Double Celebration as Father and Son Graduate Together

Double Celebration as Father and Son Graduate Together
Dr Oloyede Obagbuwa graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Finance; and his son, Mr Oluwadamilola Obagbuwa with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Information Systems and Technology.

It was a double celebration for the Obagbuwa family when father and son graduated during UKZN Graduation ceremonies on 6 and 7 May.

Institutional Shareholders’ Monitoring and Control Over Corporate Decisions: Evidence from JSE Listed Companies was the title of the thesis which earned Dr Oloyede Obagbuwa a Doctor of Philosophy in Finance while his son Mr Oluwadamilola Obagbuwa was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Information Systems and Technology.

Oloyede’s study focused on key corporate decisions that tend to bring a company down if they are not monitored. It reiterated the importance of monitoring by institutional shareholders and examined why companies still fail due to scandals despite shareholders’ control. The findings show that institutional shareholders can be distracted by an event in an unrelated company, thereby limiting their monitoring intensity in the other firm and causing self-serving decisions to be made by managers. Among other things, the study recommends that institutional shareholders should invest in technology that will facilitate real-time access to information channels for prompt reaction to critical corporate decisions to mitigate against attention constraints. The study was supervised by UKZN finance experts Drs Farai Kwenda and Gbenga Akinola.

Oloyede’s interest in finance started in high school. ‘I was passionate about commercial subjects and this led to my studying Accounting at the polytechnic. I later qualified as a chartered accountant (CA). Accounting and finance are closely related, so, I decided to expand my frontiers in finance in my higher degrees,’ he said.

He has vast experience in the manufacturing and service industries which led to him rising to the position of general manager. In 2016, he started a journey in academia. Oloyede currently lectures Business Ethics in the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance. He is confident that his qualification will propel his new career in academia in the right direction and that his research will contribute to knowledge generation in the financial sector.

Oloyede is married with three children. The father and son duo received much support from Oloyede’s wife Dr Ibidun Christiana Obagbuwa who holds a PhD in Computer Science from UKZN.

Oloyede has published one of his thesis objectives and the other is in the process of publication in accredited academic journals.

Oloyede congratulated his son on his honour’s degree.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Rising Above the Odds

Rising Above the Odds
Ms Ntandokazi Buthelezi who championed UKZN Enactus’ COVID-19 projects as the organisation’s Operations Vice-President.

COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to Bachelor of Commerce in Information Systems and Technology graduate Ms Ntandokazi Buthelezi who lost her mother, grandmother and grandfather in 2020.

‘My academic journey was quite a battle as losing my family members one after the other resulted in a funeral every week in December,’ she said.

‘It was devastating! I am grateful to all my lecturers who supported me and made my academic life seamless. This graduation means the world to me because it is a statement to my guardian angels who are cheering me on and saying, “We did it”!’

Buthelezi served as the general secretary of Enactus UKZN. Her former role as the organisation’s Vice-President of Operations saw her champion COVID-19 projects that positively impacted more than 1 500 lives. This resulted in the organisation being recognised as the 2020 Enactus South Africa National Champion and being awarded for initiating one of the global top-14 innovative solutions in the Ford Fund COVID-19 Challenge. Buthelezi is involved in Women in Tech, an international organisation that aims to close the gender gap and empower women to embrace technology.

Buthelezi is thriving in the digital space as a digital solutions strategist at Asante Solutions.

‘I consider myself blessed because so many memorable things happened during my journey at UKZN which wouldn’t have happened in any other institution,’ she said.

‘I started a business with a friend of 12 years, which is now one of the best digital agencies in South Africa. I have grown over the years by balancing academics and entrepreneurship and I feel that I can conquer anything.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Culmination of a Journey for PhD Graduates

Culmination of a Journey for PhD Graduates
From left: Drs Anthony Mbuki Maina, Samkele Konyana, Estelle David, Sfiso Myeni, Tabitha Zinyama, and George Kasumba.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance PhD graduates, Drs Samkele Konyana, Estelle David, Sfiso Myeni, George Kasumba, Tabitha Zinyama and Anthony Mbuki Maina celebrated the culmination of their PhD journey at UKZN’s Autumn Graduation Ceremony.

For Konyana whose PhD journey started in 2015, attaining her PhD goes to show that not giving up despite academic and personal challenges was worth it.

‘This degree has taken me forever to complete! One of my biggest challenges was the fact that my supervisor was external to UKZN and the distance factor as I was based in East London while my supervisor was based in Durban. I also had health-related problems. However, I am not one to give up and the rest, as they say, is history,’ she said.

Her study explored marketing communication practices to recruit postgraduates at three public universities in KwaZulu-Natal.

‘The National Development Plan proposes that by 2030, more than 25% of enrolment should be at postgraduate level, and there should be more than 5 000 PhD graduates per year. The study thus focused on initiatives to attract postgraduate students, particularly for doctoral qualifications. It also investigated masters and doctoral students’ experiences of service delivery at public universities and how macro-environmental variables and institutional factors influence postgraduate studies,’ explained Konyana.

Students as Customers of Higher Education Institutions: Perceptions of Academics, Administrators and Students was the title of David’s research. Supervised by Professor Krishna Kistan Govender and Dr Sanjay Soni, it examined how marketing principles could be extended to South African Higher Education Institutions.

‘Higher Education Institutions are working in a dynamic environment as a result of increased competition, reduced funding, and the struggling South African economy, which was further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,’ explained David.

The study’s findings highlighted significant issues relating to customer-oriented behaviour in the sector.

‘Students are more likely to have positive Higher Education experiences and be satisfied with services if Higher Education service providers are customer focused, and have a positive attitude towards students. Strategies need to be developed to address these issues that should be continuously monitored,’ said David.

Zinyama investigated student (customer) retention in open and distance learning using Zimbabwe Open University as a case study across the country’s 10 provinces. She commented that gathering data during a pandemic was no walk in the park.

‘I had to resort to recorded telephone interviews and distance was a hurdle for focus group discussions. However, the discussions yielded very interesting insights on student attrition,’ she said.

Supervised by Dr Devika Pillay, the study recommended that open distance learning (ODL) institutions should focus on the student as a customer and place the student at the centre of all activities in order to promote retention. 

‘It revealed that student attrition is an interplay of personal, institutional and societal factors. ODL institutions should therefore put their students’ needs first. It is generally cheaper for an organisation to retain clients than acquire new ones.’

