Gender-Based Violence - a Public Health Issue

Gender-Based Violence - a Public Health Issue
Professor Sinegugu Duma, the Dean of Teaching and Learning within UKZN’s College of Health Sciences.Click here for isiZulu version

Professor Sinegugu Duma, the Dean of Teaching and Learning within UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, presented a webinar on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) as a Public Health Issue.

Duma’s presentation also looked at the National Regulatory Framework compelling Higher Education Institutions to respond to GBV and the concept of the scourge as a public health issue in a university as a community and some of its common manifestations.

She said the formal recognition of GBV as a public health issue is a fairly new approach and there is a need to address it using the gender perspective. ‘In 1996, the World Health Organization emphasised the role of the health sector in GBV prevention,’ Duma shared while emphasising the need to compel governments to take actions to prevent and eliminate GBV. ‘In 2017, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) committee of the UN made it compulsory for member states to address GBV,’ she said. The committee suggested the training of health professionals and making them appreciate their role in relation to working with victims and survivors of GBV.

Duma also said GBV is a public health issue because it has severe consequences for survivors, their communities, and society at large.

She is a qualitative researcher with a special focus on the prevention of GBV and sexual violence in different settings. In 2016, the Forum of University Nursing Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) inducted her into its Hall of Fame for Research Excellence in Nursing in recognition of her work in translating her research findings into nursing practice and improving the health outcomes of victims of sexual violence and GBV within the African continent.

Using her research findings, Duma became the founding chairperson of the University of Cape Town’s Sexual Assault Response Team in 2016, the first such service for victims of sexual violence on campus within South African universities.

She has published more than 50 articles, a number of book chapters and is the sole author of the book: The pain of being a woman: In-depth research on recovery from sexual assault.

She co-edited the book: Introducing forensic health care in contemporary South Africa. Aspects of Forensic Medicine: An introduction for Healthcare Professionals and serves as the editorial board member for scientific Nursing journals

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Cape Town, a Master’s degree in Nursing Education from UKZN, and a BA Cur in Nursing Education and Nursing Administration from UNISA, as well as a Diploma in Nursing (General, Psychiatric, Community Health) and Midwifery from the Natal College of Nursing.

She also has a certificate in Sexual Assault Forensic Nursing from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She has been involved - both nationally and internationally - in the service of educating nurses and other health professionals since 1995.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Men of Virtue Celebrates Its First Year

UKZN Men of Virtue Celebrates Its First Year
Scenes from the signing of the UKZN Men of Virtue Pledge.

Saturday, 3 September 2022, saw UKZN - alongside Men of Virtue (MOV) and the Department of Student Residence Affairs (DSRA) - converge at the Student Union Building, Howard College campus, where male staff and students of the University took a pledge against gender-based violence (GBV).

First launched on 2 October 2021, the MOV-UKZN project comprises of men committed to the fight against GBV, femicide, gender inequality and homophobia. MOV focuses on the psycho-social education of young men in the context of gender and violence, in turn addressing issues around toxic masculinity. To ensure that the teachings of MOV are adopted and instilled from an early age, thus changing false perceptions of manhood, the institutionalisation of the programme in the elementary phase is key.

In attendance were students, staff from the Campus HIV and AIDS Support Unit (CHASU) and its Men’s Forum; DSRA Interim Director, Ms Sisana Machi; DSRA Head of Campus, Mr Nhlanhla Mthombeni; SRC members; Residence Assistants; Residence Life Officers; MOV executive members; MOV Project Founder and Student Development Practitioner, Ms Qhamo Gumede; Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Mosa Moshabela; Student Services Division Interim Executive Director, Professor Ntombifikile Mazibuko; SAPS Lieutenant Colonel Lucky Mdlalose; SGLD Manager, Mr Muzomuhle Mhlongo; UKZN Sport Manager, Mr Mark Bashe; Central SRC President, Mr Malusi Zuma; College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science DeputyVice-Chancellor and Head, Professor Albert Modi; and Executive Director: Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo.

Mr Thabani Chagi, programme director, commended Gumede for framing the project on morals.

Speaking about the initiative, MOV Chairperson, Mr Sanele Zuma said it is not designed to demonise men, but, amongst others, seeks to acknowledge those working to ensure the safety of women. Commending MOV for its work, he said GBV awareness programmes facilitated by the organisation within a space of two months have done a lot of work. ‘We are gathering as males of this Institution to not only make a commitment to women in our circles, but to ourselves. We will not be associated with any acts of violence or abuse. We want to extend MOV to all five UKZN campuses and see this pledge adopted in teaching and learning and it (the pledge) being taken by student leaders and staff members,’ he said, while also urging for the continued financial support of the project as ‘passion alone cannot sustain it’. 

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku, Moshabela said GBV remains a problem in society and on our campuses. ‘For MOV to be successful, we need to find a way to heal from our past. I often say the 21st century is the century of women. We have to break the psychological traumas inflicted on our women from past generations to ensure that we protect them from experiencing that trauma again,’ he said, appealing to the men committing to the pledge to also commit to healing emotionally as this will assist in the fight against GBV. 

Mdlalose spoke about how GBV Desks and GBV Friendly Rooms at police stations provide a safe space for GBV survivors to report these incidences, as well as guidelines and training involved.

Speaking on her thoughts on the institutionalisation of the MOV movement at UKZN, Gumede said there has been voluntary participation from staff (mainly Professional) and students, especially on the Howard College, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses. ‘While the launch was a success last year, today’s pledge puts it beyond reasonable doubt that this paradigm shift has been one that is necessary. The institutionalisation of MOV is enjoying success and has recently gained momentum through build-up programmes towards today’s pledge in UKZN residences since its inception. We want to see all campuses taking the Pledge.

‘As for areas of improvement, the purpose of institutionalisation is permanence, homogeneity, conformity and determinism. These will be our focus areas for the upcoming years,’ she added.

After the pledge was taken, a pledge note was signed by Moshabela and Zuma to be enlarged and placed in the Administration Block on the Westville campus.

Words: Langelihle Mathe

Photographs: Sethu Dlamini


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Alumni Talk Grapples with the Dangers of Entitlement

Alumni Talk Grapples with the Dangers of Entitlement
Career Development Officer, Mr Sanele Zuma.

UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) launched its 2022 alumni talk series “Meet our Graduates” with a bang.

Held once a month in the second half of the year, this annual public lecture series attempts to address the many challenges UKZN graduates face from the time they are students to when they become professionals or entrepreneurs.

The first episode of the series, released and aired on 30 August 2022, addressed the risks of entitlement, focusing specifically on mental health within the context of career and personal development. Mr Sanele Zuma, a Student Development Officer for Student Support Services within CAES, was the special guest speaker.

