School of Education hosts 2017 Minquiz KZN Regional Competition

School of Education hosts 2017 Minquiz KZN Regional Competition
Seen are some of the highlights of the 2017 Minquiz KZN Regional Competition.

The School of Education recently hosted the Minquiz Regional Competition, an annual national Science and Mathematics competition for Grade 12 learners.

Close to 120 high school learners from various high schools, accompanied by their teachers, attended and participated in the competition held at Edgewood campus.

The competition has written and oral components. Mintek sponsors the entire event including lunch, prizes and accommodation and air-tickets for the final KZN team to participate in the national finals.

According to UKZN academic and Co-ordinator of Mintek-KZN Regional Quiz, Dr Nadaraj Govender, the School has hosted the competition for the last 17 years. The competition aims to encourage interest in careers in Science, Engineering and Technology, especially in minerals and metallurgy, and to promote an awareness of the importance of minerals and metallurgy to South Africa.

Govender explained that participating learners write a preliminary multiple-choice question test individually, followed by competing as a team during a live, on-stage oral quiz, also with multiple-choice questions.

‘Semi-finals are held in all nine provinces on the same day and the finals will be held in Johannesburg on 18-19 July. Questions are in the areas of Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and general knowledge in Science, Engineering and Technology, and are in line with the National Curriculum,’ said Govender. Teacher Mr Vincent S Khuluse from Wiggens Secondary will chaperone the KZN team to Mintek finals.

Speaking at the event, Mintek Engineer Mr Sibabalwa Mxinwa encouraged all learners to pursue a career in Science, Engineering and Technology while addressing the various bursaries, funding and career options at Mintek.

Winners of the regional competition were grouped into Gold or Platinum categories based on the school’s historical resources and results.

The top three winners for the written quiz from the Platinum category are Mr Hendrik Pieter le Roux (Maritzburg College), Mr Rorke Matthew Lilford (Westville Boys) and Daiman Somerville (Westville Boys). From the Gold Category, winners were Mr Yanga Austine Jafta (Wiggens Secondary), Mr Sibusiso Gerald Zitha (Siyamukela High) and Ms Thabisile Ntokozo Mthembu (Thubelihle High).

The top five schools in the written quiz in the Platinum category were Maritzburg College (1st), Westville Boys’ High (2nd), Star College (3rd), Kingsway High (4th) and New Forest High (5th). In the Gold category were Wiggens Secondary (1st), Adams College (2nd), Ohlange Secondary (3rd), Siyamukela High (4th) and Lincoln Heights Secondary (5th).

The top five schools in the oral quiz in the Platinum category were Star College (1st), Kingsway High (2nd) and Maritzburg College (3rd). In the Gold category were Wiggens Secondary (1st), Adams College (2nd) and Lincoln Heights Secondary (3rd).

Ms Thembeka Nyuswa, a Science teacher at Adams College, one of the winning schools said, ‘This competition is a great way for learners to become interested in the Science field. They gain more confidence, more exposure to life after school and the possibilities for success that Science offers. I would encourage more schools to enter and be a part of this.’

Govender thanked the science cluster team comprising of academic and administrative staff and B.Ed students for their support in organising the event.

Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Melissa Mungroo, Nadaraj Govender


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Department of Correctional Services holds Orientation Session for Criminology and Forensic Studies Students

Department of Correctional Services holds Orientation Session for Criminology and Forensic Studies Students
From left, Mr Azwihangwisi Nesengani, Professor Shanta B Singh, Ms Vuyelwa Maweni, Mr Justice Sihlangu, Mr Siyanda Dlamini, Dr Witness Maluleke, Dr Sazelo Mkhize and Mr B G Motloung.

The Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) Chief Deputy Commissioner (CDC): Incarceration and Corrections recently approved the Experiential Learning Co-ordinating Committee’s 2017 Orientation Session for UKZN’s Criminology student volunteers.

Representatives from the department, Mr B G Motloung, Mr Azwihangwisi Nesengani and Mr Justice Sihlangu, facilitated the orientation session.

The aim of the orientation was to provide an overview of the community profiling and to assist criminology students to understand the environment. They encouraged students to volunteer on the criminology profiling learning programme.

The Experiential Learning Project, which started in 2015, by DCS and UKZN’s Criminology and Forensic Studies discipline, the project, is a historic moment for the University and the College of Humanities.

Professor Shanta Balgobind Singh said, ‘The Experiential Learning programme is important for students because it will improve their learning and experience and it will boost their curricula vitae (CVs).’

The DCS ensured students that their safety would be the priority. The Director for Community Liaison at the department, Mr Azwihangwisi Nesenganeni, said ‘The DCS will take responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all the students who will participate in this Project.’

The orientation was based on community profiling and correctional centre in which students were encouraged to do both.

A Masters student who participated in the programme in 2016, Ms Thandanani Ngidi advised students to grab the opportunity with both hands. ‘This is a great opportunity; therefore I would like to encourage all the students to take this opportunity. For me, it was an incredible experience, I learnt a lot and I got the chance to see what is untold. On the first day, it will be scary but working with the inmates will change your perceptions towards them.’

In addition, the students were also advised to volunteer to centres that are close to their place of residence. Honours student Ms Lindokuhle Tshayingca said, ‘This was very helpful. I am very keen to participate. I will do community profiling and volunteer at the correctional centre.’

Professor Singh said that efforts to renew the MOU between UKZN and DCS for the next 5 years is underway.

Nomcebo Mncube

Photograph: Siyanda Dlamini


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Diabetes Expert Appointed to Board of International Journal

Diabetes Expert Appointed to Board of International Journal
Professor Shahidul Islam.

Professor Shahidul Islam of the Discipline of Biochemistry in the School of Life Sciences has been appointed to serve on the Board of the UK-based Food and Nutrition Report journal.

As a board member, Islam will be required to review articles in his area of expertise and assign reviewers to articles submitted for publication. He will also develop special issues on pertinent topics in Food and Nutrition Research and write editorials on recent developments in this arena. The journal is contributing considerably to Food and Nutrition Research by publishing excellent research. Acting as an editorial board member will afford Islam the opportunity to become acquainted with a wide range of international research.

Islam is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry with more than eight years’ teaching experience in Biochemistry and Metabolism, and chairs the University’s Animal Research Ethics Committee (AREC). The NRF C2-rated researcher is recognised for his expertise in the field of type 2 diabetes and obesity, the latter a major contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes in individuals. He has published seven book chapters and more than 70 full-length articles in international peer-reviewed journals. He has also, delivered a number of lectures around the world and was a recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Teachers’ Award in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. Islam has supervised more than 35 postgraduate students from honours through postdoctoral studies, and teaches undergraduate to honours level classes.

His research has involved the development of animal models of type 2 diabetes, antidiabetic intervention trials of various medicinal and functional foods, food supplements, artificial sweeteners, sugar substitutes, and medicinal plant extracts (including fractions and isolated pure compounds from these) and underlying molecular mechanisms behind their effects targeting novel drug discovery and better management of diabetes.

