Reddy.

At the launch, ANC Treasurer-General and UKZN Chancellor Dr Zweli Mkhize condemned the anti-Indian mobilisations stating that South Africa belongs to all that live in it. He also noted the significance of the Centre in recognising the contributions that Indians have made in the apartheid struggle and in nation-building.

‘We should display the spirit of reconciliation for social cohesion. This conference is one such platform to discuss the solutions to take the country forward. We are aiming for the dawn of a new democratic dispensation of the South Africa society working together,’ said Mkhize.

Echoing his sentiments, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Pravin Gordhan called on academics to provide insights on the diaspora in the 21st century and to further interpret issues of the conference’s theme of “Ethnicity, Race and Citizenship: the Place of Indians in the new South Africa”.

Referring to the issue of racial tension, Gordhan said: ‘The Centre for Indian Diaspora Studies stands as testament to the role and place of Indians in South Africa.  We should be looking to prepare the next generation as leaders, academics and activists and create a new national identity.’

Also attending the Conference was leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi who offered his support to the conference. ‘South Africans of Indian extraction are still South African, and no less so. Whether you call yourself Indian, South African, Hindu, academic or student, you remain of equal value to “the new South Africa”.

‘Begin not from the question of whether Indians have a contribution to make, but from the premise that your contribution is eminently valuable. South Africa cannot move forward with its character and health intact if parts of us are left behind or left out. That is a lesson we cannot afford to learn the hard way. It is a truth we must readily embrace,’ he said.

Melissa Mungroo

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Santa Shoe Box Project 2015

Santa Shoe Box Project 2015
UKZN's Santa Shoe Box initiative 2015.

Santa’s helpers have done it again! As part of a national charity drive, staff at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus and some of their friends have made online pledges to the Santa Shoe Box initiative to fill shoe boxes for children on the project’s Christmas list.

The project relies on the passion and generosity of willing volunteers and donations to ensure the delivery of thousands of gifts to lesser-privileged children in South Africa.

The contents of the boxes include items such as stationery, toiletries, toys, clothing and sweets.

‘This year the Santa Shoe Box may reach its goal of more than a 110 000 pledges and we are all thrilled to be a part of it,’ said UKZN’s Tammy Frankland. ‘Our involvement in the project has grown from four people in 2013 to 17 this year! We are confident that our team of Santa’s helpers will grow even larger in the future – ensuring the contribution of more shoe boxes from UKZN.’  


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Architecture Academic Receives Scroll of Honour from KZNIA

Architecture Academic Receives Scroll of Honour from KZNIA
Mr Mthembeni Mkhize, recipient of the Scroll of Honour by the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architecture.

A UKZN academic who abandoned a lucrative architectural private practice in order to share his considerable skills with students, was recognised for his work recently with an accolade from the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architecture (KZNIA).

Mr Mthembeni Mkhize, Cluster Leader: Architecture, Planning and Housing and Academic Leader in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) at UKZN, received a Scroll of Honour from KZNIA for his dedicated service to the profession and the institute.

Mkhize was elected by the President and Regional Committee of KZNIA, Mr Ruben Reddy, to receive the award which was presented to him at an awards function held at the KZN Art Gallery.

‘Mr Mkhize has sacrificed a lucrative career in the private sector as a targeted practicing architect to dedicate his life to the education of young aspirant architects,’ Reddy said.  ‘There are only 3 500 architects in South Africa, with African architects numbering less than 50.  Over a period of many years, young practitioners owe their skills to this man who guided and directed them in their chosen career of architecture.’

‘He is a true activist and champion for the rights of those who were ignored and denied access to this career for decades,’ Reddy continued.  ‘He deserves more accolades beyond the one that he has received from his peers at the Institute of Architects for this huge contribution. He had his own personal struggle to attain his qualifications in the dark days of apartheid and had to have many long periods of absence between years of study to acquire the resources to complete his undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.’

He further wished Mkhize ‘a well-deserved retirement.  We hope that he still has the energy to contribute to the betterment of our built environment.’