He discussed mental health problems that surround unemployed graduates looking for work in South Africa today. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate was 63,9% for those aged 15-24 and 42,1% for those aged 25-34 years, while the current official national rate stands at 34,5%. The survey further reported that discouraged job seekers have grown by 16.4% over the past few years, which translates to an additional 554 000 people who have given up on ever obtaining a job.

Zuma said many graduates lack the basic ability to market themselves. ‘Your resume serves as your introduction to a firm, so if you can’t sell yourself in that document, you’ve lost the chance to get selected for an interview or, better still, to land the job you were applying for,’ he said. 

‘Lacking such a crucial fundamental ability might cause you to experience a lot of disappointment, which leaves you feeling despondent and inevitably, you find yourself slipping into depression as a result. The struggle comes when you fail to position yourself in a job you envisioned having after graduating,’ he said.

‘Many students choose a particular degree with a specific goal in mind with regards to what position they would like to occupy and all the benefits that come with that career path. Yet with most UKZN campuses located in close proximity to the central business district of the cities they occupy, how is it that they study for and finish their degrees without ever attempting to gain any kind of experience in their chosen career path with one of the companies in the city?

‘Do they feel they are entitled to something better than job shadowing as an initial form of work experience? Is it a form of entitlement that goes along with being associated with such an institution? At what point does one regard certain job opportunities as being beneath them?

‘The truth is, we all have to start somewhere and build on from there. The unsettling feeling of finding yourself getting jobs that you feel are beneath you is what most graduates have to work on. We all have to start somewhere in life,’ said Zuma.

He also discussed how some graduates lack the ability to make themselves “visible” within a company even when they get the job. ‘Their work ethic is poor and they wonder why they are never mentioned for a promotion. How can you expect a company to take you seriously when you’re not taking yourself seriously?’ he asked.

Zuma encouraged unemployed graduates to continue working hard and leave a lasting legacy even in jobs they dislike. ‘You never know who’s watching. One’s work ethic should position one to attract better opportunities,’ he said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Albert Modi said with the fourth industrial revolution firmly on the horizon, many qualifications will soon be regarded as redundant.

‘Create spaces that no one else thought could be occupied. Network while you’re still a student, refuse to be average. Inspire greatness always,’ he said.

Words: Cindy Chamane

Photograph: Supplied


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Having a Positive Mindset is Key to your Happiness

Having a Positive Mindset is Key to your Happiness
Mr Samkelo Chiliza launches a book in a bid to inspire Medical students.Click here for isiZulu version

“Having a positive mindset is key to one’s happiness” is the inspiring message that captures the journey of Mr Samkelo Chiliza, a third-year Medical student from the Wewe area in, eThekwini Municipality, who recently published a book titled: Have a better look at things.

Chiliza’s book is a rendition of his life experiences, but specifically his own mindset which affected his behaviour. ‘We always sabotage ourselves with negative inner thoughts that consume our lives. We end up with low self-esteem and fatigue daily. Anxiety starts to set in and our nervous system is now apprehended in an unrestful state. Self-sabotaging individuals may be conscious of their behaviour,’ he said.

For him, having a plan and working hard to achieve his goals saw him perform exceptionally well in Grade 12 and being accepted to study Medicine at UKZN. ‘I believe that behavioural therapy can help break rooted thought and behaviour patterns while enhancing reflection and self-control. A person’s goals and values can be reconnected with motivational therapy. Do anything you feel is suitable as long as you head in the right direction,’ commented Chiliza.

Having always had a fascination with the mind and the working of the brain, Chiliza said he studied Medicine because of his interest in learning more about the human mind and relating it to how evolution took place. He hopes that his book will inspire Medical students to overcome the mental health challenges they experience.

A study conducted at the University of Cape Town titled: The Burden of Depression and Anxiety Among Medical Students in South Africa: A Cross-Sectional Survey at the University of Cape Town found that nearly one in four Medical students reported depression/anxiety diagnoses and were on psychotropic medication, significantly more than age-based expectations. Even more screened positive for risk of depression/anxiety.

‘The truth is that everyone can achieve anything they desire through imagination. The only barrier that we have as people is ourselves.

Have a better look at things is available at Amazon from Friday, 30 September 2022.

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photographs: Supplied


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College of Humanities Hosts Colloquium on Empowerment of Councillors on Heritage Development and Maintenance

College of Humanities Hosts Colloquium on Empowerment of Councillors on Heritage Development and Maintenance
Highlights from the College of Humanities Colloquium on Empowerment of Councillors on Heritage Development and Maintenance.

The School of Social Sciences under the College of Humanities hosted a colloquium under the theme: The Empowerment of Councillors on Heritage Development and Maintenance.

The colloquium is one of many contributions from the School that seeks to assist the country by assisting communities and ensuring that heritage remains intact.

Historical Studies academic, Professor Kalpana Hiralal welcomed participants on behalf of the Dean and Head of School, Professor Vivian Ojong, saying the colloquium is significant and important as it provides a space and platform for Higher Education to play an important role in community engagement.

‘The School of Social Sciences is committed to working with communities, to engage in constructive dialogue, to work towards solutions, and to enhance community development and heritage. This colloquium will not only enhance collective initiatives and partnerships, but also shift community engagement histories and heritage from the margins to the centre of our society,’ she said.

Organiser and acting Academic Leader of Community Engagement at the School, Dr Maserole Kgari-Masondo, explained the purpose of the day, saying, ‘UKZN believes that Higher Education Institutions should play a major role in community engagement and to foster heritage development, management, preservation, and conservation.’

‘Institutions of higher learning are supposed to make sure that they work collaboratively with communities and the state through research to bring solutions to the country’s problems. This colloquium with councillors contributes to our communities to ensure that any kind of heritage in our communities does not deplete,’ she added.

Topics covered during the session included Social Cohesion and Community Engagement, Needs Analysis in Wards, and Construction of Relevant Projects to Uplift the Community.

Speakers who addressed the conference included South African anti-apartheid activist, storyteller, poet and author, Dr Gcina Mhlophe; UKZN Youth representative and Masters in Anthropology student, Mr Ntokozo Vundla; UKZN lecturers, Mr Siyabonga Ntombela, Mr Sandile Mnguni, and Dr Gerelene Jagganath; Academic Leader: Community Engagement at the School of Education, Professor Angela James; Gandhi Project Group’s Dr Hersheela Narsee; and Mangosuthu University of Technology lecturer, Professor Busisiwe Nkonki-Mandleni.

The day ended with an awards ceremony where college staff, academics, social-change activists, students, and student representatives were honoured for their efforts in community engagement receiving certificates, awards and gift packs.

Among those who were honoured was Professor Albert Modi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture Engineering and Science, for outstanding College in community engagement at UKZN, recognising the College’s innovations, especially that sought to assist communities in the aftermath of the devastating KwaZulu-Natal floods.

