UKZN Musicians Partner to Revive Live Music Performances

UKZN Musicians Partner to Revive Live Music Performances
Musicians together here are (top, from left) Neil Gonsalves Trio +2; and Zoe The Seed; and (bottom) N’den (Thuli Zama and David Smith).Click here for isiZulu version

Jazz lecturer Mr Neil Gonsalves, vocalist and UKZN alumnus Zoe The Seed, and music duo N’den have partnered with Concerts SA for a series of three live performances at UKZN’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music in a resumption of the Centre’s popular Trios concerts.

Performances are scheduled for 3, 10 and 17 November.

The concert series, dubbed Words & Music, features new and old songs as well as evergreens that echo anew in the troubled times we live in. The performers are Concerts SA digital mobility fund recipients.

On November 10, Zoe The Seed - known for her energy and powerful voice - combines forces with the “erudite trumpet voice” of Mr Thabo Sikhakhane as the +2 in pianist Gonsalves’ trio + 2 project. The band is completed by drummer, Mr Riley Giandhari and bassist, Mr Talent Mbatha.

Recordings of the concerts will be on sale at the www.nationalartsfestival.co.za ticketing platform.

Zoe The Seed has led her band for six years, performing at venues and festivals all over the country. ‘I appreciate and acknowledge the strides of women in leadership who have carried out change not only through words but also in their actions. I have immense respect for the women who nourished our souls with beautiful sounds and melodies - women such as Dorothy Masuka, Letta Mbuli, Mama Africa and Sibongile Khumalo. We have carried every word, and every sound and this will reflect in my performance,’ she said.

Zoe The Seed will be joined by Thabo Sikhakhane on trumpet, Siyalo Zulu on trombone, Zibusiso Makhathini on keyboard, Dalisu Ndlazi on bass guitar and Sbu Zondi on drums.

Gonsalves employs a trio+ concept, bringing additional musicians into the ensemble as and when the music requires. Zoe and Thabo are regular associates of the trio and the ensemble last performed together before COVID-19. So, a celebratory concert with feel-good melodies and grooves, and lyrics that tend to social commentary, is in store.

The series closes with the performance featuring Durban duo N’den, led by vocalist and UKZN staffer Ms Thulile Zama, also known from Heels over Head, and pianist and UKZN alumnus Mr David Smith.

Tickets cost R100 and are on sale through the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music on the Howard College campus. (zamat1@ukzn.ac.za)

The doors open at 17h30 and the shows all start at 18h00.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Simanga Zondo and Val Adamson


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Business School Student Awarded Prestigious Coaching Package

Business School Student Awarded Prestigious Coaching Package
Ms Simangele Mkhize.Click here for isiZulu version

Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) student Ms Simangele Mkhize was awarded a coaching package from Standard Bank at its Top Women Virtual Conference.

The conference themed: Brave Conversations 2.0 that Uplift and Drive Change, brought together global thought-leaders and experts to offer inspiration, practical solutions, networking and support to 10 000 women entrepreneurs in Africa and the rest of the world.

‘Out of all the delegates, I was chosen for the prize - I still can’t believe it! This is an excellent opportunity which will greatly assist in improving my career progression and future prospects,’ said Mkhize.

The package, valued at R22 500, allows Mkhize to attend sessions on building skills to navigate career transitions, developing networking skills, building a professional brand, mapping competencies and developing a career narrative. These will not only benefit Mkhize in her career in academia but her studies as well.

‘I attended the Woman Who Lead event hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies which featured UKZN’s leading women and drew inspiration from that prior to attending the virtual conference,’ said Mkhize.

‘I am very passionate about woman empowerment and gender equality and hope to also make an impact in such areas and to motivate women to achieve whatever they put their mind to. I aspire to fly the UKZN flag high by inspiring greatness.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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Academic Reaches Pinnacle of His Career

Academic Reaches Pinnacle of His Career
Professor Khathutshelo Percy Mashige.Click here for isiZulu version

Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences Professor Khathutshelo Percy Mashige has been promoted to the position of a full professor - a high honour in the career of an academic.

Mashige, an optometrist by training, has more than 20 years of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experience with an extensive publication record.

Born in Limpopo, Mashige initially trained as an anatomist at the University of the Witwatersrand and thereafter as an optometrist at the former University of Durban-Westville. He has published expansively in clinical optometry, epidemiology and public health and his research has been used to design and implement programmes and policies in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mashige, an NRF-rated scientist and an Associate Editor of the prestigious journal BMC Ophthalmology, serves on the Advisory Board of the South African Health Review journal.

He has held several key positions in both national and international organisations and now serves as a moderator for the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) in Kenya where he has contributed to the design and development of masters and new PhD curricula.

