Mount Everest Trek Dedicated to Long COVID Patients

Mount Everest Trek Dedicated to Long COVID Patients
From left: Dr Natasha Lalloo, Professor Raziya Bobat, and Professor Umesh Lalloo with friends, Anni Ramkisson and Nerusha Perumaul at the Mount Everest base camp.Click here for isiZulu version

Former dean of the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine and UKZN staff member Professor Umesh Lalloo, his paediatrician wife Professor Raziya Bobat, their daughter Dr Natasha Lalloo and friends climbed to Mount Everest base camp, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, to create awareness of Long COVID (LC) among both patients and healthcare practitioners.

The Lalloo’s other daughter, Ms Seema Lalloo is currently recovering from LC. Bobat said, ‘This hike is dedicated to Seema, and to all those who are grappling with Long COVID. Know that you are not alone. We want to increase awareness of this condition and highlight the lack of support and empathy for Long COVID sufferers.’

Natasha Lalloo said, ‘The altitude is already affecting us all, with breathlessness and a mild tachycardia (raised heart rate) on little exertion. Many people with Long COVID experience this at their home altitude, even those who would otherwise be climbing mountains with ease. Treatment for these symptoms is patient-dependent (and depends on the specific cause). Although the recovery process is long and slow, it is indeed possible for many. Unfortunately, there are not enough healthcare practitioners who know what to do or how to approach and advise their patients, and many doctors, employers (and insurers) lack empathy for Long COVID sufferers, and fail to recognise this complex and often lengthy process.

‘To those experiencing Long COVID: we believe you, recognise your symptoms and the challenges you face, and encourage you to seek the help you need. There are indeed healthcare practitioners who can help you. Most importantly, know that you are not alone.’

The team made it to the Mount Everest base camp after a grueling eight-day hike. According to Bobat, ‘The days were tough but the scenery was spectacular. Each day brought its own challenges but we were fortunate to have a good team and eventually got to base camp. It is a really beautiful place, with the Khumbu glacier, lakes, and towering mountain peaks.

‘Everyone in the team developed coughs and colds, which made breathing even more difficult at the high altitudes. In Gorakshep, the last stop before base camp at an altitude of 5 200m, breathing is a huge challenge and it reminded us of those with Long COVID who have ongoing respiratory problems. Fatigue, malaise, myalgia, tachycardia, dyspnoea on mild exertion...we felt all of these things as we breached the 5 000m altitude mark.

‘Long COVID comes in many different forms and grades of severity, but these are a few of the common symptoms sufferers experience. Our amazing guides told us in Nepalese “bistari bistari” which means slowly, slowly. I think we all finally began to appreciate and experience personally what Long COVID may feel like physically and mentally.

‘We would not have made it without the teamwork and camaraderie. Long COVID sufferers will eventually get there with teamwork. It requires tremendous mental resilience and the support of family, friends, employers, and colleagues.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN’s Public Relations Divisions Among the Best in the Country

UKZN’s Public Relations Divisions Among the Best in the Country
Mr Sashlin Girraj (CAES) and Mr Sibongiseni Msomi (COH) at the 2022 MACE Excellence Awards ceremony in Pretoria.

UKZN won six awards at the 2022 Marketing, Communication and Advancement in Education (MACE) Excellence Awards which recognise excellence and achievements among marketing, advancement and communication practitioners in the Higher Education sector.

The College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) Public Relations (PR) team picked up four awards. The first was a bronze award in the Writing for News Media category for the article Geologists Warn Tropical Cyclones Could Land in KZN. A second bronze award in the General Campaigns category was awarded to the Computer Science Industry Seminar Series. STEC@UKZN also won a bronze award for their Science4U outreach initiatives in the Community and Social Responsibility campaigns category.

The CAES Registration webpage received the gold award for the best entrant in the Websites category.

To date, the CAES PR team has won a total of 13 MACE awards. The team is led by Dr Sally Frost who creates an environment for her team to shine. ‘We are fortunate in CAES to have extremely innovative, creative and competent practitioners, who time after time lead the field. These MACE awards are a testament to their excellence and commitment,’ said Frost. ‘Special thanks and congratulations are extended to Ms Christine Cuenod, Ms Leena Rajpal, Ms Swasti Maney, Mr Asok Rajh, Dr Tanja Reinhardt, Ms Ntokozo Dladla, Mr Sashlin Girraj, Ms Sonali Jagath, Ms Sinothile Dludla, Mr Thembelani Khumalo and Mr Samkelo Njiva.’