The awards ceremony’s gift packs were sponsored by Icebolethu Funerals.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photographs: Albert Hirasen


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UKZN Alumnus Hosts Gala Dinner to Raise Funds for Cancer Research

UKZN Alumnus Hosts Gala Dinner to Raise Funds for Cancer Research
Mrs Shan Fourie speaks at her fundraising event.

UKZN alumnus and Mrs SA 2022 finalist, Mrs Shan Fourie recently hosted a fundraising gala dinner for the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

Fourie studied Marketing and Psychology on the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus. She said, ‘Being at UKZN prepared me for my career and gave me bravery to pursue my dreams.’

The event was held at The Pencil Club in uMhlanga, where an auction hosted by Mr John Rootman and MC and East Coast Radio, DJ Jane-Linley Thomas, raised a large sum of money for CANSA.

‘I have been involved in fundraising and events for a long time, usually related to the NPOs I am an official ambassador for, including the SA Bone Marrow Registry and The Rise Up and Red movements, however as part of my Mrs South Africa journey, we were tasked with raising funds for one of the official Mrs SA charity organisations. CANSA was an easy choice for me and close to my heart as I have lost loved ones to cancer and have friends fighting the disease,’ said Fourie.

CANSA enables research with regards to lowering its risk, educating the public regarding symptoms, screening and risk reduction, and providing care and support to all people affected by the disease.

‘Cancer treatment is incredibly expensive, and according to 2018 stats, only 16.5% of the South African population is on medical aid. This leaves a massive part of our population without the ability to afford the medication they need to fight this awful disease, which is an incredibly unfair and social injustice. CANSA helps those who can’t afford the medication they deserve. Our aim is to ensure that cancer survivors and their loved ones don’t have to face cancer alone. We are here to support them through every step of their cancer journey,’ added Fourie.

Offering advice to cancer patients, she said, ‘You can do this. Life has many hurdles and your story is one that will show you just how strong you are. Lean on your family and friends but never ever stop believing that you will beat this. You are stronger than you think.

‘We have the power to make a great difference when we come together. If just 1 000 people decided to set a debit order of only R100 into a cause they believed in every month, that’s R100 000! We raised just under R100 000 which I am grateful for, but that doesn’t even cover the treatment of one child for one year. My work here is not done and I will continue to do more,’ said Fourie.

She thanked her sponsors The Pencil Club, Huizemark Ballito, The Window Boutique, Nala Photography, Creative Replay, and many others.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Nala Photography


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UKZN Academics Participate in Teaching Advancements at Universities Programme

UKZN Academics Participate in Teaching Advancements at Universities Programme
From left: Dr Sharmla Rama, Professor Shenuka Singh and Dr Annah Bengesai.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Sharmla Rama of the College of Humanities, Professor Shenuka Singh of the College of Health Sciences and Dr Annah Bengesai of the College of Law and Management Studies recently participated in the fourth cohort of the Teaching Advancements at Universities (TAU4) Fellowship Programme.

The first session of TAU4 was held at the Birchwood Hotel, Gauteng, where Singh is also a TAU4 elected representative to the TAU Programme Committee.

The TAU Fellowship Programme is a nationwide intervention aimed at advancing teaching quality and the professionalisation of teaching and learning in the public Higher Education sphere. TAU is included as a component in the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) National Framework for Advancing Academics as University Teachers and is funded as a collaborative project through the university capacity development programme (UCDP).

The TAU programme is constructed around three themes: Teaching Engagement and Responsiveness; Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; and Contributing to Change in your Context.

A TAU participant will be awarded the title of TAU Fellow upon completion of a research project aimed at allowing TAU participants to develop their capabilities to engage in, reflect on, and insert themselves as change agents (individually and collectively) in building a socially-just Higher Education system.

Rama’s project focuses on Academic Monitoring and Support Staffs’ Reflections on their Challenges and Experiences in (Re)Negotiating and (Re)Navigating their Intersectional Identities and Lived Realities, Singh’s project is entitled: Technology-Assisted Engagement for Academic Success and Holistic Student Wellness in Health Sciences, while Bengesai’s project focuses on The Impact of AMS Interventions on Student Persistence at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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College of Humanities Hosts Career Exhibition

College of Humanities Hosts Career Exhibition
Highlights from the College of Humanities Student Support Services Careers Day.

UKZN College of Humanities students had an opportunity to engage with potential employers at the Annual Careers Exhibition.

The information sharing session organised by Student Support Services took place on the Howard and Pietermaritzburg campuses. Companies attending included Competition Commission South Africa, BP, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Labour and many more.

Registered Psychologist and Manager for Student Support Services at the College Dr Angeline Stephens was thrilled to resume the annual event in-person again. ‘This is an opportune time for students to interact with potential employers and a chance to relook and reconsider one’s career path especially with all the unknowns in the world.’

Addressing the students on the Howard College campus, she added, ‘Ask as many questions as possible so you can discover how what you are studying aligns with the career you are considering.’

Bachelor of Social Science student, Ms Lufaidah Adam, said the Career Exhibition was motivating, and provided her with information on prospective employers. She was also made aware of organisations that exist on campus that she could take advantage of when building up her experience.

‘I am walking out of this experience more confident, knowing that I possess the qualifications and skills necessary to be relevant in the job market. I now have a better understanding of how to utilise my free time in my undergraduate and postgraduate studies,’ she said.

Analyst at Competition Commission South Africa Ms Nonjabulo Sambo, said, ‘We are at the Careers Fair to educate students about the work the commission does and to recruit dynamic, hardworking and committed individuals for our 2-year Cadet Training Programme.’

Early Career Senior Advisor at BP, Ms Niccy Legoka, said that the company is always looking for new talent for its graduate programme. ‘We have received very good and hardworking graduates from UKZN who are now senior professionals at the company. We are here to share our brand with the students and hopefully find new talent,’ she said.

Words and photographs: Lungile Ngubelanga


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Nursing Awards Shine Spotlight on Excellence

Nursing Awards Shine Spotlight on Excellence
UKZN’s Nursing lecturers with Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital’s Matron Duduzile Mhlongo (third left).

UKZN’s Nursing students had an Academic Awards ceremony for the Discipline followed by a sports day for all levels.

‘Life is about discovering who we are,’ Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital’s Matron Duduzile Mhlongo told students. ‘Striving for excellence in leadership and owning the decisions we make is part of nursing leadership,’ she said.

Mhlongo emphasised the importance of the three levels of management, informing students of senior management which is ‘responsible for strategic decisions,’ middle management which is tasked with ‘decision making,’ as well as operations which manages the inner workings of an organisation to ensure efficiency and productivity. ‘As a leader, you must lead by example. It is important to monitor and evaluate,’ she said.

Mr Skhumbuzo Mabaso from the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) congratulated the future nurses for their excellent achievements. He urged them to avoid litigations and informed them about DENOSA’s work. ‘The union maintains relationships with the South African Nursing Council and the Department of Health,’ said Mabaso.