Upon receiving his award, Mkhize said: ‘It was a humbling and emotional feeling to be recognised by architects from my city and my province. The most touching is the fact that most of these architects know me very well. Some of them knew me when I started studying architecture as a youngster. Some knew me when I worked with them in my early stages in life and others have worked very closely with me in the work that I am being honoured for. Many thanks to the Institute of Architects.’

Also attending the awards function was Interim Dean and Head of the School, Professor Betty Mubangizi. She said: ‘I see Mr Mkhize’s award, not just as his personal recognition, but also as recognition of the institution that he is based at and, in particular the School of the Built Environment and Development studies.  In this way we are thus grateful to KZNIA and to Mr Mkhize for flying our flag high.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Animal Science Academic's Canoeing Triumphs

Animal Science Academic's Canoeing Triumphs
Dr Marion Young during the ICF World Championships in Hungary.

A UKZN academic is making waves, quite literally, both here at home and abroad, with a number of medals and titles in the strenuous sport of canoeing.

Dr Marion Young, of the Discipline of Animal Science in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), has continued to display a winning streak.  Recently she earned herself two gold medals in the K1 and K2 categories in the Women’s Masters at the ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships in Gyor, Hungary.

Young’s exploits at the ICF competition have set her on a good course to triumph at next year’s World Championships in Germany. If she wins in Germany, she will defend her World Champion title on home waters, as the 2017 World Championships are being held at Camp’s Drift in KwaZulu-Natal, hosted by the Natal Canoe Club.

Following her wins in Hungary, Young jetted back home to the South African Society for Animal Science’s 48th annual Congress, held in Zululand and organised by Young’s KZN branch. The theme of the Congress was “Animal Science in Practice”. In addition to playing a role in the organising of the Congress, Young presented a paper on using discriminant analysis in epidemiology of African Horse Sickness.

After the very successful Congress had wrapped up, Young headed to the Eastern Cape to compete in the Hansa Fish River Canoe Marathon in the K2 category, where she and race partner Kim Peek completed the demanding race first in the veteran women’s category in a time of 6:01:59.88, breaking the record time for that category by 15 minutes.

The tireless Lecturer made sure she kept her students up to speed in-between all of her ventures, using innovative means of communicating with them to keep their learning and research up to date on dry ground while she broke records on the water.

Young’s drive to be the best at all she does is clearly evident in her canoeing and academic achievements. When asked what motivates her to keep up the pace, she said that it is her goal to ‘live beyond average’.

Christine Cuénod

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UKZN’s Medical Students Prepare to Exit UKZN

UKZN’s Medical Students Prepare to Exit UKZN
UKZN’s MBChB Final year Class (missing the Eshowe placement students).

‘The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today’s job well,’ said Professor Richard Hift, Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine in his message to the final year Medical class as they prepared to leave UKZN after completing their studies. Hift welcomed the audience of around 130 final year students during their Exit Orientation programme, co-ordinated by the College of Health Sciences Student Support Services.

‘Doctors need to be responsible at all times as the repercussions for irresponsible behaviour in their practice has dire repercussions,’ emphasised Hift. He also interrogated the Canmed values so that each student understood their role in applying medical knowledge, clinical skills, and professional values that were of a high-quality, ensuring safe patient-centred care.

Ms Suzanne Stokes, student counsellor, illustrated to the students through a range of videos the lives of doctors in the workplace and the challenges they face. Final year class representative, Ms Asanda Xozwa, stated that the one aspect students are never adequately prepared for is dealing with the death of a patient.

‘Doctors should receive counselling during these times which will help them cope with a patient’s death,’ Xoxwa said. ‘Death invokes feelings of loss and bereavement when a patient dies and the event may also evoke feelings of guilt or anger - you may feel that you, or others, could have done more to help the patient during their final illness. Whereas relatives of the deceased are allowed to grieve, as a Medical student, you feel you have no “permission” to express your emotions.’

Addressing the students on professional attire, image and grooming was student counsellor Ms Wullie Thaver. Thaver, through a thought-provoking presentation, used imagery to reveal the appropriate professional attire that should be adopted within the clinical environments. She also stressed the importance that a patient’s safety should always take priority over fashion trends and “hip” behaviour.

