Belgian Academics Visit Architecture Discipline at UKZN

Belgian Academics Visit Architecture Discipline at UKZN
Liege University academics, Mr Bernard Deffet and Ms Courtejoie Fabienne (centre), and Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter (left), with Architecture Discipline academics and representatives from the UKZN International Office.

Two academics from Liege University in Belgium recently visited the School of Built Environment and Development Studies in the Architecture discipline at the College of Humanities.

The visitors, Mr Bernard Deffet and Ms Courtejoie Fabienne of the Architecture department at Liege University, had discussions with UKZN representatives about potential exchanges and collaborations.

Academic Leader for UKZN’s Architecture discipline, Mr Mthembeni Mkhize, said he hoped the relationship between the School and Liege University would grow and develop further.

Addressing the visitors, Mkhize said: ‘We have a vision for Architecture. That visioning took place in November two years ago, when we asked “where is Architecture going to be within the country and within the international world of architecture”?

‘When we started to engage with you (Liege University), we knew exactly where we wanted to position Architecture. We identified the importance of engaging and benchmarking with other universities not only around Africa but also in Europe, the US and the East and we identified your group of countries as well.

‘Our aim is to create young architects at this University who will be able to create wonders of the world and structures that are going to change, not only our region in Durban, but the rest of the country and the world,’ said Mkhize.

Recently, two students accompanied by academic, Ms Bridget Horner, visited Liege University. Their visit followed on from the Union of International Architects Conference’s international student competition being based in the informal market area of Warwick, Durban.

Horner said the purpose of the visit was to assist the Liege students to get a better understanding of the site and how Warwick worked. 

‘It was our local knowledge of the area and how it works that Liege University was interested in. We also learnt from this exchange about city making as opposed to grand architectural gestures that can be pompous impositions on our society and context as well as other smaller scale interventions in the urban context that enable people to go about their daily lives with a measure of ease,’ she said.

‘Our School’s vision is to “generate architecture that enables society” and it is this vision that is driving the kind of projects we do and (for some of us) the way we teach.’

Said Deffet: ‘The exchange we had with your students and academics was an amazing experience. We had about 60 students who attended a workshop led by Bridget Horner. I’m hoping that this is the beginning of something new.’

-          UKZNdaba Online


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Leisure Science Students Participate in Global Youth Project

Leisure Science Students Participate in Global Youth Project
UKZN students (from left) Mr Riyaz Vawda, Mr Michael Mthethwa and Ms Racqual Ramharuk.

Three UKZN students are contributing authors to a book which is the first of its kind in the leisure profession globally.

Targetting young people everywhere, The Young People's Book on Leisure (YPBOL) - written by university students from 18 international countries - aims to educate, inspire and engage its readers about the multiple benefits and often undermined significance of leisure and recreation.

The UKZN Leisure Science students are Mr Riyaz Vawda, Mr Michael Mthethwa and Ms Racqual Ramharuk.

The book unpacks the concept of leisure and the impact it can have on a person’s life. The common goal of the authors is to inspire young people to look at their own leisure experiences and search for new ones with the idea being that the leisure activities they engage in will help create new spaces and opportunities for others to enjoy similar experiences.

The book is scheduled to be presented at the World Leisure Congress at the final of three international camps in Alabama’s Mobile Bay in the United States this month.

YPBOL is the brainchild of Dr Miklos Banhidi of The University of Western Hungary who started forming the international team of young contributors in 2012. The first editorial camp was in 2013 in Gyor, Hungary and the students recently completed the second camp in Roccacasale, Italy.

The UKZN project participants said it had been rewarding to see their hard work finally paying off. ‘We’re not looking at tourism but what the youth actually do.’

The content of YPBOL is based on personal experiences as well as first hand research conducted by the contributors. This includes research in the form of surveys that were done during the camps in Hungary, Italy and in the contributors’ various home countries.

The students observed that leisure was a fairly new concept in South Africa. While most people engaged in some sort of leisure, they did not realise this and were not aware of its countless benefits.

‘This is an amazing project and a wonderful opportunity for us as youth to showcase what leisure opportunities South Africa has to offer,’ said Vawda. ‘The final product will also create exposure for leisure and show youth the need for leisure; presenting them with ideas on the type of leisure they can engage in as well as teaching them about leisure activities and experiences in other countries.’

The three agreed the project was an invaluable learning tool for them as young professionals looking to enhance the Leisure and Recreation field in South Africa

‘This project started off as a group of students coming together to write a book but it has turned into so much more than anyone could have expected,’ said Vawda.

It had taught them to break language and socio-cultural barriers while also giving them an opportunity to form strong professional networks and travel the world.

‘We got to witness first-hand the power of leisure in creating social capital and how it can improve the quality of life. We learned the value of team work and gained leadership skills. These are just a few of the unexpected benefits experienced by all the participants. At the end of the first camp YPBOL turned into a family and at the second camp, it got to reunite and welcome new participants into the family.’

Vawda is a Masters student whose leisure activities include fitness training, running and photography.

Ramharuk said after completing her undergraduate degree majoring in leisure sciences she would have more time for art appreciation, reading and socialising!

When not cricketing or playing rugby, honours student Mthethwa said events management kept him busy.

-          Lunga Memela


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Graduate Competencies Discussed at Workshop

Graduate Competencies Discussed at Workshop
Participants at a workshop on graduate competencies.

A workshop on the development of core competencies for undergraduate students in the College of Health Sciences was held at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

The workshop discussed the key issue of: “What qualities a College of Health Sciences graduate at UKZN should embody when entering the work arena?”

Participants highlighted qualities such as social responsibility, accountability, cultural sensitivity, resourcefulness and creativity as these values and attitudes would ensure that a student’s horizons were broadened when they left university.

Acting Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Dr Frasia Oosthuizen, said a document of the competencies would be used to help develop the characteristics in CHS graduates at UKZN.

Said Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Professor Sabiha Essack: ‘Education determines the competencies of our students and we would like to localise the context of what they are learning and will be practising. Competencies need to be seen across disciplines and through this document, we can identify what we are already implementing and what we will find useful and adopt.’

Essack placed an emphasis on educators as spheres of influence, saying ‘as educators, we choose what we want to teach our students from all the knowledge we possess. Part of a curriculum’s content is to contribute to different aspects of the student’s knowledge and in the end, the way in which we inculcate these values is not through what we teach, but how we teach it.’

The core competencies will be introduced into undergraduate education so students can be equipped with skills to become valuable members of their community.

-        Zakia Jeewa


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UKZN Academic Appointed to Retail and Marketing Review Editorial Board

UKZN Academic Appointed to Retail and Marketing Review Editorial Board
Professor Debbie Vigar-Ellis.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic, Professor Debbie Vigar-Ellis, has been appointed to serve on the Retail and Marketing Review editorial board.

The board serves as an international and interdisciplinary scholarly forum for sharing insightful and original research and promoting debate in the rapidly developing and converging fields of marketing and retailing.

Vigar-Ellis’s duties include review research contributions in the Marketing discipline to ensure that it conforms to the academic standards in terms of content, methodology and reference technique.