Mashige is also the Chief Executive Officer of the African Vision Research Institute; Chairperson of the Education, Training and Registration Committee of the Professional Board for Optometry and Dispensing Opticians; Chairperson of the African Eye Institute; Chairperson of the Global Institute for Entrepreneurship and Ethics, and Chairperson of the Community Self Mastery Coaching Institute. He is a founding member of the African Translational Research Group and the Centre for Eye Care and Public Health Intervention Initiative, which are forums of African researchers across the globe to stimulate greater collaboration in Africa in health-related research. 

His numerous accolades include being a recipient of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Impact Acceleration Award of the UK, South Africa-Netherlands Partnership on Alternatives in Development Award, and the South African Medical Research Council National Health Scholarship Award.

He is a Developing Research Innovation Leadership and Innovation Fellow and a recipient of the South African Optometric Association Award for outstanding contribution to Optometry.

Having overcome many challenges in his life, the most devastating being a serious motor vehicle accident, which resulted in paralysis due to spinal cord injuries, Mashige has excelled in his academic career and continues to inspire greatness in his team of academic leaders. He is well-known for his easy-going personality and servant leadership skills.

‘Becoming a full professor is an important step and a pinnacle of every academic’s career. Although the path is a difficult one, being a full professor opens up a wealth of opportunities. For me, promotion to full professor is not simply about individual success, it is also about creating opportunities for others,’ said Mashige.

Mashige’s eldest brother, Professor Mashudu Churchill Mashige, said: ‘It gives me goose bumps when I think about what this brave younger brother of mine has gone through in life and still risen up triumphantly.’

Words: Maryann Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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Kudos for Humanities Academic

Kudos for Humanities Academic
Dr Claudia Loggia.

Dr Claudia Loggia, a senior lecturer in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies, has been made a member of the United Kingdom Research Innovation (UKRI) International Development Peer Review College until 2023.

UKRI contributes to the expert review of overseas development assistance funding opportunities offered by UKRI councils, particularly those funded under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

‘I have assisted in reviewing some UKRI funded projects,’ said Loggia. ‘I was invited to attend the annual Global Engagement meetings to discuss international development funding opportunities and undergo training on the expert review of proposals. More recently, I was invited to be part of the UKRI GCRF Hubs and Forward Plans Panel to discuss and evaluate the progress of big projects funded by UKRI and GCRF.’

She was commended by UKRI’s International Director Professor Tim Wheeler who said: ‘Dr Loggia has made an excellent contribution to the (UKRI) International Development Peer Review College during the past 12 months. We are grateful to her for her professionalism, diligence and generosity of time and effort.’

Said Dean and Head of the School Professor Ernest Khalema: ‘The School is proud of Dr Loggia’s contributions to UKRI and for flying the UKZN flag high. This recognition is an excellent testimony of her dedication to her craft and will go a long way towards putting the School, the College of Humanities, and UKZN on the map as part of our internationalisation efforts. Well done and congratulations.’

Loggia, who holds a PhD in Building Engineering and a MEng from the Cagliari University in Italy, has extensive experience in trans-disciplinary research projects and consultancy work in the areas of energy efficient building design and retrofit, green infrastructure, sustainable urban regeneration and informal settlements upgrading.

She is a Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellow and has for the past five years been involved in a project - in partnership with the University of Westminster (London) - titled: Building Urban Resilience for Self-Reliance in African Cities. 

Loggia is also Principal Investigator for the South African teaminvolved in the ISULABANTU project (www.isulabantu.org) which is focused on community-led upgrading for self-reliance in informal settlements in South Africa. The project is a three-year Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC/NRF) Urban Transformation in South Africa Grant venture in partnership with the University of Westminster, the University College London, the eThekwini Municipality and a local NGO called uTshani Fund.

Both of these collaborative projects are providing opportunities for community engagement (fieldwork and; community events), training (in-field community training) and capacity building (in the areas of project management, construction management, and environmental management).

Loggia is also collaborating on research projects in South Africa with local government institutions, NGOs and local communities such as the uMngeni Resilience Project which aims to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

She is also a Green Star South Africa Accredited Professional with the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Poetry Africa Festival Competition Winners Named at Closing Ceremony

Poetry Africa Festival Competition Winners Named at Closing Ceremony
Slam Jam Winner Xabiso Vili (left) and the Making of Poetry in the Valley.

Award winners at the 25th edition of the Poetry Africa Festival, hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities, were announced at the event’s closing ceremony.

The inaugural Poetry In Communities Award was won by the Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre in Riebeek Valley in the Western Cape for its work towards building a spirit of shared heritages and promoting cultural diversity. The award - which included R10 000 - recognises a community-led initiative that creates opportunities for poets of all ages and different demographics to come together and build their communities through poetry.

