Criminology Student Awarded NRF Research Funding for Youth Transformation

Criminology Student Awarded NRF Research Funding for Youth Transformation
Ms Smangele Nkosingiphile Shandu.Click here for isiZulu version

PhD student in Criminology and Forensic Studies Ms Smangele Nkosingiphile Shandu has been awarded funding by the National Research Foundation (NRF) for her research titled: The Developments of a Prosecutorial Approach to Combat Income Tax Fraud in South Africa.

The funding was provided as part of the NRF’s Youth campaign for young people who are advancing knowledge, transforming lives and inspiring a nation.

Her ongoing doctoral study, which focuses on a holistic approach to tax fraud prosecutions, will be developed as a novel contribution for this study. Her supervisor is Professor Shanta Balgobind Singh.

‘I believe the South African government should work towards better service delivery,’ said Shandu. ‘It is hoped that this study will create awareness of the impact of tax fraud and evasion in service delivery and economic growth across South Africa. The effectiveness and existing gaps in economic crimes’ prosecutions will be addressed in a form of recommendations to be implemented by relevant stakeholders and policy makers in the country,’ said Shandu.

She was also sponsored through a NRF International Travel Grant to attend the 14th International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico City. Her presentation was titled: A Critical Analysis of Criminological Application in Responding to Violent Crimes in South Africa.

During the conference, she was awarded an Emerging Scholar Award after chairing sessions under the theme of Civic and Political presentations.

Shandu’s research interests include: a comparative criminal justice system; crime prevention and control; cybercrime; criminalistics (Forensic investigations - Forensic Science); economic crimes; human rights; social crime prevention, and victim support.

‘My area of expertise is confined to economic crimes which include fraud detection, analysis and prevention in South Africa,’ she said.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Get High on Grades Not Drugs - #KickTheHabit

Get High on Grades Not Drugs - #KickTheHabit
Commemorating International Day of Substance Abuse and Drug Trafficking by encouraging students to #KickTheHabit.

Student Support Services (SSS) in the College of Health Sciences (CHS) hosted a webinar titled: Addressing Substance Use and Abuse after identifying a need for conversations on the issue following a noticeable increase in the problem among UKZN students.

In addition, national and international studies confirm an increased use of drugs among students in Higher Education (HE).

The SSS team hosted the webinar with the Department of Social Development’s (DSD’s) District office (Substance Abuse Prevention and Rehabilitation); the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), and the Newlands Park Rehabilitation Centre (NPC).

The event was held to promote the International Day of Substance Abuse and Drug Trafficking held annually on 26 June.

Invited panellists were specialists in this area of work and the webinar was attended by University staff and students.

CHS Student Support Services Manager Dr Saloschini Pillay welcomed community partners and participants, highlighting the need to address the critical yet insufficiently discussed topic. Pillay said substance use and abuse were major global concerns, with generally higher statistics of reported substance abuse in South Africa compared to the rest of the world. She was hopeful that through the sharing of accurate information on substance use, abuse and the services of support available, students and staff would be inclined to make healthier and more effective decisions.

Student counsellor in the CHS Mrs Wulganithi Thaver, who coordinated the webinar, shared details about the impact of substance use and abuse on student academic progress as well as their overall integration into university life. Thaver spoke about the effect substance use had on memory, brain functioning and regular social interaction, which are all integral to a positive university experience.

As the core function of the SSS focuses primarily on the holistic development of students and their ultimate success, it was imperative to address critical issues associated with substance use and abuse, which negatively impact student success.

SANCA’s Mr Sthembiso Mdlanzi and Ms Nonkululeko Mkhize spoke to students on the topic: Be Smart - Don’t Start, focussing on unpacking definitions and general terminology surrounding substance use. They shared details about their work experiences at SANCA Durban and critical aspects affecting youth and young people at university.

