Chart-topping Artist Nomfundo Moh Awarded Double Platinum Plaque at UKZN Graduation

Chart-topping Artist Nomfundo Moh Awarded Double Platinum Plaque at UKZN Graduation
Double celebration for musician, Nomfundo Moh who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work and was presented with a double-platinum plaque (right) by her team for her song Phakade Lami.

Stepping on stage to receive a lot more than expected - chart-topping songstress, Nomfundo Ngcobo, popularly known by her stage name, Nomfundo Moh - was overwhelmed by a standing ovation and surprise double-platinum plaque as she graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree. 

Her latest hit Soft life was played as she walked across the graduation stage and danced in celebration. The moment was made all the more special by the audience who sang along in unison and cheered her on. Ngcobo’s management team arranged the surprise platinum plaque handover for her hit song Phakade Lami which has over 9,5 million views on YouTube and over three million streams on Spotify. Ngcobo is also Apple Music’s Africa Rising emerging artist. 

On receiving her degree, a teary-eyed Ngcobo said she felt emotional, excited and happy but also sad that her late grandmother was not there to witness her special day. She said she was grateful that her family, which included her grandfather and mom were there to share in her joy. 

She decided to pursue a career in social work because her main goal in life is to ‘be there for others.’ 

On juggling her music career and studies, Ngcobo said it was ‘no child’s play’. ‘But if you are focused and know what you want, you’ll get through,’ she said. 

She dreams of running her own foundation one day which will work towards improving young people’s lives and keep them out of trouble.  

‘I am truly humbled by the love shown to me by my team and fans on the graduation stage. Completing my degree proves that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. Thank you to everyone who believed in me. To the people, my MohFam, thank you for buying the music, thank you for the love you keep on showing towards me and the art,’ she said. 

Ngcobo, who hails from Ndwedwe in KwaZulu-Natal, wrote Phakade Lami during the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘It’s a very relatable song and I think that is what has made it so successful,’ she said. 

She always loved music and began singing at the age of six; performing at church, school concerts and at UKZN where she began writing her own songs. She loved working with and helping people which led her to pursue a degree in Social Work. ‘Music was always my passion. When I realised that people loved my songs, I thought I could actually become a musician and make a career out of it.’ 

Reflecting on her fondest UKZN memories, she said: ‘I recall during my first lecture, we were put into groups and had to introduce ourselves with what we have in common as a group. In my group, we were all Zionists so we sang Ngijulise Nkosi Othandweni Lwakho (Immerse Me in Your Love, oh Lord). My lecturer, Dr Sibonisile Zibane, even nicknamed me iGosa (steward). I quickly became friends with Andiswa, Smangele and Ntokozo on campus. They always had my back. We’d laugh, have fun and study together. It’s so good to graduate alongside them and I’m proud of them.’ 

Zibane recalled that she easily recognised Ngcobo’s talent from her first day in class: ‘I remember that she stood out for me. From early on, I could see what a leader she was, a quality that will hold her well in her career as a social worker.’ 

Her message to other students is: ‘Have dreams and let them drive you to reach greater heights. Ambition resides where there is a dream.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo and Sejal Desai

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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College of Humanities Boasts UKZN’s Youngest Teen Graduates!

College of Humanities Boasts UKZN’s Youngest Teen Graduates!
Teen graduates, Ms Avuyile Siphala (left) and Ms Nokwanda Nxumalo.

Ms Avuyile Siphala and Nokwanda Nxumalo graduated with their Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Sciences degrees respectively, and they are only 19-years-old! 

Siphala, known for her strong academic background, received a certificate of recognition for outstanding performance in her modules. She was also awarded a UKZN bursary for her academic prowess and was selected as part of the University’s Student Exchange Programme. Despite being unable to accept an opportunity to study abroad due to COVID-19 restrictions, she is still proud of her achievements. 

‘I am passionate about an institution like UKZN that recognises students’ hard work and provides a platform for better opportunities while teaching us about social life. UKZN is one of South Africa’s top-performing universities and I wanted to pursue my career in an institution that uses all available resources to help students reach their full potential,’ she said. 