The event was marked by great entertainment and fun edutainment exercises that reminded students of the University’s REACHt principles: Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Client Orientation, Honesty and Trust.

Acting School of Nursing and Public Health Dean and Head of School, Dr Bernhard Gaede celebrated the student’s academic achievements and acknowledged the contribution of people who worked in the background to ensure their success.

Acting Nursing Discipline Academic Leader, Dr Mbali Mhlongo congratulated the students for their hard work. She said Nursing students, unlike other university students, have to grow overnight as they are tasked with patient care responsibilities from when life begins and ends.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Disability Sport and Wellness Day

UKZN Disability Sport and Wellness Day
Scenes from the UKZN Disability Sports Day.

UKZN’s Disability Support Unit (DSU) in collaboration with the Differently Abled Student Association (DASA) and the Biokinetics, Exercise and Leisure Sciences Department held a Disability Equity Training (DET), Sports and Wellness Day at the Old Mutual Sports Hall (OMSH) at the Howard College campus on 3 September 2022. The event was attended by 115 students with disabilities from various UKZN campuses.

The annual disability sports day has made a comeback after a two-year pause due to COVID-19. The initiative was launched in 2016 to improve sports for students with disabilities at the University. The DSU supports students with disabilities and advocates for their rights within UKZN’s living and learning spaces.

Dr Faaiza Shaikh, DSU student co-ordinator on the Westville campus, introduced the activities for the day, including board games like monopoly, chess, scrabble and cards designed for students with visual challenges as well as games including blind cricket, table tennis, volleyball, goalball and basketball. Hula hoops, tug-of-war and a wheelchair race were also part of the programme.

Approximately 10 Sports Science students and 25 KwaZulu-Natal Blind Cricket team members were present on the day to assist and cheer the students along. The HIV and AIDS Programme provided individual services to the students.

The DET programme was facilitated by Mr Nevil Balakrishna, the Disability Coordinator at Howard College campus. He interacted with the students about the challenges they face in society and their responsibility to bring about change. The training emphasised the important role that disabled students need to play to bring about change in society. ‘DET talks about recognising the role of disability as an issue of oppression and the need to balance the power relationships in society. We have a responsibility to educate the able body, we have the power to bring about change, said Balakrishna. He also pointed out that students with disabilities need to be proud of themselves and that disability rights are human rights, so they must stand up against discrimination.

‘We focus on developing students’ talent,’ said Mr Mbhazima Derrick Munyai, DSU independent trainer and sport co-ordinator on the Pietermaritzburg campus. Commenting on the sports he said: ‘Some of the students playing for the KZN Blind Cricket started here before they were selected for the provincial team and they also played abroad against India and Pakistan. So, the students selected from today’s games may be part of the provincial team playing in October.’

He pointed out that students need to be motivated in order to overcome challenges encountered. ‘Blind cricket and goalball go as far as the Olympics so, we try to push students with disabilities to be involved in provincial and national sport tournaments,’ he added.

Mr Ndumiso Nyawose, KZN Blind Cricket President and Blind Cricket South Africa National Coordinator, is one of the graduates who has grown in blind cricket to a provincial and national level. He shared his journey of being able to see and later becoming visually impaired while studying at university. He said that interacting with people was one of the greatest challenges when adjusting to his loss of eyesight, but joining blind cricket changed his life - it proved to be so much more than just playing sports. ‘I finally started to enjoy life again,’ adding Nyawose. ‘So, it is important to use sport to show people what you are capable of because sport is one of those things that brings people together,’ said Nyawose.

Sport science lecturer, Dr Khumbuzile Khumalo, who is fondly known as “KK”, said the idea behind the sport programme ‘is to uplift sport and allow students with disabilities who were marginalised to be recognised and involved in sports.’ She wants to engage more communities to recognise people with disabilities and stop the discrimination and name-calling in society. ‘We need to show them respect and love,’ said Khumalo.

Words: Zama Khoza

Photographs: Ntsika Nduli


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Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Mauritius Signed

Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Mauritius Signed
At the official signing of the MoU from left: Professor B Seetanah (UoM), Dr UG Singh (UKZN), Professor S K Sobhee (Acting VC, UoM), Professor M Santally (UoM) and Associate Professor R Sungkur (UoM).

The School of Management, Information and Governance - under the leadership of its Dean and Head, Professor Stephen Mutula - co-ordinated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Mauritius (UoM).

The MoU was signed on Tuesday, 6 September 2022 at a formal ceremony. Founded in 1965, UoM - which is regarded as the premier university on the island - has seven faculties, namely the Faculty of Agriculture (FoA), Faculty of Engineering (FoE), Faculty of Law and Management (FLM), Faculty of Information Communication and Digital Technologies (FoICDT), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), Faculty of Science (FoS), and Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (FSSH).

Since its creation, the university has produced around 60 000 graduates and has, from 2017, embarked on a modernisation strategy, positioning itself as a research-engaged and entrepreneurial institution. The new vision, centered on innovation, empowers the UoM to play an active role in building the human, intellectual, business and social capital of the country.

To achieve this vision, the university is not only actively developing the tripartite relationship (UoM, public and private sectors), but is also engaging closely with the community for the economic and social progress of the country. Since August 2019, the UoM has adopted the Learner Centered Credit System (LCCS) in line with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) which will further enhance independent learning and promote outcome-based programmes. The UoM is collaborating with overseas institutions, namely the University of Arizona, USA; CY Cergy Paris Université, France; and the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI), Canada, to offer dual degree programs. The university has obtained accreditation for six programmes offered by its Faculty of Engineering by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

It has also obtained accreditation for its BSc (Hons) Chemistry programme by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Moreover, the University runs flagship programmes of study in Medicine in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux, France, and University of Geneva, Switzerland. The UoM also places emphasis on doctoral programmes and works closely with the business community, especially the community at large.

Internationalisation is key to the new vision of the UoM. The university promotes international education diplomacy and deeper engagement with key countries and external partners. The first joint project planned for this collaboration is the hosting of a joint Doctoral Colloquium in Mauritius (planned for 2023) - providing a platform for UKZN and UoM students to share their research and engage with fellow international PhD students and supervisors.

SMIG has already collaborated with the UoM delivering three guest webinars for their doctoral students - by Professor Fayth Ruffin, Professor Manoj Maharaj and Dr Upasana Singh.

Dr Upasana Singh, academic co-ordinator for the MoU at UKZN welcomes interest from colleagues in the form of proposals for collaboration with the UoM.

Words: NdabaOnline

Photograph: Supplied


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CLMS Hosts Successful Postgraduate Open Days

CLMS Hosts Successful Postgraduate Open Days
The College Postgraduate Open Days on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses featured a discussion with alumni (image on the left) and College academics discussing the value of postgraduate studies respectively (right).