Islam and colleagues have developed two animal models of type 2 diabetes in use by researchers around the world, with growing global collaborations with institutions like the Paris Diderot University. Their work on sugar alcohols have also drawn attention from researchers at a Swiss hospital where Islam was a Visiting Professor. Research conducted by his team on medicinal plants is also gaining global attraction.

Islam, who is on the editorial boards of more than five other international, peer-reviewed journals in his field, has been invited to deliver a keynote address at the International Conference on Diabetes and Phytotherapy (ICDP)-2017 in India in August 2017, as well as to serve on their international advisory board.

Christine Cuénod


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UKZN Inspiring Greatness through Sport

UKZN Inspiring Greatness through Sport
Bels students engages communities through sports.

UKZN Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences students hosted a Health and Wellness Day programme for the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality Transport Authority (ETA) employees as part of the students’ community engagement project.

The event, planned and implemented by the fourth-year Leisure Sciences students, took place at the Hoy Park Sport Grounds in Durban.

‘The purpose of the event was to improve health and the wellness of the employees and to encourage an active lifestyle habit,’ said Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences lecturer Mr Patrick Zimu.

About 120 eThekwini Transport Authority Staff members participated in recreational activities such as aerobics, indigenous games, cricket, netball and football.

The students were also involved in a Senior Citizens’ event hosted by the eThekwini Municipality held in collaboration with the Department. That event took place at Nagina Sports Grounds outside Durban.

‘The purpose of the event was to encourage active aging and to foster social cohesion amongst the elderly,’ said honours student Mr Thabiso Msomi.

The students planned and facilitated health and wellness activities for the elderly. Approximately 400 senior citizens from the north and west regions of the eThekwini Metropolitan municipality attended.

Nombuso Dlamini


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Hosting of SAIEE-EECE Research Day

Hosting of SAIEE-EECE Research Day
Presenters and Delegates at the SAIEE-EECE Research Day.

The SAIEE-EECE Research day event was recently held at the Smart Grid Centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN’s) Westville campus. The event was a joint initiative between the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and the Discipline of Electrical, Electronic Engineering and Computer Engineering (EECE) from the School of Engineering at UKZN.

Dr Andrew Swanson of EECE and Gill Nortier of SAIEE co-ordinated the event. The objective of hosting such an event was to showcase the type of research work carried out in EECE to industry, relevant partners and potential postgraduate students.

Swanson welcomed the attendees, followed by Professor Randhir Rawatlal who gave an insightful view of the Research work carried out in the School of Engineering. Rawatlal, the Academic Leader for Research at the School of Engineering said, ‘Hosting such events is imperative to bridge the gap between industry and academic’.

The tour of Smart Grid proved to be informative for both academia and industry.

Presenters included academics from the EECE who presented on the research work carried out in computer engineering, power engineering, communications, smart grid research and superconductivity. Departmental member, Mr Trevor Lorimer presented his research work on Power Line Inspection Robot. The project is run in collaboration with Eskom and recently received funding from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs. Lorimer presented a brief history of the inspection robot development, as well as its state of readiness for industrial use.

In addition, EECE managed to get UKZN InQubate Director Mrs Suvina Singh who presented on the importance of protecting Intellectual Property (IP) arising from research through patents and industrial designs. She stressed that patent applications must be filed before publication of the research, as publication destroys the possibility of obtaining patent protection. Singh also explained that researchers listed as inventors on patents would receive a share of the revenues on sale or upon licensing of such patents. In addition, researchers that were entrepreneurially inclined could also participate in startup companies based on their IP.

The 85 attendees included guests from Eskom, Ethekwini Electricity, DGI Consulting, Aurecon South Africa, Transnet Group Capital, SMEC South Africa, Bosch and ZML Africa.

Mr Jay Kalichuran, a Senior Manager at eThekwini Electricity said: ‘The event provided an opportunity for academics looking for research topics, industry seeking innovation and solutions for the future and UKZN providing the platform and guidance.’

Leena Rajpal


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Distinguished Teachers’ Alumni Welcome Two More to the Fold

Distinguished Teachers’ Alumni Welcome Two More to the Fold
DTA recipients Dr Cecile Proches and Dr Vittorio Tramontin.

Two more UKZN academics entered the hallowed halls of the Distinguished Teachers’ Alumni this year.  The announcement was made at the University’s 2017 Graduation Ceremonies.

Dr Cecile Proches, lecturer in the Graduate School of Business and Leadership in the College of Law and Management Studies and Dr Vittorio Tramontin, lecturer in the School of Engineering in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science  join a long list of illustrious alumni dating back to 1995. The pair were honoured at a celebratory dinner hosted by the UKZN Teaching and Learning Office at the Maharani Hotel recently.

The master of ceremonies, Professor Nyna Amin, kicked off the event praising the recipients as extraordinary talent that promoted creative thinking and were successful in capturing the hearts and minds of their students.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld welcomed everyone and congratulated the recipients on their extraordinary effort. He thanked them for raising the standard of teaching and learning at the University.

Congratulating the distinguished teachers, Professor Bala Pillay, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning said, ‘Becoming effective teachers is a South African challenge, a challenge which UKZN’s teachers had embraced’. He added that academics needed to be committed to making strides in the area of decolonisation of our curriculum. This required innovative thinking and design strategies, including radical approaches to assessment.

Stephen Coetzee and Astrid Schmulian from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Accounting delivered the keynote address. They shared their thoughts on teaching, challenges experienced and their response to those challenges. Coetzee and Schmulian took the audience through the process they had undertaken to transform their teaching and research. They outlined how they searched for innovative ways to improve student outcomes. They reached into the students’ universe, embracing YouTube, flipping the rule-based lecture out of class to cyberspace, supported by Webinars and an AI tutor.

Dr Rubby Dhunpath, Director of Teaching and Learning had just returned from a Council on Higher Education/Department of Higher Education and Training national workshop on improving the effectiveness of university teaching. He recounted discussions around how universities needed to recognise and reward good teaching. He expressed pride at the monetary incentive of R75 000 for each distinguished teacher, which was amongst the highest awards for Teaching and Learning in the country.

Dr Vittorio Tramontin expressed his gratitude to the University for having selected him for this award. He went on to say that, he had become a teacher because he strongly believes in the power of education in advancing our society. He said education is the basis for improving ourselves as pro-active members of the community. He added that being at UKZN has been an exceptional learning experience and that he realised how deeply many of our students believe in Higher Education as the primary way to improve the lives of their families. As a teacher, he found this to be especially inspiring and an additional motivation to take greater responsibility to help students learn and work towards this end.

In her acceptance speech, Dr Cecile Proches expressed her gratitude to all of her mentors, teachers and family. She said that she was privileged to have had such excellent mentors who taught her how to work with postgraduate adult students and how to teach in an interactive manner. She said that she considered it a privilege to teach and supervise adult working students some of whom were in mid-management positions in the private and public sectors. She was grateful for the commitment displayed by her students and it was a pleasure to share with them the experience of being a working, part-time student and mother. She added that she was indeed honoured and humbled to receive this award.