‘Medical doctors, like every professional person, has under 10 seconds to make an impression which will last a lifetime. First impressions matter when you want to build trust between you as the professional and your patient,’ said Thaver.

The final year class had mixed emotions about leaving UKZN. The majority were anxious about upcoming examinations whilst others enjoyed seeing each other after months of separation spent at various clinical sites in the province. Reminiscing about their time at UKZN, the students echoed the parting words of their Dean:  ‘The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.’

MaryAnn Francis

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Izifundiswa zezomthetho nendlela entsha yokwethula ucwaningo ngezomthetho

Izifundiswa zezomthetho nendlela entsha yokwethula ucwaningo ngezomthetho
Nksz Priya Singh nesikibha sakhe seFacebook.

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Izifundiswa zesikole sezomthetho ekhempasini yaseMgungundlovu sezinqume ukuthi ukufunda nokufundisa akusikho okwabafundi kuphela, kodwa kuyindlela enhle yokuziqeqesha amakhono nabo ekufundeni nasekufundiseni.

Ezithangamini zokucobelelana eziningi ezintsha, abafundisi “sebefundise” ozakwabo ngentuthuko yakamuva kwezomthetho abebeyicwaninga, nokulapho belolonge khona amakhono abo okufundisa.

Izithangami zisetshenziswa njengendawo lapho izifundiswa zingahlola khona amaphepha azo ocwaningo okanye amadezetheshini abawasebenzayo, bathola imibono ekhaliphile ngokuthi bangawathuthukisa kanjani. Ukwenza le nkulumo  ihehe, umethuli uyacelwa ukuba anikeze incazelo efingqiwe yesihloko senkulumo yakhe esebenzisa isiqubulo “esibhuqayo” esikibheni kanye nekhekhe. Lezi zinto zihlose ukukhombisa inkulumo yabo ngendlela enamahlaya, ibe ifingqa umongo wocwaningo. Izinkulumo bezithinta kusuka kwezokuphinga nezezinkondlo.

Izifundiswa esezethule izihloko zazo ngalendlela kufaka uSol. Shannon Hoctor, uNksz Suhayfa Bhamjee, uSol. Marita Carnelley, uNksz Priya Singh noMnu Khulekani Khumalo.

Enkulumeni yakhe, uHoctor ubalule ukuthi ezomthetho nezezinkondlo, yize zingahlobene, kodwa kukhona ubudlelwano obubalulekile ezinabo. Zinomthelela ofanayo ngoba zisebenzisa ulimi njengethuluzi elibalulekile; ziwumkhiqizo wobuhlakani bomuntu, ukusungula, okwakhe okukhethekile kanye nemicabango. Ezomthetho nezezinkondlo ziveza isiko nesikhathi lapho zikhona ziphinde zisize ekuthuthukiseni uguquko lalolosiko.

UBhamjee wethule inkulumo esihloko esithi “Death and Dying in a Constitutional Democracy-Assisted Dying” ebheka ezomthetho ekubulaweni ngendlela engesihluku komuntu oguliswa isifo/izifo ezingalapheki.

Inkulumo kaBhamjee yesihloko: “Give me Death or Give me Tea” ibuke kokwenzeka emhlabeni wonke ngemithetho evumela umuntu ukuthi akhethe isikhathi nendlela yokushona okuhlobene necala lasenkantolo iStransham-Ford.

Inkulumo kaCarnelley yesihloko: “Adultry is dead. Long Live Adultery” ibuke ukuthi ukuphinga ufake umuntu wesithathu ebudlelwaneni bakho sekwaba umlando, ngaphandle komthetho ojwayelekile, akusho ukuthi ukuphinga kuzokwehla noma kwamukeleke.

‘Ngithole ingqungquthela iyisiqalo esihle ekuthuthukiseni indlela umuntu ethula ngayo inkulumo, kusho uCarnelley.