Siphala comes from Lusikisiki, a small rural village in the Eastern Cape with little to no resources, particularly internet and computers. ‘I had to adapt, learn to use email and the internet. It was difficult for me and a challenge to study online. When I first started at UKZN, I had to grapple with using technology. There were times when I would arrive for class only to find that it had been cancelled or the location had changed. 

Because of this, I began using and checking my email often and every morning,’ she recalled. 

Siphala managed to strike a balance in her life: ‘As difficult as it was to juggle my studies with family responsibilities, I made a schedule to dedicate specific times for the two,’ she said. 

Siphala was raised by her single mother and is one of four siblings. She attended Mvimvane Junior Secondary School and Toli Senior Secondary School. ‘My family have been my greatest supporters. They always encouraged me,’ she said. She is studying towards her Honours in Psychology with the aim of helping people. 

Nxumalo, who is thrilled to graduate from UKZN, dedicated her degree to her family. She hails from rural Mbazwana in uMhlabuyalingana, and is one of seven family members. Her father died when Siphala was only three years old leaving her mother to raise her single-handedly. Despite hardships, Nxumalo’s mother fully supported her academic journey. 

‘I wanted to help my family and decided to follow in the footsteps of my uncle who is a UKZN alumnus. UKZN has always been my dream. My uncle always regaled us with stories of studying here and shared all his fondest memories and life lessons at UKZN. Listening to him, I knew I wanted to be part of the University. And I did! I got to know lots of amazing people from different walks of life, made special memories and learned as much as I could,’ said Nxumalo. 

She even battled depression during her first year at University. ‘I would isolate myself from everyone. It was my hardest academic year. I realised that I needed to see my academic journey through not just for me, but for my family. I wasn’t going to quit and with that mindset, I beat my depression. It was freeing,’ she said. 

Nxumalo is grateful to her friends and family who kept her going and supported her throughout her academic journey. She is completing her Honours in Community Development. ‘I plan on returning home and assisting our local Department of Social Development in developing our rural community. I want to inspire the youth to look beyond village life and see all the opportunities that the world has to offer them. Nothing is impossible,’ she said. 

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan   


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First Deaf SASL User to Graduate from UKZN

First Deaf SASL User to Graduate from UKZN
Ms Voloshni Annamallay graduated with an Honours in Criminology and Forensic Studies.

Walking into the Graduation hall and stepping onto the podium to be capped and hooded was as much a tremendous achievement for Ms Voloshni Annamallay as it was for the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Congratulations are in order for UKZN’s first-ever Deaf graduate to acquire both undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications using South African Sign Language (SASL) as a means of communication.   

“My legs were shaking as I got closer to the stage. Wow! I felt overwhelmed and honoured,” said a tearful Annamallay who graduated with an Honours Degree in Criminology and Forensic Studies. Annamallay’s graduation ceremony was held at the UKZN Westville campus on 16 May 2022. 

Proud parents Popsy and Siven Annamallay, who attended the ceremony said they stood up to cheer and applause as loudly as they possibly could. “I couldn’t hold back my tears. We are so proud of our daughter,” said mother, Popsy. 

“Twenty-four years ago - the moment I came to know that my daughter who was just one-and-a-half years old at the time, was never going to be able to hear again - I couldn’t imagine her future. I didn’t know if she’d go to school let alone university. I thought she’d fall by the wayside but as she got older she got more and more academically inclined. She just grew. She never failed a year of school. She showed me she’d do well but I never realised she’d be this great woman she’s become,” added Popsy. 

Breaking through tremendous barriers during her academic journey, Annamallay is a role model for all people with disabilities who dream of attaining a Higher Education qualification. 

“I am able. You are able.” Is her rallying call to the youth in South Africa’s hard of hearing community. 

“You can do it, nothing is stopping you from what you aspire to become or do, you must simply believe that you can and make and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals,” said Annamallay. “Yes, I am Deaf and faced many challenges during my studies but I made it through all the way from my first year of studies until now. I can do anything except hear!” she added. 

A passion to help seek justice for victims of crime in South Africa led Annamallay to enrol in Criminology studies, “I have a vision for a brighter and safer country for all people and I will work towards making that vision a reality.” 