Mdlanzi highlighted reasons young people used substances, citing boredom, peer pressure and experimentation, childhood exposure to drugs and social media influences. He said the term “experimentation” (first use only) quickly escalated into stages of dependency if not curbed. He emphasised that alcohol, cannabis and over-the-counter medication were the most frequently abused substances, however, these were the very substances known to be the gateway to hard drugs such as whoonga and sugars.

A very lively Q and A session was facilitated by a student counsellor in the CHS, Mr Siphesihle Shezi.

Participants inquired about various aspects of substances, including their use, effects, and what research was being done on them. The SANCA representatives highlighted the correlation between substance use and rape and HIV/AIDS and pregnancy; challenges known to impact students in HE.

There was an interesting debate on the legalisation of cannabis, which highlighted the gaps in the legislation and opportunities for abuse. Most importantly, the team from SANCA successfully stated how substance use impaired the higher order of judgement, memory and inhibition, often resulting in young people becoming demotivated, losing vision and eventually dropping out. The session ended with this powerful statement: ‘A young person may choose their first drug, but what they end up using will no longer be their choice. It’s more what their body begins to demand.’

Their message was clear: Choose wisely and don’t start. They concluded their slot by introducing their #KickTheHabit campaign.

Panellist Mr Philani Ndlovu, a child and youth care supervisor from the Newlands Park Rehabilitation Centre, spoke on aspects of Treatment and Care and the resources available for the youth. The Centre embraces a holistic and comprehensive strategy for rehabilitation and support.

Ms Suzanne Stokes, student counsellor in the CHS, introduced a fun activity, during which she highlighted the integration of music and dance as an active self-care strategy. Self-care leads to positive emotional health and psychological wellbeing benefits and the development of healthier habits, said Stokes, thus preventing maladaptive coping strategies such as substance use. 

Students engaged actively during the webinar, completing polls and sharing overwhelmingly positive feedback, with students describing the session as ‘informative, interesting and very beneficial’. Two students said they had ‘not been aware of critical aspects that were highlighted during this session’, while another said: ‘I think this webinar can really help a lot of students because some of us are really not aware of the effects of drugs.’

Student counsellor Ms Kristy Greener described the partnership between DSD, SANCA, NPC and UKZN as being ‘valuable in addressing the scourge of substance use and abuse’.

At the end of proceedings it was clear that further engagement on the subject was vital.

Words: NdabaOnline

Photograph: Shutterstock


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Education Student a Finalist in SA Ten Outstanding Young Persons for 2021 Programme

Education Student a Finalist in SA Ten Outstanding Young Persons for 2021 Programme
Mr Luthando Molefe.

Master of Education student Mr Luthando Molefe is a finalist in the Junior Chamber International (JCI) SA Ten Outstanding Young Persons (JCI SA TOYP) for 2021 in the category: Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment.

The JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (JCI TOYP) programme acknowledges young people who excel in their chosen fields and display the best attributes of the world’s young high performers in their areas of influence.

Molefe was selected for his outstanding and exceptional work in academic excellence, community outreach and leadership in the various roles he performs.

After a rigorous process of identifying outstanding young persons around the country, Molefe was selected as a finalist.

The final preliminary round of the judging process was performed by a panel of high note judges who included past TOYP winners, external partners and JCI SA executives. The combined scores of the two rounds of judging were then used to determine the Top 21.

‘I am thrilled to be a finalist and I am confident I stand a very good chance of being named as one of the Top10 in the country. This again, is testimony that my outstanding work at UKZN and externally really does not go unnoticed,’ he said.

JCI SA 2021 President Ms Silindile Mbaza congratulated Molefe on his achievement. ‘We are proud of the work you have done and continue to do, and know that the most impact is seen in the communities and the people affected by your tremendous work,’ said Mbaza.

The Ten Outstanding Young Persons of South Africa will be acknowledged in a prestigious Gala Dinner to be held at the Durban International Convention Centre in November.

This is not the end of the road for him as he still needs to make it in the TOP 10 Outstanding Young Persons in South Africa for 2021 by JCI SA.

Let's show him some support by voting for him here.