Whilst only two awards were awarded this year, the University can confer up to four university-wide Distinguished Teachers’ Awards annually. Awardees are recognised at the annual Graduation Ceremonies and are able to showcase their work at the annual Teaching and Learning Conferences.

A video presentation captured the recipients in their classrooms as well interviews conducted with their students and colleagues. Students and peers alike were generous in their praise for both recipients of the Distinguished Teachers’ Awards.

The Distinguished Teachers’ Awards dinner recognises the previous recipients of the award as well as the role teaching and learning plays in promoting and supporting the educational endeavours of the University.

Indumathie Moodley


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Shaka Zulu’s Leadership Discussed at Africa Day Celebration

Shaka Zulu’s Leadership Discussed at Africa Day Celebration
Doctoral student at UKZN and Marketing Strategy Senior Lecturer at Mancosa, Mr Debapriyo Nag.

Research on King Shaka Zulu and how corporate strategy/leadership has evolved over time was the centre of discussion during a recent Africa Day event hosted by the International Office.

PhD student at UKZN and Marketing Strategy Senior Lecturer at Mancosa, Mr Debapriyo Nag spoke on the similarities of how King Shaka’s strategies could be compared to the current corporate marketing strategies. 

Presenting to a group of 50 international students, Nag spoke of the five characteristics that distinguished King Shaka from most of the leaders in our history.

He said the great Zulu king was a visionary because his vision was to unify the clan; courageous as he was open minded and adaptable to new ideas which were evident in how he changed the face of the battle; full of endurance for his ability to go through difficulties, he was inspiring as he always inspired others to enrol and be part of the battle, and lastly he was accountable.

Nag said King Shaka was a genius who came up with a number of innovations, as his focus was to create an empire. Nag said he made people believe in his vision.

Nag said there was a connection between the warfare and current marketing. He said today’s battlefield is the consumer’s mind space that companies are fighting for. 

He said choosing battles and fighting battles are very different, and competitors are always “your closest friend”. He said innovation changes the face of any business and children should be groomed from a young age compared to how King Shaka trained men from a young age.

Sithembile Shabangu


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First Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship (TEAEAS) Candidate Appointed as Lecturer

First Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship (TEAEAS) Candidate Appointed as Lecturer
Dr Nontobeko Mvubu.

Twenty-seven-year-old Dr Nontobeko Mvubu, who holds a PhD in Microbiology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has become the first Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship (TEAEAS) candidate to be appointed as a lecturer at the University.

Mvubu’s dream to become a lecturer was realised thanks to the University’s drive to appoint academically excellent Black students as lecturers. ‘I wanted to be a lecturer because of the love I have for research as well as for teaching,’ said Mvubu.

Mvubu has consistently shone academically throughout her time at the University, receiving numerous accolades, scholarships and bursaries including a TATA Scholarship, awarded at the 2013 Women in Science awards ceremony, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

She plans to be a well-recognised and established researcher in Tuberculosis and Bioinformatics. ‘In addition, I want to be integrally involved in student training from undergraduate teaching of different levels offered in my Discipline.’

Mvubu believes initiatives such as the TEAEAS scholarship encourage students to ‘pursue academic careers and contribute to South Africa’s knowledge economy’.

‘With the current challenges in South Africa’s and Africa as a whole, I believe in what Tata Madiba said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.’

Mvubu, who is originally from Mandeni in KwaZulu-Natal is grateful to her family for their ongoing support.  ‘I’d like to thank my father in particular, for always encouraging us to reach for our dreams and to focus on our studies. He has always been there, especially during difficult times. In addition, I would like to pass my sincere gratitude to my postgraduate advisors, Professor Manormoney Pillay and Professor Balakrishna Pillay for their training and mentorship.’

She thanked Human Resources and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science for the opportunity to ‘be part of the University employees while doing what I love and what comes naturally to me.’

Mrs Busisiwe Ramabodu, the Director: Human Resources Development said the Talent Excellence & Equity Acceleration Scholarship; which supports the Graduate Development Programme (GDP) seeks to contribute to the development of the future academic pipeline at the University. There are currently 34 students on the programme, who are on track to becoming future academics; and 10 are currently registered for PhDs.

Mrs Avril Williamson, the Executive Director: HR was very pleased with the progress Ms Mvubu has made. She further highlighted that the programme is in line with the University’s strategy to build the future Professoriate.

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer


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African Ombudsman Research Centre hosts Visitors from Kenya and Malawi

African Ombudsman Research Centre hosts Visitors from Kenya and Malawi
From left: Ms Hilda Ojiambo, Advocate Arlene Brock, and Ms Chipiliro Leah Mangulama.

In order to unite its six regions and bring about cross-fertilisation of skills, the African Ombudsman Research Centre on the Howard College campus is currently running the first of its four-week Attachment Programme.

The aim of the current programme, which runs until 10 June, is to host two people from two of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA)’s regions to undertake the programme together.

This first “pilot” will also assist in determining whether the programme will be sustainable and to help generate the entrance criteria and application process for the upcoming programmes.

Director at the Centre, Advocate Arlene Brock said the goal is to have three one-month Attachment Programmes each year. Two people, from AOMA’s six regions, will undertake the Programme together.

The aims of the programme are to bring in two people to know each other personally and share ideas and notes, for the participants to share their skills with the Centre and give the Centre better feedback on what their respective offices require.

Brock said the Centre will, in turn, give them the level of experience that they might require.

Currently participating in the programme are Acting Deputy Director of Investigations in the Office of The Ombudsman of Malawi, Ms Chipiliro Leah Mangulama and Ms Hilda Ojiambo who is a Legal Officer at the Commission on Administrative Justice with the Ombudsman of Kenya.

Mangulama’s role includes investigating cases of maladministration in the Public Sector including delays in the public service delivery, abuse of power by public officers, the unfair treatment by any state organs and conducting systemic investigations into Government processes and procedure that affect large percentages of the population.

Mangulama said she loves the programme so far as she has learnt how the ombudsman in Madagascar works and has been able to compare with how the Malawi system works.  She said it is not easy to lead a team of investigators and this programme will help with leadership skills. She said she is looking forward to seeing how the newsletter is developed by AORC as the Office of the Ombudsman Malawi’s newsletter is in the process of being revamped.

‘This is the exposure that every investigator in this field needs,’ added Mangulama. 

Second participant Ojiambo’s key roles, besides complaints handling on maladministration, include providing legal and administrative support to the Ombudsman of Kenya in its functions as the Secretariat of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA) and providing legal support to the newly designated Access to Information Commissioner.

Ojiambo said she hopes to improve her French and be the link that she is supposed to be in her current job. While in the programme, she said she hopes to draw research materials and assist in how the programme is modelled going forward while comparing notes with all the participants.

The AORC is funded from the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Amongst the strategic objectives of the ARF are: cooperation between South Africa and other African countries and the promotion of democracy and good governance. AORC is mandated by both the AOMA Constitution and the AORC Board to facilitate networking, language capacity and training.