Myeni examined talent development and employability of actors in South Africa using KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as case studies. Supervised by Professor Maxwell Phiri, it aimed to design a model to enhance their employability.

‘The study concluded that initiatives to nurture self-perceived employability; human capital; social capital and talent development would benefit actors, employers, government and society as well as the South African economy,’ said Myeni. The UKZN staff member who was appointed a lecturer under the Academic Accelerated Development Programme at the beginning of his doctoral studies said this qualification will enhance his academic career.

Age is nothing but a number for Kasumba, who said that obtaining a PhD in his late 50s despite ill-health sparked healthy competition amongst his five children who are now motivated to follow his example.

‘All my children are graduates, with two holding master’s degrees. They have sworn to unseat me from my PhD throne soon,’ he said.

His study, which was supervised by Professor Betty Mubangizi examined the influence of inter-governmental fiscal relations on Uganda’s fiscal decentralisation reforms.

‘There were many significant findings. The one that I take to be my greatest contribution was the discourse on how the different theoretical viewpoints demonstrated the multi-dimensionalities of using theory to inform and influence policy design and practice in the context of fiscal decentralisation,’ said Kasumba.

Lecturer in the Information and Communications Technology sector, Maina said that his PhD prepared him to train and supervise students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

‘This qualification will enhance my growth as a researcher and lecturer. I am fascinated by the rise of data-driven applications, particularly in this age of the Internet of Things. In healthcare, big data can be used to build more accurate models of disease progression, evaluate the impact of health programmes, and formulate strategies to better respond to pandemics such as COVID-19,’ he said.

His research proposes reforms to Kenya’s digital health strategies to support the integration of big data technologies while safeguarding the confidentiality and security of health information. It was supervised by Dr Upasana Singh.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal


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Student Overcomes COVID-19 to Graduate Summa Cum Laude

Student Overcomes COVID-19 to Graduate <em>Summa Cum Laude</em>
Summa cum laude graduate, Mr Sherwyn Stalls celebrating with his wife, Martine (left), and mother, Shaunell.

Contracting COVID-19 during the last semester of his studies did not hinder Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) graduate Mr Sherwyn Stalls from not only obtaining his degree, but graduating summa cum laude.

‘I was sick for a while and didn’t have the mental capability to study, read, listen to a lecture or concentrate after my recovery. I told myself that I couldn’t drop the baton on the last hurdle. I was pleasantly surprised to realise I had exceeded my original goal,’ he said.

COVID-19 was not the only hurdle Stall had to contend with. His son was diagnosed with autism during his first year, which was a huge adjustment for the whole family.

‘We had to move closer to his special needs school and educate ourselves about autism. Having a supportive wife and family allowed me to focus on my studies, while also fulfilling my role as a husband, father and employee,’ said Stalls.

A process technician at Durban’s oil refinery SAPREF, Stalls studied chemical operations after school. It was necessary for him to upskill to grow his career. The business knowledge offered by the BBA coupled with the fact that classes are in the evening made it his best choice.

‘I have grown significantly in knowledge and skills from studying for this degree. UKZN really lives up to its motto of “Inspiring Greatness”,’ he said.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Stalls is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing and Supply Chain Management and hopes to complete a course in data analytics before taking a break to focus on the ventures he has started.

‘I aim to one day be a board member in the industry I am in. My qualification will grow my career and enable me to operate small businesses.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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PhDs in Accounting for Two Researchers

PhDs in Accounting for Two Researchers
PhD in Accounting graduates, Drs Nyanine Fonou Dombeu (left) and Jean Damascene Mvunabandi.

Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Professor Mabutho Sibanda congratulated researchers, Drs Nyanine Fonou Dombeu and Jean Damascene Mvunabandi on graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy in Accounting during the Autumn Graduation season.

Fonou Dombeu employed multilevel regression methods to examine the effect of earnings quality properties on the performance and stock return volatility of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies. The study offers guidelines on the use of earnings quality properties to assess companies’ performance and investment risk. Its findings will assist investment decisions and help policy makers to develop policies that improve the transparency of accounting information. She was supervised by Professor Josue Mbonigaba and Drs Bomi Nomlala and Magret Olarewaju.

Fonou Dombeu has extracted three research articles from her thesis. One article has already been published in a Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) accredited journal; the second article has been accepted for publication in another DHET accredited journal and the third article is under review. Commenting on her PhD journey, she said: ‘It was an amazing experience full of challenges. But, by the grace of God, dedication, hard work and sacrifices, I made it through. I am very proud of my achievements and hope to be an inspiration to many young African girls to pursue PhD studies.’

Forensic Auditing as a Powerful Tool to Enhance Non-Government Organisations’ Fraud Risk Management: A study of Selected Non-Government Organisations in eThekwini Region - South Africa was the title of Mvunabandi’s thesis that was supervised by Drs Bomi Nomlala and Harold Patrick.

It investigated the relationship between forensic auditing and fraud risk management, focusing on financial statement fraud among 30 large non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the eThekwini region. Mvunabandi envisages that the findings will guide NGOs and their funders, auditors, regulators, professional bodies, and academia on the use of proactive forensic audit techniques to prevent, detect and respond to fraud risks in the NGO context and beyond.

Mvunabandi has vast experience as a researcher in accounting and business education. He supervises research for professional bodies including the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. He keeps abreast of the latest developments in the field of accounting through membership of professional bodies such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (Associate) and the Institute of Business Advisors South Africa and is an active member of the Macroeconomics Research Unit at UKZN. He has his doctoral research in the form of five academic papers to accredited journals locally and internationally.

Commenting on the PhD milestone Mvunabandi said: ‘Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance and this was my reality with this PhD thesis. My perseverance came from the love of my Lord who gave me strength and wisdom.’

Congratulating the doctoral graduates of 2022, Sibanda said: ‘We are very excited about your achievements, and we hope this qualification will enable you to contribute to addressing the socio-economic challenges facing our society.’

Words: Hazel Langa

Photographs: Abhi Indarajan


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Cum Laude Pass for Bachelor of Commerce Honours Graduates

<em>Cum Laude</em> Pass for Bachelor of Commerce Honours Graduates
From left: Ms Jaina Bhana, Mr Mohamed Aish, Mr Mandla Mbuyisa and Ms Nickayla Rambaran.

Management and Marketing’s Ms Nickayla Rambaran and Ms Jaina Bhana, Mr Mohamed Aish from Information Systems and Technology and Industrial Relations’ Mr Mandla Mbuyisa graduated with their Bachelor of Commerce Honours degrees cum laude.