The College of Humanities (COH) PR team won two awards. Their Humanities Pulse e-Magazine was awarded bronze in the Printed and Digital Annual Reports category, while their 2021 COVID-19 Pandemic Newsletter designed by web administrator Mr Sibongiseni Msomi won in the Digital Internal Magazines and Newsletters category.

The COH PR team also attributes their success to the efforts and tenacity of team members. Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize said, ‘Congratulations to our College PR Team, led by Ms Melissa Mungroo. Humanities Pulse is only a few months old and we are proud of this award-winning publication.’ Acting Director of College Professional Services Dr Phumelele Zakwe added, ‘Congratulations to our PR team for their collective work in taking the Humanities community to greater heights.’

In a time where it has become harder to reach and impact the market (due to the COVID-19 pandemic and hybrid work), UKZN’s Public Relations divisions have had to be agile. In doing so they have contributed to Enabler 1 of UKZN’s strategy: Enhanced UKZN brand - Promote UKZN to be synonymous with a great African university.

Words: Sashlin Girraj and Melissa Mungroo

Image: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN ENT Registrar’s Presentation Wins First Prize at National Congress

UKZN ENT Registrar’s Presentation Wins First Prize at National Congress
From left: Drs Sarena Maistry, Sibusiso Gumede (registrar), Akhona Yakobi (consultant) and Sibahle Sithole (registrar).

Dr Sarena Maistry, a Medical Registrar in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) was awarded the prize for the Best Registrar Oral presentation at the South African Society of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery’s 58th national congress.

UKZN’s ENT Department had a strong presence; of the six registrars in the Department, five submitted abstracts for consideration by the scientific committee. All five were accepted and successfully presented.

Maistry scooped first place for her study titled, Peak Expiratory Flow Rate Monitoring in Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis (RRP). RRP disease accounts for approximately 600 clinic visits annually at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital ENT clinic and 20-25 surgical debulkings per month. Maistry’s study aimed to establish if peak expiratory flow (PEFR) could serve as a reliable adjunct in serial monitoring in RRP for potential future application in primary health care settings and home-based monitoring.

She said, ‘Whilst PEFR monitoring cannot replace the need for ENT review, this limited pilot study demonstrates a potential tool to empower caregivers and overburdened ENT centres in safe decision making around the timing of the review. Further studies are required to fully explore this tool.’ She added that the study would not have been possible without the support of Dr Stanley Thula from the Paediatrics Department.

Maistry, who hails from Westville in Durban, was inspired to study Medicine during her high school years when she joined a school outreach group to King Edward Hospital. ‘We played with the kids in the Paediatric Orthopaedic ward every Friday afternoon. It was my first real exposure to Medicine in public healthcare and it was then I realised how much skills and resources are needed in the public sector. My real inspiration for Medicine came from there and now my deep desire for research comes from finding solutions for the needs of Africa,’ she said.

Maistry’s special interest is in paediatric otorhinolaryngology and rhinology. ‘I am most passionate about improving access to specialised healthcare by improving pathways from primary healthcare,’ she said. She enjoys running in her spare time.

Head of UKZN’s ENT Department, Dr Andile Sibiya commented, ‘The success at the congress is a testament to the hard work of each registrar and the commitment of the consultants and colleagues who worked so hard with each of them. Dr Maistry’s win was well earned! Congratulations.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Students Scoop Awards at FIDSSA Congress

UKZN Students Scoop Awards at FIDSSA Congress
From left: Ms Noluthando Mazibuko-Motau, Mr Kwabena Asare and Ms Makhosazane Zondi.

Two College of Health Sciences students, Ms Noluthando Mazibuko-Motau and Mr Kwabena Asare, and Ms Makhosazane Zondi (Applied Human Sciences) who are also Fellows at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) presented their work at the 9th Federation of Infectious Diseases Societies of South Africa (FIDSSA) Congress in Durban from 3 to 5 November.

The conference focused on infectious diseases, infection prevention and control, clinical microbiology, and paediatric infectious diseases.

Mazibuko-Motau, a PhD student in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Science and UKZN Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship holder was awarded the prize for the best poster presentation. Her study titled, Oral PrEP does not Alter the Vaginal Microbial Communities supervised by Drs Sinaye Ngcapu (CAPRISA) and Douglas S Kwon (Ragon Institute), investigated the impact of daily oral tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in combination with emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) for PrEP on vaginal microbiota in South African women.

The study provided reassuring findings that oral PrEP in women does not have a negative impact on the vaginal microbiome. ‘I am beyond excited; this is really a proud moment for me. I am grateful to my supervisor Dr Ngcapu and to Dr Andile Mtshali for encouraging me to apply for this congress,’ she said.