‘Being part of the board enhances my academic standing as it provides networking opportunities with senior national and international academics in my Discipline. It also provides me with an opportunity to give back to my discipline by participating in the process of quality assurance in research outputs.’

International Retail and Marketing Review Editor, Professor Michael Cant, said Vigar-Ellis’s qualifications, academic standing, community engagement and fields of interest made her the perfect candidate for the position.

Professor Vigar-Ellis meets these criteria and exceeds some of them. She is highly qualified and a publisher of note with her 16 articles in accredited journals.

‘She also has an understanding of the responsibility that goes with such an appointment and is dedicated to her role as a board member. Her wisdom in terms of guidance to submitting authors can assist these authors to excel in their publications in time,’ said Vigar-Ellis.

-          Thandiwe Jumo


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Pietermaritzburg Moot Finalists Attribute Their Success to Friendship

Pietermaritzburg Moot Finalists Attribute Their Success to Friendship
Moot finalists: Front from left: Mr Phinda Dube, Ms Reesha Seegobin, Mr Simon Pennefather and Ms Emily West with Mr Justice Piet Koen and Mr Justice Jerome Mnguni.

Rivalry can be a negative element in a friendship but for the finalists in this year’s annual Pietermaritzburg Moot Court competition it was the glue that saw them through.

The four finalists - Ms Emily West, Mr Phinda Dube, Mr Simon Pennefather and Ms Reesha Seegobin - showcased their outstanding legal skills in front of law academics, family and Mr Justice Koen and Mr Justice Mnguni, who praised the high level of advocacy that earned Seegobin the F.B Burchell Memorial prize and Dube the Pietermaritzburg Attorney’s Association prize.

The finalists share a long standing friendship which has had a positive influence on their education. They assisted each other with preparing their cases for the Moot which demands extensive exploration into statutes, cases, journal articles, textbooks as well as consultation with legal experts.

West and Dube’s friendship, going back to Grade 1, served as a great source of support for West who was involved in a car accident just before the Moot Court final.

Said West: ‘By the time of the competition we were so well prepared I was ready for the Moot and as such the decision to continue was a given. Anyway, the shock of the accident had worn off by the next day thanks to the support of my wonderful family and friends.’

‘It was a privilege to be selected for the final Moot alongside my long-standing school friend, Phinda. I have no doubt we will continue our friendship and I am glad to have a future colleague in him.’

West moves to Johannesburg next year to serve her articles with DA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

This year might be the end of their LLB studies but for Pennefather and Dube, who have been friends since attending high school at Maritzburg College, it’s the beginning of a new chapter as they will both be serving articles in Durban and are looking for accommodation together.

‘We all helped each other prepare for the Moot Final as we are all close friends and will always cherish the experience we shared,’ said  Pennefather.

 

‘Next year I leave Pietermaritzburg where I have grown up to assume the position of candidate attorney at Adams & Adams. I aim to gain a huge amount of legal experience and to develop as a legal professional. My attention will be fully focused on this opportunity and to secure a permanent job as an attorney after completing my articles. I am excited by what lies ahead,’ he said.

For Dube the experience of the Moot finals with his friends was both stressful and fun.  ‘Emily is very driven and is destined to be successful in anything she puts her mind too - I have known her for many years and could testify in court to that fact.

‘Simon and I enjoyed many laughs in stressful situations be it in the Moot Court finals or on the sports field. Reesha is very friendly and easy to talk to and we got along well during the moot process. Her dedication is second to none and I wouldn’t be surprised if she became a judge in the future,’ said Dube.

Seegobin had even more reason to be nervous about the Moot as she had to live up to high expectations being the daughter of KZN High Court judge, Mr Justice Seegobin.

‘My dad inspires me every day because he is so humble, down to earth and knowledgeable. He was very excited about the Moot finals, and I hope I did him proud.

‘Participating in the Moot was very exciting but I was also very nervous. You are constantly thinking about your argument wherever you may be but it was a great opportunity and a moment I will remember forever,’ she said.

- Thandiwe Jumo


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CDC-Sichuan Agreement Formalised

CDC-Sichuan Agreement Formalised
Dr Bo Du and Professor Salim Abdool Karim formalise the relationship between CAPRISA and the CDC Sichuan Province.

Senior officials from the Centres for Disease Control in Sichuan, a province in south west China, visited CAPRISA in August to gain insights into CAPRISA’s AIDS research and to sign a co-operation agreement between CDC-Sichuan and CAPRISA. Led by Dr Bo Du, Deputy Director, Health Department, Sichuan Province, the delegation included senior members of the Health Department of Sichuan Province, Sichuan CDC and the Sichuan Medical Information Research Institute.

In addition to learning about CAPRISA’s experiences in AIDS prevention and control programs, the delegation spent time during their visit to learn the latest developments on antiretroviral treatment, treatment for opportunistic infections and the use of antiretrovirals to prevent HIV transmission.The visit followed an exploratory visit by Sichuan CDC to CAPRISA last year and formalised the relationship between the two organisations. The relationship will allow for the Sichuan CDC scientists to spend time at CAPRISA and acquire further skills in HIV and AIDS patient management and HIV clinical research. In addition, CAPRISA’s senior staff will be invited to visit the CDC-Sichuan to provide on-site training and support.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim Director of CAPRISA welcomed the visit, and said, ‘This agreement symbolises the geographic reach of CAPRISA’s scientific contributions, extending to several BRICS countries and multilateral agencies.’

The delegation spent over five hours with senior scientists at CAPRISA and visited the CAPRISA eThekwini Clinical Research site where they met with CAPRISA’s Deputy Director, Dr Nesri Padayatchi. This was followed by a tour of the CAPRISA laboratory at the DDMRI offices, presentations and a meeting with Professors Salim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim. The CDC presentation titled: “HIV/AIDS Prevalence and Comprehension Prevention and Treatment in Sichuan Province” highlighted the critical importance of enhancing HIV treatment mechanisms in that province.

Dr Nesri Padaychee and Dr Kogie Naidoo will visit the HIV clinical centres and HIV research organisations in Sichuan province in October this year as guests of the Sichuan CDC.

-          Smita Maharaj


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SA Women in Science Awards 2014

SA Women in Science Awards 2014
CAPRISA Statistician Nonhlanhla Yendi-Zuma.

Statistician Nonhlanhla Yende-Zuma received a TATA Africa Scholarship valued at R60 000 which will sponsor her PhD studies. The announcement was made at the Women in Science Awards 2014 held in Johannesburg in August. The prestigious award in “recognition of her outstanding academic and research ability”, was presented by Minister of Science and Technology Mrs Naledi Pandor at a special awards dinner. Nonhlanhla is registered for her PhD in Biostatistics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her research focuses on the statistical methods of estimating the causal effect of treatment in randomised controlled trials using an instrumental variable. Her supervisor, Professor Henry Mwambi Academic Leader in UKZN School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, who strongly recommended Nonhlanhla for the award said that ‘the work will definitely propel Nonhlanhla’s Biostatistics skills to even higher heights and be among top mentors in Biostatistics to other upcoming young Statisticians’.