According to the AORC, the benefits for the participants include learning AORC’s materials and other resources, learning more about global Ombudsman best practices through daily discussions with the Director and any available workshops, close networking with someone from an office in a different region and learning one of the four official languages of AOMA (English, French, Portuguese, Arabic).

Sithembile Shabangu


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UKZN Student Chaired a Model UN Conference Committee in Switzerland

UKZN Student Chaired a Model UN Conference Committee in Switzerland
Mr Ebenezer Frimpong in the hot seat as a moderator during committee sessions.

Mr Ebenezer Frimpong, a PhD Pharmacy student, served as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Committee Chair during the recently held Zurich Model UN (ZUMUN) Conference.

The Conference, held in Zurich from 4-7 May was co-hosted by two of the most prestigious Universities in Europe (University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich). ZUMUN 2017 overarching theme “Brave New World-Socio-Economic and Political Implications of the Digital Revolution” sets the agenda to discuss topics of importance to the future of our society. 

ZUMUN had seven committees namely: the Disarmament and International Security Committee (DISEC), the Human Rights Council (HRC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Telecom Union (ITU), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Joint Cabinet Crisis (JCC). 

The Conference was attended by 200 delegates from prestigious universities around the globe.  The committee that Frimpong chaired (ITU) debated on the topic “Bridging the digital divide between rich and poorer nations”.  Model UN Conference provides a platform for students to exhibit their debating and negotiation skills.  He was the only Black African amongst participants during the Conference. To him, students from the African continent should make it a point to attend such conferences which will be of great benefit to them in the near future.  Students interested in working for the UN in their lifetime must attend model UN conferences to gain relevant experience and exposure.

UKZNdabaonline


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Team UKZN Supports Comrades 2017 Runners

Team UKZN Supports Comrades 2017 Runners
Team UKZN in high spirits at Comrades 2017.

Some members of Team UKZN have lost their voices, others have sore bodies from dancing. None ran Comrades. But each screamed their hearts out and worked tirelessly to support our beloved 2017 runners in the ultimate race of human endurance.

For the fifth consecutive year, Team UKZN maintained high spirits in the dark wintry morning, working in full force to set up Station 18 at Botha’s Hill in readiness for the sea of runners who were to come their way in the following hours.

Red and white lined the roads as staff and students ensured that runners were rejuvenated through drinks and snacks and motivated as they made their way towards the finish line. Physiotherapy students efficiently attended to weary legs, invigorating the runners and offering a short reprieve before they continued pounding the roads once more towards the end of the gruelling 88 kilometre race.

UKZN’s music man Tintin Pillay had the Team on their feet dancing, keeping local residents entertained and runners smiling in appreciation for the motivation and support.  ‘Being part of the UKZN family and encouraging our runners is what it is all about. UKZN thrives on greatness and our runners exemplify that. That is why we are here – to remind them that they can do it!’ he said.

Veteran Comrades runner Mr Tony Singarum finished his 22nd Comrades and attributed his finish to Team UKZN. ‘When I rounded the corner and saw the ‘Inspiring Greatness’ logo, I felt such joy because a part of me felt that I was home with my people and that I could stop. But then, I received so much love and energy from the cheering that I felt like the actual winner and decided then that I must push on. I wouldn’t have done it without you all’.

UKZN congratulates South African runner Bongmusa Mthembu who secured his second career victory at the Comrades Marathon in a time 5:35:34. In the women’s contest, American athlete Camille Herron bagged her maiden Comrades title in a time of 6:27:35.

‘Staff and students worked tirelessly and with dedication to boost all our runners and ensure that the day was a great success. Congratulations to all who ran and best wishes for the next race,’ said Ms Normah Zondo, the Acting Executive Director: Corporate Relations.

The University community are invited to join the UKZN Athletics Club which caters for Track and Field, Cross Country and Road Running. The club caters for runners from recreational beginners to competitive elite in distances from park runs (5km) to ultra-marathons.

See all the highlights of UKZN’s participation in Comrades 2017 on our UKZN Facebook and Instagram pages.

Rakshika Sibran


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Women Have the Right to be Empowered: OT Students

Women Have the Right to be Empowered: OT Students
From left: Ms Kuhlekonke Mathenjwa, Ms Humaira Khan, Aunty Lille (an employee in the empowerment project), Ms Nontuthuko Shongwe and Ms Alannah Jackson.

‘If we empower women, we empower a community,’ proclaimed fourth-year Occupational Therapy (OT) student, Ms Nontuthuko Shongwe, a member of the UKZN Women’s Empowerment Project.

Shongwe was speaking about the project which assists Mariannridge women to empower themselves through selling second-hand clothing.

The project is run by final year UKZN College of Health Sciences’ OT students.

Shongwe said the project aims to help women regain their self-confidence and sense of self-worth by giving them some form of financial independence.

The project assists underprivileged women who are unable to make ends meet by empowering them to start their own businesses. The women are also empowered with sufficient skills which may enable them to obtain employment.

Student, Ms Alannah Jackson said: ‘the community needs to rally behind the women in order to make the business grow and inspire other women to start their own projects.’

The participants are also taught communication skills, money management, entrepreneurial and administrative skills.

Established in 2015, the project was developed to assist Mariannridge women to gain an income by selling second-hand clothing donated by UKZN students.

The students have a donation box set up outside the Discipline of Occupational Therapy at the Westville campus. This also serves to conscientise UKZN students by allowing them to reflect on the material conditions of others and thus encouraging them to be altruistic.

The project also aims to develop a collaborative network between the community, other stakeholders and the UKZN students and is implemented under the supervision of an OT academic, Ms Chantal Christopher.

‘The empowerment project is not selective to women selling clothing only, yet also allows women to develop a sense of confidence and respect from others within the community increasing community cohesion. This allows for communication between the women and other community members rather than isolation due to their differing socio-economic statuses,’ said OT student, Ms Humaira Khan.

Nombuso Dlamini


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CCA Donates Books to Westville Correctional Services Prison

CCA Donates Books to Westville Correctional Services Prison
The CCA Team with Sinothile Reading and Writing Club members from Westville Correctional Services prison.

The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within UKZN’s College of Humanities recently donated 52 books to Westville Correctional library as part of its Community outreach programme. The Centre noticed that literacy and education levels in prisons are quite high with libraries and book clubs in prisons being vital for inmates.

The CCA chose the prison with the aim of expanding the inmates’ literature. Audience Development Co-ordinator at the Centre, Mr Sakhile Gumede said; ‘We are giving them books because we want to expand their literature. We want to take them to places, books allows them to travel to places beyond the boundaries.’

During CCA’s festivals such as Poetry Africa and the Time of the Writer, the Centre normally sends poets and writers on prison visits in order to encourage offenders to read and write.

Westville Correctional Services, Manager Mr Themba Mtshali said: ‘Access to books in prisons plays an important role in the rehabilitation of inmates. It also helps inmates follow and stay connected to what is going on in the outside world, and encourages social and mental stimulation. Thank you to the CCA and I wish this to continue.’