CCA Director Dr Ismail Mahomed said: ‘This project engages the arts to enliven their community, boost cultural tourism and grow opportunities for artists.’

Project Manager Mr Mark Graham-Wilson said: ‘It is difficult to convey just how much our involvement in the Poetry Africa Festival has meant and, of course, the wonderful recognition the award will achieve for the Riebeek Valley. Even though I have been working with the various communities for some time now, I was surprised by the levels of emotion - mostly joy and pride - which the experience evoked, both in those directly involved and the broader community who have embraced the project as their own. The work we do has taken a quantum leap forward in terms of unity and pride.’

A highlight of the annual Poetry Africa Festival was the Slam Poetry Competition. The winner of R10 000 and the opportunity to represent South Africa at the World Slam Poetry Competition in Brussels next year was poet Mr Xabiso Vili - an award-winning performer, writer, new media artist, producer and social activist. His writings explore his inner world to relate to the outer world.

A professional jury reviewed over 600 poems to decide on the winners of the school, open mic and Slam Jam competitions. Submissions - from poets aged between six and 76 - were in all South African languages and received from all over the country.

Winners in the competition for schools were young poets:

•    Tshiamo Mqweba (17) of Hoerskool Bloemfontein (See Me, Hear Me)

•    Katleho Molaoa (19) of Eldoret Secondary School in Odendaalrus (Ke Kopa Ho Bua)

•    Jess Robus (15) of Heronbridge College in Johannesburg (Eleven)

Winners in the Open Mic Competition were poets:

•    Karamel Karabo Bopape (21) of Polokwane (Ke jele ka Motseng)

•    Patience Labane (25) of Bloemfontein (Prayers)

•    Amahle Kimbili (22) of Pretoria (Gender-Based Violence

The week-long programme also featured engagements with and performances by poets as well as book launches and panel discussions.

A festival highlight was a live show at The Playhouse Theatre in Durban featuring Gcina Mhlophe, Lebo Mashile, Mbali Malimela, Siphokazi Jonas, Thando Fuze and Toni Giselle Stuart.

‘It was a great experience to welcome back audiences and poets to a live event,’ said curator of the Festival Ms Siphindile Hlongwa. ‘We all went and drank from the well of knowledge, peace, identity and healing.

For those who missed the Festival, content is available on www.facebook.com/poetryafrica, and www.youtube.com/centrecreativearts.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs:Supplied


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Polyandry the Focus of Debate During Webinar

Polyandry the Focus of Debate During Webinar
From left: Ms Lydia Mabhaudi, Dr Beatrice Okyere-Manu, Ms Zanele Ncwane, and Dr Zamambo Mkhize.

The legalisation of polyandry was the centre of discussion during a webinar presented by UKZN’s International Office.

This follows a Green Paper discussion document on marriages issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs and published earlier this year in a process to make the institution of marriage inclusive, including the legalisation of polyandry.

Polyandry is a situation in which a woman is allowed to take on more than one husband.

The webinar was facilitated by UKZN Law student, Ms Lydia Mabhaudi, and panellists included senior lecturer in Applied Ethics, Dr Beatrice Okyere-Manu; KwaZulu-Natal Manager for the Commission for Gender Equality, Ms Zanele Ncwane; and UKZN alumnus and lecturer in the School of African and Gender Studies, Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Cape Town, Dr Zamambo Mkhize.

Okyere-Manu said ethical implications involved in the legalisation of polyandry in South Africa centred on the six different polyandry marriages practised historically in most African countries, and those that still exist today.

She said polyandry still existed for various reasons but was practised in secrecy. Examples of a polyandry marriage that still exist include inheriting a widow of a deceased brother for the sake of raising children, and she said it is traditionally accepted and recognised for male siblings to father children for impotent brothers.

Okyere-Manu said some of the concerns raised around polyandry were the issue of lobola, cultural issues, the issue of paternity, the surname of the children, women taking up the role of a man as in polygamy, and if the husband would take the surname of the woman.

Okyere-Manu also examined the ethical implications and, considering the African perspective, said in most of her findings, people had interestingly argued that this was not an African practice.

However, Okyere-Manu argued that the status of women in marriages had not been adequately interrogated and that the ‘legacy of the gendered nature of our culture has not been dealt with properly.’ Polyandry posed a challenge that struck at the heart of patriarchy and diminished the dominance and control over women.

She said legalising it would not force anyone to take up the practice. ‘South Africa is a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural society, and this presents a challenge to our society.’