Asare, who is a PhD student in the School of Nursing and Public Health under the supervision of Dr Nigel Garrett, CAPRISA and Dr Andrew Tomita, UKZN received the prize for the best short presentation. His study on Prevalence and Incidence of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) from Acute to Chronic HIV Infection in a Prospective Cohort of Women in South Africa revealed high BV incidence and recurrence among women living with HIV with significant risk factors being a younger age, lower CD4 count and detectable viral load. The findings emphasise the role of ante-retroviral treatment (ART) in preventing BV incidence and recurrence and highlight the need for improved ART services, with a focus on younger women. ‘I want to thank CAPRISA and my supervisors for the mentorship,’ he said. ‘I have had fun and learnt so much within a very short time during this PhD journey. I am looking forward to a bright future with more success in public health research and academia.’

Zondi, a master’s student in the School of Applied Human Sciences and Golden Key Member won the award for the best oral presentation. Her study titled, Women’s Experiences of an Expedited Partner Treatment (EPT) Intervention in KwaZulu-Natal, supervised by Professor Mary van der Riet, Ms Kershia Sunjeevan and Garrett examines the efficacy of EPT in reducing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) reinfection and prevalence through partner treatment that is delivered by patients. The study found that all the women successfully delivered EPT to their partners and that the majority personally observed its consumption.

Creative strategies resulted in a highly acceptable approach and this was found to be by far the most effective STD intervention targeted at improving partner treatment rates. ‘I am ecstatic to have received this award; it has taught me not to underestimate my potential and the impact of my work. I am grateful to my supportive mother and my supervisors,’ she said. ‘It is important that diverse disciplines work together to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.’

Words: NdabaOnline

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

International Mathematical Union Fellowship for PhD Candidate

International Mathematical Union Fellowship for PhD Candidate
Mr Victor Uzor.

Mr Victor Uzor, who graduated with his Master of Science in Mathematics summa cum laude earlier this year, is celebrating receiving a Breakout Graduate Fellowship (BGF) from the International Mathematical Union (IMU).

The IMU BGF grants assist recipients to complete their PhDs. They are made possible by donations from winners of the Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics and are provided by the IMU with the assistance of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the Friends of the IMU (FIMU) to postgraduate students in developing countries pursuing doctorates in Mathematical Sciences.

The IMU said its limited number of grants recognise highly motivated and mathematically talented students in various developing countries, with selections made from nominations by professional mathematicians, who nominate candidates with consistently good academic records who are interested in pursuing a career in research and teaching Mathematics.

‘I am very privileged to be awarded this prestigious funding,’ said Uzor. He described the BGF as a source of motivation as it will support his research and subsistence.

Uzor’s PhD study focuses on fixed-point iterative methods to approximate solution of nonlinear optimisation and fixed-point problems.

Originally from Nigeria where he completed his undergraduate degree in Mathematics with First Class Honours at the Michael Okpara (Federal) University of Agriculture in Umudike, Abia State, Uzor’s interest lies in pure mathematics. This led him to enrol for his master’s degree at UKZN under the supervision of Professor Oluwatosin Mewomo and Dr Timilehin Alakoya.

Appreciative of UKZN’s research-friendly environment, Uzor produced excellent research for his master’s that involved formulating mathematical model algorithms and proving their validity for application to solve optimisation and other real-life problems in communication and technology, medicine, economics and more.

‘Optimisation and fixed-point theory have amazing applications to solve real-life problems, like image processing, signal processing, and optimal control problems,’ said Uzor.

His PhD, also under the supervision of Mewomo, will advance his research in this area and develop his interest in functional analysis.

Uzor expressed gratitude to those who have played a role in his success, firstly to God and his Lord Jesus Christ, and then to Mewomo for nominating him for the IMU BGF and for his on-going support and mentorship. He also thanked Alakoya, his MSc co-supervisor, for his help in proofreading and editing his research proposal and his assistance in his research. Finally, he expressed appreciation to his parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, mentors and pastors for their moral support and prayers.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Honours its Emerging Academics

UKZN Honours its Emerging Academics
Highlights from the gala dinner to honour UKZN’s emerging academics.

The Human Resources Department (HRD) hosted a gala dinner at the Southern Sun Hotel to honour and celebrate UKZN’s emerging academics.

The University’s emerging academics programme aims to transform its academic staff complement so that it is representative of the demographics of the province and the country.

In his welcome address, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Research Professor Mosa Moshabela congratulated the recipients for their achievements and hard work. He said that the work of the programme aligns with the University’s transformation agenda and that UKZN ‘grows its own timber.’ Moshabela added that the University is about excellence where rough diamonds are transformed into polished ones. It continues to strive to create an environment conducive to research and innovation and to increase and retain its academic talent pool.