In nominating Nonhlanhla Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim CAPRISA’s Associate Scientific Director said: ‘as one of the Statisticians at CAPRISA, she has been involved in several pivotal studies where she has made substantive contributions to study design statistical analysis and interpretation of the data. Several of these studies have been published in high impact journals and Nonhlanhla’s contributions are recognized as a co-author’.

‘Mrs Yende is already playing a critical role in terms of her contribution to undertaking large and complex studies in HIV/AIDS and TB that is changing the prevention and treatment landscape. Her PhD will further enhance her understanding and capacity to analyse large, complex datasets with multiple timepoints, manage the quality of study conduct through generation of monthly reports, and

meaningfully interpret the data and to contribute to manuscript preparation and methodological advances in Statistics.’

Deputy Director of CAPRISA Dr Nesri Padayatchi hosted a special function to congratulate Nonhlanhla for her “outstanding achievement”. Nonhlanhla paid tribute to CAPRISA and her mentors for the ‘opportunities to advance her career and for being part of the team that transforms raw data that is collected at our clinics into meaningful and useful information’. ‘As a mother of two, it’s not easy juggling between raising children, my full time job and my studies.  But time management and the support I get from my family helps me a lot.  In the midst of it all, I make time to work on my PhD.  In addition, having a wonderful and supportive mentor and Head of Department like Anneke Grobler keeps you motivated to do the best all the time.’

-          Smita Maharaj


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Learners Get Glimpse of UKZN Laboratories

Learners Get Glimpse of UKZN Laboratories
Grade 11 learners from Thembuzulu Secondary School in Umzinto visited UKZN’s Life Sciences laboratories.

The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem, says Life Sciences Lecturer, Dr Taro Mwabvu, quoting esteemed Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor E. Frankl.

With this philosophy in mind, and with the assistance of former and current students, Mwabvu organised a visit to UKZN's Life Sciences laboratories for Thembuzulu Secondary School Grade 11 learners.  The school is a low quintile school situated outside Umzinto.

‘I decided to approach some rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal to see how I can help,’ said Mwabvu. ‘Thembuzulu Secondary School is the first to benefit.’ 

Mwabvu has also “adopted” the school’s Grade 12 Life Sciences class to assist in the teaching of concepts, such as evolution, which he said teachers found challenging. 

Earlier in the year, the school had invited him to talk to their students on careers. ‘I noticed that there was no laboratory at the school,’ said Mwabvu. ‘After speaking to the Principal I invited their Life Sciences class to visit UKZN’s School of Life Science to get experience in a laboratory.

‘The Grade 11 class benefited by learning microscopy skills and the importance in science of making - and how to make - accurate observations as well as collect and record data. The learners were seeing our new microscopes and using microscopes for the first time.’

The class was accompanied by their Teacher, Ms Nonkululeko Mkhize, a former UKZN student.

Third year Life Sciences student, Mr Ntokozo Sishi, who is mentored by Mwabvu, gave a short presentation on his rural background, life at university and his goals. Sishi said: ‘You can also get here if it is your goal. I saw a microscope for the first time when I arrived at UKZN – so anything is possible with the right attitude.’

-          Sally Frost


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Cosmology Masters Student Wins Award at National Physics Conference

Cosmology Masters Student Wins Award at National Physics Conference
Ms Heather Prince.

Masters student at UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU), Ms Heather Prince, has won an award for best Masters of Science Oral Presentation in the Astrophysics track at the annual SA Institute of Physics conference in Johannesburg.

Said Prince: ‘My presentation was on how matter in space bends lights, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing. This phenomenon can be detected through its effect on the pattern of irregularities in the cosmic microwave background, the relic light from the Big Bang.’

Gravitational lensing is used to study the distribution of matter in the universe.

‘I was ecstatic about the award because I worked very hard on my presentation and this was the first conference I have spoken at,’ said Prince.

She plans to speak about her research again at the upcoming Dark Side of the Universe conference in Cape Town later this year.

-          Strini Rajgopaul


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UKZN Chemistry Lecturers Present Papers at International Conference in Japan

UKZN Chemistry Lecturers Present Papers at International Conference in Japan
At the 16th International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry (ICOMC 2014), in Japan are (from left) UKZN’s Dr Muhammad Bala, Dr Vincent Nyamori and Dr Bernard Owaga.

UKZN Chemistry Lecturers on the Westville campus - Dr Muhammad Bala, Dr Vincent Nyamori and Dr Bernard Owaga - presented their research at the 26th biennial International Conference on Organometallic Chemistry (ICOMC) in Sapporo, Japan.

The Conference, hosted by Hokkaido University at its Catalysis Research Centre, was attended by more than 1100 delegates from countries including Turkey, Germany and China in addition to the Japanese delegates.

Four delegates attended from South Africa – the three from UKZN and Professor Johan Venter of the University of the Free State.

Speakers at the Conference included top researchers in the field of organometallic chemistry. The plenary lecturers featured two Nobel Laureates in Chemistry - Professor Akira Suzuki and Professor Ei-ichi Negishi - as well as lecturers from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany, ETH University in Zürich, The University of British Columbia in Canada and The University of Hong Kong in China.

Keynote lectures were also presented by representatives from institutions in the United States, France, Germany, Canada and Taiwan.

Some of the topics covered at the Conference were synthetic chemistry, coordination chemistry, organometallic chemistry, materials, green chemistry, catalysis, and supramolecular nanoscience and more.

Presentations by Bala and Nyamori, whose research centres around inorganic, nanomaterials and green chemistry, and Owaga, whose focus is crystallography and organometallic synthesis, were insightful and inspired much discussion among delegates.

Bala presented research conducted by his MSc student, Mr Siyabonga Mncube, on the application of N-heterocyclic carbene complexes of iron for the oxidation of paraffins. Bala is a member of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Catalysis and this is a key project of the Centre aimed at the activation of unreactive paraffins.

His expertise in the chemistry of transition metal complexes of highly reactive carbenes and paraffin oxidation has resulted in the publication of many papers in high impact journals, including a paper recently accepted for publication in the influential Royal Society of Chemistry journal Dalton Transactions.

The title of Nyamori’s poster presentation was: “Application of Mechanochemistry in the Synthesis of Ferrocenyl Derivatives under Solvent-free Conditions”. Nyamori’s his presentation was well-received and inspired interesting discussion and questions, particularly on his synthetic approaches to making organometallic compounds like ferrocenyl derivatives.

This work carried out by his PhD student, Miss Lucy Ombaka, was recently published in the Journal of Coordination Chemistry.  In general, Nyamori found that their research on green chemistry was on a par with that of other invited and renowned researchers based on similar approaches that they have adopted in their work.

Nyamori also said he found the Conference an excellent occasion to make contact with research scientists working along a similar vein in Japan, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Germany and the United States. He has immediate plans to collaborate with two of the scientists he met at the Conference, Professor Tom Baker of the University of Ottawa, Canada, and Professor Audrey H. Moores of McGill University, Canada.

