Setting out to complete her LLB degree “as best as she could” has earned Ms Kimberley Sharp the title of top law student on the Howard College campus, a string of student awards, and the prestigious Cecil Renaud Scholarship which will see her jetting off to the London School of Economics in September to read for a Master of Law degree.

Sharp, who graduated summa cum laude, received the Shunmugam N Chetty Memorial Prize for best aggregates in Human Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure and Administrative Law; the Abel Torf Prize for the best overall LLB student; the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society Prize for the best final-year student; the Phatshoane Henney Group Honour Medals for graduating summa cum laude and a certificate for excelling in the 21st Africa Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

Sharp said she chose to pursue law owing to its versatility and because a career in the justice was a “noble” choice. Currently serving her articles at Webber Wentzel in Johannesburg, Sharp said she was excited to be back at UKZN for her Graduation ceremony where she was joined by her parents from Zambia and family members from London.

‘I am extremely proud to be graduating summa cum laude. From first year I knew that I wanted to do my LLB as best I could. To be top of my class is just a cherry on top,’ said Sharp.

She attributes her success to hard work and a supportive mother who has always inspired her to take control of her life. ‘My mother has always made me believe that I am the driving force in my life and that with knowledge comes power. Without her infinite strength and wisdom, I would never have been able to get back up on the horse as many times as I have in my life. She has always given the strength and inspired me to reach for the stars and never compromise my dreams, even when they look impossible to reach at times,’ said Sharp.

Sharp advised other law students to work hard, enjoy university life and never stop thinking about the next step in life and how you can better yourself.

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Addressing Law graduates at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, defender of human rights and expert in labour law, Justice Dhayanithie Pillay, appealed to students to use their education to make a difference, no matter how small, in their communities.

Pillay was addressing graduates at the College of Law and Management’s 19 April Graduation ceremony, to which she was invited as guest speaker. 

She highlighted the revolutionary changes in information access and dissemination brought about by the Internet and the human rights changes brought on by the country’s Constitution.

She said although not every change initiated by students was likely to be quite as dramatic or effective as the internet or the Constitution, it was important to remember that every little change counted.

‘You are the microchip to make South Africa grow … the power is in your hands,’ she said.

Pillay was appointed a judge of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg and Durban in 2010. Prior to this she was a judge of the Labour Court of South Africa for 10 years.

She told graduates that she never imagined that she would live in a free South Africa, but is now happy in the knowledge that “we have a government that cares for all of us”. She called on graduates to help government to perfect its delivery.  

Admitted as an attorney in 1982, Pillay was drawn to the plight of political detainees, specialising in human rights and administrative law disputes arising from the various emergency and security laws in force at the time. She was recognised as a human rights defender by the Amnesty International SA Durban Group in 2005.

After turning to labour law and industrial relations, Judge Pillay was selected to be involved in the drafting of key pieces of national legislation, including the Public Service Labour Relations Act, the new Labour Relations Act, and clauses of the Constitution relating to the Public Service Commission and Electoral Commission.  She has been a Senior Commissioner (part-time) of the CCMA since 1996.

Judge Pillay’s legal acumen has been internationally acknowledged, most recently through her appointment as a visiting Professor for the Open University in the United Kingdom. She has published and presented more than 40 papers during her career.

Concluding her address, she wished students the best of luck, and urged them to be the best they could be. 

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Dr Devina Oodith who undertook doctoral research on the effectiveness of call centres has adapted her research findings into a model that may be adopted by the call centre industry to enhance its efficacy.

Oodith was awarded her PhD in Management Studies on Friday for her thesis titled, “The Effectiveness of the Call Centre in Managing Customers and their Needs”. Her research investigated the effectiveness of the call centre environment, customer’s expectations of call centre agents and the perceptions of call centre agents on service effectiveness.

She said she embarked on this research because service is a critical competitive factor and businesses need to explore various approaches in delivering high quality services to its customer base.

Oodith discovered that call centre agents felt dejected by long working hours without room for growth and development and complained about irate customers. Customers, on the other hand, found call centre agents to be unskilled and unable to resolve queries or complaints. They also found the online self-service technology of call centres to be challenging to navigate at times and loathed the long wait when they had to make contact with the centres.