‘Bekuyithuba lokwethula inkulumo phambi kongoti abahlukene ngemikhakha yabo. Ingxoxo elandele lapho ibifundisa kakhulu iphinde yanikeza nendlela eyehlukile yokubuka izinto, umethuli wenkulumo ebengazicabanganga. Ngolwazi lwami, ngingasho ngithi ngiphume kwisithangami namasu amasha engingawashicilela’, esho.

‘Ukuthola isikibha nokucabanga ngekhekhe elizokhombisa ukuphinga (ummese unqamula/ugwaza ikhekhe), kungenze ngacabanga’, enanela. ‘ozakwethu abebengeseka becijise izindlebe baphawule izinto ezincomekayo kanjalo neziphakamiso zabo zenze kwaba indawo lapho ngizizwa ngigqugquzeleka. USahayfa Bhamjee no-Ann Strode kumele banconywe ngokuzikhandla nokuzinikela kwabo. Bakwaze ukususa isibhocobhoco kwezemfundo nobuthuntu kithina esibadala’, ephetha.

Inkulumo kaKhumalo yesihloko: “Violent Protests-some interesting developments” ibibheka ukubhikisha okuhlongozwe ngaphansi kwesiqubulo esithi #FeesMustFall ebuza umbuzo wokuthi ngabe lemibhikisho ibinodlame noma indluzula.

‘ukwehluka kwalemiqondo kubalulekile ngoba ukuze abashushisi bagwebe ababhikishi ngecala lodlame lwasemphakathini, kumele kuvele ubufakazi bokuthi umbhikisho ubunodlame, hhayi indluzula nje. Inkulumo iphinde yabheka necala elifanele ababhikishi abanodlame abangathweswa lona, kusho uKhumalo. Isikole sizokwethula izinkulumo ezintathu ngaphambi kokuphela konyaka.

 nguThandiwe Jumo

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Symposium Celebrates MEPI-UKZN REMETH PhDs

Symposium Celebrates MEPI-UKZN REMETH PhDs
From left: Drs Sandy Pillay, Zandile Gumede, Cheryl Baxter, Professor Koleka Mlisana, and Dr Mergan Naidoo.

UKZN’s Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Programme recently celebrated the success of six PhD candidates who graduated from its Research Methodology (REMETH) Programme this year.

This was at a Symposium held at the Oyster Box Hotel in Durban, in recognition of each graduate’s research excellence. Two doctoral researchers were new Heads of their respective departments: Professors Ncoza Dlova and Koleka Mlisana, as well as Drs Cheryl Baxter, Vineshree Govender, Zandile Gumede and Mergan Naidoo.

The multidisciplinary cohort was congratulated for finding solutions and possible cures to South Africa’s health challenges by the MEPI-UKZN team, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the provincial Department of Health at the Symposium.

‘The REMETH PhD support programme aims to improve retention of academics, produce faculty of high quality and calibre, provide academic opportunity for future role models and produce locally relevant, good quality research that will strengthen public health systems,’ said MEPI Communicating Principal Investigator Dr Sandy Pillay.

‘This programme, which will have produced about 50 PhD graduates when complete, was structured with the understanding that these academics are often responsible for teaching as well as clinical duties and require special support and encouragement to complete a PhD,’ Pillay said, encouraging the current candidates also to pursue excellence. 

Professor Dlova studied the spectrum of ethnic skin and hair disorder, and the composition and use of skin-lightening preparations, traditional cosmetics and sunscreen. The study called for more public awareness campaigns and further research into the use of clays as sunscreens on a commercial level.

Dlova advocated further training of hair stylists in formal and informal settings on hair disorders to ensure appropriate treatment is advised.  She also called on government to step up its regulatory mechanism to ensure more effective control around the production, import and sale of products containing harmful ingredients.

‘The impact of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and genital tract inflammation on HIV-1 acquisition and rate of disease progression in subtype C infected women’ was the title of Professor. Mlisana’s study. ‘A key finding in my study was that vaginal discharge is a poor predictor of STIs and that syndromic management of STIs misses a significant proportion of women with asymptomatic infections,’ she said.