The title of Owaga’s presentation was: “Coordination Complexes of Silver(I) nitrate with 1,3,5-triaza-phosphaadamantane – Interesting Structural Features”. This work was conducted by his MSc student Mr Sizwe J Zamisa and was aimed at investigating the biological activity of these water soluble coordination polymers as antimicrobial agents. This research is being done in collaboration with Dr Peter Owira of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

The three UKZN delegates found the Conference provided participants with a valuable platform for scientific discussion as well as presenting a springboard to stimulate closer partnerships between academic and industry representatives.

The three UKZN academics acknowledged UKZN and the School of Chemistry and Physics in particular for providing the infrastructure and facilities which made their research possible.  They also thanked the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science for providing bridging finance for their attendance at the Conference.

-          Christine Cuénod


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Research Proposed by PhD Students Assessed by Peers and Academics

Research Proposed by PhD Students Assessed by Peers and Academics
PhD candidates after presenting their proposals to peers and College academics.

Students who plan to start PhD studies next year presented their proposals at a session held at UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health before which they attended an eight-day workshop conducted by the College of Health Sciences Research Office.

The workshop consisted of a series of lectures together with hands-on exercises and presentations by each individual at a plenary session, providing an enabling environment for learning from facilitators and peers who participated in critiquing the presentations. The final output of the workshop was a framework which would form the basis for a full narrative proposal.

College Dean of Research, Professor Moses Chimbari, who led the workshop, said it was important that each candidate presented a proposal before peers and academics who had not been part of the workshop.  This guaranteed candidates received adequate feedback to ensure their studies were at the highest PhD standard.

Senior Tutor in the Discipline of Occupational Therapy, Ms Helga Koch, presented a proposal to explore issues of food security faced by women living with HIV and disability in vulnerable contexts.  Koch said there was a dearth of literature in this field which raised concern because such women and their children were at high risk of suffering food insecurity.

Ms Chantal Christopher’s proposal was around recreational engagement among women in a resource constrained environment. Christopher was concerned that only 47 % of South Africans believed that exercise and fitness were critical for good health, according to a Lancet report of 2014. She believed that women in the Mariannridge community of Durban – the proposed research site – faced a combination of unfavourable factors that impacted on their recreational engagement.

The Physiotherapy Discipline’s Mr Siyabonga Kunene intends to study the alignment of sports physiotherapy education and training together with the professional sports demands and expectations in South Africa, while international candidate, Mr Rashidi Amboko, plans to investigate factors associated with missed opportunities of HIV care among mothers and their infants in Kinshasa, DRC.

Mr Santosh Kumar’s proposal indicates he plans a study in an area where the focus is on improving the efficacy of BCG vaccine by simultaneous inhibition of Th2 and Tregulatory cells, while Mr Emmanuel Asowata of the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences proposed an investigation into the diversity of human rotra-viruses and the vaccine efficacy among children under the age of five in KwaZulu-Natal.

He explained that rotavirus had been identified as the common cause of severe diarrhoea among infants and young children yet few studies had been conducted in South Africa focusing on Rotarix vaccine potency.

Mr Hilton Humphries said his study would explore the ecological factors contributing to adolescent risk profiles of HIV infection and how to develop a model to inform future adolescent intervention design. The research would be conducted in the Vulindlela community of KwaZulu-Natal.

Ms Nomvelo Phungula of the Nursing Discipline intends to explore factors that influence inadequate sexual and reproductive health counselling for HIV infected women in the country, given that reproduction poses dilemmas for people living with HIV and for public health and clinical care providers.

With the knowledge and skills acquired at the workshop students are expected to fully develop their proposals by the beginning of October. This process will be done jointly with their degree supervisors.

More information about the College Research Office is available at: http://chs.ukzn.ac.za/research/researchthemes.aspx

-          Lunga Memela


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New Satellite Office Benefits Pietermaritzburg-based Medical Students

New Satellite Office Benefits Pietermaritzburg-based Medical Students
The School of Clinical Medicine’s new satellite office at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

A satellite office has been set up by UKZN’s School of Clinical Medicine (SCM) at the Parkhome of Greys Hospital to assist undergraduate and postgraduate Medical students with professional services that would otherwise be offered at the Medical School in Durban.

The Parkhome’s recently appointed Senior Admin Officer, Mr Ayanda Mthethwa, said it was the first satellite office of the Medical School.

‘We offer a range of administrative services to undergraduate students in addition to postgraduate services for Mmed students and Registrars,’ said Mthethwa, who pointed out that services were similar to those being offered by the SCM offices in Durban but were on a smaller scale.

‘Doctors no longer need to travel to Durban for postgraduate registration; they can now get it done at our office. We have a seminar room inside the Parkhome which is used for undergraduate teaching and other meetings.

‘Our office is responsible for fifth year undergraduate students who rotate at the PMB Complex - Edendale, Greys, Northdale, and Townhill hospitals - for the Paediatrics, Medicine and Psychiatry blocks. Our office also handles student examinations for these blocks.’

Mthethwa said the Parkhome had a local area network (LAN) offering services to academics, postgraduates and undergraduate students 24 hours a day. ‘Our office has two academics – one for undergraduate and another for postgraduate research – who offer assistance with the smooth running of each programme.

‘Because we are the satellite office of the Durban office, we have to make sure that whatever we do here is in sync with what is being done at the Medical School. The Durban office remains the custodian of all documentation being done in Pietermaritzburg.’

The School Operations Manager, Mrs Antoinette Botha, said establishing the satellite office was a progressive move for the SCM as each of the team member’s portfolios would ease administration.

The team comprises:

•   Senior Admin Officer (Office Manager) - Mr Ayanda Mthethwa (mthethwaa@ukzn.ac.za / 033-2606133)

•   Teaching Administration Officer - Ms Nhloso Hlophe (hlophe@ukzn.ac.za / 033-2606358)

•   Hospital Teaching Coordinators - Ms Nondumiso Mfungeni (Mfungeni@ukzn.ac.za / 033 260 6359) and Ms Nokukhanya Khwela (khwelan@ukzn.ac.za / 033 260 5943)

-          Lunga Memela


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Colombian Medical Student Following her Dream through UKZN

Colombian Medical Student Following her Dream through UKZN
Ms Diana Marcela Valentin Cardenas (centre) welcomed by Medical School staff, Professor Ted Sommerville and Dr Margaret Matthews.

A Columbian Medical student’s dream to study overseas to help her become one of her country’s best doctors is slowly becoming a reality, thanks in part to a three-month experience at UKZN’s Medical School.

Ms Diana Marcela Valentin Cardenas, a student at the University of La Sabana in Chia, met the head of the Clinical Skills Laboratory of UKZN, Dr Margaret Matthews, at the Towards Unity for Health Conference in Thailand last year and discussed the chances of coming to UKZN to work in rural areas to help improve primary care. Cardenas said she felt society currently needed more education to prevent important diseases which are a challenge for medical science.

Cardenas said her passion was to see people happy and felt she could achieve that by solving some of the main problems related to health, beliefs and social life. ‘I am sure that sometimes all people need is someone to listen to them and make a difference in their lives. I am absolutely convinced that physicians who listen with care are more successful in treating their patients than those who only cure diseases. I want to be a good doctor to my patients and treat them in the right way.’