The College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS) recently hosted successful Postgraduate Open Days to help prospective students and business executives with identifying academic programmes to advance their studies and careers.

This two-day event was attended by hundreds of guests live and virtually on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

On the Westville campus, the event incorporated live conversations with notable alumni who shared the experiences of their journeys towards their professional and entrepreneurial endeavours, highlighting the positive impact of postgraduate programmes offered by the College.

The alumni panel comprised of Mr Sandile Zondi, Senior Director and Attorney at C.S. Zondi & Associates Inc who recently graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Investigation and Criminal Justice; Dr Garth Gaffley, founder of Garth Gaffley Consulting, a digital transformation advisory and consultative business based in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng; as well as Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies graduate and UKZN’s Risk Management Services Acting Director, Ms Sinegugu Tshabalala. The session with alumni was facilitated by Dr Nomkhosi Luthuli, senior lecturer at the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L).

During the conversation, Tshabalala reflected on her journey as a graduate and how she moved from being a professional teacher into operations and management. She emphasised that undergraduate students should not look down on any postgraduate course because their passion may not lie in what they are doing.

Zondi, who believes that entrepreneurial success lies in education, encouraged prospective students to enrol in courses that can help them acquire the knowledge and skills which are the relevant characteristics that come with entrepreneurship. ‘You cannot succeed without having the knowledge because you need to keep up with the trends, and if you do not take courses like postgraduate diplomas, you will not be able to keep up and grow your business,’ he said.

Gaffley, a tech consultant, spoke about how his doctoral research has enhanced his ability to mentor and coach senior business executives who are not adept at technology and leading their organisation’s digital transformation processes.

The Pietermaritzburg campus discussion was chaired by Dr Bhasela Yalezo of the GSB&L and featured Professor Mabutho Sibanda, Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance and Professor Maxwell Phiri from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance. The academics shared their journey to success in academia and business which was enabled by postgraduate studies.

Explaining how they help students build up their relationships with relevant industries, Sibanda said:
‘We get most of our lecturers from industry. Most of our graduate programmes are taught by industry practitioners, some of them are bankers and some of them are financial planners. They help us align the curriculum with what is happening in the industry.’

On the other hand, Phiri, who has supervised and graduated 35 PhD students since 2012, and over 50 master’s students since 2008, shared the impact that has been made by UKZN graduates in commerce and academia.

The event was well received by prospective students who had an opportunity to engage with administrators, academics and alumni.

Words: Hazel Langa and Samukelisiwe Cele

Photographs: Supplied


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UKZN Master’s Student Spends a Semester Abroad in Germany

UKZN Master’s Student Spends a Semester Abroad in Germany
Ms Thulile Sinethemba Mhlangu on a trip to Berlin and at a picnic with fellow international students.Click here for isiZulu version

Ms Thulile Sinethemba Mhlangu is back in South Africa after spending five months as an exchange student at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.

Mhlangu, who is pursuing a Master of Social Sciences in Development Studies at UKZN, found the semester abroad personally and academically enriching. ‘The student exchange experience was life-changing and I will always be grateful for it. It was very beneficial for my personal and academic growth,’ said Mhlangu.

Being an exchange student can be daunting, but she welcomed the challenge and learnt a lot about herself and the international community. ‘This was my first time abroad. I had a fair amount of fear and anxiety, however I was very excited for the student exchange experience,’ she said.

‘My fondest memory was celebrating my 25th birthday abroad with the new friends and networks I had established. This was my first time celebrating my birthday without my close family and friends. It was definitely a special moment for myself, and my international friends made it extra special.’

While the medium of instruction in class was English, Mhlangu did an Intensive German A1.1 course, which helped her understand and integrate better into German society.

Challenges included being out of her comfort zone and adjusting to operational differences between Germany and South Africa as well as the university system. She acknowledged the support she received from academic staff, fellow students as well as her family and friends, who helped her adjust.

While she enjoyed her semester abroad, Mhlangu is happy to be back at home in Newlands East, Durban, with her ‘supportive and loving’ family. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking and engaging in adventurous activities.

Her plans for the future include completing her master’s degree and pursuing a career in her field of study locally or internationally. She has a particular interest in development planning, development projects and working towards eradicating social and economic ills.

She has this advice for students looking to broaden their horizons: ‘Your current circumstances should not limit your thinking towards achieving your goals and aspirations. Continue working towards your goals and seek life-changing opportunities.’

Words: Raylene Captain Hasthibeer

Photographs: Supplied


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Self-Drive Earns 65-Year-Old College Principal her PhD in Education

Self-Drive Earns 65-Year-Old College Principal her PhD in Education
Dr Petty Silitshen received a PhD in Education at UKZN’s Spring Graduation.

Soon-to-retire Principal at Teacher Education College in Zimbabwe, Dr Petty Silitshena beamed with pride when she graduated with her PhD in Education at the age of 65.

After years of contemplating and seeing that age was catching up with her, she finally decided to enrol for her doctorate at UKZN, a decision she never thought she was brave enough to make.

‘I have wanted to do this for some time and emulate my late husband, Professor Robson Silitshena and children who have studied to a professorial level, but I never had the drive until one day, an inner voice finally pushed me to get it done. After all, imfundo ayikhulelwa (one is never too old to learn),’ said Silitshena.

Her PhD research study analysed employee motivation models on organisational performance in government primary teacher education colleges in Zimbabwe.

The major study findings revealed that all levels of motivation influenced employees. It was, however, affirmed that employees were by and large influenced by the system and process model, rather than by the personal-needs model. There was limited knowledge of the personal-needs model both from an operational level and from documented literature. This led to a lack of balance between the system and the process models of motivation.

Reflecting on her PhD and life’s journey, she said: ‘Age is just a number, this milestone in my life at my age is proof that you can do whatever you set your mind to and excel at it. I am turning 65 in December and will be retiring soon but I did not let that deter me from my goal.

‘It is not a road without challenges, but I took those as opportunities and soldiered on,’ she added.

Silitshena is grateful for the support from her children; nephew, Professor Mabutho Sibanda (Dean and Head of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance); and supervisor, Professor Simon Khoza who was patient with her as she walked her PhD journey.

She plans to open a consultancy company after retirement and use her research to teach others.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Talented Photographer Snaps up a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree

Talented Photographer Snaps up a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree
Mr Sethu Dlamini captures a selfie with the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku.

Talented photographer, Mr Sethu Dlamini recently graduated with his Bachelor of Arts Honours degree (Cultural and Heritage Tourism) in which he examined the conditions and dynamics of tourism in South Africa.

Dlamini was awarded a UKZN postgraduate bursary and is popular for the amazing photos he captures. He has worked for the University as a photographer for almost four years, capturing and narrating some of the Institution’s most joyful and successful moments through his camera.