HRD’s Dr Michael Cloete said that the division is proud of the emerging academics programme. He explained its key features and added that its driving force is to enable the University to maintain its supply of academics. He commended all UKZN staff associated with the programme.

Emerging academics are categorised into three programmes. The Accelerated Academic Development Programme (AADP) initiated and funded by the University seeks to improve representation and reshape the academic sector. Candidates are required to complete their PhDs within five years and are then credentialed as lecturers into the system. The New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to assist universities to recruit new academics in line with their scarce and critical skills. The Talent Excellence and Equity Acceleration Scholarship (TEEAS) was adopted by the University to address the fact that South African Africans were under-represented in its academic staff. It aims to attract top-performing African graduates to become future academic employees.

The gala dinner programme was directed by UKZN alumnus Dr Lusanda Zwane, a Medical School graduate based at Ngwelezane Hospital who commented that the fact that they are mainly Black and female says a lot about the current academic space.

DVC for Health Sciences Professor Busisiwe Ncama and DVC for Teaching and Learning Professor Sandile Songca congratulated the academics, while the Deputy Chair of Council Dr Mark Hayes and Corporate Relations Executive Director Ms Normah Zondo presented the awards.

Speaking on behalf of the recipients, Dr Tshepiso Papo thanked the funders of the programme, the College DVCs, Human Resources staff and the Research Office for playing an integral part in their development. She added that they are grateful for the support to complete their PhDs and acknowledged the programme’s first cohort who laid the foundation and ironed out all the challenges.

Cloete thanked the recipients and all UKZN staff members who helped to put the event together.

Words: Sithembile Shabangu

Photographs: Siphosethu Dlamini


author : .
author email : .

Medical Alumnus off to Oxford

Medical Alumnus off to Oxford
Dr Kapil Narain has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.Click here for isiZulu version

Dr Kapil Narain, who graduated from UKZN with his MBChB in 2020, has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in 2023.

He intends to read for a DPhil in Clinical Medicine, focusing on HIV Immunology.

The Rhodes Scholarships are postgraduate awards that provide transformative educational opportunities. Established in 1903, they are the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious international graduate scholarship programme in the world.

Narain joins the ranks of former recipients such as famous astronomer Edwin Hubble; Nobel laureate and Australian pharmacologist Lord Howard Florey; founder of the Fulbright Scholarship James William Fulbright; Olympic gold medallist William Warren Bradley; Former US President Bill Clinton; Justice Edwin Cameron, retired judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, Bram Fischer, anti-apartheid struggle icon; Trudi Makhaya, current Economic Advisor to President Ramaphosa; and Kumi Naidoo, human and climate rights activist, to name but a few. All recipients are people of outstanding intellect, character and leadership with a commitment to service.

Narain is a multi-award-winning youth leader, One Young World ambassador, medical doctor, one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans where he was the youngest in the Health Category and a recipient of the prestigious Abe Bailey Travel Bursary in 2019. He is passionate about academia and has 15 publications in peer-reviewed journals. More recently, Narain was selected to publish an editorial in the official journal of the World Health Organization (WHO), The Bulletin. The journal is amongst the top 2.4 % of journals internationally. His article, Strategies for Malaria Vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic in African Countries focused on mechanisms governments and stakeholders can adopt to ensure a successful rollout of the malaria vaccine amidst COVID-19 in Africa. Narain has presented at many conferences in Africa and Europe.

Narain was also the inaugural recipient of the Rising Star award from the South African Clinician Scientists Society (2021), and received a leadership award from Operation Smile South Africa as part of their taskforce (2021) which raised funds for 10 children to undergo cleft lip and palate surgery and a recipient of Discovery’s Best Emerging Leader Award in 2018. On receiving the news, the Deputy Chair of the Active Citizens Movement - a human rights civil society organisation and member of Amnesty International’s Durban group, commented, ‘There are 38 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) and sub-Saharan Africa is disproportionately burdened. Furthermore, interacting with the public health system I’ve witnessed how HIV, if untreated, can impact an individual and community. My hope is to unravel some key mechanisms of HIV that will contribute to vaccine development.’

Narain, who also served as a Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) trainee during his medical studies, intends to return to South Africa and become involved in vaccine development and trials. ‘Essentially, I endeavour to be a high impact African scientist, who is not only contributing to the scientific body of literature but designing and leading work that will be clinically significant and change practice. As a Medical student and junior doctor I mentored many students throughout Africa. I hope to expand on this and train students from Africa in research to ultimately reverse the brain drain.

‘I am absolutely honoured and ecstatic to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. This is testament to my academic, leadership and activist endeavours to combat injustices. I aim to utilise this opportunity to its fullest and will continue to strive to contribute to a better South Africa, Africa and world.’