‘We are now in an era where we could say we are on the brink of conquering HIV. However, the next big challenge we face is the impact and effects of this epidemic. Whilst we might have a good handle on the HIV and AIDS epidemic, the co-infections remain a battle. Another major area is the devastation HIV has caused at a social level. We are faced with orphans, and many teenagers who contracted HIV from their mothers,’ Mlisana said.

‘The funding received from the MEPI REMETH Programme was used to support directly my laboratory-based research and has expanded my skills set and exposed me to the fascinating field of antiretroviral drug resistance,’ Baxter said.

Conducted among 889 women using intermittent tenofovir 1% gel for HIV prevention, the study found no association with hepatic flares, no effect on hepatitis B viral load and did not enhance the development of tenofovir resistance genetic mutations. ‘Women with HBV infection can therefore safely use tenofovir 1% gel for HIV prevention without adverse impact on their HBV infection,’ she said.

Dr Govender’s study was titled: “The role of Adiponectin, Leptin, TNF-a and Resistin in HIV-associated pre-eclampsia”. She stressed that pregnant women needed to go for regular check-ups.  ‘We simply do not encourage this often enough and yet regular checks allow for early intervention if there are any problems.’

“Nobody has been able to identify the cause of pre-eclampsia but we do know that controlling your blood pressure ensures a safer delivery. Young women often mistakenly believe that just because they are young they will have a relatively risk-free pregnancy. We must continue to reiterate that pregnancy is high risk and women need to ensure they book early at their clinics,” Govender recommended.

Dr Gumede conducted an analysis of the health behaviour of children from child-headed households in a selected health district in KwaZulu-Natal. Her PhD was an attempt to bring the very difficult circumstances of her participants into a documented reality so that appropriate intervention could be strengthened.

The results of Dr Naidoo’s research – Head of UKZN’s Department of Family Medicine Clinical Unit - were presented to the National Department of Health and to specialist subgroups in the National Committee for Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in South Africa, resulted in support for the implementation of the World Health Organization surgical safety checklist as a minimum standard of operative care in South Africa.

Lunga Memela

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Inaugural Lecture Tackles Poverty in South Africa

Inaugural Lecture Tackles Poverty in South Africa
From left: Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, Professor Betty Mubangizi, Professor Cheryl Potgieter and Professor Sarah Bracking.

Holder of the SARChI Chair in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), Professor Sarah Bracking, recently delivered her inaugural lecture titled “Poverty in South Africa: residual, performative or structurally reproducing”?

In her lecture, she talked about the extent of poverty in South Africa and some characteristics that define what it means to measure. ‘The importance of measurement is to try and catalyse social change by giving citizens and policy makers the knowledge they need to act and spend wisely for a better South Africa,’ she said.

‘However, measurement in itself tells us nothing about the causes of poverty, and little about what policy makers may in fact do with the evidence, particularly when it competes with other spending priorities,’ explained Bracking.

In her lecture she examined what the category of poverty does in public policy discourse, and how poor people sit at the bottom of a social order which often produces wealth for others because of their poverty.

The lecture then progressed to asking whether poverty is a small residual problem of cleaning up conditions for a small group who have somehow been left behind, like waiting for growth to do its job, or whether the macro-economy of South Africa and global financialisation are producing the same conditions that will continue to cause poverty into the future.

‘Poverty in the present is being co-produced by two things.  First, the regulatory choices made by the government of South Africa and its continued privileging of mining and the minerals energy complex over and above other policy priorities; and second, the investment and project finance structures that emanate from the global economy, which can be conceptualised as financialisation.  There are some senses in which poverty itself has been financialised with “poverty” performative of its own conditions of reproduction,’ she argued.

Bracking shared statistics and previous research, in line with her lecture topic, that allowed for a greater in-depth discussion amongst the lecture attendees. ‘There is the potential for a reformed development studies to help design a better future,’ she said.

DVC and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Cheryl Potgieter pointed out that Bracking’s topic is crucial and relevant on a national and global level, while also welcoming her to the professoriate of the University.

‘Sarah is passionate about issues of poverty and social development and we are glad to have her within our School,’ said the Interim Dean for the School Professor Betty Mubangizi while College Dean for Teaching and Learning, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa, said: ‘Sarah has touched on an important issue of poverty which is a challenge that South Africa is experiencing. And it’s something that we need to talk about.’