Cardenas said she was unsure about which country she wanted to work in long-term but being attached to UKZN was an excellent opportunity. ‘Currently the world revolves around globalisation so it is therefore necessary for young doctors to meet and learn from other cultures and other medical practices to generate new ideas that can be used in the place where they will work eventually.’

Cardenas said South Africa and Africa were beautiful places to explore. ‘As a future physician I thought there were opportunities to experience new medical practices or just provide a little help in Africa. Additionally, it is fascinating to learn a bit about different cultures in this country.’

‘People here are incredible – they are always friendly and willing to meet me, help me and to get to know about me.

‘The landscapes are beautiful. Durban is very clean and is fortunate to have the beach nearby.’ She also enjoyed the weather, indigenous flowers, seeing a variety of animals ‘including the beautiful birds and monkeys on the streets’, and said she was privileged to be linked to UKZN which had an attractive and large campus.

Comparing health system challenges in KwaZulu-Natal with those in her home country, she said: ‘In terms of family medicine, similarities include the need to improve the lifestyle of patients and trying to develop the primary care system. In both countries there are inequalities in terms of poverty and work opportunities. The prevalence of teenage pregnancy is high and in most cases single young mothers must take care of their babies and stop studying.’ However, infectious diseases such as TB and HIV were less common in Columbia.

Said Matthews: ‘Diana is currently at Wentworth Hospital and will soon go to Bethesda Hospital for some rural experience.’

-          Lunga Memela


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Mindset Shift Needed to Boost Women Leadership, Says Judge

Mindset Shift Needed to Boost Women Leadership, Says Judge
School of Law academic Professor Karthy Govender facilitating question and answer time with Madam Justice Dhaya Pillay.

A mindset shift is needed to encourage women to take up positions of leadership, according to Judge of the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court, Madam Justice Dhaya Pillay.

Speaking on Activism Against the Genderisation of Poverty at a UKZN Women’s Month forum, Pillay called on students to contribute towards the advocacy for gender equality.

The lecture, hosted by the School of Law in partnership with the Office of the Chief Justice of South Africa, was part of a national lecture series in which female jurists share their personal journeys with law students with the aim of creating a platform to debate and engage about matters pertaining to the judiciary.

Pillay’s lecture focused on the advocacy of women's rights in relation to gender equality and transformation in the work place. She called for a mind-set shift which will encourage women to take up positions of leadership.

‘Through this lecture, I hope to leave you with a better understanding of feminism and gender advocacy. Women empowerment is not about numbers but it is about enriching the quality of the justice system,’ she said.

Pillay said that in response to the need for more female judges in the judiciary, the Chief Justice of South Africa, Mr Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, had appointed three female judges to act in the Constitutional Court.

She also called on the students to contribute towards the advocacy for gender equality. ‘It is up to you as an electorate to exercise your democratic right towards shaping legislation and policies aimed at bringing about social change. You should look at how you can participate in fast pacing transformation for the benefit of future generations,’ she said.

After the lecture, students and academics were given an opportunity to share their views and critically engage on the issues raised.

Law academic Professor Karthy Govender said the lectures of this nature not only allowed students to critically engage on the issues raised but it also encouraged men to reflect deeply  on what they can do to support the women in their lives and promote the objective of achieving substantive equality.

After the lecture, students and academics were given an opportunity to share their views and critically engage on the issues raised.

-          Thandiwe Jumo


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Researchers and Supervisors hear about how to Improve their Skills

Researchers and Supervisors hear about how to Improve their Skills
Delegates at a workshop on dissertation research, writing and supervision presented by Mr Erik Hofstee of EXACTICA Thesis and Dissertation Solutions.

‘Brilliant!’  This was the overall assessment of a workshop on PhD dissertation research and writing, and supervisory skills development held on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

Facilitated by Mr Erik Hofstee of EXACTICA Thesis and Dissertation Solutions, the workshops were aimed at PhD candidates and supervisors of masters degree candidates.

The workshop was organised by Ms Fortune Shonhiwa who is co-ordinator of the Mastering Masters programme at UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science. 

The course provided participants with the knowledge required to conceptualise, plan, research, structure, write and complete a research-based project in the form of a successful PhD dissertation. It also provided practical methods of applying that knowledge.

The skills acquired were also relevant to supervising masters level research degrees.

The first part of the course was devoted to ensuring that the fundamentals of research-based work were well understood by the participants while the second part covered how that knowledge could be translated into a good dissertation.

Various skills and techniques that would make the dissertation a better work or allow those involved to achieve their research/supervision objectives more effectively, were dealt with throughout the course.

‘The course is practical, intensive and outcome-based,’ said Shonhiwa. ‘Those attending were required to participate in several exercises to ensure mastery of key skills.’

After completion of the course, it was hoped participants would be able to effectively:

•   conceptualise  research projects and judge their feasibility

•   identify and delineate researchable problems

•   research objectives and research hypotheses/questions/propositions

•   project manage theses and dissertations from conceptualisation to completion

•   structure theses and dissertations appropriately 

•   select, evaluate and apply appropriate research methods

•   do effective preliminary and detailed primary and secondary research

•    create sound research proposals; structure and write the introduction, literature review, method section, body and conclusion of dissertations

•   deal with various formalities, including appendices, referencing and bibliographies

•   work effectively with supervisors

•    understand the principles of good academic writing and editing

•   evaluate the work of other scholars; identify and avoid common research and academic writing errors

•    evaluate their own work prior to submission to external examiners.

Feedback from the delegates was extremely complimentary.  ‘The sessions revived my energies as my career in supervising research is taking-off,’ said Dr Unathi Kolanisi.  ‘It was good to self-evaluate myself and after the workshop I know where to strengthen my methodologies and strategies to make sure that my post-graduate students produce quality work in efficient-time.’

‘I only have praise for the way the course was conducted and I found all of the content relevant,’ said PhD candidate, Mr Justin Hart.  ‘The only regret I have was that I did not have the opportunity to attend this course before embarking on my PhD.’

-          Sally  Frost


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UKZN’s Golf Day Just Keeps on Getting Better!

UKZN’s Golf Day Just Keeps on Getting Better!
From left: Mr Marc Thom of Investec Bank; Director of Student Academic Administration at UKZN, Mr Baatile Poo; Mr Craig Starchan of Investec Bank, and Deputy Chair of UKZN’s Council, Mr Karl Schmidt.

UKZN’S annual Golf Day is a significant event on the Institution’s calendar, bringing together the business sector, donors, alumni, friends and members of the University’s internal community.

But over and above that the event raises funds for bursaries for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have excelled academically and who do not receive any other financial support in the form of bursaries or grants.

This year’s 11th annual Golf Day, organised by UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division, was held at the plush Zimbali Country Club where eight high-achieving students from various academic disciplines received bursary funding of R10 000 each.

Standard Bank, the main sponsor for five consecutive years, pledged R60 000 this year. The bank’s Mr Toy Mzimela said: ‘Standard Bank’s involvement with this initiative is now in its fifth year. We strongly believe that the cornerstone of a proud and economically active society is built on a foundation of education.

‘There has to be a systematic process of making sure that we are producing people with maths and literacy skills and that universities are producing the right talent. The fact that this charity event supports students who excel and who come from disadvantaged backgrounds makes us as a bank a proud lead sponsor,’ said Mzimela.