Words: MaryAnn Francis

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

ABASA Elects 2023 Westville Executive Committee

ABASA Elects 2023 Westville Executive Committee
Newly appointed members of the ABASA 2023 Westville executive committee.

The Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA) UKZN on the Westville campus has congratulated the members of its 2023 executive committee on their election.

They are Chairperson, Ms Ntokozo Nkosi; Vice-Chairperson, Mr Thembinkosi Mkhize; Secretary General, Mr Ntobeko Manqele; Treasurer General, Ms Nompilo Moyo; Head of Public and Stakeholder Relations, Ms Zama Zondi; Head of Recruitment, Mr Hugo Nthunya; Head of Academics, Ms Zokuhle Dlamini; Deputy Head of Academics, Ms Oyama Mbandazayo and Head of Planning and Events, Ms Olwethu Ntuli.

The Association aims to facilitate and encourage Black students to enter the Accounting profession and promote their academic and professional excellence. The UKZN Westville branch plans to achieve this by continuing to offer tutorials and revision sessions for all modules. It also plans to grow the membership by being inclusive and recruiting all BCom students (not limited to BCom, Accounting) who could benefit from its tutoring programme.

Newly-elected Chairperson, Nkosi said, ‘As a beneficiary of ABASA myself, I aim to introduce effective changes that will inspire students.’

Words: Ntobeko Manqele

Image: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Humanities Academics Visit School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London

Humanities Academics Visit School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London
School of Social Sciences staff with University of London academics.

Three UKZN academics, Ms Sbusisiwe Philile Gwala (Political Science), Dr Cheryl Mohamed Sayeed (Public Policy) and Dr Lubna Nadvi (Political Science and International Relations) from the School of Social Sciences were part of a recent staff development and exchange trip to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

The two-week programme consisted of meetings with colleagues in various disciplinary fields including History, Development Studies, Gender Studies, Politics, African Studies, African Languages, Religion, Philosophy, Law, Media and Linguistics. The UKZN team and administrative staff at SOAS also shared ideas on international staff exchange possibilities.

The UKZN team presented their research interests while SOAS academics shared their research expertise through a series of roundtable discussions. One of the common areas of interest that emerged through the discussions was the possibility of an ongoing conversation on decolonisation in Higher Education.

The visit was supported and made possible by the Dean of the School of Social Sciences Professor Vivian Ojong and the Academic Leader of Research and Higher Degrees in the School Professor Maheshvari Naidu.

Given the School and University leadership’s support for internationalisation, the visit was an important contribution to this initiative. It took place primarily under the auspices of the joint Memorandum of Agreement recently signed between UKZN and SOAS. The mobility programme and the MOU with SOAS are in keeping with the Dean’s vision on strategic partnerships and international collaboration, and support for early and mid-career scholars.

Earlier this year, Naidu, who is the co-ordinator of the Internationalisation Programme in the School, met with Professor Wayne Dooling and Dr Kai Easton in Cape Town where joint initiatives and the visit by the staff members were discussed.

This was Gwala’s first international trip, and it had a profound impact: ‘My vision for my academic future has definitely widened as a result of the stimulating experience of being in a different academic setting.

Speaking with SOAS colleagues was very informative; the experiences and expertise they shared were really illuminating. The time I got to spend with Dr Nadvi and Dr Mahomed Sayeed, my supervisor, who are hardworking, exceptional and knowledgeable, will always have a special place in my heart. The opportunity to travel with them enriched the experience, and I learned more about their academic interests. I also had the opportunity to talk about my PhD and hear different viewpoints on the subject I am working on. I appreciate all the encouragement and thoughtful chats.’

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Hosts Colloquium on Building Sustainable Political and Environmental Landscape in Africa

UKZN Hosts Colloquium on Building Sustainable Political and Environmental Landscape in Africa
Highlights from the colloquium.Click here for isiZulu version

The Political Sciences programme of the International and Public Affairs (IPA) cluster in the School of Social Sciences in collaboration with the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Centre for African Governance and Development co-hosted the South African Association of Political Studies’ (SAAPS) KwaZulu-Natal Regional Colloquium.

The colloquium was themed: Building Sustainable Political and Environmental Landscape in Africa.

The event attracted local and international scholars, and students who joined virtually and in person. The discussions focused on interrogating ways to address African challenges and how this could build a sustainable political and environmental landscape on the continent.

College of Humanities Dean of Teaching and Learning, Professor Ruth Hoskins, welcomed guests, noting that this year’s colloquium revealed the deliberate intention to foreground critical topics within the Global South. These include the governance crisis, political instability, violent conflict, poverty, insecurity, environmental degradation and natural disasters.