For Rambaran, contracting COVID-19 halfway through her degree motivated her to work even harder.

‘Catching COVID-19 was a scary and horrible experience, I was very worried that I would not graduate on time and not complete my dissertation in time. I am thankful and grateful to the amazing and patient lecturers who assisted me during this difficult time.’

She added that she plans to use the degree to secure a job in marketing.

‘My dream job is to become a brand manager for a large company. I also plan to tutor and assist students who are pursuing this degree to succeed as I have.’

Bhana, who is a freelance photographer says the degree is the first step toward realising her dream career in the motorsport industry. 

‘I am currently job hunting and hope to gain the necessary experience to one day achieve my goal of working in the Formula One (F1). This qualification gives me the advantage I need to stand out in this industry,’ she said.

Aish who holds an undergraduate degree in computer science says the qualification is a great foundation for his current position as a trainee software developer.

‘I believe that a qualification in Information Systems and Technology is most definitely worthwhile given that we live in a digital world and continue to transition into the fourth industrial revolution. Therefore, it is imperative to familiarise oneself with the necessary skills and tools in this field which I was able to achieve through this qualification.’

Mbuyisa, who has a background in social science says he plans to follow in the footsteps of former College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl Potgieter and use his new knowledge of industrial relations to pursue a career in academia.

‘I aim to produce high-impact research that will critically engage the African and global society. My immediate plans are to complete my Master of Arts in Sociology and hopefully be accepted into the Andrew Mellon Early Career Scholar programme and realise my long-term goal of being a sociology professor focusing on digital sociology.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal


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Entrepreneurship Close to PhD Graduate’s Heart

Entrepreneurship Close to PhD Graduate’s Heart
PhD in Entrepreneurship and Marketing graduate, Dr Lindiwe “Malindi” Kunene.

Inspiring and cultivating the entrepreneurship mind-set among her students is what drives UKZN academic and PhD graduate Dr Lindiwe “Malindi” Kunene.

‘This qualification positions me as one of the leaders in entrepreneurship, specifically for Black-owned businesses which are often challenged. It gives me a seat at the table where policy and legislation are formulated as it’s a long-life dream to be part of solutions for the betterment of my province, country and continent,’ said Kunene.

The Management and Entrepreneurship lecturer’s research on entrepreneurship, business and innovation strategy and small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) has been published nationally and internationally.

Her doctoral thesis, titled Brand Naming for Black-Owned Fast-Moving Consumer Goods - Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises in the KZN Province was supervised by Professor Maxwell Phiri and Dr Patmond Mbhele. Kunene employed a grounded theory approach to explore how these SMMEs struggle to compete with established brands, partly due to weak brand name choices.

‘In KwaZulu-Natal, as in the rest of South Africa, SMMEs are at the heart of the economic development agenda and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries are a significant part of the economy and poorly planned for in Black businesses,’ explained Kunene.

She added that it is argued that FMCG-SMMEs can accelerate economic growth as they provide essential goods on demand at all times, even during pandemics like COVID-19 and in the face of poverty.

‘The study offers a number of recommendations to the government, entrepreneurship development agencies, researchers and FMCG-SMMEs themselves,’ said Kunene. ‘Lessons were learned on brand naming practices that were never recorded in the Eurocentric theories we use and apply. I aimed to identify constructs specific to South Africa in order to redefine the reality of our context in brand naming for SMMEs.’

Kunene, who is deservedly nicknamed “Ingqwele (The Champ)” by her uncle based on this achievement, is as active outside the classroom as she is in her research. She was recognised as one of UKZN’s Outstanding Female Academics for serving on the Board and as Chair of KUMISA, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that supports the economic development of the music industry in KwaZulu-Natal.

She is also a member of the Board of the P.E.A.C.E Foundation Trust, an NGO that aims to prevent the slaughter of elephants and rhinos in Southern Africa by promoting economic development among rural communities in areas adjacent to the threatened species. She also served as Convener for Student Entrepreneurship in Higher Education for South Africa’s 27 Universities. In this role Kunene worked with colleagues across these universities in the country to help develop institutionalisation mechanisms for student entrepreneurship in South African Universities. She also serves in UKZN’s Student Entrepreneurship Committee (SEC) tasked with student entrepreneurship development at the institution 

While the PhD will enhance her academic career, it also has personal significance as it is a tribute to Kunene’s late father Mr Stanley Kunene who was an academic in Psychology at the University of Zululand from the early 1970s until his retirement.

‘Growing up with Bra Stan as a father and being socialised in academia was the best gift I have ever had. I literally grew up in the lecture halls of the UniZulu campus being exposed to academics and attending lectures where students were being taught by my dad. Coupled with having a mother who was one of the first female high school principals in Northern KZN in the 1980s guided me onto the academic path and played a huge role in what we are celebrating today.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Public Governance Expert Produces Four PhDs

Public Governance Expert Produces Four PhDs
From left: Professor Thokozani Nzimakwe, Dr Sibongile Nhari, Dr Cyprian Cele, Dr Tsietsi Raleting, and Dr Douglas Ngcobo.

Professor Thokozani Nzimakwe supervised four doctoral students who graduated at UKZN’s autumn ceremonies.

They include Dr Cyprian Cele who was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies on 4 May for a thesis titled Developing employee engagement framework in the coatings industry: A case of Kansai Plascon Africa (Pty) Limited.

The study investigated and assessed employee engagement at the company using mixed methods research. It found that different variables interact to determine and enhance employee engagement.

On 7 May three of Nzimakwe’s students were awarded the Doctor of Administration degrees.

Towards a Model of Employment Creation in iLembe District Municipality: An NGO Perspective was the title of Dr Douglas Ngcobo’s thesis which investigated the models used by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to create employment opportunities in the municipality. It found that NGOs play a meaningful role in employment creation and recommended that they improve their resource mobilisation strategies to promote sustainability. Ngcobo also proposed a model for capacity building in NGOs. The study was co-supervised by Dr Sakhile Zondi. Ngcobo is employed by the Health Systems Trust of South Africa.

Dr Sibongile Nhari’s study focused on male and female perceptions of internal service quality as a precursor to organisational citizenship behaviour at eThekwini Municipality’s Sizakala Centres. The study concluded that females are more inclined towards citizenship behaviour and recommended that the organisation empower its employees in order to increase the chances of discretionary behaviour. Nhari is employed at the Writing Centre at the Durban University of Technology.