She described her learning experience as “overwhelming and daunting. It was quite difficult to adjust at the beginning, being in classes full of hearing individuals and also navigating the social aspect of being on campus as well as finding my own way of communicating with individuals who had not been in close contact with a Deaf person before. 

“I am thankful to have made many friends and acquaintances from the Disability Unit and the University at large, proving that Deaf people can take up space and easily integrate with individuals from different walks of life. Communication may have been a barrier but the willingness of people to learn how to communicate with me was very comforting.” 

UKZN’s Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo, said the Institution was extremely proud of Annamallay and her highly commendable achievement. “Annamallay has not only achieved highly for herself but also for UKZN and the Deaf community as a whole. Her academic journey has also given the University critical experience in supporting future Deaf students.”   

UKZN Disability Co-ordinator, Mr Nevil Balakrishna, who has worked closely with Annamallay since the start of her academic journey in 2016 praised her for being one of only a few Deaf young people to gain admission and complete studies at tertiary level in South Africa. “Among factors causing low admission rates are the demands of Sign Language and the low pass rate among Deaf learners who are expected to blend into a highly verbal and written space using South African Sign Language which is a developing language. The lack of academic signs and fast-paced learning demanded for success presents the Deaf student with a myriad of challenges and barriers,” said Balakrishna. 

“This is all the more reason why Annamallay’s achievement is highly commendable. She has paved the way for other Deaf students who aspire towards Higher Education and given the Deaf community a voice that provides greater impact to the motto of the disability rights movement: ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’.” 

Annamallay has applied to study further and is also looking to step into the working world. 

Words: Sejal Desai

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Emotional UKZN Student Defies the Odds

Emotional UKZN Student Defies the Odds
An emotional Mr Dumisani Ngobese graduates from UKZN.

An emotional 23-year-old Mr Dumisani Ngobese could not hold back his tears as he walked the University’s graduation stage after being conferred with a Bachelor of Arts degree. 

Ngobese - who is now pursuing his Honours at UKZN - said he was overcome with emotions as he reflected on what he described as a “long and difficult” journey. 

He was raised by his maternal grandmother in Bhukhanana, a rural area outside eMpangeni. She was a street vendor and sole breadwinner, so said Ngobese, in a house where there were over 10 children. 

Unfortunately for Ngobese, his grandmother could not make the trip to see him graduate due to poor health. ‘It was going to be difficult for her because she is not well and she would have had to take about three taxis to get here. But my mother and aunt were present at the Graduation,’ he said. 

While he could not afford to buy a suit for graduation, as many of his peers did, missing his Graduation Ceremony was not an option. ‘I could not afford to buy a suit but I just had to be there at Graduation,’ he said. 

Pictures of an emotional Ngobese in tears on stage were shared on UKZN’s social media platforms. The posts went viral with thousands of South Africans offering words of encouragement and some pledging various donations. 

Durban businessman, Mr Calvin Mathibeli was so moved by Ngobese’s story that he decided to create a permanent post for the young graduate. He has also undertaken to pay for Ngobese’s honours degree studies. 

‘I was so moved by his story because of his resilience but also because of the similarities that we have in terms of background,’ said Mathibeli who owns Calvin and Family Group of companies. 

According to the 34-year-old businessman, the group has interests in agriculture and minerals and has 12 subsidiaries with offices in seven provinces and a presence in Namibia and Lesotho. 

‘I had other vacancies but I thought let me create one, especially for Dumisani. He will be starting work on Monday, it will be a good position and a permanent one. He said he is studying online and we will also be paying for his studies.’ 

Mathibeli said he will also groom Ngobese in business should he also want to pursue this path. ‘Of course, business is not for everyone. What we will do is to find out what his dreams are and we will complement them,’ he said. 

Mathibeli said Ngobese’s story resonated with his own experiences. ‘I was also raised by my grandmother in a big family but our resilience has made us who we are. I want to ensure that Ngobese is able to earn a living so that he can also contribute to his family. All I need from him is to respect the job.’ 