Said tournament organiser Ms Shakila Thakurpersad: ‘The support every year is overwhelming and the golf day just gets better and better while there has been an increase in smaller sponsors supporting our bursary fund programme.’

Other sponsors included: DALRO, DBU Cleaning Services, Shepstone & Wylie, The Upper Cafeteria, Magic Pan Caterers, CHC Caterers, Investec Bank, Eduloan, Nedbank, Focus Project Management, Tsogo Sun and PricewaterhouseCoopers,

UKZN’s Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Mr Lesiba Seshoka, acknowledged the sponsors for their contributions and commitment to the University and thanked golfers teeing off on the day. ‘Without the sponsors a golf day like this would not be possible.’

Seshoka congratulated the bursary recipients and wished them well in their studies.

View Bursary Recipients here

-          Shakila Thakurpersad


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UKZN Academic Delivers Lecture to Poverty Education Lab Participants

UKZN Academic Delivers Lecture to Poverty Education Lab Participants
Mr Desmond Golding (left) and Professor Kriben Pillay.

As part of his research and community outreach initiatives, UKZN’s Professor Kriben Pillay delivered a lecture to the participants of the Poverty Eradication Lab, a pilot project of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism spear-headed by its HOD, Mr Desmond Golding.

Pillay is Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Law and Management Studies.

The month-long lab, based on a Malaysian model, is constructed as a space for deep learning around the issues of poverty in KwaZulu-Natal with the objective being to arrive at a plan for meaningful interventions.

Pillay’s lecture, using the Theory U model for social innovation as a framework, dealt with dialogue as a process for deep learning and action. Critical to the presentation was unpacking how perception constructs the act of dialogue.

-           UKZNDabaOnline


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Humanities Student in X Factor Reality TV Show

Humanities Student in X Factor Reality TV Show
X Factor star BA student, Ms Snehlanhla Mbonambi.

Partially sighted Bachelor of Arts student, Ms Snehlanhla Mbonambi, has made it into the X Factor reality TV show after gruelling audition and call-back sessions.

X Factor South Africa is a television music competition with contestants chosen after public auditions.

‘I am just super excited and grateful to be a part of X Factor South Africa and I’m hoping to learn a lot from the experience and to become a better performer,’ said Mbonambi. ‘My family and friends believe in me and I will be giving it my best shot.’

Mbonambi made it through auditions before belting out Luther Vandross’s Dance with my Father which impressed judges Zonke, Arno Carstens and Oskido, who described her voice as ‘amazing, clean and easy to work with’.

Mbonambi is currently doing a series of performances at “bootcamp” in order to make it into the Live Shows where the contestants perform live onstage to attract public votes to stay in the competition and to ultimately win a recording contract.

‘Whether or not I win, I’m doing something I love and I’m passionate about,’ said Mbonambi. ‘I believe my talent will be recognised and I hope to inspire others to grab opportunities like this and to follow their dreams. Even people with disabilities should never give up but instead reach for their dreams.’

X Factor South Africa opens on SABC1at 18h00 on 6 September.

-          Melissa Mungroo


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Right to Respect Awareness Campaign at UKZN

Right to Respect Awareness Campaign at UKZN
Dr Maheshvari Naidu (second row, third right) with UKZN’s Dr Sibusiso Chalufu (back row, left), University staff, students and external stakeholders.

A Right to Respect awareness campaign at UKZN, which aimed to create greater awareness of sexual rights, was hosted by the University’s HIV/AIDS programme at the Howard College Theatre.

The event was officially opened by the Executive Director of Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, who welcomed guests.

The main speaker, Dr Maheshvari Naidu, an Anthropologist at the School of Social Sciences, highlighted the recent series of brutal attacks on women. 

Naidu’s talk was titled: “Getting Behind the (Fore)skin: Know yourself, Respect Yourself ”. Her address took on a metaphoric standpoint with the emphasis placed on the nature of human beings and their interpretations of identity markers in line with racial, sexual and gender differences, within the broader context of feminism.

‘As a starting point, those identities such as race and gender are not given factual realities but social constructions within different communities of people.  Because they are constructions, does not mean they are fiction or do not exist, rather they have fluid and shifting meanings. They do hold meanings because people have taken on these constructed markers and self-identify as Black, Black African, as White and so on. So we often enact ourselves within these roles of racial and other differences.’

She borrowed from Jacques Derrida’s theory of Différance, and the idea of “to defer”, pointing out that ‘this theoretical borrowing helps us see that sexuality and sexual orientations (and other “differences” can be seen as différances) and are much more complex than what we may want to pigeon-hole and judge them  to be.

‘Adopting this view of “delaying” the assumed meaning, or signification, in the sense of metaphorically looking beyond the foreskinhelps us come a little closer to the idea and behaviour that dis-respect based on judgment and intolerance doesn’t make much sense.’

The notion of “difference” also played a huge role in Feminist theory, said Naidu. ‘Feminist anthropologists have shown how women’s bodies have been appropriated and rendered “docile” and made passive by multiple social realities including cultural or so called traditional practices by men over women.’

She encouraged the audience to – ‘be comfortable in your own skin. Be yourself, because everyone else is taken’.

In her closing remarks, Naidu said: ‘As women in the midst of pursuing degrees and intellectual careers, we should be able to recognise when certain acts of masculinity force us to be complicit even without us being aware of it.

‘Engaging in transactional sex for the consumerist Gucci bag and holiday abroad, giving in to sex just because you do not wish to offend or lose the partner, or giving in to the occasional condom-less sex, because he promises to withdraw in time, makes women complicit to certain masculine sexual scripts. It turns us, the signifiers, into how and what signification the men give us, so knowing yourself  is the ultimate respect you can give yourself.’

Ms Nomonde Magantolo, UKZN HIV and AIDS Support Unit co-ordinator, said, ‘The Howard College Campus HIV and AIDS Support Unit hosted this reproductive health education and advocacy programme in celebration of women’s month. This programme of edutainment was well attended with all five campuses being represented. The audience was very responsive to the inputs and participated in the entertainment.’

First year Anthropology students, known as The Anthros, performed a comedy sketch in which they enacted and parodied stereotypical identity markers, or so called “differences”. This enactment was received extremely well as it also skilfully highlighted the performative nature of identity and difference.

Campus Health clinic and external stakeholders provided critical health and wellness information screening to both students and staff on the day as part of the Right to Respect awareness campaign event.

-           Melissa Mungroo


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Lack of Government Funding for the Arts Lamented at Jomba! Opening

Lack of Government Funding for the Arts Lamented at Jomba! Opening
The Vuyani Dance Theatre performs on the opening night of Jomba!

Lack of funding for the Arts was slated by the Artistic Director of the 16th Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience, Ms Lliane Loots, at the Festival’s highly successful opening night at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in Durban.

Jomba!, a UKZN Centre for Creative Arts’ (CCA) production, is one of the few remaining contemporary dance festivals in the country. It features five South African companies performing over 10 days and also offers dancers, dance-makers and all interested people an opportunity to engage in workshops, discussions and master classes.