Dr Tsietsi Raleting from the BankSETA explored how Mantsopa Local Municipality promotes public service values. The study revealed that the public service can promote these values through legislation and internal policies and recommended an enhancement strategy.

Congratulating his students, Nzimakwe said: ‘I am proud of your achievements, but even more proud of the people you’ve become. May you celebrate Graduation with fond memories from your past and exciting visions for your future. Take pride in how far you’ve come. Have faith in how far you can go. It has been a privilege to watch you grow.’

He added that the studies make a significant contribution in their various fields. Plans for co-publication are underway: ‘All four graduates have submitted manuscripts to journals and Dr Nhari has already presented two papers at conferences.’

Words: Hazel Langa

Photographs: Rajesh Jantilal, Abhi Indarajan and Supplied


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HR 4IR Readiness Focus of Doctoral Study

HR 4IR Readiness Focus of Doctoral Study
Dr Lindokuhle Mkhize celebrates her PhD achievement with her mom, Ms Lindele Khumalo (left), her husband Mr Peter Mkhize (right), and her son, Mr Sethembile Mkhize.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) blurring the lines between people and technology, fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, Human Resources (HR) Director and commercial farmer, Dr Lindokuhle Mkhize was motivated to embark on a doctoral journey which culminated in her being awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resources by UKZN in May.

Working with UKZN’s Professor Sanjana Brijball Parumasur, Mkhize’s thesis titled Human Resource Readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in South Africa within Different Sectors Sought to develop a framework to guide HR managers in facilitating HR readiness to implement 4IR in the South African workplace.

Her main goal in pursuing doctoral studies was to gain deeper insights in the field of HR in order to remain relevant in the fast-paced technological environment that is marked by uncertainty. ‘It is crucial for South Africa to be leaders not followers, and the 4IR presents that possibility,’ she said.

Mkhize’s journey was marked by challenges as she collected data at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘I was concerned about getting participants, but most HR managers that I approached found my research topic appealing and were, therefore, willing to participate.’

She added that a PhD can be a lonely journey; however, she remained focused knowing that HR managers believed that her research would contribute to knowledge generation in the field of HR.

She is thankful to her family and her supervisor for supporting her vision.

‘It was not easy to juggle work and my studies. My supervisor, Professor Sanjana Brijball Parumasur, kept me motivated. I would have never completed this PhD without her dedication and support.’

While her mother did not have formal employment when she was growing up in Qoloqolo at Mthwalume on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, she ensured that she got her first degree. ‘I will be forever grateful for her love and nurturing. My husband is my pillar of strength. He gave me all the support that I needed in order to focus on my PhD. My son is a young gentleman who keeps me sane,’ she said.

Mkhize is proud that being the first person to obtain a tertiary qualification in her family has motivated other family members to follow in her footsteps: ‘This time, I am the first PhD graduate; hopefully, some family members will be motivated to follow suit.’

While her family is proud of her achievement, she wishes that her best friend (her late grandmother) was here to celebrate with her.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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MBA Explores Nazarites Church of God’s COVID-19 Response

MBA Explores Nazarites Church of God’s COVID-19 Response
MBA graduate, Dr Nkosiyephana Mabaso.

Nazarites Church of God (NCG) worshiper and Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate Dr Nkosiyephana Mabaso’s research study explores how the church responded to the COVID-19 pandemic from a strategic management point of view.

‘I became a dedicated member of the church in August 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions as I needed hope during the time of despair,’ said Mabaso.

‘Many religious organisations were negatively impacted by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, however, what interested me as an MBA student was the NCG’s response to the situation given the large audience of NCG’s church service on social media, particularly Facebook.'

The study supervised by Dr Bibi Zaheenah Chummun looked at how the church continued to operate after the outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent stringent lockdown conditions which prohibited gatherings of any form.

‘Religious organisations are amongst those institutions that are expected to provide social relief in various ways during a disastrous situation. However, the NCG never stopped providing its core church services. These include reaching out to various communities through the use of information technology, using various platforms such as public radio stations and Facebook to spread the word of Jehovah,’ he said.

Benchmarking against other religious organisations, Mabaso said that the study’s findings revealed that some religious organisations are organised in a similar way as the NCG when it comes to being a non-profit making organisation. Apart from an MBA, Mabaso also holds a PhD in Information Systems and Technology from UKZN.

‘Churches, like NCG have strategies that are geared up towards achieving their vision and mission. My research gave me a platform to understand the word of Jehovah better than before. After graduation, I will formally request a slot in the next church’s executive committee meeting to present my findings.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photographs: Abhi Indarajan and Supplied


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Study Investigates Protection of Child Victims During the Criminal Justice Process

Study Investigates Protection of Child Victims During the Criminal Justice Process
Warrant Officer Ms Bathabile Ngubane made her parents, Nonhlangano (left) and Bhekinkosi, proud when she graduated with a Master’s in Child Care and Protection.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that every child has the right to be protected from abuse. However, in her work in law enforcement and social work, Ms Bathabile Ngubane (42) has witnessed child victims failed by the criminal justice system.

To identify the root causes, she embarked on a research study which saw her graduating with a Master's in Child Care and Protection at UKZN in May. The dissertation was titled Challenges Facing Child Victims in South African Courts: An Overview of the South African Legal Framework and the Protection of Such Children, with a Specific Focus on Courts in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and was supervised by Acting Dean and Head of the School of Law Mr Adrian Bellengère.

The study found that secondary victimisation of child victims is perpetrated by police officials when victims report the crime, health workers during medical examinations, court officials during court proceedings and correctional officials when granting parole without liaising with all parties involved.

It concluded that victims’ feelings are seldom considered in court proceedings on matters involving children. Factors that exacerbate the problem include postponement of trials; victims’ exposure to a stressful environment in courts and failure to protect the child victim outside of court.

‘Child victims of sexual offences have lost faith and trust in the criminal justice system. They often find themselves testifying in the presence of the perpetrator, which makes it very hard for them to cope. Victims often feel embarrassed and blame themselves for their victimisation and in many cases, this results in the withdrawal of charges or even not reporting the sexual assault,’ said Ngubane.

Advocating for a multi-disciplinary approach to improve the situation of child victims, she said: ‘Child victims need to obtain all the victim support available to assist them to cope with the ordeal of being sexually assaulted. They must be considered as an important part of all court processes and delays must be avoided as much as possible.’