Words: Bheki Mbanjwa

Photograph: Sethu Dlamini


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Master’s for Gift of the Givers Co-founder

Master’s for Gift of the Givers Co-founder
Mrs Zorah Ismail Sooliman is seen with her husband, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

Mrs Zorah Ismail Sooliman (57), co-founder of the humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers Foundation, graduated recently from UKZN with her Master’s in Social Sciences for research that examined the lived experiences of Muslim women in a polygamous marriage in Durban and its surrounding areas. 

Attending her graduation was daughter Samee’a and husband, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman who said he was ‘proud of her achievement.’ 

Throughout her life, Ismail Sooliman has been an advocate for women empowerment, independence and education. She continuously encourages women to pursue their talents and abilities. ‘We must use our abilities and skills to contribute to the communities we come from to make a difference in their lives,’ she said. 

Ismail Sooliman has been at the forefront of the Foundation with her husband since its inception in 1992. Very early in their marriage, she raised their four daughters and only son while her husband flew off to war zones delivering aid to those who needed it the most. She remains the anchor to the family and is still quite active in the Foundation. 

After seeing women in polygamous marriages distraught and broken by their husbands taking on a second or subsequent wife, she started running a counseling service called the Gift of the Givers Careline Counselling Service. This service has grown immensely and now extends to the public free of charge through telephone and face-to-face counselling. 

She hopes that by gathering the experience of women who are in such situations for her master’s research, it will create awareness in society, particularly amongst men and religious leaders. ‘People will understand and be compassionate towards women who are going through such relationships. It will provide education to them and the communities they come from,’ she said. 

She advised other scholars to work hard, be disciplined, determined and keep focused on the end goal. She is grateful for her support system which consists of family, friends, work colleagues and her research supervisor. 

Ismail Sooliman plans to continue her work with the Gift of the Givers Foundation and encourages the public to do good always. 

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Best Treatment Practices for PTSD Dissociative Sub-Type Explored in Honours

Best Treatment Practices for PTSD Dissociative Sub-Type Explored in Honours
Summa cum laude graduate, Ms Nonhle Masondo.

An excited Ms Nonhle Masondo graduated summa cum laude with her Honours in Social Sciences.

Masondo started her academic journey with the College of Humanities as a student of the Humanities Access Programme. 

The Programme - offered in the Teaching and Learning Unit - is the first year of a four-year (Extended Curriculum) Bachelor of Social Science degree (BSS4). The Programme caters for students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds in order to redress inequalities of the past. It aims to develop students in areas of academic and psycho-social skills that are required for success at university. The programme also prepares and supports students to meet the challenges of university study. 

‘I am extremely proud of myself and all that I have achieved so far. I worked hard and pushed myself to excel. My goal was to succeed academically,’ said Masondo. 

Her honours research explores best treatment practices for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dissociative sub-type. PTSD is a mental health condition that only develops after a person goes through or witnesses a life-threatening event. 

Masondo’s research determines and explains the best treatment practices for an event that can lead to PTSD. 

‘Stress reactions to such events are normal, and most people feel better after a few weeks or months. However, it is of significance that people have access to the help that they need when going through such a period,’ she explained. 

Masondo is hopeful that her research will educate society and destigmatise PTSD. ‘My research can help individuals identify and learn about PTSD symptoms and the varied treatments available to cope with this disorder. By understanding different types of treatment for PTSD dissociative sub-types, it can help individuals gain some semblance of normalcy in their lives,’ she said. 

Despite battling financial difficulties, stress and sleepless nights, Masondo is thankful to her family, friends and supervisor for being her support system and keeping her motivated ‘when she felt like quitting’. 

‘Every once in a while, my family would call and ask how I was doing and give me some encouragement, and my friends would sometimes come to visit and even take me for a walk just to clear my head,’ she added. 

She advises other students to set manageable goals for their research and work towards it. Masondo plans to pursue her master’s and eventually, a PhD. 

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan 


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Double Celebration for Graduate Sisters

Double Celebration for Graduate Sisters
Ms Sibusisiwe Masondo (right) and Ms Dintle Masondo.