Voting ends at midnight 31 July 2021.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Centre for Creative Arts Hosts Cabaret and Beyond Festival

Centre for Creative Arts Hosts Cabaret and Beyond Festival
Festival participants (from left) Ms Tankiso Mamabola, Ms Roné Roux, Mr Godfrey Johnson, and Mr Zeph Zama.Click here for isiZulu version

The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities has chosen a group of writers and composers to perform in its inaugural Cabaret and Beyond Festival (CAB) aimed at developing new works of musical theatre.

The CAB festival is facilitated by Roland Perold, who holds a MMus in song writing and has written four-chamber musicals, while a cohort of writers has been commissioned to compose individual songs that will be staged in Durban using a small cast and a creative team.

Works showing the most promise for further development will receive grants to extend their material into presentations of a longer format.

The festival aims to fill the existing gap in writing new works in the musical theatre genre.

A total of 12 participants from all over South Africa, will write on a solo basis. They are language educator, literary researcher, composer, lyricist, singer, creative and academic writer, Tsitsi Sachikonye; electronic music producer Luca Hart; musical theatre composer Roné Roux; multi award-winning performer Tankiso Mamabolo; cum laude Drama graduate Mthokozisi Zulu; musical director, composer and performer, Rexleigh Bunyard; writer, director, lyricist and performer, Zeph Nzama; actor and composer Trudy Rozani; multi-award-winning performer, actor, director, writer, and composer, Godfrey Johnson; musical creator Dani Petersen; award-winning actor and designer Marcel Meyer; and guitarist, singer, rapper, and songwriter, Chad Cochrane.

‘I was pleasantly surprised that there was so much interest in the project, enabling us to assemble a strong collection of candidates who will compose for the showcase in October,’ said Perold.

South Africa has a long tradition of musical theatre, he said, that was richly textured by nuances and social narratives. It gave the CCA great pleasure to add this new festival to its bouquet of successful festivals, inspired by the diverse talent taking part in the inaugural festival. 

‘The participants represent an exciting mix of experienced writers alongside some newcomers whose submissions exhibited great potential,’ he said.

During this festival there will be a writing duo consisting of musical theatre director Wessel Odendaal and producer Marcel Meyer, as well as a writing trio made up of performer and creative Dionne “Song” Malan, Zolani Shangase and Mthokozisi Khanyile, who is currently playing Mufasa in the Lion King.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photographs: Supplied


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Mandela Day

Mandela Day
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Mandela Day is celebrated on 18 July every year with the idea being to take action, inspire change and make every day a Mandela Day.

The commitment of former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela towards the preservation of human rights, conflict resolution, and reconciliation is something to be admired and emulated in everyday life. This celebration of the world icon’s life is a call to action for people to make a positive impact within their communities.

This year the day became even more significant because of the chaos and unrest in parts of South Africa. We need to move forward and help introduce positive change - small or big - within our communities. If each citizen contributes to positive change by fighting injustice and helping those around them, the impact could be far-reaching as many are suffering because of weighty issues.

The day is also a call to action for political officials to engage in conversations and to actively commit to establishing sustainable local communities.

Efforts need to be made to help each other during these stressful and demanding times and this is possible through actions that result in reviving a value-based society driven by the spirit of Ubuntu.

Mandela once said: ‘It is in your hands to make the world a better place’, while encouraging people to take responsibility for their communities.

With Mandela Day falling during the current unrest in South Africa, community members need to support each other more than ever.

So we call upon everyone to take this opportunity to set an example for the next generation who hopefully continue the legacy of helping make the world a better place.

The goal of Mandela Day is to inspire people in their diversity to find the good that exists inherently within everyone.

Ms Nkosingiphile Ntshangase is the Marketing Assistant at UKZN Extended Learning, focusing on social media management, marketing, communications and blogging.

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


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UKZN Academic Hosts Virtual Symposium on Decolonial Collection

UKZN Academic Hosts Virtual Symposium on Decolonial Collection
The ALTERNATION journal (left) and Professor Rozena Maart.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN academic Professor Rozena Maart hosted an online symposium related to the feature - Decoloniality and Decolonial Education: South Africa and the World - she edited in the journal ALTERNATION.