The study’s recommendations include:

•    Enhanced protection of the child victim in and outside of court;

•    The establishment of an educational desk at all police stations that is easily accessible to all community members;

•    Awareness campaigns to educate the community about sexual offences;

•    Amendment of Section 170A (1) of the Child Protection Act to make the appointment of intermediaries’ compulsory when dealing with cases involving child victims;

•    The South African Police Service (SAPS) and Departments of Social Development and Health should establish a 24-hour multi-disciplinary service where skilled detectives are available to attend to child victim cases;

•    Training of officials that deal with child victims of sexual violence;

•    Compulsory programmes to support and empower child survivors of sexual offences to be researched and considered;

•    Mandatory rehabilitation of offenders against child victims;

•    The criminal justice system should reconsider the rules relating to the granting of bail to alleged sexual assault perpetrators, especially when there is a risk that the perpetrator may encounter the child victim.

To empower herself in her quest to support vulnerable communities, Ngubane studied policing, social work and forensic investigation. ‘I want to provide the best service to all, so I continually improve my skills and expertise,’ she said.

In recognition of her sterling service, Ngubane was promoted from sergeant in the Pinetown Operational Command Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, to warrant officer in Mount Road Port Elizabeth Local Criminal Record Centre in the Eastern Cape.

She said: ‘My new qualification played a tremendous role in preparing me for my new responsibilities as a forensic investigator. It took me out of my comfort zone and made me go the extra mile to meet all the academic requirements. I would not have made it without the support and guidance of my supervisor Mr Adrian Bellengère.’

On future plans she said that she is looking forward to developing new skills in the forensic investigation field. ‘I will then look at taking a further step towards a doctorate specialising in child protection which is my passion,’ she added.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Transnet Marine Navigators Graduate

Transnet Marine Navigators Graduate
Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies graduates Ms Nokuthula Dlamini and Mr Thegen Govender.

Colleagues at Transnet Dredging Services, Ms Nokuthula Dlamini (28) and Mr Thegen Govender (42) were among the 10 students who graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies at UKZN in May.

Dlamini and Govender are building careers in the maritime sector, having started by obtaining undergraduate qualifications in Maritime Studies and then serving cadetships with an international container company.

Born and bred in Osizweni township in Newcastle, Dlamini chose Maritime Studies because she wanted to explore the world and hopefully become a captain one day. However, she was astonished when she joined her first vessel and discovered that she was the only female and only South African on board. This did not deter her and she worked even harder to prove that she was cut out for a job at sea. Hard work paid off when she was awarded the Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency - a licence to steer a ship - and was employed as a marine navigator at Transnet. 

‘I am proud of myself and plan to do my master's next year for better and greater opportunities. My dream is to make a significant difference in South Africa’s ports,’ she said.

The maritime sector was not Govender’s first career choice. ‘After matriculating in Pietermaritzburg I chose to study Mechanical Engineering in a technical college. I later changed to Maritime Studies after hearing about this profession,’ he said.

Armed with more than 20 years’ experience in the sector, Govender decided to keep abreast of latest developments by pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies.

On the value of his new qualification, he said: ‘It gave me a better understanding of how the economics of shipping affect the port. It broadened my thinking to understand how shore side operations should be run to ensure optimal performance. The understanding of customs and excise included in the qualification makes me very marketable in the maritime industry due to the fact that I have first-hand experience of operations on board vessels.’

He is extremely proud of his achievement especially the merit award he received.

Dlamini and Govender are responsible for dredging at Transnet which involves maintaining or increasing the depth of harbour channels and berths to ensure the safe passage of vessels into the port. 

While working at sea has its challenges, they have also enjoyed experiences that are filled with adventures as they travel around the world working with different people.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Transnet National Port Authority’s Chief Harbour Master Graduates at UKZN

Transnet National Port Authority’s Chief Harbour Master Graduates at UKZN
TNPA’s Chief Harbour Master Mr Rufus Lekala graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies.

The head of the Maritime Service for the Transnet National Port Authority, Mr Rufus Lekala graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies during one of UKZN’s Graduation ceremonies in May.

Lekala’s career in the maritime sector started at the erstwhile Cape Technikon in 1995 when he was thrown a lifeline by Transnet in the form of a bursary to pursue a Diploma in Maritime Studies after a five-year stint as a taxi driver in Mamelodi, Pretoria.

On stumbling into the maritime sector, he said: ‘There was nothing that inspired me to join the sector. I was in desperate need of a career that would take my family and I out of poverty. Fortunately, the maritime sector presented itself as a home that I will never trade for anything.’

Since then, Lekala has made his mark in various positions. He started out at Transnet as Tug Master in the Port of Cape Town, and went on to serve as a marine pilot in the Port of Saldahna Bay. He was the first Black Harbour Master in the Port of East London in 2002 and later in Cape Town and Durban prior to his appointment as Chief Harbour Master of the Transnet National Port Authority in June 2011.

As Chief Harbour Master, Lekala is tasked with the serious responsibility of overseeing the planning and execution of port marine operations such as designating where vessels should lie within the harbour, vessel traffic management services, provision of pilotage services, conservancy and other marine-related operations. 

He is currently reading for a Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies through UKZN. His study focuses on the impact of changing container vessel sizes on ports and he is exploring the cascading effects from the perspective of the South African complementary container ports system in Durban, Ngqura and Cape Town.

Lekala was born in small village called Kutupu in Limpopo and is married with three children.

On his achievement he said: ‘I feel really proud of myself, but more importantly, I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of my family.’

Acting Director of UKZN’s Unit of Maritime Law and Maritime Studies, Dr Dusty-Lee Donnelly congratulated Lekala on his academic achievement and wished him well in his future research endeavours.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Summa Cum Laude Graduate Celebrates Success

<em>Summa Cum Laude</em> Graduate Celebrates Success
Summa cum laude Bachelor of Commerce Accounting graduate, Mr Nathan Lutchmanan.

Mr Nathan Lutchmanan described graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce Accounting summa cum laude as the reward for his hard work and dedication.

The top achiever who earned 21 distinctions, seven Certificates of Merit and five Dean’s Commendations is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting as part of his goal of qualifying as a Chartered Accountant (CA).

‘This undergraduate degree is the first stepping-stone in achieving this goal and once I graduate with my postgraduate diploma, I am set to begin serving my three-year articles of internship at Ernst & Young,’ said Lutchmanan.

Matriculating with seven distinctions meant that Lutchmanan was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a degree, but Accounting was his only choice.