Speaking at the opening, Loots - the Festival’s Artistic Director and Performing Arts Lecturer at UKZN - said: ‘Ironically, 20 years into South Africa’s democracy we have more and more dance training programmes in South Africa but less functioning dance companies. We are subtly being told that it is okay to create artistic job skilling programmes that work with youth, but we are not allowed to nurture them into self-realised critical and funded art makers.

‘What is wanted is a bevy of beautiful and toned dancers hanging around desperate and ready to dance at any function that local and national government might deem appropriate to fund.’

Loots criticised the government for a lack of Arts funding, saying those working in the cultural and arts sector faced censorship, lethargy, apathy and blatant disrespect. 

‘These attitudes make me understand that at some level, the political well-dressed elites still have a remembrance of the power of critical arts to forge revolutions. Simply put: we only silence that which we see as a threat. And so, no matter how much is taken, destroyed and stolen from this sector, we are reminded that there will always be bodies to move and dance and there will always be stories to be told,’ said Loots.

‘Far from silent, we choose to make dissenting contributions to our freedom that may be smaller and may be more localised, but which are never ever silent. Artists do not simply make work for public consumption - for “entertainment” - we hold onto the belief that our cultural production is a dialogue with our society, both civil and political.’

According to Loots, a lack of partnerships and huge budget cuts resulted in Jomba! going local this year. ‘By local we have agreed to use the limited resources we have to support South African dance companies and artists who do indeed fight the critical fight. I honour all the dance companies performing at this year’s Festival who have foregone fees and found a way to come anyway because they share our fight.’

She thanked the CCA and the eThekwini Municipality for their ongoing funding.

The Festival opened with two works by the Vuyani Dance Theatre: Beautiful Us, created by Gregory Maqoma and Dominion, choreographed by Luyanda Sidiya.

Politically charged Dominion, like Beautiful Us, weeps and dances for a better world, looking at how humanity has distorted its human to human notions of power. Carefully skirting literal narratives, Dominion explores the dynamic between those who are invested with authority and the power they wield over others.

Tickets, at R60 for adults and R45 for scholars, students and pensioners, are available through Computicket or at the venue from one hour before the show.

For more information, go to www.cca.ukzn.ac.za and like the Facebook page: JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience and follow on Twitter: Twitter@Jomba_dance.

 - Melissa Mungroo

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Masters Students Research Recognised

Masters Students Research Recognised
Masters student, Mr Faheem Suliman.

UKZN masters student, Mr Faheem Suliman, was the co-recipient of the Young Linguist Award at the 2014 Linguistics Society of Southern Africa Conference.

Suliman shared the award with another researcher, Ms Tracey Toefey.  The award is usually given to first time presenters at the Conference who have interesting and relevant research in the linguistics field.

‘Getting this award is an acknowledgement of my research and the presentation I did at the Conference,’ said Suliman.

‘As a Linguist, the Conference allowed me to engage with like-minded scholars and to share my research with others. It also provided me with a sort of acceptance into the linguistic community and opened up my research to critical perspectives giving me the opportunity to revisit areas of my work that need further exploration.’

The Conference titled “Language: Synergies and Intersections”, focused on the interdisciplinary nature of linguistics in the field of language competence and use, while showcasing the current diversity of the field of linguistics and the blurring of the boundaries between linguistics and other domains of study concerned with the structure, function and value of language.

Suliman’s presentation was titled: “Light Verbs in Hindi”, in which he argued that there were several light verbs in Hindi with diverse characteristics that had not been accommodated in the current minimalist architecture, which only postulated a single light verb category. He provided a syntactic account of light verb constructions in Hindi, by classifying the different types of light verbs according to their functions.

Asked about his future plans, Suliman said he wanted to pursue a PhD in the linguistics field and teach linguistics.

-  Melissa Mungroo

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Activist Allan Boesak Delivers Annual Mzwandile Memorial Lecture

Activist Allan Boesak Delivers Annual Mzwandile Memorial Lecture
From left: Dr Mvume Dandala, Professor Simangaliso Kumalo; Mrs Elna Boesak; Professor Cheryl Potgieter; Professor Allan Boesak; Professor Gerald West; Professor Johannes Smit and Professor Roderick Hewitt.

Anti-apartheid activist Allan Boesak highlighted similarities in the parable of love in the Bible’s Gospel of Luke to paths walked by ANC veterans Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela, in an address he made at UKZN.

Boesak, who was hosted by the Ujamaa Centre for Community Development and Research in UKZN’s School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC), delivered the 6th Annual Mzwandile Memorial Lecture at the Collin Webb Hall.

The Lecture is in honour of the late activist Rodrigues Mzwandile Nunes, a Marxist thinker who contributed immensely towards the realisation of socio-economic justice. Nunes was a staff member of the UKZN through the Ujamaa Centre.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, welcomed Boesak describing him as a great academic, global scholar and one of the many exceptional leaders to have emerged from South Africa. She also mentioned that the College was in the process of a Memorandum of Understanding with Boesak’s Butler University to aid in transdisciplinary work.

Boesak’s lecture Just, Brave Men: Luthuli, Mandela and the Jericho Road was taken from a chapter in a book he is currently completing. The larger part of the talk centered on the parable of love in the Gospel of Luke which he likened to pathways (Jericho road) walked by ANC veterans Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela. He also looked at Combative Love and Revolutionary Neighbourliness.

Boesak spoke about Mandela’s commitment to freedom and justice, saying Madiba’s motivation came from love for the South African people and not their skin colour.

‘But if the crucial issue here is the issue of combative, revolutionary love rather than a debate about pacifism, there is no contradiction between the Mandela of 1961 and the Mandela of 1990. It was this love for all the people of South Africa, White and Black, that made Mandela make the choice for forgiveness and reconciliation and for him, that love was legitimate,’ said Boesak.

He pointed out that Luthuli’s love for Christ led him not only into the struggle but to radical love for his people irrespective of race and was always done in a non-violent manner.

In closing, Boesak said: ‘Mandela calling for all violence to cease and for his people to respond not with hatred or retribution but with forgiveness and reconciliation, proclaiming that reconciliation has always been at the heart of our struggle for justice and freedom, is it not the wisdom of Luthuli and the deepest traditions of the struggle that have ultimately triumphed? I think so.’

-          Melissa Mungroo


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Break the Silence Walk

Break the Silence Walk
The Break Silence Walk on the Howard College campus.

The Break Silence Walk, held to raise public awareness about gender-based violence and encourage victims to speak out, took place on the Howard College campus in Durban.

Organised by UKZN HIV/AIDS Women’s Forum members, the walk also aimed to educate University students and staff that silence is not the answer.

Participants walked peacefully and in silence to protest against women and children abuse.

The Walk also encouraged everyone to wear a black T-shirt, or other black clothing, every Thursday as a sign of their support and an indication that society is tired of putting up with violence and calls for a situation where women can walk safely without fear.

The response has been positive and many students, both women and men, have committed themselves to wearing black on Thursdays.

Women victims of violence have been urged to use the services of the University. For example rape cases should be reported and the victim must go to the clinic for free Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) treatment.