Oodith described her graduation as “an exhilarating milestone” in her academic and personal life. ‘I am extremely appreciative of the guidance, love and support that I’ve received from my family, friends and my supervisor Professor Sanjana Brijball Parumasur, without whom I would not have been able to complete this project. Most of all I am thankful to God for blessing me with this opportunity.’

Plans are under way for Oodith’s research to be implemented. ‘The organisation involved in the study has requested a detailed report of the findings as well as my recommendations for possible implementation,’ she told UKZNOnline. ‘In addition, based on the recommendations, a model has been compiled for practitioners and other stakeholders which, when implemented, has the potential to enhance call centre effectiveness.’

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Doctoral research on social media and its impact on advocacy activities has been adapted into a training course by a UKZN graduate set to be implemented at a local tertiary institution.

Dr Kiru Pillay was awarded his PhD in Information Technology on 19 April for research titled: “Do Web 2.0 Social Media Impact Transnational Social Advocacy? A Study of South African Civil Society and Greenpeace”. His research investigated the effectiveness of technology such as social networking sites, blogs and podcasts, collectively known as Web 2.0 technologies, for civil society organisations in meeting organisational goals.

As a case study Pillay focused on Greenpeace which is considered to be the largest environmental justice organisation in the world. The three-year study included face-to-face interviews with Greenpeace’s senior management teams in Amsterdam, Argentina and South Africa. In addition, Pillay interviewed, via Skype, representatives of Greenpeace based in India and a Washington office dedicated to the use of emerging technologies in advocacy.

Pillay said: ‘The key findings that emerged in the South African context were that of a sector that has a low level of knowledge of social media services and an accompanying low level of adoption. This is partly explained by factors at a national level, including macro-economic policies, and a low level of Internet penetration and ICT readiness.’

As a spin-off to his research Pillay has developed a learning programme titled Social Media for Advocacy which is a three-month programme consisting of theory that focuses on the nature of civil society organisations and the role of advocacy and social media technology, and its benefits in increasing social dialogue. The training includes a five-day practical component that focuses on the use of the various forms of social media and includes real-world case studies and lessons learned.

Pillay, who works in the Enterprise Development Unit at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in the area of curriculum development and training, said social media can be beneficial to promoting social advocacy on several levels. ‘The ordinary person is given a voice in effecting social change. More people are able to particpate in the social dialogue. People are able to advocate for policy change. It’s a tool that aids activism,’ he said.

However, social media does have its pitfalls, admits Pillay who said while civil society organisations use this technology for the betterment of society, counter-culture groups use social media in a negative way.

He intends continuing this research and, as the current Projects Chair at the KwaZulu-Natal e-Skills CoLab, is in the process of creating several artefacts that emerged from the research.  ‘I want to, where necessary, develop tools and where possible leverage tools for citizen engagement,’ Pillay reflected.

Professor Manoj Maharaj, a UKZN Associate Professor in the Discipline of Information Systems and Technology who was Pillay’s PhD supervisor, indicated that Pillay’s work received excellent responses from his internal, external and international examiners.

‘The real value of a PhD is for the graduate to be able to use the skills gained to make a positive contribution to society. Kiru’s development of the training intervention fulfils this role.  He has always been socially aware and responsive. The choice of PhD research topic and actions such as this are evidence of this,’ said Maharaj.

Pillay, who has been in the information technology sector for over 23 years, said he was relieved that his PhD research was finally over and to have his degree conferred.

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Three high school friends who pursued the tough Bachelor of Business Science in Actuarial Science degree were rewarded with the honour of graduating summa cum laude on 19 April.

Mr Atish Maharaj, Mr Preshan Bidesi and Mr Kalin Ramsunder, all currently pursuing their Honours degrees in Financial Mathematics at Wits University, attended Glenhaven Secondary School in Verulam together. The proud young men said application and teamwork had been their recipe for success. 

Maharaj said graduating summa cum laude was something he’d worked at for three years. On his choice of subject, he said: ‘My love for Mathematics prompted me to choose actuarial science. It’s a challenging course that entails a large volume of work and brings out the complexity of Maths. It exposes the intricacies of Maths; one must have an eye for detail to succeed in this field.’