The female section of the prison has the Sinothile Reading and Writing Club, which started in 2011. Members of the club have written short stories and poems. With the help of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), they are given an opportunity to showcase their work by participating in various competitions.

Sinothile member, who is both a writer and poet, Ms Zodwa Zulu said; ‘I am grateful and excited. The books help me to develop my vocabulary. I learnt the skills to write poetry during the CCA Poetry Africa visits and it has made me love my own language.’

Another member, Ms Sithokozile Nothando Magwaza added, ‘On behalf of Sinothile Reading and Writing club, we thank the CCA, not only for the books but for all the love and support they give us. CCA taught us how to write short stories and poems. The Drama department is currently teaching us Drama. We are truly grateful.’

Nomcebo Mncube

Photograph: Nomcebo Mncube


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Architecture Students treated to Mural Art Demo by Renowned KZN Street Artist

Architecture Students treated to Mural Art Demo by Renowned KZN Street Artist
Local artist Giffy Duminy (standing, centre) with some of the First Year Architecture students in front of the newest addition to their studio - Goodenough Greg, the Archi monkey.

First-year Architecture students were recently treated to a presentation on mural art, followed by a live demonstration by renowned KZN street artist Mr Gifford “Giffy” Duminy.

He spoke to students about how his career began, the type of work he does and his client-base, as well as how his intricate art is created. Duminy took students through the journey of creating expressive street art from conception through preparation, application and finally completion

‘There are endless possibilities with Art. You can inspire people through visual public art. With dedication, anybody can make Art,’ said Duminy.

For the live demonstration, he created “Goodenough Greg the Archi monkey” on one of the studio walls which the students had prepared earlier with a purple base coat sponsored by Prominent Paints. Greg sported a pencil behind his ear, keeping in line with the Architectural theme, which students found both hilarious and appropriate. They were also amazed at the level of skill that was put into the piece.

Student Ms Samukelisiwe Shezi said, ‘We were told that he was going to be drawing a mischievous playful animal. So we watched him and it was amazing seeing how Giffy was able to design the monkey. Some of us guessed right! He made it look so easy. He is a talented artist and I’m glad that first-year Architecture students were given this opportunity to see Giffy’s work first hand, and to also interact with him.’

According to lecturer Ms Lindsay Bush, the presentation and demo by Duminy feeds into one of the design projects that the students have been tasked with for the year. This involves designing and applying a fresh new mural to the entrance of the Architecture discipline in Denis Shepstone building on the Howard College campus.

Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Melissa Mungroo, Ntandoyenkosi Mchunu


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African Music and Dance Students Perform Ceremonies of Hope Concert

African Music and Dance Students Perform Ceremonies of Hope Concert
Seen are some of the African Music and Dance students performing at the Jazz Centre.

African Music and Dance (AMD) students from the School of Arts (Music) recently presented Timhamba “Ceremonies of Hope” concert at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (CJPM).

This semester’s lunch hour concert was conceptualised under the “Africa Month celebration”. The title Timhamba (Ceremonies of Hope) is a Tsonga term that describes different types of ceremonies, from initiation, weddings, to welcoming a newborn baby or the evocation of spirits.

According to AMD student Phiwayinkosi Biyela, ‘Timhamba pays tribute to all African nations undergoing social, political and economic crisis, devoting its strength to the underprivileged populations around the continent that have lost or abandoned their homelands due to wars and other natural calamities.’

Two traditional children’s songs were performed with an accompaniment of an instrumental ensemble of several uhadi and umakhweyana bows and imitshingo (harmonic pan flutes). A percussion piece, inspired by the Sabar drums, was performed along with a traditional dance of the Makonde people from the north of Mozambique.

Through the sounds of bows, flutes and pipes; exciting melodies and dance steps driven by the pulse of intricate rhythms drawn from South Africa, Mozambique and Senegal, the African Music and Dance Ensembles took the audience into a memorable performance of African music and dance while appealing through Timhamba, for the restoration of the lost values and human dignity in Africa.

Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Nomcebo Mncube


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OT C.A.R.E Project

OT C.A.R.E  Project
Occupational therapy fourth-year students from left: Ms Aamina Hoosain, Ms Thishari Naicker, Ms Noluthando Nkosi and Ms Kelly Walker.

UKZN fourth year Occupational Therapy (OT) students have been running a C.A.R.E  Project which aims to ensure the wellbeing of caregivers who work at Muthande Society for the Aged (MUSA) in KwaDabeka, Clermont.

The C.A.R.E (Caregiver Awareness and Relief Everyday) Project teaches caregivers exercises and techniques to improve their physical health and wellbeing.

‘We hope to ensure that the health and wellbeing of the caregivers is maintained and promoted.  If the caregivers were to become ill or unable to fulfil their duties, the people for whom they care will not have the assistance they require,’ said Ms Thishari Naicker.

The project began its caregiver training at the beginning of May and is run by four students: Naicker, Ms Kelly Walker, Ms Noluthando Nkosi and Ms Aamina Hoosain.

‘Our project aimed to equip the caregivers with knowledge and skills to address their numerous concerns in order to ensure their composure and generosity during caregiving tasks,’ said Walker.

The students achieved their goal through teaching “back care principles”, during transferring, etc. ‘This will be comforting knowledge for the service users to possess as they know that their own health and wellbeing is being cared for,’ Walker said.

The students held weekly sessions with seven of the caregivers between 14h00 and 15h00 on Mondays and Wednesdays over a six week period.

MUSA is a registered NGO/NPO organisation in KwaDabeka, which was established to serve the otherwise neglected elderly in the community.  It aims to improve the quality of life of the elderly through providing for their economical, psychological, health and social needs.

The organisation conducts home visits to provide the elderly who are homebound and or bed-bound with personal management such as bathing, nail care, dressing, grooming as well as other services such as laundry or cooking.

‘Whilst the elderly are being cared for, no one is providing care for the Muthande Clermont Caregivers to ensure their physical and mental health is strong,’ said Nkosi.

She said the ratio of caregivers to those being cared for is 7:223, ‘This places large caregiving demands on the caregivers. Consequently, they are burdened with physical and mental strain. As Occupational Therapists, we care for those being cared for including those providing the care,’ added Nkosi.

Nombuso Dlamini


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Suleman Appointed Prince Claus Chair

Suleman Appointed Prince Claus Chair
Professor Fatima Suleman.

UKZN’s Pharmaceutical Sciences Associate Professor, Fatima Suleman has been appointed, by the Utrecht University in The Netherlands, as the Prince Claus Chair of Development and Equity for the theme Affordable (Bio)Therapeutics for Public Health. She will hold the position until September 2018.

To formally accept the position, Suleman delivered a lecture titled: “Affordability and equitable access to (Bio)Therapeutics for public health”. The lecture was delivered on May 16 at the Utrecht University Hall.

During her tenure, Suleman will be conducting research in affordable (bio)Therapeutics in collaboration with scholars at Utrecht University, other scholars in The Netherlands and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Suleman will spend her appointment in Utrecht working within the strategic research theme of Life Sciences. Her Chair will be within the Faculty of Science, in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The Chair she will hold, Affordable (Bio)Therapeutics for Public Health, has strong links to the research conducted in that department, in particular in the Utrecht Centre of Excellence for Affordable Biotherapeutics and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmaceutical Policy and Regulation.