She added, ‘As a truly African University, our key role is to unpack such critical topics, and there is no better way than through a colloquium such as this one.’ She thanked the organising committee, Professor Khondlo Mtshali (UKZN), Dr Lubna Nadvi (UKZN), Mr Siyabonga Ntombela (UKZN), Dr Omololu Fagbadebo (DUT), Dr Zamokuhle Mbandlwa (DUT) and Professor Ivan Govender (DUT).

President of SAAPS, Professor Kgothatso Shai from the University of Limpopo, presented the keynote address on Rethinking the Status and Legacies of Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in South Africa’s Contemporary Knowledge Production Regime.

The crux of his talk was a plea that if the situation in South African societies is terrible, people in the knowledge industry ought to act, diagnose, analyse and recommend solutions. He criticised politicians for ‘harassing and abusing’ scholars and challenged academics to use their research skills and products to reclaim their power as thought leaders.

Several scholars and students presented papers and research in person and virtually in parallel breakaway sessions. Presenters received constructive feedback during the knowledge-sharing segment and were awarded certificates of participation.

Words: Melissa Mungroo and Siyabonga Ntombela

Photographs: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Annual Research Symposium for Optometry Honours Students

Annual Research Symposium for Optometry Honours Students
Scenes from the research symposium for Optometry Honours students.

UKZN’s Discipline of Optometry hosted a research symposium for its Bachelor of Optometry Honours students where they presented their year-long research studies to a panel of external examiners in groups.

In her welcome address, Academic Leader in Optometry Dr Naimah Ebrahim Khan noted that this day was an important milestone for the students. ‘The success of these research presentations gives students a chance to graduate with their honours degree. This year we have 12 groups presenting - one of the biggest final-year classes to date.’

She noted that, ‘Each group worked with their supervisors to complete their research studies, by collecting and analysing data, and presenting their findings and posters to external examiners. Their final year marks will be made up of their presentations, posters and their supervisors’ appraisal.’ Each group had 10 minutes to present their research and five minutes for a Q&A session, followed by a poster presentation.

Guest speaker and external examiner from the University of Johannesburg Professor Alan Rubin’s key message centred around rationality. Defining it as the ability to use knowledge and logic to attain certain goals, he examined how cognitive and other biases could be avoided through the contributions of clinicians’ research.

Rubin encouraged students to engage in research to improve the world, adding that research is not only fun, challenging and creative but enables personal growth as well as scientific and social contributions.

Providing feedback on the students’ presentations, external examiner Professor Tuwani Rasengane of the University of the Free State said that the future of optometry is in good hands. She applauded UKZN staff for their sound supervision and highlighted the diversity of the topics chosen. Rasengane also called on students to pursue their studies further or to write papers on their research topics that will promote critical thinking.

The winning research presentations were: Impact of Contact Lenses Treatment Interventions on the Quality of Life of Keratoconus Patients; Validation of Teachers’ Vision Screening of Primary School Learners in the Pinetown District; and Academic Motivation and Self-Concept of Optometry Students at a Higher Education Institution in KwaZulu-Natal.

The poster winners were: Clinical Profile of Paediatric Patients Presenting at the UKZN Eye Clinic for the Period 2016 to 2019: A Retrospective Review; Impact of Contact Lenses Treatment Interventions on the Quality of Life of Keratoconus Patients; and Academic Motivation and Self-Concept of Optometry Students at a Higher Education Institution in KwaZulu-Natal. All the students received certificates for their participation.

Research Co-ordinator in the Discipline of Optometry Dr Alvin Munsamy noted that this was the first in-person symposium since 2019: ‘For the first time in two years we were able to complete action research, allowing us to get back into the swing of things and to resume some level of normality,’ he said.

Final-year student, Ms Noluthando Sikhakhane said that much hard work and effort went into the presentations: ‘This has been a stepping stone to our academic careers.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Ntsika Nduli


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Academics Present Papers at Property Law Teachers Colloquium

UKZN Academics Present Papers at Property Law Teachers Colloquium
Law academic, Mr Banele Mhlongo.

Law academics, Professor Warren Freedman and Mr Banele Mhlongo, were among the top academics in the field of Property Law who presented papers at the annual Property Law Teachers’ colloquium hosted by North-West University.

Titled: Ex Post Amendments to Servitudes following Linvestment CC v Hammersley and Another: A Critical Discussion of Recent Case Law, Freedman’s paper used on servitudes and especially servitudes that have become inconvenient or obsolete as a result of changes in the circumstances or changes in the environment.

‘I explored the extent to which the courts can use their power to develop the common law to make changes to servitudes that have become inconvenient or obsolete, particularly when this would be fair and just,’ said Freedman.