‘My Accounting teacher advised me that I could never go wrong with an Accounting degree because of the many career options and doors it opens,’ he said.

While graduating at the top of his class is proof that Lutchmanan made the best choice, his academic journey was not without its challenges.

Apart from adapting to online learning, Lutchmanan’s biggest supporter, his grandmother passed away this year.

‘I am grateful for my parents’ support but my biggest cheerleader and role model was my grandmother. She always supported my dreams and watched me grow from the start of my academic journey,’ he said.

‘When I was studying too much, she would tell me to take a break and I’d do so just to spend more time with her. It is with the heaviest heart that I know I am graduating without her to physically witness the proudest moment of my life. However, I know that she is watching and cheering me on in spirit as I celebrate this momentous achievement, which I am dedicating to her - this one’s for you Ma!’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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PhD Study Aims to Promote Universal Health Coverage in Kenya

PhD Study Aims to Promote Universal Health Coverage in Kenya
PhD graduate, Dr Augustine Kihiko.

Dr Augustine Kihiko’s PhD in Information Systems and Technology explored the challenges of technology adoption and the extent of technology use in the Kenyan health sector.

Supervised by Professor Brian McArthur, the study expands understanding of how governments, through the Ministry of Health and personnel in public hospitals, can deliver quality services and manage their health information systems.

‘The study was undertaken in 35 public health facilities across two counties, Nairobi and Nakuru. It revealed low levels of adoption of Cloud-based Health Information Management systems,’ said Kihiko.

The findings further revealed that the government has only adopted the District Health Information System II (DHIS 2) platform at county and sub-county health facilities, leaving out the majority of facilities, namely, health centres and dispensaries.

‘There are thus two parallel reporting systems, with the lower-level health facilities using paper-based reporting systems, while the county and sub-county use the DHIS 2 platform to report health information,’ said Kihiko.

‘The use of cloud computing would avoid parallel reporting of health data, improve data accuracy and promote timely access to and use of health information for decision-making.’

While data collection was challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility of the findings being used to improve his country’s health care sector kept Kihiko motivated.

‘The research provided timely findings and recommendations to the government for the adoption of cloud-based health information systems that can assist with the successful implementation of universal health coverage in Kenya. The research will be shared with the country’s Ministry of Health to enable it to make informed decisions while deliberating on strategies to strengthen health systems,’ he said.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Academic Achievement for SRC Member

Academic Achievement for SRC Member
SRC member, Ms Andile Sithole graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance, Banking and Investment Management.

Student Representative Council (SRC) member Ms Andile Sithole graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Finance, Banking and Investment Management.

The College of Law and Management Studies Westville campus representative is passionate about leading by example when it comes to education as she also holds a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and Microbiology and is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning.

‘I am a very inquisitive person who doesn’t like being limited to only one thing. I like exploring and expanding my knowledge always,’ said Sithole.

Graduating with her undergraduate degree in the midst of COVID-19, witnessing the harsh reality of people losing their jobs and the rising unemployment rate motivated Sithole to pursue finance studies with the end goal of becoming an entrepreneur.

‘Securing an internship as a graduate was hard!’ says Sithole.

‘So, while I was waiting for my turn and applying for every post I came across I decided that this is a great opportunity for me to study what I always wanted and acquire a new set of skills. This will allow me to be marketable and have a bigger pool for job opportunities as well as to merge all my qualifications through entrepreneurship,’ she said.

Having started her undergraduate degree under challenging circumstances after losing her grandmother who raised her a month after enrolling at UKZN coupled with struggling with funding, Sithole is dedicated to assisting other students to navigate these challenges as well.

‘I’ve also been in a position where I struggled to afford even basic needs. I even thought that maybe giving up would be the best but I couldn’t do that because I knew what I wanted for myself in the end,’ she said.

Championing initiatives like the SRC trust fund which assists students with registration fees and helping students in any way she can through her role is how Sithole is giving back to the Institution that shaped her.

‘I have personally benefited from the trust fund and hope that someday it may grow into an initiative that not only helps with registration and historical debt but becomes a full bursary scheme for needy students. This can only be achieved through donations - therefore I am pleading with everyone to donate to the fund. Even the smallest donation goes a long way and will benefit a lot of students.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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BCom Honours Students Graduate Cum Laude

BCom Honours Students Graduate <em>Cum Laude</em>
From left: Ms Dhirja Singh, Ms Yasoda Rambally, Ms Snethemba Jali, Ms Saranya Govender and Ms Yonela Mdyodyo.

Six Bachelor of Commerce Honours students in Human Resources Management graduated cum laude.

Ms Dhirja Singh who is currently serving a human resource internship at a contact centre, said the degree not only broadened her knowledge but has opened doors for her in the world of work.

‘I am keenly interested in organisational culture, ethics and employee wellness. Pursuing an honours degree expanded my knowledge of these topics. My research project on The Effectiveness of the Implementation of the Affirmative Action Policy within the South African Private Sector enhanced my understanding of ethics,’ she said. She plans to pursue a Masters in Commerce in 2023 and possibly explore working abroad.

Ms Saranya Govender has registered for a master’s degree.

‘The Human Resources function is one of the most crucial functions for any organisation to thrive, adapt and maintain sound business practice. The honours modules offer an understanding of many business practices,’ she said.

While her short-term goal is to be a lecturer, Govender’s long-term goal is to establish a training and youth development school to alleviate the skills drain in South Africa.

‘I aim to grow youth employment by skilling and encouraging young people to pursue their educational and career goals.’

The COVID-19 pandemic brought home to Ms Snethemba Jali how the world of work has changed and how she has to not only adapt, but change with it.

‘We had to come up with research topics in line with current issues in South Africa,’ she said. For her study on The Significance of Succession Planning in Today’s Business Environment, Jali also received a cum laude pass.

‘I focused on the ways in which organisations could fill the gaps when experienced CEOs, managers and other senior personnel retire, pass away or resign. How can they make sure they look for the right people and is succession planning properly implemented?’ she explained.

In 2021, Jali had the opportunity to put theory into practice during a one-year internship at eThekwini Municipality.

‘This graduate work experience was life-changing and showed me that one has to know the theoretical side of things before experiencing the practical side. The long-term goal is to be known as Dr Jali so I will continue studying as soon as I find a permanent job to fund my studies.’

Ms Yasoda Rambally said that the honours course gave her a deeper understanding of how the world is changing due to the fourth industrial revolution.