His research looked at the service quality and standard adherence amongst Black-owned small, medium, and micro-industry enterprises (SMEs). The study mainly focused on uMlazi township (V section) following previous literature which indicated a decline within Black-owned tourism SMEs in South African townships. ‘The purpose of my research is to examine the obstacles that lead to this failure and to propose practical solutions. The research has also explored the amazing potential of these enterprises if the challenges they face today can be overcome,’ explained Dlamini.

He intends to study for his master’s to explore possible ways to boost South Africa’s mission of transforming its tourism industry. By applying for his master’s, he will also be able to explore possible ways to enhance the national vision.

One of Dlamini’s biggest challenges was balancing his honours studies and his work as a photographer - both of which required ample time for proper delivery and performance. However, being supervised by the late Dr Nokuthula Cele, who passed on when he was working on the last chapter of his research, made up for any challenges he faced. ‘She was more than a supervisor but a mother and an inspiration to me. In spite of the challenges at hand, she always encouraged me to be a solution-driven man. I developed my writing and thinking skills simultaneously through her,’ he said.

He chose UKZN because of its excellent performance in academic rankings, as well as the energy and atmosphere of growth at the Institution.

Dlamini said his family and friends were there for him through his academic journey. He even had a weekly study schedule with friends around campus.

He encouraged his peers to invest time and effort in understanding their research topics which will result in the discovery of implementable solutions to whatever problem their research seeks to solve.

Words: Sinoyolo Mahlasela

Photograph: Rogan Ward


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Infusing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the Undergraduate Curriculum

Infusing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the Undergraduate Curriculum
From left: Professor Bala Pillay, Dr Deshini Naidoo, Professor Ruth Hoskins, Professor Msizi Mkhize, Dr Sharmla Rama, Dr Bobby Varghese, Professor Sinegugu Duma and Professor Vassilios Makrakis (Frederick University).

UKZN academics recently participated in the Professionalisation of Undergraduate Academic Teaching in Multiple Disciplines to Address SDGs (PUAT) Project Workshop held at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.

The PUAT project is funded by the European Commission Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Higher Education Programme. The workshop was organised by the University of Crete in co-operation with the Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE) Crete partners of the PUAT project. UKZN is one of the South African collaborators on the project together with Rhodes University and the University of Venda.

The UKZN delegation reported on the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) of the United Nations covered in undergraduate modules in the UKZN curriculum across all four Colleges. The participating universities presented and discussed the progress and achievements of infusing the SDGs into the undergraduate curriculum.

Various measures of excellence in teaching and learning at different structures in UKZN and the two other South African universities, including staff and student development, were also discussed. The workshop was successful in bringing academic staff from the three South African universities to evaluate the implementation of the SDGs in our undergraduate curriculum.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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Doctoral Study Contributes to the Fight Against Corruption and Promotion of Good Governance

Doctoral Study Contributes to the Fight Against Corruption and Promotion of Good Governance
Doctor of Business Administration graduate, Dr Sihle Ndlovu, with his supportive wife Mrs Sithandwa Ndlovu.

Concerns about corruption and lack of good governance in the local government sphere prompted the Executive Chairman of Inzalo Capital Holdings Ltd investments company with an interest in software development, technology and water smart management solution, Dr Sihle Ndlovu to embark on a research journey which resulted in him being awarded a Doctor of Business Administration degree by UKZN.

An Ethical Leadership Framework to Curb Corruption and Promote Good Governance in South Africa: A Case of Elected KwaZulu-Natal Municipalitieswas the title of Ndlovu’s study under the supervision of Professor Emmanuel Mutambara. The study - which sampled three municipalities within KwaZulu-Natal, namely eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, uMgungundlovu District Municipality and Msunduzi Local Municipality - investigated the effect of ethical leadership on corruption and good governance in South African municipalities. It was conducted to assist in the fight against corruption and the promotion of good governance in the public service through ethical leadership. It expands existing knowledge on ethical leadership, corruption and good governance.

Utilising the mixed methods approach, the quantitative analysis identified the common manifestation of corruption in the three municipalities as fraud and bribery, mismanagement of funds, abuse of resources, procurement irregularities, unethical behaviour, and appointment irregularities, while quantitative results revealed accountability and transparency as some of the indicators of good governance.

The regression model developed in the study showed that ethical leadership predicts corruption and good governance in the municipalities. It further suggested that ethical leadership contributed more to the fight against corruption than promoting good governance.

Ndlovu firmly believes that the fight against corruption can be won through the strengthening of anti-corruption agencies, effective legal frameworks and allocation of resources for anti-corruption agencies.

The study recommends that municipalities should continue to appoint and invest in ethical leaders to help curb corruption. ‘Given the alarming rate of corruption in public sector organisations, it appears that the anti-corruption approaches are not helpful anymore. To minimise the prevalence of corruption within the public sector, the anti-corruption agencies need to be strengthened; communities must be involved as an effective means of social regulation; corrupt individuals must be held accountable; transparency must be upheld, particularly in the government procurement system and appointments; and there must be legislative reforms.’

At Inzalo Capital Holdings, Ndlovu is responsible for developing and implementing plans and business strategies which ensure alignment with short and long-term business objectives for South Africa and the Global Business Plans.

Ndlovu is a man of many talents with interests in farming and finance. He is a professional accountant (SA) with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA). In 2019, he earned the Global Water Award for the Smart Water Project of the Year, honouring his Cape Town Day Zero Demand Management South Africa initiative as a chairman of Inzalo Utility Systems water smart metering solutions company. In 2016, he was awarded first prize at the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries #Agristars Recognition Awards for his success and contributions to the agricultural sector, specifically within animal and plant production.

He is currently enrolled in a 12-month intensive leadership programme facilitated by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Seed Transformation Programme aimed at CEOs and founders of companies in developing and emerging economies. He is also the Chairman and Non-Executive Director member of various companies and institutions.

Proud of his achievement, Ndlovu said: ‘The research has helped me to strengthen and understand the fundamentals of ethical leadership to promote good governance for the sustainability and the reputation of the organisation.

‘I believe that faith in God includes faith in His timing. So is today, I feel so overwhelmed and humbled by this opportunity looking at where I come from. It is indeed a joyous day and God moves in an atmosphere of gratitude. I never thought that I would be counted as one of the doctoral graduates today. I worked very hard to achieve my goal of obtaining a DBA.’

With the doctoral journey requiring support from various structures, Ndlovu is grateful to his parents for instilling in him a culture of education and learning. ‘My family, especially my mother kept me going through prayer and motivation. My wife and kids understood my dream and supported it. My work colleagues also encouraged me to continue the journey and provided me with all the necessary support.’

He said that Mutambara was his academic pillar of strength, ‘Professor Mutambara is a great leader, I wanted to give up at some point but his encouragement and support made me believe in myself. I will always be grateful to him,’ he added.