The feature collection comprises an introduction, an editorial, 17 articles by 18 authors, two opinion pieces, two roundtable discussions by two groups of current and former UKZN students, and three interviews and three book reviews.

Apart from South Africa, the contributors’ histories and agency as scholars and activists are from Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Oman, Senegal, the United States and the United Kingdom.

As Maart notes in her editorial: ‘These are not just places where contributors were born or have lived and worked but places where our agency remains active, where we engage with the world, where we challenge the many ways in which colonisation continues to inform how we write, think, imagine, and produce knowledge.’

Referring to how the international Zoom launch was received, Maart said: ‘It is so unfortunate that we cannot go out to public spaces because of COVID-19 restrictions, to celebrate some of the UKZN students who took part in writing the collectionThe students challenged our system of education with all of the coloniality the current structure has inherited and refuses to rid itself of, as well as the academic recipients of coloniality who speak of Africanisation yet reproduce the same power structure they claim to be against because they are the new colonisers who chastise, punish and belittle Black students’, said Maart.

Contributor, UKZN alumnus and architect Ms Nandipha Makhaye said: ‘Having dealt with the lack of transformation for many years and having to deal with all kinds of issues pertaining to my race and gender as an African woman who has taken her place in the previously White male-dominated industry of architecture, it was quite an awe-inspiring experience to be part of this platform. Being among world renowned academics and published authors, I was sure that my story was worth sharing with the world especially since this was my first published article.’

Another contributor, Mr Sayan Dey from Kolkata in India and now more recently a WITS University postdoctoral student, said: ‘The collection was a collective decolonial exercise of thinking, sharing, learning and healing where contributors from different corners of the world came together to share their experiences and background as many did at the UNISA Decolonial Summer School. We are scholars who also have histories, and these are not just behind our contributions but also inform our contributions.’

Mr Sieraaj Francis of the University of Cape Town, currently living in Oman, said: ‘Living, being, and doing decolonial work in colonial institutions and societies forces us to live, work and exist in the margins and in isolation. I am therefore very grateful to be part of this collective, to engage with and share with so many people doing decolonial work and to learn from all of them. It has been an inspiring experience to remember our ancestors, to meet each other and to remember we are not doing this work by ourselves and for ourselves.’

What stands out about the collection is that it brings together the work of renowned scholars, emerging and established scholars as well as students and former students whose contributions are indicative of the education they have received and that shows the colonial mindset they had to fight.

The collection also showcases the work of scholars whose students have borrowed from, some of which include critical race scholars, Black existentialist philosophers and decolonial thinkers, such as Lewis Gordon, Leonard Harris, Sabine Broeck, Jane Anna Gordon, Puleng Segalo, Sipho Singiswa, and others, many of whom have mentored, encouraged and supported them through the process.

Maart’s introduction puts forward the most important two-pronged question of the collection, one that South African scholars are grappling with: ‘What is decolonisation and what are we decolonising from?’ Her lengthy introduction of 30 pages also offers a short segment on South Africa’s history of colonisation which she asserts is ‘embedded in its history of enslavement much like on the rest of the African continent, as well as across the Americas, Asia, and particularly the Indian subcontinent, among others.’ Notable in the collection are contributions by Professor Leonard Harris, a founder member of Philosophy Born of Struggle and Black existentialist Professor Lewis Gordon, a founder member of the Caribbean Philosophical Association.

Political analyst and UKZN student Mr Jackie Shandu, who shares a contribution in the collection with three panellists in ‘Race, Race and the City’, said: ‘The collection bears witness to the historic and still ongoing collective commitment to total decolonisation - psychological, spiritual and material.

‘Among the many ground-breaking aspects of the collection, is its ability to draw readers into histories of colonisation and decolonisation across the world - including the classroom, the beach, language, identity, and enslavement - all with a focus on pedagogy, which foregrounds the relevance of buried histories of resistance that our ancestors pursued and for which they have not been credited enough.’