Sisters and best friends, Ms Sibusisiwe and Ms Dintle Masondo enjoyed raiding each another’s closets, choosing each other’s outfits, and dressing up together ahead of their graduation ceremonies in which they both received their honours degrees. 

For her Cultural Heritage and Tourism degree, Dintle explored the need for decolonisation of the Ncome Museum as a heritage site while for her Law degree, Sibusisiwe investigated human law violations of sex workers. 

Only 11 months apart, the sisters share a close bond. A jovial Dintle said the pair is inseparable, so much so that Sibusisiwe considered taking a gap year after completing matric in the hopes of starting her university journey with her sister. However, this idea wasn’t favoured by their parents who encouraged Sibusisiwe to keep her momentum going with no breaks in-between. 

Once Dintle joined UKZN the following year, the sisters supported each other, travelling to campus together and studying side-by-side. ‘We work well together. She talks to me about law and I talk to her about my stuff. Neither of us fully understanding the other’s field of study, but we’re always learning from each other,’ said Dintle. 

Both sisters are deeply motivated by a need to help others, adding that their parents, Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo and Professor Sibusiso Masondo who are both academics at UKZN, had been great role models in this respect. 

The proud parents sat on the graduation stage as part of the academic procession, bearing witness to their daughters’ graduations. 

Dintle said she felt emotional when her mom stood up, danced and ululated while her dad took photos of her special moment on stage. 

Sibusisiwe said she was gripped by anxiety ahead of her ceremony. If not for her mom, she almost didn’t make it on stage. ‘I was quite nervous about having to walk up in front a large crowd but my mom coaxed me to be brave. My fear disappeared once I got on stage and saw the faces of my parents. It was a special moment. All my hard work had led up to this point,’ she said. 

With immense gratitude to her parents for their love and support, Sibusisiwe added that she felt her certificate belonged to her mother more than herself. ‘I want to give her the original certificate because I could never have accomplished any of this without her love and support.’ 

Kgari-Masondo said she was ‘proud and excited to have raised two strong women who are going to go out into the world, implement what they’ve learnt at university and have an impact on the community.’

Masondo said watching his daughters graduate was incredibly special: ‘I’m happy for them and for us as a family.’ 

Dintle’s research was born from a field trip to Ncome Museum in which she identified that the museum lacked an Afrocentric view. She believes that her research will benefit society by showing the world that ‘museums need to be unbiased when portraying history, there needs to be a balance and the history portrayed needs to be authentic.’ 

‘It should not only be a Eurocentric view but also an Afrocentric or decolonial view,’ she said. Besides having enthusiasm for academia, Dintle realised the importance of the tourism industry, adding: ‘Tourism has grown to be one of the strongest economic supports for our country. I want to contribute towards strengthening this industry for future generations.’ 

Despite obstacles caused by COVID-19 restrictions, she said getting a distinction for her research was the highlight of her study and sharing the moment with her sister was equally amazing. 

The sisters have strengthened their relationship through their honours journey. ‘We created study timetables. We also had a day during the week where we would have lunch, talk about our struggles and give each other constructive criticism and feedback,’ said Dintle. 

Speaking about her research, Sibusisiwe said: ‘The idea of doing research was something that appealed to my inquisitive nature. I was reading a specific article for an elective and came across a specific sentence that appealed to me which piqued my interest in sex workers’ rights.’ 

Her study investigated daily human rights violations against sex workers as a result of their work being criminalised. She explored the stigma associated with sex work and how it creates perpetual trauma which leads to drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. Her study also looked into the violence sex workers experience at the hands of their clients, the brutality they experience at the hands of police officials, as well as the lack of access to health care. 

Sibusisiwe’s findings indicate that ‘society and the law seek to dispose or erase the existence of sex workers by allowing the system to fail them in various spheres which dehumanise them.’ 

‘This in turn creates the notion that sex workers are disposable. Their dehumanisation brings about a stereotypical outlook on them. My research will thus contribute to their humanisation.’ 

The Masondo sisters advised postgraduate students to choose a study that will benefit society, always stay focused while practising time management, and to contribute to the process of knowledge production and transformation. 