‘The world of work is constantly evolving and by studying HR, we are able to understand how these changes impact employees and how HR professionals can assist in ensuring sustainable employment opportunities for all,’ she said.

She plans to continue her research in HR and hopes that it will one day contribute to the understanding of how to create and maintain sustainable employment opportunities in a constantly evolving working world.

Having recently moved to Mauritius Ms Fatima Abrahams aims to use this qualification to further her career.

‘The course content was interesting and the lecturers had diverse perspectives which made it an enriching educational experience,’ she said. ‘The guidance I received from my research supervisor, Professor Sanjana Brijball Parumasur was exceptional. Although I last undertook full-time studies two decades ago, I was able to achieve what I set out to do through dedication and commitment.’

When her hopes of attaining a postgraduate bursary were dashed, Ms Yonela Mdyodo had to rely on her family to fund her studies which makes this achievement even more special.

‘I was hopeful that the postgraduate bursary would fund my studies since I qualified but they, unfortunately, did not. However, I didn’t see myself deregistering, so my family had to minimise their needs to ensure that I survive 2021 and I complete the qualification,’ she said.

With the costs of not only her tuition fees but also her resident fees resting on her father’s shoulder who is her family’s sole breadwinner, Mdyodo is proud to be the first university graduate holding two degrees in her family.

‘My dad was so worried about paying the fees since he doesn’t earn that much but I was fortunate to receive assistance from a Non-Government Organisation that helped me to clear my student debt. My future plans are to ensure that I create a safe working space for employees and encourage most of the companies in South Africa to invest in employee wellness.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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MCom for Staff Member

MCom for Staff Member
Master of Commerce in Human Resources Management graduate, Ms Lucia Jali.

Work-life balance experiences during COVID-19: A Case of Academics at a South African University was the title of UKZN staff member and Master of Commerce in Human Resources Management graduate, Ms Lucia Jali’s research.

The study was supervised by Professor Sybert Mutereko.

‘The study revealed that working from home during the lockdown was extremely challenging for mothers who are academics and their families,’ explained Jali.

‘Participants said they felt frustrated, fatigued, burnt out, distressed, and overwhelmed. Academics who are mothers are experiencing intense inter-role conflict during the pandemic, which negatively affects their well-being, career trajectories, performance in both roles, and ultimately their work-life balance,’ she said.

The findings suggest that the productivity and contribution of academics who are mothers are limited by gendered, societal, cultural, and family norms. Further research is thus required to explore how household conditions and gendered realities impact the work-life relationship.

‘South African universities (including UKZN) should assess the conduciveness (or compatibility) of remote work and their academics’ working conditions during the COVID-19 lockdown. This will provide a comprehensive understanding of socio-economic status, digitalisation, and gendered perspectives relative to work and family,’ said Jali.

She added that specific consideration should be given to the needs of academics with poor social support, especially mothers.

‘Future research could also include academics from other universities to compare their experiences and perceptions. This would enable institutions to cater for the needs of their employees.’

Jali will use the knowledge and skills she acquired in the managerial positions she is appointed in within the University.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Eastern Cape Academic Masters Accountancy Cum Laude

Eastern Cape Academic Masters Accountancy <em>Cum Laude</em>
Master of Accountancy cum laude graduate, Mr Masibulele Phesa.

Lecturer at Walter Sisulu University, Mr Masibulele Phesa has added a Master of Accountancy to his list of qualifications.

A Chartered Accountant (CA) and registered auditor, Phesa was awarded the degree cum laude by UKZN for his study on impression management in top 40 Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) companies’ chairpersons’ statements.

Companies often use persuasive tactics such as a positive tone, personal references and the passive voice in their chairperson’s statement to gain legitimacy. The literature notes that the main reason is that narrative voluntary disclosures are currently not audited. Phesa’s study thus recommends that an auditing framework for voluntary narrative disclosure be developed to limit the use of impression management.

Phesa dreamed of becoming a CA from an early age and when he achieved this goal in 2018, he decided to explore the field of accountancy further through academic research. He currently lectures financial accounting, cost accounting, taxation and financial management at Walter Sisulu University. ‘Accountancy is a financial language that makes business work. I apply its principles when making personal and business decisions,’ he said.

Phesa holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting Preliminary from the University of Fort Hare, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Accounting Science from the University of South Africa. He is registered for a PhD at UKZN.

He said that achieving a cum laude pass is surreal: ‘I remember during online orientation asking Dr Bomi Nomlala if it was possible to achieve this in the Master of Accountancy. I’m delighted that I managed to juggle demanding studies and a heavy teaching load.’

With guidance from his supervisors at UKZN, Professor Mabutho Sibanda and Ms Qondeni Khumalo, Phesa shared his research findings with the Accounting fraternity at the Management, Business, Administration and Legal Initiatives (MBALI) Conference hosted by the University of Zululand in December 2021. His paper was published in the accredited conference proceedings and he looks forward to more publications in the near future.

On achieving outstanding results, he said: ‘The key is to push yourself and not undermine your strength. You will never know what you are capable of until you start and persevere.’

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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Research Explores Technology-Based Healthcare Model for Botswana

Research Explores Technology-Based Healthcare Model for Botswana
PhD graduate, Dr Joseph Khengere.

The deteriorating state of patient care in Botswana’s public healthcare centres motivated PhD graduate, Dr Joseph Khengere to explore the development of an innovative technology-based healthcare-monitoring model.

The study was supervised by Professors Indira Padayachee and Prabhakar Rontala Subramaniam.

‘Patient care would improve through technology-based healthcare monitoring as supervisors would be able to monitor healthcare professionals caring for patients at all times and productivity would improve,’ explained Khengere.

Conducting this research was challenging as some potential participants declined to take part and Khengere also had to travel between Botswana and South Africa.

‘I had planned to conduct three case studies, but two institutions did not want to participate. The Ministry of Health and Awareness assisted me in this regard,’ he said.

‘I incurred financial costs travelling from Gaborone to UKZN two to three times a year for some time. I took unpaid leave for two years and stayed away from home while designing and developing the technology-based healthcare monitoring model. The study thus took more time than usual,’ he added.

On the positive side, obtaining his PhD makes everything worthwhile, as it will enhance his academic career as a university senior lecturer in Software Engineering and Project Management.