Melissa Mungroo

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Thymio Robot Project A Success

Thymio Robot Project A Success
Eden College learners and Educators together with Dr Riaan Stopforth and Dr Shaniel Devraj.

How better to teach robotics to young people, than using an actual robot?

The Thymio Robot resembles a small flat car with two wheels, which can be programmed and controlled remotely to fulfil certain tasks.  But its most important task is teaching kids exactly how to programme robots, and the science of robotics, and recently the learners at Eden College were given the opportunity, via a collaboration with a Swiss university of engineering, to become space-age engineers.

The Thymio Robot project was headed by Dr Riaan Stopforth at the UKZN School of Engineering.  Recently, while on sabbatical in Switzerland, Stopforth met a Professor of Mechatronics Engineering from École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (EPFL), Professor Francesco Mondada.  The Zurich-based professor had developed the Thymio Robot as an educational tool to introduce children to robotics, and he asked Dr Stopforth to identify a local school in South Africa to use as part of a world-wide learning experience. 

Eden College was chosen for various reasons:  the high standard of its education; its close proximity to UKZN and – most importantly – the fact that it taught French, which was the language in which the learning was going to be conducted.

The Thymio Robot has a screen on its side, which shows its coding.  Learners enter code via a remote keyboard, and the robot responds immediately to the instructions.  In this way, the children can test their coding while they are busy doing it.

Dr Shaniel Devraj from the Engineering Department trained the learners who to use the robot, and on November 4th they got together, along with similar groups from around the world, and tested out their training.  Using a YouTube streaming video, YouTube Chat, and a shared Google Drive folder, the children were able to connect to other groups of learners in other countries and to the robot itself at its home base at EPFL.  The connections had five different streams in order to see what the robots were doing in each country.                     

The learners thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were very eager to participate in this programme.

Prashina Budree

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School of Arts to host 2015 Jazz and Popular Music Recitals

School of Arts to host 2015 Jazz and Popular Music Recitals
Music students Mr Kwena Ramahuta and Mr Lungelo Ngcobo set to perform this week.

The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM) within the School of Arts is proud to present the 2015 Jazz and Jazz and Popular music recitals on 24 and 25 November, at 18h00.

The candidates who are reciting are Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music Students: Bethuel Tshoane (guitar), Kaylin Naidoo (guitar), and Dylan Silk (guitar), BPrac students Lucky Swele (guitar), Rogan Chaz (guitar), Lungelo Ngcobo (piano) as well as BMus vocalist Kwena Ramahuta.

The students will play a variety of original compositions and standards. On Tuesday 24 November, Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music Students Bethuel Tshoane (guitar), Kaylin Naidoo (guitar), and Dylan Silk (guitar) will be performing.  They have toured the country with various artists such as Tasha Baxter, Freddie Van’Dango (Idols), T.H.O.T.S. and L-Tido.

The biggest stage that Silk has played on so far was opening for Usher with L-Tido. He is also an aspiring videographer, with ambitions to run his own audio/visual studio in the future. Also reciting on Tuesday, is BPrac student Lucky Swele (guitar) who is a member of trio “Ubuciko The Art” a group that fuses poetry/spoken words and music interludes.

The following night, Wednesday 25 November, BPrac students Rogan Chaz (guitar) and Lungelo Ngcobo (piano) will be accompanied by Salim Washington (tenor saxophone), Tshepo Tsotetsi (alto saxophone), George Mari (trumpet), Riley Ghindari (drums), Menzi Mkhize (percussion), Nick Pittman (guitar) and Prince Bulo (bass). BMus vocalist Kwena Ramahuta who recently was a semi-finalist in the recent prestigious Samro international scholarship competition 2015 will also recite that night.

Speaking about his recital, Ngcobo said, ‘I really look forward to my recital as I have seen the response from people on social networks and so many people are eager to attend. Some members from my extended family will come. 