For Mhlongo, this was his first conference paper delivered alongside his PhD supervisor, Freedman. His paper was titled: Whether Airbnb’s can Exist within Certain Types of Communal Fragmented Property Ownership: A Critical Analysis of the Judgment in Body Corporate of the Paddock Sectional Title Scheme No 249-1984 v Nicholl 2020 (2) SA 472 (GJ). It explored the interesting question affecting Sectional Title Owners: Can a Body Corporate prohibit a sectional title owner from using his or her unit as an Airbnb by passing a rule prohibiting short-term leases (an owner is not allowed to rent out his unit for less than six months).

‘The paper is part of my PhD research and It was an incredible learning experience to not only present at the colloquium but to do it together with my supervisor. I had the experience of gaining knowledge from Property Law experts from around the country and it has played a positively powerful role in my outlook on my future in academia. I am encouraged to contribute more of my research in many different ways,’ said Mhlongo.

Building on this experience, Mhlongo will be attending another Property Law conference at the end of November and working on writing articles for journal publication.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Students Cultivate a Love for Science Among School Learners

Students Cultivate a Love for Science Among School Learners
Students from Buhlebemfundo Secondary and Eric Mtshali Secondary pose for a picture on their field trip to uShaka Marine World.Click here for isiZulu version

Third-year Pharmacy student and chairperson of the UKZN mini-Habitable Plan Workshops (HPWs), Ms Weliswa Kunene and her team took a group of learners from Buhlebemfundo Secondary and Eric Mtshali Secondary Schools on an educational and fun-filled field trip to uShaka Marine World.

Habitable Planet Workshops are the flagship education initiative of the Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS), a platform hosted by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). They introduce Earth Systems Science to high school learners through a South-African-centric lens. More than 280 school volunteers have been trained to roll out around 50 annual mini-HPW school programmes across all provinces.

The UKZN mini-HPW focuses on learners in Clermont and KwaDabeka townships who are exposed to science sessions/ practicals, career information, motivational talks and educational field trips.

The group that visited uShaka Marine World attended talks on climate/weather systems, oceans and currents, global warming, pollution and Durban’s biodiversity. They toured the aquarium, learning about the different marine species and science careers it offers and engaged in practical sessions on choral bleaching and the effects of acid-rain on our oceans. They were also treated to a dolphin show and lunch. The field trip was sponsored by ACCESS and the CSIR, with UKZN promotional items and brochures provided by the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.

The mini-HPW takes a holistic approach to expose learners to the sciences. ‘We make things fun and practical so that learners are inspired to love/preserve their environment and become scientists that help to address global and local issues,’ said Kunene.

Learners found the mini-HPW enjoyable, informative and inspiring. ‘From the uShaka visit, I learned that we are the solution to climate change and we need to conserve our environment for all living things,’ said Ms Lindelwa Ngwane, a Grade 9 learner from Eric Mtshali Secondary School. Mr Mlondi Khowa from Buhlebemfundo Secondary commented: ‘I enjoyed watching the dolphin show and hearing the message of protecting our oceans from pollution (especially plastic) because it harms marine animals like dolphins.’

Kunene runs the UKZN mini-HPW with fellow students Ms Amahle Masondo, Ms Bonginhlanhla Ndlovu, Ms Andiswa Sithole and Mr Peterson Zwane, and lecturer Dr Sibusiso Senzani (School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences). They run annual career days and have organised career talks in the School of Life Sciences and STEC@UKZN.

‘The UKZN initiatives run by Ms Kunene have been among the most impactful and consistent we have sponsored. We are very proud of her team’s work,’ said Dr Carl Palmer, ACCESS Education and Training Manager.

Future plans include a science tournament with six high schools and teaching computer software skills/coding.

Words: Sashlin Girraj

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .

Men of Virtue Stand Against GBV

Men of Virtue Stand Against GBV
Ms Qhamo Gumede, founder and director of Men of Virtue at UKZN.Click here for isiZulu version

Against the backdrop of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children and this year’s theme: "UNITE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls", Men of Virtue (MOV) at UKZN called on male staff and students to take a pledge against gender-based violence (GBV) recently.

Launched just over a year ago, MOV aims to fight GBV, femicide, gender inequality and homophobia.

Its founder and director, Ms Qhamo Gumede, who is a Residence Life Coordinator for the Howard College and Medical School campuses and a Student Development Practitioner highlighted her struggles as a survivor of GBV and a victim of workplace inequality. As a social worker by profession, she said that men need to be at the forefront in addressing the root causes of this scourge. ‘Residences reflect the society we live in, which is why when I saw cases of GBV increasing I decided to make students aware of the University’s community standards and rules.’