They plan to pursue their master’s degrees and are grateful to their supervisors, Dr Gabriel Darong and Dr Janine Hicks. 

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela and Sejal Desai

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan   


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Multi-Nominated Gospel Artist Graduates with Music Degree

Multi-Nominated Gospel Artist Graduates with Music Degree
Bachelor of Arts in Music graduate and musician, Mr Lwazi Khuzwayo.

Recording gospel artist, Mr Lwazi Khuzwayo was ecstatic to graduate from UKZN with his Bachelor of Arts in Music

His newly released single: Jesus I Love You scored him two Crown Gospel Music Awards nominations and one Ingoma Awards nomination. 

His song has been featured on Apple Music’s “Mzansi Gospel” playlist for the past eight months after its release. His music video exclusively premiered on TRACE Gospel, featuring on the Hit 30, Hits & Lyrics and Hits Non-Stop playlists. The music video shot to number 1 on One Gospel’s Top 10 countdown. 

Khuzwayo hails from Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. The song which Khuzwayo co-wrote with his friend, Mr Lindokuhle Moloi, was composed after an intense worship session at his church when his friend, Mr Zwe Kunene, started playing a chord progression along with a melody.  

‘This Music degree means so many things to me. It shows how anything you put your mind to is possible. This started as a dream and now has become a reality. I am looking forward to becoming a music educator and the many lives I’m going to impact,’ he said. 

Khuzwayo advised emerging artists and students saying: ‘The most important thing to do is to start. You will never know how it will turn out unless you try. Don’t be afraid to consult those who came before you if you don’t understand. The journey will be like a rollercoaster, but when the tough times come, keep your head held up high and have faith that there’s light at the end of a tunnel.’ 

Of his future plans, he said: ‘I am planning on releasing new music under my own recording label LK Music, do more shows, and so much more. I also have a strong passion for harmony so I am working on my vocal series which will be available on all of my social media platforms.’ 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Doctoral Study Explores the Drivers of Sexual Violence Against Women

Doctoral Study Explores the Drivers of Sexual Violence Against Women
Dr Josphine Hapazari graduates with a PhD in Sociology.

Dr Josphine Hapazari, a part-time lecturer at the National University of Lesotho, was thrilled to graduate with a PhD in Sociology for her research that explored the drivers of sexual violence against women and the possible mitigation strategies that can be implemented to combat the scourge. 

Hapazari’s research was influenced by the observations she made on numerous cases of violence against women that were occurring in the Maseru district in Lesotho, particularly sexual violence. ‘My aim was to make a positive contribution to the fight against gender-based violence through research and policy,’ she said.

She strongly believes that her research will contribute to the manner in which sexual violence cases are handled and to the body of knowledge on violence against women. Her research unearthed that sexual violence against women is driven by factors such as masculinity, patriarchy, gender socialisation and gender inequalities. ‘Collecting data from male perpetrators of sexual violence was a chilling experience but this process was made easier through the help of correctional facility officials and social workers.’ 

Hapazari added: ‘Chiefs and police officers do not have the requisite skills needed to handle sexual violence cases. They urgently require assistance in this regard in order for them to effectively assist survivors of sexual violence.’ 

She presented two research methodology papers based on her study at a conference hosted by the Faculty of Humanities at the National University of Lesotho. One of the hallmarks of her research is the contribution it has made to a sociological model on the drivers, dynamics, mitigation strategies and challenges, which expounds on the nexus of these concepts. 

Hapazari thanked her support system of the Bhiri family (paternal), Ndonde family (maternal), her husband Innocent, children, friends, workmates and supervisor. ‘They kept reminding me that I am capable of excelling and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Music also played a role. Soothing songs that my niece, Ofentse Rammuki, sang for me kept me sane throughout my studies.’ 

Hapazari is delighted that she completed her studies in time. She advised other students to ‘avoid walking the academic journey alone.’ 

‘Spare some time to attend academic seminars and conferences, avoid distractions such as social media and create a conducive environment for studying effectively,’ she said. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Graduation Celebrations for Mother and Son

Graduation Celebrations for Mother and Son
Mrs Nomsa Ndlovu and her son Qhawe.