-          Noxolo Batembu


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Eminent Scientist Recognised for Exceptional Contribution to Science

Eminent Scientist Recognised for Exceptional Contribution to Science
Professor Salim Abdool Karim receiving the John F W Herschel Medal for 2014 from Councillor, Professor Mike Perrin. The medal is awarded in recognition of highly Distinguished Multidisciplinary Contributions to the furtherance of Science.

Internationally recognised scientist and academic Professor Salim Abdool Karim received the Royal Society of South Africa’s ‘most prestigious accolade’ the JOHN F.W. HERSCHEL MEDAL for 2014 at the Society’s Annual Awards Dinner in Cape Town on 2 September.

The President of the Royal Society of South Africa, Professor Donald Cowan, explained that Professor Abdool Karim received this medal for his, ‘exceptional multidisciplinary contribution to science in South Africa’ and ‘marked global impact in the fight against AIDS’.

Professor Abdool Karim, a renowned HIV/AIDS researcher, is the Director of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is also Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Columbia University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Cornell University. He was also, until recently, President of the South African Medical Research Council. His research on HIV prevention and the treatment of HIV-TB co-infected patients have had a marked influence on international policy and approaches. 

The Royal Society commended Professor Abdool Karim in conferring him with their highest accolade, stating that ‘Few researchers in Africa, or globally, have been as influential and have had impact of such major consequence on both HIV prevention and treatment…We salute you and your substantial accomplishments.’

‘I am honoured to be receiving this medal, which recognises 25 years of research on HIV. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to have worked with many great researchers within South Africa and beyond its borders,’ said Professor Abdool Karim, ‘It is a particularly humbling experience to work in a field that started off with so much pain and suffering and to witness today the benefits that science has brought in the way of new prevention and treatments that are saving lives’.

Professor Abdool Karim is the Chairperson of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and Scientific Advisor to the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). In addition he serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for Global Health of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV. He has served on the PEPfAR Scientific Advisory Board and as Chair of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group on Reproductive Health. He is an elected Fellow of The World Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Science in South Africa and the American Academy of Microbiology. He is a Foreign Associate Member of the US Institute of Medicine.

-          Smita Maharaj


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Farewell to Long Serving Staff Member

Farewell to Long Serving Staff Member
School of Nursing Public Health bids Shannie Maharaj farewell.

UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health employees bid farewell to their Dean and Head of School’s Administrator, Mrs Shannie Maharaj, who is moving to Pretoria after being at the Institution for the past 17 years.

Maharaj started working at the School - in the days when it was known as the Institute of Nursing - as an administrator for the Bridging Programme under the leadership of Professor Leana Uys.

Speaking at her farewell party, an emotional Maharaj recalled her early years at the university. ‘I remember my first day, I was welcomed by Prof Uys who gave me a long document to type. 

Dean and Head of the School of Nursing Public Health, Professor Busi Ncama, who has worked with Maharaj for 17 years, said she had mixed emotions about her colleague’s departure.

‘I am happy and sad that Shannie is leaving us. It has been a long journey,’ said Ncama. ‘I am sad the system prevented her from progressing further in the Institution but she inspired me to do more. Shannie pursued her MBA which inspired me to pursue mine. She made me want to develop and grow as a person. I am very sad to see her go. Her attitude to work and her level of confidentiality will be missed.’

She also thanked Maharaj on behalf of the School and the College for her outstanding contribution.

School Manager Mr Bheki Zondo said: ‘I have worked with Shannie for only a year, but I can proudly say working with her was total bliss.’

He described her leaving the Institution as a loss to the Dean and Head of School, ‘I think all those who have had the pleasure of working with her feel the same. I wish her well in her new endeavours. She has a co-ordinated mind, full of energy and was able to prioritise work in the Dean’s office.’

The farewell function was also attended by Former Dean and Head of School, Professor Busi Bhengu.

Bhengu said she was happy Maharaj had reached her potential and decided to move on to Gauteng. ‘Now that you are leaving, I hate to see you go. We congratulate you and your family. It is tough to start a new job, but as a resilient woman I know you will make it,’ said Bhengu.

An old friend and colleague of Maharaj’s, Mr Bongi Hlongwa, said: ‘I enjoyed working with you. You were like a sister to me. You were a good confidant.

‘At one time you had to act as my lawyer and because of you I survived,’ said Hlongwa.

Mr Preggie Pillay, who worked with Maharaj for the past nine years, recalled receiving a warm welcome from her on his first day in the job. ‘Goodbye Shannie, We were a great team. We complemented each other. I am sad to see you go.’

An emotional Maharaj thanked everyone present saying she would have loved to stay, but had found a good opportunity she did not want to miss.

-          Nombuso Dlamini


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UKZN Academic Part of Research Team Tackling Obesity

UKZN Academic Part of Research Team Tackling Obesity
Professor Benn Sartorius.

A study which suggests that a 20% tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) could reduce obesity in 220 000 adults in South Africa, has been co-authored by UKZN’s College of Health Sciences’ Associate Professor Benn Sartorius.

The suggestion is just one component of a multi-faceted effort to prevent obesity.

The study, published in the prestigious journal PloS One, reveals that more than half of the country's adults are overweight with 42% of women and 13% of men described as being obese.

A 20% tax, in other words a 20% price increase per unit of SSB, is predicted to lead to a reduced energy intake of about 36 kilojoules a day, resulting in a 3.8% reduction in obesity in men and a 2.4% reduction in obesity in women, translating into a potentially substantive reduction of overweight and obese adults in South Africa.

Sartorius worked on the study titled: “The Potential Impact of a 20% tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Obesity in South African Adults: A Mathematical Model”, with first author Mercy Manyema and authors Dr Lennert Veerman, Dr Lumbwe Chola, Aviva Tugendhaft, Professor Demetre Labadarios and Professor Karen Hofman.

The study employed mathematical simulation based on best available data to quantify the potential effects of various SSBs’ tax levels on population level body mass index (BMI) and obesity prevalence.

Sartorius, based in the School of Nursing and Public Health at UKZN, has been working with the largely Wits University-based research team Priority Cost Effective Lessons for Systems Strengthening (PRICELESS SA). ‘The interest generated around this study points to the importance of tackling the growing obesity epidemic in South Africa, especially at a population level,’ said Sartorius. ‘This type of strategy would have significant implications for quality of life, non-communicable diseases associated with obesity and the related substantial health care costs.’

‘Previous literature suggests that drinking one SSB a day increases the likelihood of being overweight by more than 50% in children and close to 30% among adults. The impact of concurrent poor diet choices (such as fast food) can also not be discounted,’ he said.

Echoing previous sentiments from Professor Hofman, Sartorius said:  ‘Despite similar research having been conducted in developed settings, this study is the first of its kind in Africa to our knowledge. This type of information will prove useful for Department of Health planning with regards to its National Strategic Plan for controlling non-communicable diseases over the next five years and who have previously listed taxation of foods high in sugar as a viable “best buy” strategy for tacking obesity and associated disease.’

He said the proposed taxation would probably produce a reduction in BMI and the proportion of people who are obese at a population level. ‘It will potentially decrease the number of people who suffer from obesity related non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer,’ he added.

-          Nombuso Dlamini


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