Ncwane said the Commission for Gender Equality was there to ensure that discussions broadly reached other sectors of society.

She clarified that the Green Paper did not only focus on polyandry but also examined monogamous marriages for opposite-sex spouses, polygamous and unrecognised customary marriages including the Hindu, Jewish and Muslim marriages, the registration of customary marriages, the solemnisation of marriages, the type of marriages people go into under the Marriages and Union Act, the consent to marriage and same-sex marriages.

Virtual discussions had been held on the Green Paper, but Ncwane said as the Gender Commission, they had requested an extension on the discussions so that other stakeholders could be included. It had been found that discussions did not reach people at the grassroots level and in rural areas where there was an issue about the age of consent. They proposed the issue of Ukuthwala practised in some areas to be declared as human trafficking. She encouraged UKZN academics to be part of the upcoming Home Affairs provincial discussions. 

Regarding polyandry, Ncwane said she had noted that concerns came from mainly the religious and cultural settings because of the issue of giving women equal rights and power. She said men were always uncomfortable in discussions on the subject and their reasons mostly based on religion and culture. Ncwane said the Marriages Act sought to ensure all cultures were provided for.

Mkhize then explained that polyandry was commonly practised in Nepal and Benin. In Nepal, a woman marries several brothers, but only the eldest brother will be registered as the husband and father of the children. In Benin the chieftaincy is not gender-specific and a “woman chief” would be allowed to marry several men who would then impregnate women to have the chief’s children. Mkhize said: ‘In South Africa there are customary marriages in Limpopo where a married woman is allowed to take on more wives for various reasons.’

Mkhize noted that concerns raised against the legalisation of polyandry included the DNA of a child coming into question but said in African culture, children were considered part of the family regardless of blood relations. ‘Africans are about kinship and not blood relation.’

Another area of concern involved religious and cultural aspects, but Mkhize said that culture was fluid and dynamic and should shift with the times. She urged people to be honest when defending the legalisation of polyandry for women and highlighted that equality needed to be superior while cultural practices should be in line with the Bill of Rights.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Supplied


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Medical Student Shortlisted for International Rising Star Award

Medical Student Shortlisted for International Rising Star Award
Ms Tivana Chellan.

Fifth-year Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery student Ms Tivana Chellan (22) was shortlisted out of 200 nominees for the International Rising Star Award at the 2021 Safety and Health Excellence Awards interactive digital conference.

The Awards celebrate innovation and achievements in the health and safety sector with emphasis on the high standards of excellence and dedication.

Said Chellan: ‘I was very honoured to have represented UKZN and South Africa as the youngest ever shortlisted candidate. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions in place, the event was held digitally giving me global recognition!’

Her love for community service started before she enrolled to study Medicine at UKZN - she completed her schooling at Tongaat Secondary School which had limited resources and offered no extra-curricular activities, all of which motivated her to work hard at making a difference in her community.

Chellan and some of her high school teachers formed a Rotary Interact Club at Tongaat Secondary which helped her interact with the community through food drives, outreach programmes for the elderly and disabled, women empowerment programmes and youth upliftment.

“It was then that I knew I wanted to make a real difference, I wanted a life of impact, so I decided to study Medicine and UKZN was the only university I applied to because I felt I belonged there,’ she said.

‘Being accepted was an absolute privilege - it has allowed me to serve others while at the same time allowing God to work through me.’

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Hosts World Mental Health Campaign

UKZN Hosts World Mental Health Campaign
Top from left: Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, Dr Siphelele Zulu, Professor Suvira Ramlall, Professor Matshepo Matoane and Dr Lynn Norton. Bottom from left: Mr Siyabonga Africa Mkhize, Ms Claudia Pfeiffer, Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu and Dr Gulshan Sugreen.

The Human Resources Division (HRD) hosted UKZN’s World Mental Health Campaign under the theme: Mental Health in an Unequal World.

The aim of the campaign was to mark World Mental Health Day, to raise awareness and understanding about mental health issues, and to mobilise support for action from local and international communities.

The campaign provided an opportunity for University stakeholders to unite and to highlight how inequality can be addressed to ensure people enjoy good mental health.

The speakers for the day included the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, who represented the office of the Vice-Chancellor; Dr Siphelele Zulu, the Executive Director: HR; Clinical Head of Specialised Psychiatry at King Dinuzulu Hospital, Professor Suvira Ramlall; a registered clinical psychologist and currently UKZN’s Dean and Head of the School of Applied Human Sciences, Professor Matshepo Matoane; the co-ordinator of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), Dr Lynn Norton; the CEO of Umsamo Institute and Foundation, Mr Siyabonga Africa Mkhize; an employee wellness specialist from Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS), Ms Claudia Pfeiffer, and UKZN’s HRD Director, Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu.