Next on Ndlovu’s agenda is sharing the findings of his study with the three municipalities sampled with the aim to empower them in the eradication of corruption which will contribute to improved service delivery.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Of Books and Book Festivals 2022

Of Books and Book Festivals 2022
UKZN Press out and about.

The District Six Museum in Cape Town was the venue for the successful first launch of the book Racism, Violence, Betrayals and New Imaginaries: Feminist Voices, edited by Nadia Sanger and Benita Moolman.

A unique collection of writing from a feminist perspective on the experiences of race and racism by Black South African women, the book has been described as ‘an honest, often gut-wrenching account of the experiences of Black women in various South African settings.’ 

UKZN Press director, Dr Phindile Dlamini, and customer services officer, Mr Edwin Ramthew, attended the launch, and engaged with authors - both existing and potential - and guests. There was an exclusive opportunity to purchase signed copies of the book and gain deeper insights and behind-the-scenes knowledge.

Meanwhile, a long-held dream of local publishers to have a book fair in Durban came true during the first week of August this year. Working closely with the co-founder and director of the Durban International Book Festival (DIBF), UKZN Press was one of the main partners, with a very well-stocked stand at the Sibaya Casino. From books published in the early 1990s to date, the stand attracted much interest from consumers and current authors to book-sellers, libraries and potential authors. It was a jam-packed programme, with UKZN representatives and Press authors contributing to the well-attended talks.

After a hiatus of three years, due to COVID-19 and national lockdowns, the Midlands Literary Festival finally returned, taking place on 3 and 4 September at Fernhill Hotel. ‘Although this year focused more on self-published authors, we were pleased to have our author and well-known raconteur, Professor Ashwin Desai, on the programme. Festival attendees and other authors couldn’t help but be drawn to the UKZN Press book display and, once again, we got great feedback on the range of titles and quality of the books we publish,’ said Dlamini.

With 2022 only starting to open to in-person book exhibits, book fairs/festivals and conferences, UKZN Press says it looks forward to an excellent year in 2023. ‘We invite you to visit us on the Pietermaritzburg campus to see the range of titles we have published. Alternatively, our website, www.ukznpress.co.za, has a display of our latest and forthcoming titles, and you can browse our electronic catalogue,’ said Dlamini.

Words: Adele Branch

Photographs: Damian Sean Samuels and Supplied


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School of Management, IT and Governance Academic and Student Present Paper on the Influence of Technology on Recruitment

School of Management, IT and Governance Academic and Student Present Paper on the Influence of Technology on Recruitment
Dr Anisha Ramsaroop (left) and Ms Tanisha Sulagan presented at the 8th International Conference on Business and Management Dynamics.

Dr Anisha Ramsaroop, an academic within the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance, and Master of Commerce in Human Resource Management student, Ms Tanisha Sulagan, presented a paper titled: Assessing Employees’ Perceptions on the Influence of Technology on Recruitment in a Cape Town Engineering Company at the 8th International Conference on Business and Management Dynamics.

The conference was themed: Re-engineering Business Processes in the New Normal, with Business and Economic Development Post COVID-19 and Restructuring of the Global Economy being its sub-themes.

Ramsaroop and Sulagan’s paper highlighted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is rapidly changing the world of recruitment, hence companies not only have to stay on trend in today’s competitive market, but also need to integrate and keep up with the rise of technology in recruitment. The quantitative study assessed employees’ perceptions of the influence of technology on recruitment in a Cape Town engineering company with the aim of understanding the influence of technology on recruitment.

‘The results of this study revealed that there is a higher preference towards the use of technology in recruitment as opposed to traditional methods of recruitment,’ explained Ramsaroop.

She added that the findings also showed that while organisations use a technologically driven recruitment approach, traditional recruitment methods are not something of the past.

‘A self-developed research model in relation to the findings of the study has been proposed to help organisations, executives, human resource management professionals, and recruiters with strategies for a technologically enhanced recruitment process and to also understand the influence of technology on the recruitment process, thus adding a new contribution to the relationship between technology and recruitment.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photographs: Supplied


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Gagasi FM Shero 2022 Award for UKZN Veterinarian

Gagasi FM Shero 2022 Award for UKZN Veterinarian
Dr Nqobile Jaca wins a Gagasi FM Shero award.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Nqobile Jaca, Head of the Biomedical Resource Unit at UKZN, was recently honoured with a Gagasi FM Shero award for Science and Technology.

The radio station introduced the awards to celebrate extraordinary KwaZulu-Natal women who push boundaries and excel in their different professions.

Jaca, a qualified veterinarian, joined UKZN in 2019 after working as a poultry veterinarian at Ceva Animal Health in Midrand. Having matriculated from Ridge Park College in Durban, she knew from a very young age that this was a career she wanted to pursue due to her love for animals. ‘I grew up in Ntuzuma, a township in Durban. I was raised by a single mother and had no exposure to the veterinary field when growing up, but I had this love for animals in a way that was strange for a girl from the township. If my neighbour’s cat was giving birth, I would be under their bed pulling out kittens and keeping them dry in a bid to keep them alive with the little we had. Veterinary Science for me was more of a calling than anything because until Grade 10, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a veterinarian.’

Gagasi FM described Jaca as a leader in her field who is well acquainted with the challenges faced by women as they strive for personal and professional advancement in this province.

Upon hearing that she had won the award in the Science and Technology sector, she said, ‘The awards are all about recognising women doing exceptional things in their communities and occupying space in different professions. I won the science and technology award which serves to honour me as a Black female veterinarian in the laboratory animal sciences. This award made me realise that I am seen and the work and space that I occupy matter and I hope this serves as a reminder for all young Black girls that their dreams are valid and that nothing is impossible if they believe and put in the work.’

When asked about her future, Jaca said, ‘I hope to take our animal research unit to greater heights - world-class standards and for it to offer a wide range of research models and world-class facilities. I would also like to go into veterinary consultation, especially in the poultry space at some stage.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


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Professor Shenuka Singh’s Inaugural Lecture

Professor Shenuka Singh’s Inaugural Lecture
Professor Shenuka Singh with her family and colleagues at her inaugural lecture.

‘I am glad to present this lecture in front of my mother who instilled in me the value of investing in life-long education.’

These were the words of UKZN’s Professor Shenuka Singh, Full Professor in the Discipline of Dentistry, at her inaugural lecture.

Singh is also an appointed member of the National Health Research Ethics Council (NHREC) in South Africa (2020-2023) as well as NHREC Norms and Standards Committee Chair.

Titled: Turning the Moral Compass Towards Transformative Research Ethics: An Inflection Point for Humanized Pedagogy in Higher Education, Singh’s presentation highlighted the need for a paradigm shift in the understanding and thinking of research ethics and the need to contextualise research practices within an African context, while at the same time, looking at learning approaches in research ethics that recognise the role of interactive learning where diversity in student needs and experiences are explored within the learning context.