‘I have a very strong group of individuals musically so they give me confidence that everything I have written and arranged will sound the way I had hoped for it to sound.  In the band are Salim Washington, Tsepho Tsotetsi, George Mari, Riley Ghindari, Prince Bulo and Menzi Mkhize. I really hope whoever is keen to hear what a UKZN student sounds like could come through for this recital,’ he said.

The recital will take place at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM) Level 2, Shepstone Building; UKZN Howard College campus.  Entrance is free. Please contact Thuli on 031 260 3385 or email for more information.

Melissa Mungroo

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Antibiotic Resistance Deliberated by KZN Hospital Reps

Antibiotic Resistance Deliberated by KZN Hospital Reps
Hospital and UKZN representatives at the WAAW forum.

The Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Units of KwaZulu-Natal’s Provincial hospitals and Clinics recently united to commemorate World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW) at a forum held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital.

Organised and chaired by UKZN/KZN DoH IPC Head, Professor Prashini Moodley, the 150 healthcare professionals deliberated on possible interventions to delay the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms and to stem the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms in healthcare.

The discussion acknowledged that many antibiotics are prescribed in the healthcare and agriculture sectors for the wrong reasons, contributing to the overall antibiotic pressure and hence to resistance. Globally, an ever-increasing number of patients are becoming infected with antibiotic-resistant organisms, Moodley said, and the toll of morbidity and mortality from these infections has major repercussions.

Moodley emphasised that infection prevention and control strategies must work in tandem with antibiotic stewardship to prevent the emergence and spread of nosocomial infections.

The majority of public health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal have implemented antibiotic stewardship projects and 18 facilities were selected to present the results of interventions implemented. Townhill Hospital, represented by Mr Keith Rathnum, was awarded first prize. Over a 12 month period, the number of nosocomial infections as well as the amount of money spent on antibiotics decreased almost 50 percent by implementation of simple and sustainable interventions at this facility.

According to the World Health Organization, a global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines was endorsed at the 86th World Health Assembly in May 2015.  One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training.

Professor Willem Sturm, Professor Emeritus at UKZN’s School of LMMS, said the main goal of antimicrobial stewardship was to use antibiotics in a responsible manner so that resistance is prevented or delayed. Sturm encouraged attendees to avoid the use of antimicrobial agents unless absolutely necessary. Antibiotics were inappropriately used if administered when not needed, continued for longer than necessary, incorrectly dosed, were the incorrect choice for the infection, and broad-spectrum nostrums were used over narrow-spectrum agents.

Currently, many bacteria are still susceptible to many antibiotics, Sturm said, and antimicrobial stewardship programmes would slow down further development of resistance. However, a major challenge is that the majority of the causative agents of hospital-acquired infections was already multidrug resistance (MDR), leaving few therapeutic options for management of nosocomial infections.

‘The treatment of TB patients is difficult, expensive and leads to many adverse effects,’ said the second keynote speaker: the University of Pennsylvania Assistant Professor, Nicola Zetola, who shared preliminary findings from a study re-defining the treatment of MDR-TB in Botswana.

Among other factors in Zetola’s study, the researchers found that although they were using lower dosing regimens than recommended, their patients were experiencing adverse effects that were previously associated with higher doses.

From King Edward VII hospital, to Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg and as far out as Ladysmith Hospital in the Uthukela Health District and Mseleni Hospital in the north, delegates shared the challenges they faced with antibiotic resistance.

The theme for this year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week is “Antibiotics: Handle With Care”. The hospitals made a pact to reduce resistance, morbidity, mortality and costs.

Lunga Memela

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UKZN Nursing Engages with the Community

UKZN Nursing Engages with the Community
Fourth-year Psychiatric Nursing students.

Fourth-year Psychiatric Nursing students from UKZN went out into their communities this year as part of their final-year curriculum.  Four projects, led by the students themselves, engaged with four different community groupings in order to assist those communities with mental health and social issues in and around Durban.  The projects were overseen by their lecturer Ann Jarvis.

In the first project, six Psychiatric Nursing students, who called themselves the King Dinizulu Group, presented a study named ‘Early Psychosis and Relapse Signature’, which was aimed at creating awareness around mental illness in the community and to reduce and prevent the relapse of psychiatric symptomatology.