The programme was facilitated by Dr Gulshan Sugreen, HRD Manager.

In his address, Zulu welcomed participants and thanked the speakers for their contribution and support. Saying COVID-19 had made mental health a priority, Zulu highlighted the ongoing comprehensive wellness programme developed by the University before and during the pandemic, including the recent strategic partnership with ICAS.

He said through the programme, the University had not only provided counselling services to staff but also to their immediate family members. However, his concern was the low use of the programmes and encouraged staff to take advantage of the services provided. 

Zulu added that UKZN would soon offer alternative healing practices, including “African healing”. 

In his keynote address, Professor Mkhize said mental health problems were among the most common health issues globally, with a rise in the burden of mental health in Africa and South Africa. ‘In terms of the global burden of diseases, 14% has been attributed to neuropsychiatric disorders which have been growing at a rate of about 2% a year since 2000. It is estimated that neurological disorders will soon constitute seven of the top 10 causes with depression being the leading burden.’

With the rise in mental health issues among the youth, and with Africa and South Africa having a large number of young people, it was obvious that the continent was in a vulnerable position.

Professor Mkhize highlighted poverty as a contributor to mental health problems.

He said the rampant rise of gender-based violence (GBV) cases in the country had been associated with an increase in the number of girls aged between 10 and 14 falling pregnant, which he described as a form of violence directed at this section of the population. This would have negative mental health consequences not only for young people but their families and communities. 

There is a shortage of mental health professionals in the country, and the fact that 80% of the population in South Africa used English as a second language was a major communications barrier in treatment as well as being a social justice issue.

Turning to alternate traditional healing methods, he said UKZN needed to be commended for promoting traditional healing. Professor Mkhize said the Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Nana Poku had tasked him, working the Student Support Services, to look at the best way to incorporate the healing service and a partnership had been entered into with the Umsamo Institute.

The Umsamo Institute is a research, healing and teaching facility which examines how spiritual unrest manifests itself physically and mentally. Speaking on alternative mental health treatment, a spiritual advisor, Mkhize,provided the cultural perspective on African spirituality and mental health. He said African and Western healing needed to complement each other and work in unison to tackle mental health. 

‘We need to understand the kinds of African spirituality and spiritual problems, what they appear as and the underlying spiritual causes or contributing factors. Mental health or illness has an underlying spiritual context to it - some is inherited and some is not,’ said Mkhize. 

He explained the difference between ancestral and cultural mental issues saying a combination of the two could have significant consequences.

Ramlall spoke on Workplace Wellbeing: Time for a Paradigm Shift, highlighting the critical importance of wellbeing to the functioning and success of both the employer and the employee. She said while many organisations were concerned about absenteeism, ‘presenteeism’ was more of a pressing concern. ‘Our work life is not merely for income generation even though earning a livelihood is important for mental health. Work makes a significant contribution to our state of wellbeing and our wellbeing impacts directly on our work,’ said Ramlall.

If employees saw work solely as a source of income and stress, employers suffered. She said there was an urgent need to improve the access of employees to quality treatment, preferably through programmes based on integrated care models. 

Matoane spoke on mental health gatekeepers - focussing on suicide gatekeepers - and said suicide was the leading cause of death in the 15 to 29-year-old age group. She explained that gatekeepers were individuals strategically placed in communities to assist those presenting with mental health disorders.

Matoane said one in six South Africans suffered from anxiety, depression or substance use disorder, while 40% of South Africans with HIV had a mental disorder, and 41% of pregnant women were depressed. A most worrying statistic was that only 27% of people with mental illness were receiving treatment. 

Norton presented on services provided by SADAG, identifying support groups that deal with various mental health services. She said some of the support groups included services for LGBTI high school learners and there were meditation groups for general wellbeing, for family members caring for relatives with mental illness, and for university students coping with stress. Other services offered included mental health first aid, mental health literacy and community outreach.

Pfeiffer provided background on services provided by ICAS focussing on mental health first aid. She encouraged the audience to set goals. She encouraged those in need to download the ICAS App and to make use of the services offered.

Leading the panel discussion, Ramabodu highlighted the presentations for the day. During the discussion, panellists highlighted that there is still stigma surrounding mental health making it difficult for people to reach out for help. Social media was also highlighted as a contributor to mental health because of people aspiring to reach certain lifestyles however with the large number of people, especially the youth, on social media, Mkhize argued that social media can also be a great conversation starter while Norton added that social media is a reality and there are supportive channels that people can follow.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN hosts Immigration Implication Webinar for International Students

UKZN hosts Immigration Implication Webinar for International Students
Mr Phindiwe Mbhele.

UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division (CRD) hosted a webinar on the immigration implications for international students under South African lockdown.

Ms Nombuso Mtshali, Head: International Student Support Office welcomed staff and students and officially opened the webinar, which was attended by staff and students from all universities in South Africa.

The objective of the webinar was to clarify immigration uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic; the webinar enabled staff and students to ask questions throughout the event on visa-related issues.

Mr Phindiwe Mbhele, the Director: Corporate Accounts at the Department of Home Affairs and the speaker for the event noted how his Department has issued various operational directions during the different levels of lockdown and highlighted the last message issued which indicated that visa concessions and applications would end on 30 September 2021.

Some of the Q & A’s discussed at the webinar included:

Q-The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of the economy and employees have been working remotely without any form of delay, so why have visas not been released on time?
A-Home Affairs permitting cannot be done remotely due to the high levels of security required for it, so work is limited to our offices. Currently, we are working at 50% capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic which is why visa applications have been delayed.

Q-What steps do you follow after your visa application has been rejected?
A-If you dispute the decision made then you must apply for an appeal within 10 days, the guidelines for the appeal are at the bottom of your rejection letter.

Q-Are police clearance certificates still required for visa applications?
A-The Department of Home Affairs no longer requires police clearance certificates when applying. We use the student fingerprints taken at Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) and run that against the police database to find out if you have any criminal records.

Q-Can you travel or leave the country with an expired visa?
A-A person that departs South Africa with an expired visa is deemed as undesirable.You are not forced to stay in South Africa against your own will, you can leave if you desire to do so, but a penalty of undesirability will be applied.

Q-Can you renew your one-year critical skills visa if you are unable to secure employment during that time?
A- The visa is only valid for 12 months and cannot be renewed.

Q-Are foreign medical aids accepted?
A-Foreign medical aids are not accepted by law. A South African medical aid is a requirement for a student visa and the university is obligated to make sure that is followed.

Q-Do banks accept VFS receipts?
A- In terms of the law banks are only allowed to accept visas and not receipts. A receipt can only be allowed by the Department of Home Affairs in extreme circumstances.

Q-Can universities verify study visas?
A-Institutions or individuals cannot verify visas but they can send a request to the Department of Home Affairs along with a copy of the visa to check if it is valid at: visaverfications@dha.gov.za

In closing, Ms Normah Zondo, Executive Director: CRD thanked everyone present and her team for making the event possible. She also warmly thanked Mbhele for always availing himself and for being a source of information for the UKZN community.

To watch the webinar click here.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Supplied


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Vukukhanye Outreach: Giving Back to the Community

Vukukhanye Outreach: Giving Back to the Community
The Extended Learning Division’s Mr Mxolisi Miya and Ms Sarah Haffenden with Vukukhanye educators Ms Winnie Maphumulo and Ms Dineo Seroke.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN’s Extended Learning (UEL) division adopted the Vukukhanye Educare Centre in Chesterville, Durban, in the aftermath of the looting and burning in Durban in July.

With the centre already struggling before the unrest because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, UEL staff decided to support the 36 children who are in foster care and early education at Vukukhanye.

As part of its contribution, the Division gave each of the youngsters a care package containing slippers, socks, activity books, hygiene products, treats, and toys. The donation was well received by both the children and teachers, who showed their appreciation through song and dance.

UEL personnel prioritise being education leaders who strive to make a difference in local communities helping in whatever capacity they can. This initiative would not have been possible without the contribution of UEL staff members, who were given the opportunity to sponsor a child.

A big thank you also to the official sponsors, Intombi Promotional Gifts, for drawstring, lunch and toiletry bags, and toys, and to wholesalers and distributors of plastic products SRK, for lunch boxes.

The public and private sectors, civil society, and the media all have a responsibility to help those less fortunate wherever possible. There needs to be a commitment to nurturing and protecting child-centred development by directing resources to where they are needed most, thus helping to provide hope for future generations in South Africa.

Words and photograph: Nkosingiphile Ntshangase


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Symposium Explores Unemployment, Growth and Inflation During COVID-19

Symposium Explores Unemployment, Growth and Inflation During COVID-19
Macroeconomics Symposium keynote speakers Professor Honest Prosper Ngowi (left) and Dr Montfort Mlachila.

UKZN’s Macroeconomics Research Unit (MRU) hosted its inaugural Macroeconomics Symposium themed: Unemployment, Growth and Inflation: Lessons from COVID-19.

The symposium brought together academics from various universities in Africa who presented their research results in line with the theme of the symposium.