‘This study is unique in that it combined research and model design. I aim to make a difference by helping society to solve healthcare challenges. Moreover, a PhD improves one’s future prospects and develops transferable skills.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Commerce Honours Students Graduate Summa Cum Laude

Commerce Honours Students Graduate <em>Summa Cum Laude</em>
Summa cum laude graduates, Ms Mikara Pather (left) and Ms Jadine Mundhree.

Bachelor of Commerce Honours students, Ms Mikara Pather (Information Systems and Technology) and Ms Jadine Mundhree (Management) were thrilled to graduate summa cum laude.

Motivated by her love of Information Technology Pather, who is a graduate trainee at FNB South Africa wanted to develop in this field and graduating summa cum laude is the icing on the cake.

‘I didn’t expect this,’ she said. ‘My parents and the rest of my family are extremely proud.’

Last year was a productive one for Pather as not only did she come top of her class, but she also wrote two articles, Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare and How 4IR Technologies Shape the Future of South Africa.

‘The course was tough at first and during the first phase, I began to regret it. However, learning more made me realise how much I didn’t know. The technology industry is moving fast, making this degree worthwhile. I hope to study further and build my career as my dream is to eventually work overseas,’ she said.

Mundhree’s fascination with the business world led her to pursue a qualification in management and marketing.

‘This is a worthwhile qualification that enabled me to develop skills in strategy development, problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork which are in high demand in today’s business environment,’ she said.

She found it challenging to adapt to online learning and also faced the strain of nursing a very sick dog.

‘My dogs are my children and it was very hard to balance taking care of her and studying. I trusted in God and today, my dog is healthy, I am engaged, and my family is very proud of me.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Hard Work and Perseverance Pays Off for BCom Graduate

Hard Work and Perseverance Pays Off for BCom Graduate
BCom graduate, Ms Nitasha Pillay.

Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Information Systems and Technology graduate Ms Nitasha Pillay who was appointed as a Women in Tech South Africa Youth Ambassador during the final-year of her undergraduate studies hopes to inspire young people to upskill in technology.

The top achiever who is currently pursuing her honours obtained 16 distinctions, six Certificates of Merit and an overall A-aggregate has co-founded Tech Society UKZN, a new student society aimed at empowering and mentoring students in the field of technology.

‘Despite failing two modules in my first year, I was able to attain A-aggregates in my second- and final-years. I did not let failure define me because for every setback there is a greater comeback. I want to encourage UKZN students despite failure that they can excel, still get A’s, be proactive at university and graduate in the time provided,’ said Pillay.

Apart from serving as a Social Media and Marketing Community Manager at Women in Tech South Africa, bagging distinctions and creating a student tech society, the go-getter also served as project manager of Enactus UKZN with her project being one of the Top 10 winners in the global 2021-2022 Ford Fund Challenge. She represented UKZN in the Innovate Durban’s 2021 Youth Innovation Challenge where her team prototyped their own technology aimed at minimising child trafficking, which earned them second place and earned her a Zutari Woman in Design award. She also served as the professional development director for the UKZN Golden Key Westville Campus. She is currently a peer academic mentor for the College of Law and Management Studies.

‘Amidst the challenges I faced in my first year, I didn’t want the same to happen to first year students in UKZN that is why I chose to be a mentor. In this role, I advise students on study skills and ways to adapt to their first-year because I know what it was to experience failure. I would never want the same for others and the students I mentor. I hope to inspire students to realise that they can do anything they put their minds to. When I was studying toward my undergraduate degree, I would seek advice from students a year ahead of me in my degree. I would ask them what mistakes I could avoid when studying for certain modules. My advice to students is to find a mentor that can guide and advise you on your academic journey.’

Pillay attributes her success to hard work, her support system of lecturers, family and friends and being involved in UKZN’s clubs and societies.

‘I am grateful to the lecturers in the Marketing and Information Systems and Technology discipline for advising me on career choices and my mum Pam, a professional staff member in UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, my dad Terence, my brother Nathan who is in his second year of BSc Computer Sciences and Information Technology and God for his guidance in my life.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Itumeleng Masa


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Distinction for Nedbank Staff Member

Distinction for Nedbank Staff Member
Ms Langa Ntuli celebrating her graduation with daughter, Hleloluhle.

While the COVID-19 pandemic created uncertainty in the lives of many, for Ms Langa Ntuli of Umlazi township south of Durban, it meant working harder to remain relevant in the financial services sector. She enrolled for the Postgraduate Diploma in Finance, Banking and Investment Management offered by UKZN’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance and is proud to have passed with distinction.

The programme suited Ntuli as it is designed to provide students from commerce and non-commerce backgrounds with the necessary theoretical knowledge to follow a career in finance or banking.

Ntuli is a Commercial Insurance Vetting Administrator at Nedbank Wealth where she has gained exposure to and knowledge of property development, valuation and purchases. She said: ‘This qualification affords me the possibility of advancing my career in property finance to a level of an associate and more.’

She admitted that juggling part-time studies with work and parenting was not easy. Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, she had to adapt to online learning which was novel to her. ‘Distance learning was a first for me. It meant working from home during the day, attending to my daughter after work while listening to lectures on Zoom, and sleeping late after studying,’ she explained.

Ntuli said that her outstanding academic achievement made her realise that there is no limit to what one can achieve if one does not limit oneself. 

She is contemplating embarking on a master’s journey and hopes to make a difference in society and mentor young Black women. 

She is grateful to her employer for supporting her career development by funding her studies.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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UKZN Leadership Programme Sharpens Business Acumen

UKZN Leadership Programme Sharpens Business Acumen
Ms Slindile Ntshangase from eThekwini Municipality graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership.

A firm believer in continuous professional development, Ms Slindile Ntshangase added the Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership to her list of academic qualifications when she graduated at UKZN in May.

Ntshangase, a line manager in eThekwini Municipality’s Solid Waste Department (DSW) said that ongoing professional development enhances one’s skills and enables one to stay abreast of new developments in one’s field. This is vital in the fast-evolving environmental sector in which she operates.

Her duties entail planning and managing staff and resources within the city’s Inner and Outer West regions. DSW contributes to a clean and healthy environment and vibrant economy through responsible solid waste management practices, recognising solid waste as a useful resource wherever possible.

Ntshangase said the diploma enhanced her critical thinking and leadership skills: ‘The leadership knowledge will enable me to deal with volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous situations within the work place.’

The year 2022 has been marked with celebrations for the Pongola-born married mother of two as she also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration with four distinctions from the Durban University of Technology.

Next on Ntshangase’s agenda is the Master of Commerce in Leadership at UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


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