Mr Qhawe Ndlovu, who hails from Northdene, recently graduated from UKZN with his Bachelor of Arts Honours (Digital Arts). 

He celebrated with his mother, Mrs Nomsa Ndlovu, who is a UKZN staff member. An excited Ndlovu was guided on stage by his mother to accept his degree. 

‘I am so proud of my eldest son. He has worked so hard and put in many hours to achieve his degree,’ said Nomsa. 

‘I am a very happy parent right now. It was a long and difficult road for Qhawe to get to this point. It has been an exciting time for our family. It has been surreal. The joy of seeing him finishing this long journey is indescribable.’ 

Ndlovu is an experienced freelance artist with a demonstrated history of working in the animation industry. ‘I am constantly improving my craft and skills. Achieving this degree is an amazing feeling,’ he said. 

‘I had never expected to feel this excited about the occasion but once you get there and see your family and friends cheering you on, there is an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement that doesn’t stop even when the Graduation is over. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I’ll never forget this,’ he added. 

His research is an investigation and analysis of contemporary 2D animation within the 20th and 21st centuries. 

He advised other students ‘to work hard, set goals and work towards achieving them.’ 

Words:  Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Community-Led AIDS Interventions Examined in PhD Research

Community-Led AIDS Interventions Examined in PhD Research
UKZN lecturer, Dr Mkhonzeni Gumede received a PhD in Media and Communication.

Dr Mkhonzeni Gumede, UKZN lecturer at the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) graduated with his PhD in Media and Communication for investigating Lessons Learnt from Community-Led AIDS Interventions in a South African Context. 

He explored community participation in community-led interventions using the Woza Asibonisane Community Responses Project implemented by The Valley Trust organisation in informal settlements and rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal. 

For over a decade, Gumede worked in the health communication field implementing health communication programmes and campaigns in South Africa. This is what motivated him to develop his research skills through his PhD and contribute to scholarship in the field of communication for social change. 

His study aimed to understand how community-led HIV and AIDS interventions can be improved in the ongoing fight against the disease. He examined lessons learned from AIDS interventions carried out in South Africa as well as strategies used to amplify community voices. 

Said Gumede: ‘My findings reveal that funders have predetermined project objectives that make it difficult for communities to lead HIV and AIDS response efforts. Power relations may complicate community participation projects, but they should be considered, planned for, and mitigated.’ 

Gumede spoke about his unemployment challenges and COVID-19 disruptions which led him to do consultancy work so he could pay his bills. ‘I was studying full-time, which meant I was unemployed and had no income. I had hoped that a bursary would cover my living expenses while I studied. For students over 40 years of age, these opportunities are rare,’ he said. 

Despite these challenges, he admits that he and his wife enrolling for their PhD degrees together was a highlight in his doctoral studies journey. Working as a team, the pair was able to balance school and home duties. 

For Gumede, getting his PhD is a final win. ‘I feel as though I have finally removed the monkey on my back…extremely happy to have finally achieved the highest qualification according to the NQF levels.’ 

Advising students, he said they ‘must stay social and not walk the academic journey alone,’ adding that ‘they should walk with their families and their support networks.’ 

Gumede plans to publish aspects of his PhD and use them to influence the practice in the field of health communication. 

A family holiday is on the cards to celebrate his academic achievement. 

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan     


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Social Sciences Honours Degree for Hardworking UKZN Staffer

Social Sciences Honours Degree for Hardworking UKZN Staffer
Mrs Ronica Bagwandin graduated with an Honours degree in Criminology and Forensic Studies

UKZN staff member, Mrs Ronica Bagwandin, is thrilled to be graduating with her Honours degree in Criminology and Forensic Studies

Achieving four Certificates of Merit and two A’s during her postgraduate degree culminated to a total of 12 Certificates of Merit and 13 A’s in her academic journey. ‘I am ecstatic to be graduating this year because my undergraduate degree was a virtual ceremony. This year is special because we get to physically graduate which has always seemed like a farfetched goal of mine.’ 