Plenary sessions were delivered by Professor Honest Prosper Ngowi of the Economics Department of Mzumbe University in Dar es Salaam, and Dr Montfort Mlachila, the Assistant Director of Monetary and Capital Markets Department at the International Monetary Fund Headquarters (IMF) in Washington DC.

Ngowi’s presentation titled Macroeconomic Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Selected Cases, addressed the many and far-reaching negative economic impacts of the virus.

‘We have seen at least three waves of COVID-19 and have experienced lockdowns across countries, curfews, border closures and controls, the closing down of educational institutions and trade disruption which have had an impact on all sectors of the economy,’ said Ngowi, who is also Principal of Mzumbe University, Dar es Salaam Campus College.

With his presentation focusing on monetary and fiscal policy, Ngowi detailed the responses and necessary containment measures that countries such as the United States, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Egypt, Uganda, Norway and South Africa have implemented during the pandemic.

‘Generally, we have seen many policy responses to COVID-19 such as debt relief in the form of grants loans, and payment holidays; and the World Bank and the IMF urging creditors to provide immediate debt relief to the poorest countries. Monetary and fiscal policies are good but without having a proper policy mix, you will not attain the goal you wanted. The questions we should be asking ourselves are, have these policies worked? If they have, what has made them work? If they haven’t, why haven’t they? These questions call for further research,’ added Ngowi.

‘Defying the Odds: Remittances during the COVID-19 Pandemic’ was the title of Mlachila’s presentation.

‘Remittances played a significant role in mitigating the impact of COVID-19; and the deep global recession brought about by the pandemic has not led to their sharp decline as previously feared. Going forward, containing the pandemic and accelerating the economic recovery will have important implications for the sustainability of remittance flows in the period ahead,’ explained Mlachila.

MRU founder and School of Accounting, Economics and Finance academic Professor Harold Ngalawa said the Symposium was crucial for addressing the complex macroeconomic challenges brought on by the pandemic.

‘Since its inception in 2018, the MRU has published over 120 papers which is a research achievement we are very proud of as we have 30 researchers, including postgraduate students; and we continue to collaborate with other organisations to contribute to the growth of the county’s economy,’ said Ngalawa. ‘This symposium brings together academics from various universities across Africa and beyond who are committed to finding solutions to global economic challenges facing the world as a result of COVID-19 and we look forward to having similar gatherings in the future.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Hosts Inaugural Virtual E-learning Symposium

UKZN Hosts Inaugural Virtual E-learning Symposium
Scenes from the E-learning Symposium.

UKZN’s Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) hosted its inaugural Virtual E-Learning Symposium showcasing innovative approaches to delivering Higher Education.

Titled: New Horizons in Teaching and Learning in a Changing Higher Educational Landscape, the symposium, was attended by around 180 delegates who were welcomed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Professor Sandile Songca.

Saying it was a great pleasure for him to be part of an event, which focused on e-learning, Songca congratulated the University for completing the 2020 academic year using online facilities made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of Teaching and Learning Professor Rubby Dhunpath said the past 20 months at UKZN had been ‘the best of times along with the worst of times. Negotiating Higher Education catapulted us into an age of promise and possibility, which would not have happened without the impact of the pandemic.’

Keynote speaker and Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, discussed how COVID-19 had disrupted the conventional and traditional modes of teaching and learning, further deepening inequality.

Marwala said with Higher Education Institutions being crucial spaces for learning he noted how South Africa’s internet network suffered with a variety of issues, imploring online institutions of the future to procure telecommunications infrastructure of their own.

He said students converted theoretical training into practical expertise through guided learning and examined how online learning had left a gap for that which could be used to drive education on demand. He noted access as the leading challenge of using learning management systems (LMS) in online learning and urged institutions to take these concerns into account in future planning.

Marwala examined how integrated online and contact education were important in ensuring that learning took place, was accessible to all and effective. He also listed how online learning could support, expand and strengthen contact learning.

Co-keynote speaker Professor Craig Blewett of UKZN’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance cited the 18 months of the pandemic as an experiment in which Higher Education Institutions explored online learning.

Using Mentimeter, an interactive presentation tool, Blewett engaged and connected with his audience throughout his presentation. He reviewed the four eras of the EdTech Revolution, listing them as textual, printing, digital and internet-connected. Examining teaching and learning as e-Education Island trapped between two zones - the digital and connected - he noted how a bridge was required to connect the two zones and referred to the TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge) model. 

Blewett highlighted the following five active pedagogies required to work as the bridge in order for the e-Education Island to operate effectively: curation, conversation, correction, creation and chaos. ‘We are going to be teaching on an e-Education Island and there is no going back. The question is how are we going to do that? So, we have to find ways of engagement, paradigm shifts and active digital pedagogies for this to be achieved.’