Gumede added that high levels of intolerance among students of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual and more (LGBTQIA+) communities motivated her to form MOV. The movement operates on the principle that ‘it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ Gumede who works in the background said that the campaign is led by male staff and student leaders with the aim of mentoring high school learners, and first-year students all the way to graduation - producing a GBV free University.

With little to no funding, Gumede has been able to champion initiatives that are aligned with Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku’s notion of adopting a zero-tolerance approach to GBV on all campuses, including a Seminar on the Role of Women in Eradicating GBV and Femicide and the MOV Pledge.

She hopes to develop a Gender Transformation Office at UKZN that will work with Risk Management Services, UKZN’s four Colleges, Student Support Services, Campus HIV/AIDS Support Units and campus health clinics to address the numerous social ills faced by women. MOV has also established good relationships with the Commission for Gender Equality, the Ayanda Msweli Foundation, the South African Police Services (SAPS), UKZN academics and the Student Services Division.

MOV Deputy Chair and PhD student in Social Work, Mr Sethenjwa Nduli said that, as a queer Black person, he joined MOV to encourage more young men to accept themselves as they are and to challenge men’s negative views on LGBTQIA+ communities.

As a gender activist and Residence Assistant he recently attended the Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) in Pretoria which reflected on the six pillars of the National Strategic Plan for GBVF. Nduli noted that President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged men to get involved in programmes that address GBVF. He hopes to mobilise funding from the University and government for MOV’s various interventions.

MOV Chair and Student Development Officer for the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Mr Sanele Zuma remarked: ‘A lot could change in society if we as men, could have the courage to honestly reflect on our attitudes and behaviours. Such reflections would include acknowledging culture, tradition, gender privileges and toxic masculinities and discussing how they define and contribute to the scourge of GBV.’

Zuma added that denouncing GBV is not enough; interventions are needed to address why it happens which is MOV’s mission. He said that being part of this movement gives him a tremendous sense of fulfilment as he is able to educate young men on becoming better human beings.

Reflecting on how the MOV pledge inspired men from the Pius Langa Residence and the Medical School to take the same stand, he cited a lack of funding as one of the challenges confronting the programme. Noting how, ‘universities cannot be separated from the social ills found in society,’ he called on Higher Education Institutions to prioritise students’ holistic development.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Andile Ndlovu


author : .
author email : .

UKZN Clinical Sociologist Appointed Vice-President of Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology

UKZN Clinical Sociologist Appointed Vice-President of Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology
UKZN academic, Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan.

Clinical Sociologist within the School of Social Sciences, Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan has been appointed Vice-President of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology (AACS).

The Association promotes the application of social scientific knowledge and methods to develop constructive solutions. It also provides educational, programmatic, mentoring, networking, and policy resources in a supportive professional community.

‘It is a humbling experience to serve as the first Vice-President, and woman of colour from the Global South. My success is due to the women who came before me, paving the way for change and inclusion. Connecting professional associations in the North with academics in the South is only possible if we fight for a seat at the table. I am excited about the recognition of Global South scholars’ proficiencies, and expertise,’ said Seedat-Khan.

She attributed her success to mentorship from the late Professor Fatima Meer, and current mentors Professor Tina Uys (University of Johannesburg) and Professor Jan Fritz (University of Cincinnati, US). ‘To the AACS members who make up the professional association - thank you for making your voices heard. I am so grateful to serve as Vice-President.’

Seedat-Khan plans to increase the association’s global and diverse membership to advance the intellectual project, with renewed commitment to mentorship and supporting academics to navigate international certification as a priority. She also plans to bring AACS members to UKZN to share their expertise and increase interaction with clinical sociology students.

She will be consulting with the Professional Development Committee to identify qualified faculty in Commission on the Accreditation of Programs in Applied and Clinical Sociology (CAPACS) - accredited programmes, knowledge experts, and sociological practitioners to lead workshops and webinars on approaches and identities of sociological practice recognised and supported in accredited programmes in the United States and abroad.

Seedat-Khan is a National Research Foundation-rated scientist and AACS licensed Clinical Sociologist. She studied at York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and at the former University of Natal. She has worked at the former University of Port Elizabeth, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg. Her field of expertise is neuro-bio-diverse intrinsic and extrinsic learning.

Seedat-Khan is the creator and founding member of SMART, Simply Managing Academic Related Tasks (www.simplysmart.co.za). She is a visiting professor at Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Selangor, in Malaysia and an executive member of the International Sociological Association RC46, Clinical Sociology. She has published extensively in scientific journals and books and received numerous local, national and international professional awards.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


author : .
author email : .