Gordon said this about our ancestors: ‘It is up to us to honour our ancestors through actions that assure they did not transition in vain.’

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photographs: Supplied


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Webinar Series to Strengthen Plant Breeding in Africa

Webinar Series to Strengthen Plant Breeding in Africa
Clockwise from top left: Professor Hussein Shimelis, Dr Nasser Yao, Professor Richard Sikora, Dr Ephrame Havazvidi, Dr Jean Claude Rubyogo, Mr David Cochrane, and Dr Shadrack Moephuli.

As part of the international Demand-Led Breeding (DLB) project that is using the science of plant breeding to transform small-scale agriculture in Africa, members of the project based at UKZN’s African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) are hosting a series of online dialogues to strengthen plant breeding and to make the case for investing in demand-led plant breeding in southern Africa.

The first webinar, which focused on investing in demand-led plant breeding for plant variety design for emerging markets in Africa, was attended by more than 100 scientists, researchers, students, academics and practitioners working in the research and development community in southern Africa and beyond.

The event boasted a line-up of eminent speakers including representatives from South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and Seed Co Group Ltd in Zimbabwe.

‘We hope that you will gain valuable lessons or evidence to support our research and development initiatives,’ said Professor Hussein Shimelis, Professor of Plant Breeding and South African Sugarcane Research Institute Chair of Crop Science at UKZN and core member of the DLB project.

The DLB’s Pan Africa Co-ordinator, Dr Nasser Yao of the Alliance of Bioversity and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, gave an overview of the DLB project, after which keynote speaker Professor Richard Sikora, Emeritus Professor of the University of Bonn in Germany and Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, spoke about issues and challenges facing agriculture and food production in southern Africa.

The ARC’s Dr Shadrack Moephuli spoke on research and development in South Africa, highlighting key examples demonstrating the impact of agricultural research and development on food and nutrition security.

‘Trends in agricultural research indicate that new technologies and innovation advancements are a necessity for scientific solutions that drive competitiveness of agriculture and sustainability of food systems,’ said Moephuli. He provided case examples illustrating the impact of crop improvement on food and nutrition security in southern Africa, Africa and internationally.

Dr Ephrame Havazvidi, formerly of Seed Co, detailed opportunities and challenges of breeding for a market-led pan African region by way of lessons from Seed Co’s regional presence, its major breeding stations, growth trajectory, challenges in crop breeding for Africa, the breeder’s equation developed by the group, and its distinctive achievements in crop breeding. He noted that there were considerable opportunities and scope to breed new crop cultivars for Africa.

Mr David Cochrane, a partner at Spoor and Fisher, spoke on patents, trademarks, and copyright affecting plant breeders, highlighting that plant breeders’ rights in Africa vary across countries and regions depending on the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) membership, the need for distinctness, uniformity, stability and newness tests from other UPOV member countries, and time duration from application to grant.

Mr Jean Claude Rubyogo, Director of the Pan-Africa Bean Research Alliance Programme in Kenya, closed proceedings.

‘It’s good to keep pushing this boundary beyond normal practice, to be innovative and see the industry flourish and benefit millions of people,’ said Rubyogo.

‘We really see the possibility of expanding this to translate to many other benefits; breeding beyond just to have the variety, but breeding for job creation, breeding for economic opportunity and inclusivity, for health and nutrition,’ he said.

Aiming to enable small-scale farmers to better participate in local and regional markets by increasing the availability and adoption of high-performing plant varieties that meet market demands, the DLB project has focused on developing guidelines for improving and communicating versatile product profiles and on training plant breeders on the fundamentals of demand-led crop variety design.