Earlier this year, students were asked to identify and share - in an e-learning essay competition - challenges and experiences associated with online learning. Tablet prizes were presented to three winners: Mr Simangaliso Madondo, Mr Nelson Nkunda and Mr Sizwe Sidaza.

Third-year Bachelor of Laws student Madondo said he was inspired to enter the competition because he loves essay writing; a Master’s student in Marketing, Nkunda highlighted some of the challenges of online learning including accessibility, intermittent load shedding, style of assessments and staff capacity development; while PhD candidate in Humanities, Sidaza concentrated on the importance of education evolving and adapting in order to remain relevant.

A panel discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on teaching and learning at UKZN was chaired by Professor Rubby Dhunpath, and featured the four College Deans of Teaching and Learning; Professor Naven Chetty (Agriculture, Engineering and Science), Professor Sinegugu Duma (Health Sciences), Professor Ruth Hoskins (Humanities) and Professor Msizi Mkhize (Law and Management Studies).

The Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO), Student Services Division, Information and Communication Services (ICS), Disability Unit and the University Technology Enhanced Learning (UTEL) departments at UKZN also presented on their roles in supporting students in online learning.

Closing the event, organising committee chair Mr Abdulbaqi Badru announced Dr Roshni Gokool and Professor Andre Vosloo as winners for the best presentations at the symposium.

Badru concluded with the vote of thanks, acknowledging the members of the organising committee, the media team (UTEL), the abstract review committee, and the essay review committee.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Images: Symposium Committee


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Education Student Presents Results of Work on Research Ethics

Education Student Presents Results of Work on Research Ethics
Mr Luthando Molefe.

Master of Education student Mr Luthando Molefe presented results from his study on Research Ethics at the Mindful African Initiative Compassionate Integrity Training (CIT) for African Educators 2021 online event.

The programme was held in collaboration with Life University’s Centre for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics.

CIT is a multi-part training programme that cultivates basic human values as skills for the purpose of increasing individual, social and environmental flourishing. It also focuses on and builds towards “Compassion Integrity”- which is the ability to live life in accordance with one’s values with a recognition of common humanity, basic orientation to kindness, and reciprocity.

Molefe participated in the three-month training course - facilitated in India - once a week with the programme comprising three sections: self-cultivation, relating to others and engaging in systems.

‘The presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the economies of most African countries to become unstable, exposing social inequalities at all levels,’ he said. ‘In the education sector, it has caused teachers across the continent and the globe to framework compassion and resilience so that they are able to adapt to the “new normal” and ever-changing transforming education system. Attending the training helped me cultivate necessary skills and knowledge that will enable me to face the reality in these times of uncertainty.’

His presentation on Research Ethics was influenced by: Ethically Significant Moments in Stirring up Memories. Molefe argued that ‘while in a process of addressing ethical issues, we may discover very significant moments that include even changing the lives of those we engage with, it is important that we do more good than harm when working with our own selves and the significant others in research.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Optometry Students Celebrate World Sight Day

Optometry Students Celebrate World Sight Day
UKZN serving the community on World Sight Day: Dr Zamadonda Xulu-Kasaba, Ms Andiswa Ndwandwe, a delighted patient, Ms Tsatsawani Hlungwani and Ms Anam Memon.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN third-year Optometry students marked World Sight Day by providing clinical services to taxi drivers in collaboration with the Phumlani Dube foundation, the Active Citizens Movement and VW Durban.

A total of 32 students together with their general clinic co-ordinator and UKZN lecturer Dr Zamadonda Xulu-Kasaba informed the public and taxi drivers on avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

They also provided vision screening to over 300 taxi drivers and community members in an effort to raise awareness and the importance of eye health.

‘In addition to this, the clinical team provided free vision screening for driver’s licence renewal, and issued certificates to those in need. Reading glasses were also dispensed to those requiring them and cataract surgery referrals made where necessary,’ said Xulu-Kasaba.

Drivers thanked the students, saying they valued the outreach drive as many were due to renew their licences.

Others were grateful for the knowledge they had gained and for the reading glasses and referrals.

Third-year student Mr Jevon Moodley said: ‘This is just awesome,’ expressing the joy he felt about his role in examining people’s eyes and being a part of the solution.

Students Ms Nokwethemba Mpondombi and Ms Anovuyo Mapoli admitted they had never been that busy before but said it was all worth it.

Xulu-Kasaba also thanked students Mr Siyabonga Khumalo and Ms Luqmaan Khan for their assistance.

‘James Keller once said ‘a candle loses nothing by lighting another.’ Indeed, seeing my students this eager to joyfully serve and help emphasises that,’ said Xulu-Kasaba.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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