The Utrecht WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmaceutical Policy and Regulation is located at the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Clinical Pharmacology of Utrecht University.

In addition to her appointment to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Suleman also has ties with Drake University in the United States. She is interested in equity and access to medicines, pricing and reimbursement policies and essential medicines, especially for chronic conditions which cause huge suffering.

She is also the Chair of the National Pricing Committee for Medicines in South Africa and has taken part in various international committees on drug pricing including a current position on an informal panel at WHO on Fair Pricing. In addition, she was a member of the 2017 WHO Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines, the WHO Expert consultation on improving access to and use of similar biotherapeutic products in May 2017.

Nombuso Dlamini


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Aspirant Coders Test their Mettle

Aspirant Coders Test their Mettle
Aspirant coders attended a computer coding workshop organised by CodeMakers and AfriHub.

The computer LAN at Civil Engineering on the Howard College campus was unusually busy for a Friday afternoon recently, when it played host to a workshop with a difference.   To the background strains of a live musician playing mellow jazz, some 60 aspirant computer coders gathered to try their hand at computer coding.

Run by CodeMakers in conjunction with the School of Engineering’s Hub for the African City of the Future (AfriHub), the workshop was aimed at people who wished to develop an understanding of coding and its uses.

CodeMakers is a non-profit organisation that teaches computer coding to learners of all ages.  It primarily works with youth and was keen to introduce coding fundamentals to UKZN students of all disciplines.

‘Understanding how a system works is the first step in mastering that system,’ explained CodeMaker founder and facilitator, Dr Justin Yarrow. ‘Understanding the logic of computer programmes unlocks an incredible power, both in the computer and in the imagination of students.’

AfriHub Manager, Dr Rudi Kimmie, concurred:  ‘Technology is reshaping our lives and Africans need to leapfrog the digital divide to stay relevant in a connected world’. He continued: ‘Information and Communications Technology not only connects us and liberates us, but it also enables us to dream the future into reality, more so than we’ve ever imagined.’

Participants were introduced to the logic of Scratch coding, a drag and drop coding language developed at MIT and used by millions around the world.   They also learnt the basics of how to make an animation, and how to make a computer game.

‘Harvard Law students are learning how to code.  Seven year old learners in the United Kingdom are learning how to code.  What’s stopping you?’ said Yarrow.

The Hub for the African City of the Future (AfriHub) is an initiative within the UKZN’s School of Engineering.  Its mission is to facilitate multidisciplinary engagement that will result in innovative and sustainable solutions for African problems.

Prashina Budree


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Umkhakha WezobuNjiniyela BezeNgqalasizinda Wakha Ubudlelwano Nezimboni

Umkhakha WezobuNjiniyela BezeNgqalasizinda Wakha Ubudlelwano Nezimboni
AbeKnucs abebehambele umcimbi (kusukela kwesobunxele): uDkt Rudi Kimmie, uDkt Albert van Jaarsveld, uSolwazi Cristina Trois, iDini yezobuNjiniyela, uMnu Kevan Rocher noMnuMr Rudi von Fintel, wase-Royal Haskoningdhv.

Click here for the English version

Isizinda i-Hub for the African City of the Future (AfriHub) ibe nomcimbi obuhlose ukudlondlobalisa ukusebenzisana phakathi kwemikhakha yosomabhizinisi abazimele kanye nohulumeni ngokubalula umkhankaso weNyuvesi i-KwaZulu-Natal University Civil Support (KNUCS).  Lo mcimbi obubanjelwe elebhu entsha yezesayensi esebhilidini i- Centenary Building ekhempasini i-Howard College, ababengabafundi basenyuvesi, abamele izinkampani zangasese, abomkhakha wezokwakha nowezengqalasizinda bebehlangene ndawonye kwakhiwa ubuhlobo obusha, kukhunjulwa nezakudala futhi baphinde baziswa ngokusha okwenzekayo esikhungweni.

‘Eminyakeni edlule umkhakha wezobunjiniyela bezengqalasizinda e-UKZN ucabe indlela yezokuqamba kabusha, ukudweba nempumelelo kwezebhizinisi emhlabeni wonke,’ kusho umphathi we-AfriHub uDkt Rudi Kimmie. Ukuqinisekisa ukuqhubeka kwalokhu, izinjulabuchopho zalo mkhakha zasungula i-KNUCS Fund ngonyaka we-1989. ‘Ukuhlelwa kabusha kokwabiwa kwezimali emkhakheni wezemfundo ephakeme, ukuntuleka kwabasebenzi abanekhono eliphezulu abangena emkhakheni wezokufundisa nokusweleka kwezinsiza zokwenza ucwaningo oluyingqophamlando, kube yizinselelo ezinkulu ekukhuleni nomphumela wohlelo lwezobunjiniyela bezengqalasizinda e-UKZN,’kusho u-Kimmie. ‘Ukwesekwa kwe-KNUCS Fund kuzoba nomthelela omkhulu emkhakheni wezalobu bunjiniyela e-UKZN ngokuqinisekisa ubunyoninco kwabathola iziqu zalo mkhakha nokuthuthukisa ezocwaningo eziyingqophamlando.

Inhloso ye-KNUCS Fund ukuthuthukisa ubunyoninco kwezokufundisa nocwaningo ngokusekela ezokufunda namakhono ezokufunda eNyuvesi. Lesi sikhwama siqinisekisa ukuthi umkhakha wezobunjiniyela bezengqalasizinda ngokuheha abaxhasi ngezimali nezinye izinhlobo zoxhaso ezinkampanini, nabantu abangaphakathi kwemikhakha yezobuNjiniyela bezeNgqalasizinda, ezoKwakha nezokuKweluleka.

Abebeyizihambeli eziphambili zalo mcimbi bekungu Sekelashansela Nomphathi we-UKZN Albert van Jaarsveld; oyiDini YezobuNjiniyela uSolwazi Cristina Trois; umholi womkhakha uSolwazi Derek Stretch; noMqondisi Ophethe we-Raubex KZN noSihlalo we-KNUCS Fund, uMnu Kevan Rocher. 

Umcimbi bewuxhaswe abakwa-Raubex, okuyinkampani yezokwakha esebenza kulo lonke izwekazi lase-Afrika egxile ekuthuthukisweni kwengqalasizinda. 

‘Ukwesekela i-KNUCS kunenzuzo eNyuvesi nemboni yezobuNjiniyela bezeNgqalasizinda,’ kusho u-van Jaarsveld. ‘Uma izibonelelo zemali ezibhekiswe ku-KNUCS Fund zingathola isephulelo sentela ngokweSigaba 18A se-Tax Exemption futhi zithole namaphuzu e-BBBEE.’

Ngu-Prashina Budree


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Oops!... We Did it Again

Oops!...  We Did it Again
UKZN once again has won gold and the trophy for the best individual stand at the 2017 Royal Show.