With participants from Africa and beyond, it forms part of an Alliance for Food Security in Africa comprising the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the Crawford Fund Australia and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, supported by African, Australian and international research institutes and universities.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Academics Publish Book to Help Navigate the e-World

UKZN Academics Publish Book to Help Navigate the e-World
From left: Dr Upasana Singh, Professor Purshottama Reddy, Professor Maxwell Phiri, and Dr Perienen Appavoo.Click here for isiZulu version

A new book titled Global Trends in Management, IT and Governance in an e-World has been published by UKZN academics Dr Upasana Singh, Professor Purshottama Reddy and Professor Maxwell Phiri of the School of Management Information Technology and Governance (SMIG) together with the Head of Research at the Open University of Mauritius (OU), Dr Perienen Appavoo.

The work contains research delivered at an extremely successful conference in Mauritius which was co-hosted by the OU and UKZN’s College of Law and Management Studies.

According to the editors, the principal aim of the multidisciplinary international conference was to secure a gathering of academics from a variety of disciplines and to provide a forum to reflect on and interrogate global trends in an e-World ahead of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. All the papers accepted for publication in the book underwent a rigorous review process.

The Director General of the OU, Dr KS Sukon, said: ‘Precisely a year ago, at the same time the novel Coronavirus was identified in Wuhan, China, chapters in this book were delivered as papers with the authors unaware that their contribution to building the e-World would be highly sought after. In turn, conference organisers were unaware that the findings of the gathering would prove helpful to everyone wanting to adopt technological advancement to carry out their tasks.’

Said co-publisher Singh: ‘The book includes wide coverage of research topics which have even more significance in this pandemic era, with the forced move to digital platforms. The book synthesises a range of themes drawing on essential elements of the e-World such as the challenges in the application of privacy laws in mobile application design, ICT adoption in the small business sector, e-Citizenship and e-Commerce, and service delivery in e-Governance as well as Higher Education sector research.’

UKZN contributors to the book include Dr Dusty-Lee Donelly of the School of Law; SMIG’s Dr Paul Kauriki, Dr Thokozani Mbhele, Ms Lindiwe Kunene, Mr Mpho Mzingelwa, Dr Lizzy Ofusori, Dr Anisha Ramsaroop, and Dr Devika Pillay; and Master of Commerce alumnus graduate Ms Sinegugu Mthembu.

The book is available here.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photographs: Supplied


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Film Festival to Screen Durban FilmMart Alumni Projects

Film Festival to Screen Durban FilmMart Alumni Projects
Five films from the Durban FilmMart (DFM) will be screened at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).

Five films from the Durban FilmMart (DFM) will be screened at this year’s Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) - 22 July to 1 August - hosted by the College of Humanities.

The films from the DFM include four new documentaries. Murder in Paris, a political crime-thriller, directed by Enver Samuels, traces the motives for the assassination of anti-Apartheid activist Dulcie September, while As I Want is directed by emerging voice in Arabic documentary film making Samaher Alqadi, who uses her camera as a form of protection and begins documenting the growing women’s rebellion, not knowing where the story will lead her.

The Colonel’s Stray Dogs profiles political activist Ashur Shamis, who lives with a million-dollar bounty on his head after a lifetime in Muammar Gadaffi’s crosshairs. The film is directed by Ashur’s son, Khalid Shamis.

Zinder, directed by Aicha Macky, is the name of a town in the impoverished lepers’ area of Kara-Kara, Niger, where a culture of gang violence reigns.

The fifth feature, Five Tiger, is a short film made in South Africa. It is directed by Nomawonga Khumalo and features a god-fearing woman who finds herself in a transactional relationship as she tries to support her sick husband and daughter.

At the heart of the Durban International Film Festival is a mission to enable partnerships to strengthen the film industry and create opportunities for African and newer voices,’ said Festival Manager and curator of DIFF 2021, Ms Chipo Zhou. ‘Therefore, the festival is delighted to host some of the alumni DFM projects as it shows that the industry chain functions as intended. The DIFF has always been primarily a place for fresh voices to be discovered. We are pleased that initiatives have come full circle from the DFM to the film festival. We enjoy our collaboration with DFM and look forward to reaping the benefits of the current projects in the future.’