The group consisted of Miss Phathwakahle Mvubu, Mrs Raize Atcha, Miss Nomalanga Mkhize, Miss Hlengiwe Buthelezi, Miss Sikhulile Mathenjwa and Miss Bongiwe Cele.  They decided to pursue this project after discovering that there was an increase in the number of Mental Health Care Users (MHCUs) that had been readmitted to the King Dinizulu Hospital due to relapse. The objective was to identify the gaps in knowledge and information in the community regarding mental illness and to raise awareness about relapse.  The project was led by Bongiwe Cele.

Cele highlighted that early management of relapse helped in the journey to recovery as it decreased the risk of drug resistance in the MHCU thus decreasing the duration of the recovery process, making it cost effective.

The second project was called the Wentworth Community Presentation July-November 2015.  It was conducted by a group comprising Miss Sinenhlanhla Bhengu, Miss Thobekile Conco, Miss Shanelani Ngidi,

Miss Nokubonga Qwabe, Miss Yolanda Sihlwayi and Mr Simphiwe Mabaso.  They hosted a Mental Health Peer Leadership Programme at Fairvale High School focusing on drug abuse.  

The students were innovative in their approach through the inclusion of the community group’s senior citizens – Malibongwe Senior Citizens, headed by Norma Maclou. They recognised the senior’s expertise as a resource for information on matters related to children and substance abuse and had them work alongside the peer group. This proactive move has potential for a long term healthy partnership. Their collaboration also involved other community stakeholders, namely Wentworth Psychiatric clinic, in particular Verantia Juganath and Linda Bailey, Wentworth community police, and the ward counsellor.

In her presentation Ngidi said that the catalyst to the project was that whilst working at Wentworth psychiatric clinic the group observed that many MHCUs had a history of drug abuse - mainly illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin and mandrax, in particular cannabis. She said: ‘A number of recent research projects have linked cannabis and schizophrenia, suggesting that cannabis use may trigger, worsen or cause an earlier onset of schizophrenia. The information that we got from the warrant officer at the police station suggested that all the above-mentioned drugs are abused by youngsters in the community and that helped us to come to a conclusion that drugs have a great impact on mental conditions.’

Mr Stephanus, a teacher as well as leader of FAR (Fairvale Awareness and Recovery) from Fairvale High School linked the group with learners who demonstrated good leadership skills.  In order to gauge parental guidance, the group also worked with the Malibongwe senior citizens. The group had six sessions with the learners including the launch of the project. The topics included in the sessions were stigma around mental illness; the link between cannabis and schizophrenia; and depression among teenagers.

The project appeared successful in meeting the aim of creating awareness on drug induced mental illness, especially schizophrenia. It was instrumental in developing preventative measures against mental illness and in empowering the leadership skills of the learners who will be involved in sustaining this project.  In future they will work hand in hand in this new partnership with the fourth year Bachelor Nursing students of 2016, their teachers at Fairvale High School, the Wentworth psychiatric clinic and Malibongwe, as they work together towards awareness and recovery from substance abuse.

In the third project, the Chatsworth Community Project 2015 group worked with Grade 8 learners from Montarena Secondary School, focusing on developing an increased sense of self-esteem and self-respect. The group comprised Preashni Chetty, Nikita Trentelman, Danell Brand, Thandeka Chili, Nothile Khuzwayo and Zibuyile Nkosi, supported by the school principal Mr PG Govender and his team.

The last project, Phoenix Community Project 2015, was conducted by Miss Busisiwe Nkabinde, Miss Thembelihle Vilakazi, Miss Nqobile Zondi, Mr Ditshehle Mphahlele, Miss Kholiwe Dlamini, Miss Zodwa Nzuza and Mr Felix Munyesheli.  It was titled: “Together in Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder”. The project was aimed at establishing support groups for parents with children diagnosed with ADHD at Phoenix’s Starwood Psychiatric Clinic. The students, together with Ronika Ganes from Starwood Clinic, equipped parents with sufficient knowledge about the disorder and also facilitated a workshop which introduced support groups.

Nombuso Dlamini

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