Britney Spears must have had UKZN specifically in mind when she penned the lyrics for her famous song, "Oops! I did it again" -  for once again the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science has pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, winning Gold and the trophy for the best individual stand at the 2017 Royal Show.

‘UKZN rated highly in all categories, and we were particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and extra effort put in by the students and staff who manned the UKZN stand,’ said Royal Agricultural Show Manager, Terry Strachan. 

‘Our win was without doubt due to both the passion and the impressive knowledge of our staff and students at the stand who went out of their way to share their expertise with the general public,’ said mastermind behind the project and Public Relations Officer for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Ms Swasti Maney.

Run in conjunction with the second Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium, the stand showcased research done within the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences in the fields of climate change and food security. 

Attractions included an innovative project being undertaken by UKZN Enactus students involving vertical farming and food security for university students;  an interactive climate change model showing drought and flooding scenarios; work done by UKZN’s Farmer Support Group with small-scale farmers; and specially designed ‘khukhu khayas’ (chicken homes) for easy access to protein supplies.

To add a bit of spice and crowd attraction, the School of Life Sciences had an impressive collection of creepy crawlies on hand, including tenrecs and hissing cockroaches from Madagascar, tarantulas, and an array of boa constrictors both thick and thin.

With STEC@UKZN’s “Dr T” wowing both young and old with her magical science show, there was always a fascinated crowd on hand to learn more about what UKZN has to offer. 

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science has exhibited at the show for several years, consistently winning prizes for its displays. 

Pietermaritzburg’s Royal Agricultural Show, now in its 163rd consecutive year, is the premier agricultural and lifestyle event in the province which attracts over 180 000 people during the 10 days that it runs.

Sally Frost


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UKZN Academic Bags ASHA Award

UKZN Academic Bags ASHA Award
Professor Mershen Pillay.

Imagine being unable to drink a glass of water.  This is the case for 1 in 25 persons (Bhattacharyya, 2014) or up to 8% (Steele, 2015) of the world who may experience swallowing disabilities.  For persons with swallowing disabilities modifying the way liquids flow or the size/texture of the foods they eat is critical to their survival.  However, South Africa, like many similar low-middle income countries, does not have a way to measure and/or classify these foods.

This means that what persons with swallowing disabilities drink or eat at hospitals versus their homes or in clinics is not well regulated and results in, often times, chest infections due to foods going into their lungs. Safety is one of the key reasons that drove the work that garnered an international award for UKZN’s Speech-Language Pathology Associate Professor, Professor Mershen Pillay and his team.  Pillay received the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Award at the association’s Conference.

Pillay, who is on the Board of Directors of the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI), said the award,  an “Outstanding Contributions in International Achievement” award, recognises his part in a global project focused on reducing life-threatening risks for people with swallowing disorders.   We’ve developed a system to measure and classify how to improve the accuracy of modifying diets for persons with swallowing disabilities worldwide.

‘This award is the result of many years of work which resulted in the development of a framework to guide people with modifying dysphagia foods to do this using scientifically valid methods and a great classification system. I have learned a great deal through this project because of working with people all over world, and with something that has such a large global impact,’ declared Pillay.

Pillay who has worked in various countries and served on various international committees, said he was quite honored to have won the award.  This work is part of his larger project at developing “glocal” practices.  To this end, he is in the process of compiling a book which will be beneficial to Speech Language therapists and Audiologists as part of his work on the South African Speech-Language and Hearing Association (SASLHA) portfolio.  This book is focused on developing, national practice standards that focus on how to “do local” (contextually relevant) practices while being globally responsive.

Nombuso Dlamini


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Pollution Research Group Hosts BMGF Launch Visit

Pollution Research Group Hosts BMGF Launch Visit
UKZN’s Pollution Research Group (PRG) recently hosted a delegation of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) representatives and grantees, for a visit linked to the ongoing “Reinvent the Toilet” project.

The Pollution Research Group (PRG) in UKZN’s School of Engineering recently hosted a delegation of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) representatives and a select number of their grantees for a visit to kick-start a programme initiated in 2016, which involves the engineering field testing of “Reinvented Toilet” prototypes in Durban.

The trip involved site visits to the areas earmarked for the proposed tests in eThekwini, status updates from the various partners, a workshop to discuss site selection, grantee needs, local resources and community engagement, as well as visits to local fabricators who could be used to build the systems or components of the systems. The PRG works closely with eThekwini’s Water and Sanitation unit (EWS) in the implementation of research that can improve the water and sanitation services both to the local community and on a global scale. International research partners involved are from Cranfield University in the UK, the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), the University of South Florida, and Janicki Industries, all in the USA.

This programme arose from the global recognition of the PRG’s expertise as sanitation practitioners working in the field of faecal sludge management, particularly through the work of its Head, Professor Chris Buckley, who was one of three experts consulted by the BMGF, engaging in direct discussions with Bill Gates, in 2009 about the advancement of sanitation solutions for developing countries. Recognising this advancement would require technological step-changes in sanitation, the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge was launched to accelerate new innovations that could ultimately improve access to sustainable sanitation infrastructure and public services in developing nations.

BMGF Senior Programme Officer, Dr Carl Hensman, spoke about the selection of Durban as a site to test these prototypes as being in line with its reputation as a city of excellence in sanitation. The hope is that the innovative technologies being piloted could trigger the development of novel business models in dealing with sanitation challenges.

‘Chris and the PRG have been one of the strongest partners we’ve had, from understanding the practical process of sanitation to looking at how to implement potential solutions in developing country environments,’ said Hensman. ‘In addition we partner with PRG to help broadcast and educate people with the message that sanitation for everyone is not beyond reach, especially when we adopt a solid scientific understanding, engineered approach, and business reality to the problem.’

He also described the multiplicative effect of working with PRG and EWS through their unique collaborative partnership and utility model in promoting full faecal sludge management, including treatment, reuse, disposal and more. This work is expected to expand beyond South Africa and pass on foundational knowledge throughout the continent and beyond.

Funding from the BMGF, specifically through its Water Sanitation & Hygiene (WSH) Transformative Technology portfolio, has played a role in supporting PRG. The PRG was a recipient of a two-year capacity building grant, awarded by the BMGF in November 2014, which included the upgrade of their laboratory on the Howard College campus to improve health and safety in its infrastructure. In anticipation of increased research activities, it has also facilitated the expansion of their space for hosting visiting researchers, and the purchase of new analytical equipment to enhance the analyses and tests they are able to undertake. BMGF have funded an extension of this grant for three more years, which is being reviewed for co-signature by UKZN leadership.

A central element of the engineering field-testing programme will be knowledge creation, and as such allows for the training of three PhD students and nine Masters students, with the long-term goal of creating a robust talent pipeline to fill the void of expertise in this field. Capacity-building of local talent is expected to contribute globally, with PRG giving curriculum input around the world.

It is anticipated that, by the end of 2017, there will be five  reinvented toilet systems in the field at different stages of testing in Durban, providing feedback on how to adapt the designs and engineer the systems for the environment and the end user. The various international research partners are contributing systems geared for different sites, for example community ablution blocks (CAB) or household use.