Acting General Manager of the Durban FilmMart Institute Ms Magdalene Reddy said: ‘It is very heartening to witness more and more film projects that have participated in Durban FilmMart processes being showcased at festivals and cinema circuits across the world, thus fulfilling the central purpose of DFM, which is to facilitate getting films made, African films in particular.

‘Congratulations to the five DFM alumni projects selected for the 42nd Durban International Film Festival,’ added Reddy.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Image: Supplied


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Curbing the Menace of Bullying Investigated During a UKZN Webinar

Curbing the Menace of Bullying Investigated During a UKZN Webinar
From left, top row: Dr Beulah Shekhar, Professor Steven Collings, and Dr Nomakhosi Sibisi. Bottom row: Ms Cleola Govender, Professor Nirmala Gopal, and Ms Hazel Langa.

Curbing the Menace of Bullying - the Need of the Hour was the theme of a UKZN Corporate Relations Division webinar which aimed to get a better understanding of why and how bullying exists in communities, as well as to find ways to reduce the scourge.

Criminologist in the Department of Criminology and Forensic Studies, Professor Nirmala Gopal - who facilitated the event - said the ultimate goal had been to deal with the wide and broad issue of bullying while trying to unpack how bullying culminates in violence against women, noting the challenges the country faces in the area of gender-based violence.

Welcoming and introducing the panellists, Acting Director: University Relations Ms Hazel Langa said South Africa was going through a difficult time with the political unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases leading to the announcement of the extension of the Level 4 lockdown. Despite these challenges, communities were still faced with the menace of bullying which is why the University prioritised the topic in order to curb the scourge.

Panellists included a UKZN student and motivational speaker Ms Cleola Govender, who presented on Understanding the Narrative of Bullying; an Emeritus Professor of Criminology from India Dr Beulah Shekhar, whose topic examined the Victims of Bullying in a Global Community - the Issues and Challenges; a clinical psychologist and professor in Psychology at UKZN Professor Steven Collings, who investigated the Social Psychology of Bullying Perpetration; and lecturer in the Discipline of Criminology and Forensics at UKZN, Dr Nomakhosi Sibisi, who spoke on the Effects of School Violence on Educators: A Case of a Selected Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal.

Shekhar said according to 2018 statistics from UNESCO, a third of the global youth were bullied in school, highlighting that boys experienced slightly higher rates of bullying than girls, while in countries where bullying was more pervasive, girls were more vulnerable. She said a low socioeconomic status was the main predictor of whether young teens in wealthy countries were bullied, while immigrant youth in wealthy countries were more likely to experience bullying. She highlighted contributing factors and relationships between victims and victimisers, adding it was necessary to teach and deal with both groups, and expanded on the types of discipline from preventive, to supportive and corrective.

Sibisi examined the nature and extent of school violence in the South African context with a special attention to the types of bullying in South African schools and the effects of bullying on teachers and learners. She said schools were part of the communities they were situated in and sometimes the violence and bullying were a result of the problems that existed within that society. She recommended that parents play a role in curbing school violence by getting involved and helping schools fight the menace.

Presenting his framework on why bullying occurs, Collings said he viewed bullying as being akin to making a movie, with the bully and the victims in lead roles, the extras being the people present while the bullying occurs, and the film crew, the people taking videos. The locations included the school, family or neighbourhood where the bullying took place while the broader audience was the mass media.

He referred to a recent case of a Grade 10 pupil in the Limpopo province who committed suicide after being beaten outside her school.

Collings said the causes and consequences needed to be considered at a variety of system levels with interventions targeting all relevant systems levels.

Sharing her ordeal on how she was bullied from the age of eight, Govender said suffering such abuse at a young age was hard because it took place during a person’s foundation stage in life, but highlighted that she managed to overcome the challenges.

Through her book titled: Birthmark, my Story, she aims to be a voice for the voiceless.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Researchers Contribute to International Cyber Security Conference

UKZN Researchers Contribute to International Cyber Security Conference
Drs Brett van Niekerk (top) and Trishana Ramluckan at the virtual 20th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security.