She added: ‘My degrees serve as a motivation for my younger son, Revaan, who is in matric this year. When I chose to study, it was to inspire both my sons to be the best they can be. It certainly proved fruitful.’ 

Her research was a group project centred on gender-based violence (GBV) which predominantly focused on the “marginalised” lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community in KwaMashu. ‘With the recent spate of hate crimes committed against LGBTQ individuals, as a group, we collectively decided to focus our study on violence based on gender differences,’ she said. 

Bagwandin believes a good support structure at home and work helped her achieve her degree. ‘It was difficult at most times but the reward of all the sacrifices and late nights have made it all worthwhile.’ 

She thanked her family, friends and work colleagues for encouraging her during her studies. ‘My husband, Naresh, has been my pillar through it all, and my manager, Mdukhy Mabaso, together with my colleagues at the Department of Student Residence Affairs (DSRA) in Pietermaritzburg have been amazing.’ 

Offering advice to other students, she said: ‘You have opportunities to succeed through education in the palms of your hands now. If you tilt your palm, you run the risk of losing it all, causing regret later in life.’ 

With outstanding achievements and a passion for research, Bagwandin is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Sciences focusing on Criminology and Forensic Science. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Doctoral Study Investigates Public Participation Within SABC Radio Stations

Doctoral Study Investigates Public Participation Within SABC Radio Stations
Founder and CEO of Ilada Holdings, Dr Sanele Gamede.

Motivational speaker, Dr Sanele Gamede graduated from UKZN recently with his PhD in Cultural and Media Studies

His study investigates public participation within SABC radio stations using the talkshows Sithakela Isizwe on Ukhozi FM and The View Point on SAfm as case studies. 

‘Radio, around the world has always been and remains one of the most useful, available, and affordable mediums. Radio has remained relevant and continues to build communities through programming. One of the roles of the media, especially a public service broadcaster such as the SABC, is to create and promote a platform for fair public engagement,’ said Gamede. 

‘It is on this platform that citizens behave as a public body, and can confer in an unrestricted fashion, that is, with the guarantee of freedom of assembly, association and the freedom to express and publish their opinions about matters of general interest,’ he added. 

Gamede found that the mechanisms of participatory practice, including social media, allowed the SABC to create an accountable virtual public sphere. ‘Radio presenters, producers, and the radio management have an influence not only in programming, but they also have influence on who gets to participate either as a guest or from the public. SABC radio stations need to constantly check and balance between self-regulation and censorship.’ 

He thanked his family, friends and supervisor for being his support system. 

Gamede is a lecturer at Varsity College, an author of the books: The Graduate Pack, Practical Guide for Job Seekers; Finishing your Qualification in Record Time, a Guide for Students and How to Earn your Degree Online, a Response to the Changing World. He is also the Founder and CEO of Ilada Holdings, a personal development and training company. He runs different youth skills development initiatives such as the Free Mentorship at the Park Programme. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal


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Guy-Talk: A Discursive Analysis of Men’s Responsibility in Contraceptive Use

Guy-Talk: A Discursive Analysis of Men’s Responsibility in Contraceptive Use
Master’s in Research Psychology graduate, Mr Brett Marshall.

Mr Brett Marshall graduated with his Master’s in Research Psychology

His study focuses on the relationship between gendered discourses and responsibility in contraceptive use, examining how discursive positioning within discourses of sexuality and masculinity affects the way young heterosexual men construct and delegate responsibility in contraceptive practices as well as how young men engage with sexual health. 

Findings revealed that sexual practices, and relatedly sexual health practices, were highly gendered. Discourses which were drawn on tended to represent an ideology of male dominance and female subservience. ‘Sex was constructed as highly masculine while conversely, sexual health practices were feminised. This reinforced the idea that women should bear primary responsibility for sexual health and contraceptive practices,’ explained Marshall. 

His study highlights the need for different masculinity practices being made available to men. ‘These practices should incorporate ideas of shared contraceptive responsibility and challenge constructions of male dominance and female subservience. Men need to be provided with a safe space in which they can explore the topic of sexual health without fear of emasculation,’ he said. 

Marshall thanked his family, friends and supervisor, Professor Mary van der Riet, for their support. 

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan  


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