The project will also involve collaboration from the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (SOBEDS), through Dr Cathy Sutherland, facilitating community feedback and engagement, with a platform to create a community of practice. The programme will be run so that systems can be accommodated as appropriate for the sites they will be tested on, and swapped between sites in other countries such as India for additional feedback.

South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Water Research Commission (WRC) are actively aware of the process, recognising the potential for suitable systems identified through this testing to move to a larger scale of testing, use and even job-creating production in South Africa.

‘What Chris and Cathy Sutherland are helping us to do is pre-screen this for the South African community, with government and other partners more broadly looking for solutions that would work best for their needs,’ said Hensman.

Hensman also extended gratitude to Dean and Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Cristina Trois, for her support of the currrent programme and the long-term relationship of UKZN, through PRG, with BMGF’s WSH team.

Christine Cuenod


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AIDS Candlelight Memorial Celebrates the Lives of those Infected and Affected

AIDS Candlelight Memorial Celebrates the Lives of those Infected and Affected
Guest speakers, peer educators and staff from UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme.

The UKZN’s HIV and AIDS Programme held an International AIDS Candlelight Memorial in remembrance of departed loved ones and to honour families, caregivers and peer educators for their roles in fighting the epidemic.

Under the theme “Ending AIDS Together”, the event began with a march on campus to create awareness and to inform staff and students at UKZN about the purpose of the memorial. This annual activity is a community mobilisation campaign to raise social consciousness about HIV and AIDS. It also serves as an ‘intervention for global solidarity, breaking down barriers of stigma and discrimination, and giving hope to the new generation’.

Before lighting a candle, the Rev M Ndlangamandla urged the audience to observe a moment of silence, reminding them of the recent violent acts on women at the hands of their partners. He stated, ‘as I light this candle, let me say the lives of other people are in your hands. Let us take this moment to remember those who are living with HIV.’

Giving a sermon about the word of God, Rev KO Mbalo asked the gathering: ‘What is your purpose in life?’ He reminded the audience that death was an appointment that no-one could ever avoid.

Rev Mbalo conveyed that it was important to treat HIV and AIDS as any other chronic disease.  Pastor Kwazi Ndlovu who is a Peer Educator at UKZN delivered a motivational talk and the vote of thanks to all who participated and attended the event.

According to the HIV and AIDS Programme, the memorial aims to unite communities around a common cause and provide an opportunity to mourn together. Furthermore, it was to celebrate the lives of those living with HIV and AIDS.

The memorial event was directed towards:

•   Reducing the multifaceted burden of disease through raising awareness

•   Bringing the private and public sectors together and creating firmer links with institutions of higher learning

•   Ensuring an alignment of Higher Education Institutions with the National Strategic Plan that deals with HIV and AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections and tuberculosis (HAST)

•   Promoting positive living and disclosure

•   Raising awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights.

External stakeholders that were present at the event included representatives from the Office of the Premier (KZN), People Living with HIV (PLHIV), the eThekwini Municipality District AIDS Council, the Independent Order of True Templars and various religious organisations.

Peer educators and students provided entertainment which included a dance piece and a musical performance. 

Programme Director, Ms Pinky Myaka, conveyed that the HIV and AIDS Programme would be ineffective without the support of peer educators. ‘They are the backbone of this programme.’

Sithembile Shabangu


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Second Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium Unites Stakeholders for Food Security

Second Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium Unites Stakeholders for Food Security
From left: Professor Steve Worth, Dr Dickson Despommier, Mr Dirk Esterhuizen, Mr Emerson Wohlenberg, Dr Francisco Aragao, US Consul General Frances Chisholm, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath and Mr Rod Stevens (Howard Davis Farm Trust) at the Symposium.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) recently hosted the second annual Ukulinga Howard Davis Memorial Symposium at its Ukulinga Research Farm in Pietermaritzburg. The event is a joint initiative between the Institution and the Howard Davis Farm Trust, with whom the University has a relationship stretching back to the 1930’s with the construction of Howard College. The multi-level Symposium honoured the educational legacy of the late Howard Davis, killed in 1916 in World War 1.

The Symposium was first held in 2016, bringing together stakeholders from across the agricultural industry in KwaZulu-Natal and the wider South African agricultural community, to showcase research carried out at Ukulinga.

The more than 200 attendees included students, academics, scientists, small-scale and commercial farmers, NGO representatives and more. Incorporating presenters and participants from across the University, it proved to be a multidisciplinary information-sharing gathering.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, who noted UKZN’s considerable reputation for being a research-driven institution, opened the two-day event.

Keynote speakers at the event were Dr Dickson Despommier, Emeritus Professor at Columbia University, and Professor Ben Cousins, South African Research Chair (SARChI) in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape.

Despommier is renowned for his contributions to urban agriculture and the concept of the vertical farm to combat food insecurity issues becoming more prevalent due to urbanisation, population growth and climate change. He advocated for the creation of sustainable eco-cities to provide food security, recommending that urban agriculture be taught at agricultural institutions.

Cousins spoke about smallholder farmers and land reform in South Africa. He offered a definition of a smallholder farmer, and gave examples based on his extensive work in KwaZulu-Natal, making recommendations on how agrarian reform for “accumulation from below” could be applied.

The US Department of State’s Economic Bureau gave support to the event by bringing in two guest speakers from Brazil, Dr Francisco Aragão from Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, and Mr Emerson Wohlenberg from SLC Agricola, in support of the USA’s global efforts to advance biotechnology. Their presentations gave insight into agricultural and biotechnology industries in Brazil.

The US Consul General, Frances Chisholm, spoke of the strong and growing partnership between the USA and South Africa in strengthening the skills and productivity of rural farmers. Chisholm advocated for the use of innovation and biotechnology in the search for solutions to food insecurity.

The Symposium explored more than just food in the theme of Food Security. It comprised presentations on a wide range of topics, including food, water and energy availability under climate change, uses of biomass, indigenous crops, vulnerability of households to food insecurity, usage of aquaponics systems, biocontrol, the development of low-cost technologies for small-scale farmers, agripreneurship, food safety for market access, and gender equality in land access.

The event included discussion panels each day, allowing delegates to engage with presenters and opening the event up to robust discussion and the sharing of ideas.

Delegates were exposed to practical elements of the farm, with a demonstration from the Animal Science steer project students on the first day and a visit to a site planted with crops by McDonald’s Seeds on the second day, as well as the opportunity to view Agricultural Engineering design projects.

Exhibitors included Biowatch South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute, and the African Rural Wealth Creators Organisation (ARWCO), with the Future Farmers FoundationAgri-Groomers and SciCorp Laboratories also presenting at the event.

The Friends of UKZN Agriculture annual Networking Function was also held as an ancillary gala event on the first night of the Symposium.

Linked to the Symposium was the annual College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science stand at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg, which showcased research done within SAEES in the fields of climate change and food security, as well as animal research in the School of Life Sciences. The stand once again won Gold and the trophy for the best individual stand.

Christine Cuénod


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