Four UKZN researchers presented papers at the 20th European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security hosted online by the University of Chester in England.

They were senior lecturer in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science Dr Brett van Niekerk, Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Law Dr Trishana Ramluckan, Dr Harold Patrick from Institutional Planning and Governance, and honours graduate Mr Shankar Dayal.

Their papers included an assessment of deepfake detection algorithms, applying the ‘global commons’ principle of Antarctica to cyberspace, implications for artificial intelligence regulations on cybersecurity practitioners, and digital forensic requirements for organisational disciplinary hearings.

Two external researchers, Professor Louise Leenen of University of the Western Cape and Dr Shadi Alshdaifat of the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, co-authored on one paper each.

Van Niekerk and Ramluckan co-chaired a special track on modelling nation-state cyber-operations, while van Niekerk also chaired a round-table discussion on the use of ICTs in peacekeeping and conflict situations.

The conference featured of more than 50 presentations in the main streams and special tracks, 15 in the PhD and master’s tracks, nine posters, and three keynote presentations.

Cybersecurity concerns have increased in South Africa and globally. COVID-19 has been accompanied by an increase in cyber-crime activity with criminals targeting people working from home. Recently there have been major cyber-attacks that affected organisational email services as well as targeting organisations by compromising the legitimate software update process of an IT vendor.

Words: NdabaOnline

Image: Supplied


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Medical School Class of ’89 raises R130 000 for Communities Affected by Recent Violence

Medical School Class of ’89 raises R130 000 for Communities Affected by Recent Violence
Professors Ncoza Dlova, Mergan Naidoo, Mahendra Daya and Dr Keith Shongwe are part of the Medical School Class of 1989 which contributed generously to the humanitarian organisation, Gift of the Givers.

UKZN’s Medical School Class of 1989 comprising key leaders in the Medical community at provincial, national and global levels as well as those from academic and private sectors, fundraised R130 000 within a week to assist communities affected by the recent violence and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The donation was handed over to Gift of the Givers (GOTG), the largest disaster response, humanitarian organisation in Africa, renowned for assisting substantially in war-torn or disaster-stricken communities around the world.

Dean of the School of Clinical Medicine Professor Ncoza Dlova thanked her class for rising to the challenges so swiftly, saying: ‘What an amazing sense of togetherness and family care you have displayed. Positivity is rising from the dust and debris seen over the last few days. This is true resilience of the human spirit.’

Said Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning in the School of Nursing and Public Health Professor Mergan Naidoo: ‘In response to the KZN crises, the class felt that they should support a worthy cause. Many of us had interacted with Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and GOTG previously so we knew the organisation would immediately assist as they always do when the impact of violence is being felt in communities.

‘Professor Mahendra Daya, a senior consultant and a reconstructive plastic surgeon at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central hospital, challenged everyone in the class to contribute and set a target of R100 000. Classmates from around the world deposited funds into the account of the GOTG. Within two to three days more than R130 000 had been deposited,’ said Naidoo.

Many classmates have a long history of assisting their local communities, including Dr Keith Shongwe, CEO of HealthCover Pty Ltd who chairs a charitable trust in Pretoria called Emseni Trust. Shongwe, who was delighted with the class venture, commented: ‘This is a wonderful initiative. GOTG has an excellent record of good governance and providing immediate support to communities in need. It was our pleasure as a class to donate.’

Shongwe and his team at Emseni Trust, have raised more than R12 million over the last two years for poor communities and various organisations.

GOTG Head Dr Imtiaz Sooliman thanked his alma mater. ‘Thank you for the generous gift to our organisation. I want to mention that although each of you qualified from the Medical School five years after I did, you’ve made huge strides in academic achievement. May all of you be blessed and guided in leading our health profession. This is a true example of what professionals can do in the interest of the health and welfare of our communities.’

The class of ‘89 challenges all other UKZN Medical School classes to either meet or better their donation to the Gift of the Givers. Funds can be deposited into the following GOTG account: Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg branch, account number: 052137228, branch code: 057525, swift code: SBZAZAJJ

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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