‘When we look at the obligations of the researcher, the focus appears to be on virtue ethics - that is character-based ethics,’ she said. ‘This means that a person who is honest, fair, and good should not be engaging in research misconduct, yet, we do know that sometimes good researchers with good characters and attributes engage in questionable research behaviour,’ she continued.

She said ethics is not first learned at university but rather cultivated and nurtured in the home environment. ‘Researchers’ attitudes and world views on research would be influenced by their social upbringing and shaped by cultural and religious belief systems. Thus, researchers, students, and supervisors come into the research environment with preconceived perceptions and attitudes that will ultimately impact on their research behaviours.’

Her study findings highlighted that researchers or technicians working with only the blood sample in the biobank might find it difficult to connect the sample back to the person who provided this material. ‘This disconnect can be amplified if the researcher/technician does not subscribe to the cultural or belief systems as that of the person who provided that biosample,’ she explained.

She said in her experience as an ethics reviewer and former chair of two research ethics committees, not only do students struggle to engage with research ethics, but research supervisors also do, which points to a deeper systemic issue of how research ethics is taught and sustained through undergraduate and postgraduate training programmes.

‘Thus, it is left up to the student to join the dots…that is to integrate this information,’ she said.

Singh has a Bachelor’s degree in Oral Health from the former University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN), followed by a Master’s in Dentistry and then the first PhD in the area of Dental Public Health from the University of the Western Cape. These postgraduate degrees were obtained while she was employed in the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.

She was formally appointed as a full-time staff member in the Discipline of Dentistry at UKZN in November 2009 where she began as a lecturer. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 2014, Associate Professor in 2017, and full Professor in 2022. Her commitment to lifelong learning is reflected by the fact that she went on to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Research Ethics (cum laude) from Stellenbosch University and then a second PhD (Clinical and Health Research Ethics) also from Stellenbosch University in 2022. She is the academic leader for Teaching and Learning in the School of Health Sciences and a Deputy Chair of the Biomedical Research Ethics Committee at UKZN (2020-2023).

At a national level, Singh is an appointed member of the NHREC in South Africa (2020-2023) which is a ministerial appointment and she chairs the Norms and Standards Committee within NHREC. Her portfolio at this level involves the development and facilitation of national guidelines related to research ethics in the country. She is also a member of the Human Sciences Research Council’s Research Ethics Committee (2019 to date).

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Health Sciences, Professor Busi Ncama, and Dean and Head of the School of Health Sciences, Professor Percy Mashige, congratulated Singh on her great achievement.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied


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From Clusters to Stars - It’s all about Delivery

From Clusters to Stars - It’s all about Delivery
Professor Moganavelli Singh.

‘Bio-nanocarriers based on inorganic nanoparticles provide an interesting and novel strategy for the delivery of therapeutic genes or drugs.’

So said Biochemist, Professor Moganavelli “Mogie” Singh on the occasion of her inaugural lecture into the UKZN professoriate.

‘Several nanoparticles have been synthesised, including lipids, polymers, carbon-based and inorganic nanoparticles (gold, silver, platinum, silica, selenium),’ she said. ‘Inorganic nanoparticles are attractive candidates for both gene and drug delivery, and have the potential to revolutionise the area of nanomedicine and cancer therapy owing to their small size, good stability and amenability to functionalisation and cell-specific cellular uptake.’

Singh said gold nanoparticles favour shapes from nanoclusters to nanospheres to nanostars.

Her inaugural lecture covered nanoparticles researched from 2000 to date, focusing on gold and selenium nanoparticles for anticancer drug and gene delivery.

‘Both these nanoparticles have shown the ability to bind, condense and successfully transport nucleic acids (DNA, mRNA and siRNA) to cells in vitro, in addition to successfully delivering anticancer drugs to cancer cells,’ she said.

Singh received her BSc Honours and MSc in Biochemistry from the then University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN) before going on to obtain her PhD from UKZN in 2005.

She joined the Department of Biochemistry in September 1987 as a junior laboratory technician and worked her way through the ranks of senior technician, lecturer (2001), senior lecturer (2008), Associate Professor (2017) and finally, full Professor in 2020.

During this time, she held the positions of Dean’s Assistant; Deputy Head of School for Biochemistry, Microbiology and Genetics; Academic Leader: Teaching and Learning; and Academic Leader: Research and Postgraduate Studies.

Singh’s research is rooted in Gene Therapy and Nanomedicine, with particular focus on non-viral or nanoparticle-mediated gene and drug delivery for the treatment of cancer.

In addition, she is involved in collaborations involving the testing of medicinal plants and novel synthesised chemical compounds for various biological activities, including anticancer activity in collaboration with researchers at UKZN, North West University, the University of Zululand and Walter Sisulu University. 

She has successfully supervised and graduated 18 doctoral and 32 master’s students, mentored six Postdoctoral Fellows, four National Research Foundation (NRF) interns, and published over 145 papers in Scopus and ISI indexed journals, together with five published book chapters, 15 published proceedings and 57 conference presentations.

Notably, one of Singh’s papers published in the journal Pharmaceutics was nominated for the 2021 Highest Cited Paper award. She is currently supervising 12 PhD, six master’s and two honours students.

Singh was part of the Scientific organising committee for the 4th International Conference on Nanomedicine, Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering (NDDTE’19), on the Promotion committee for Kuwait University 2021, and was a panel member for peer review of the SAMRC/WITS Antiviral Gene Therapy Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, in October 2020.

She currently serves on the NRF standing panel for the Natural and Life Sciences (2019/2020-2022/2023). 

Singh is a member of the Editorial Board of Evidenced-based Complementary and Alternative Research, and has been invited to serve as a guest editor for the Journal of Oncology, Pharmaceutics and Frontiers of Chemistry. She is a reviewer for more than 50 journals, including high-impact journals such as the Journal of Controlled Release and the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.

She has been an NRF C3-rated scientist since 2012 and has received several grants including the Nanotechnology Flagship, international bilateral and BRICS funding. She has a Google scholar h-index of 28, an i10-index of 77 and over 2 200 citations to date. She was among the Top 30 Researchers at UKZN for 2019 and 2020.

Singh has been an invited speaker at a number of international conferences in Singapore, Japan, USA, Italy, Poland and Dubai, including two of which were keynote addresses. She recently represented South Africa in the Controlled Release Society’s International Chapter Webinar featuring India, South Africa and Turkey.

She has served as a judge for presentations at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy Annual Congress in Washington, USA. She is a member of the South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB), European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT), American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), International Society of Global Health, and the Controlled Release Society Local Chapter - South Africa.

Words: Sally Frost

Photograph: Supplied


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