According to Maharaj the three friends worked together and supported each other in their studies. He said they never competed against each other and this worked to their advantage. He added that other students they knew dropped out of the course because they were highly competitive and could not work together.

Happy to be graduating with distinction, Ramsunder said their achievement proved that success is possible if goals are set and students focus on accomplishing them.

Ramsunder said he chose actuarial science on the basis of research he’d undertaken prior to entering university which indicated it was a good career choice with a lot of scope.

Bidesi echoed the sentiments of his friends and expressed delight at graduating summa cum laude. He said the celebration was “much-needed” considering they are currently undertaking the challenging Honours programme.

‘The biggest contributors to my success were the help of my peers, good lecturers and hard work. I would definitely recommend this degree to others who have a knack for Maths,’ said Bidesi.

All three plan on celebrating their success with family and friends who they don’t see often enough due to now living outside of Durban.

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The Moonaisur triplets of Phoenix were among the proud graduates at the School of Management, Information System Technology and Governance Graduation ceremony on April 19 at UKZN’s Westville campus.

All three triplets – Tashna, Ashmika and Dimishka Moonaisur – received their Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree in Human Resources. Their career choice was influenced by their older sibling, Natasha, a Human Resources Advisor in the Department of Trade and Industry in Pretoria.

The triplets were thankful to UKZN which awarded all three siblings a bursary that helped them realise their goal of concluding their Honours degree.

‘We are very grateful to UKZN for offering all three of us bursaries. We were surprised that they offered three siblings bursaries but it was welcomed and we made the most of it. Our undergraduate studies were funded by our parents. It was a costly affair and a financial strain so we are also grateful to them [our parents],’ said Ashmika.

Tashna’s research dissertation titled “Factors Affecting Effective Communication at the Workplace” focused on leadership, team work and channels of communication that impact on communication in work settings.

‘Graduating was a proud moment for us as Honours was not an easy task. It was a taxing year for us all and therefore graduating with our Honours degree is an exciting experience,’ said Tashna.

Her sister Ashmika investigated “The Relationship between Employee Engagement and Burnout in the Workplace” as her research topic.

The triplets did admit to moments when sibling rivalry prevailed. According to Tashna there were moments when they had disagreements and arguments over their studies but at the end of the day they motivated each other.

‘As a team we discovered we were very strong, which helped with our learning. It was a case of majority rules when it came to decision-making in our studies and other aspects of life. When two siblings disagree on a matter the third would intervene and mediate to reach consensus,’ said Tashna.

Dimishka scored a distinction for her research titled “Factors that contribute to team effectiveness”, which highlighted the advantages of team work in the workplace.

Aside from hard work, Dimishka said her success was owed to her supportive supervisor, Professor S Brijball and her siblings.

The triplets are participating in a one-year learnership programme at ABSA bank. 

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Being a disciplined student and working consistently from day one has been the secret to success for Mr Kiren Bagwandeen from Pietermaritzburg who was awarded his LLB degree summa cum laude.

Serving his articles at Norton Rose in Durban, Bagwandeen follows in the footsteps of his two older brothers who both acquired law degrees at UKZN.

At the annual Law School Student Awards Ceremony Bagwandeen scooped four awards: the KZN Law Society Prize for being the top overall fourth-year student; the Phatshoane Henney Medal of Excellence for passing summa cum laude; the Cox Yeats Award for scoring the highest marks in Corporate Law and the Matthew Francis Incorporated Attorneys Award for achieving the highest marks in Civil Procedure Law.

‘I owe my success to my discipline and the fact that I realised that with freedom comes responsibility. I took my parents’ advice to work hard from day one. I realised that if I wanted to join a prestigious law firm I would need to work hard and produce good results,’ said Bagwandeen.

Learning that he’d be graduating summa cum laude was an exciting experience for Bagwandeen who said: ‘I couldn’t believe it. After all my hard work I’m elated by this achievement.’

Bagwandeen is also happy to have realised his goal of working at a prestigious law firm and finds the legal world a stimulating experience and a steep learning curve. ‘Working and studying are completely different, the common ground, however, is applying the theory we learnt in law school. We have to apply our minds more and realise the rules and laws we learnt of in university are now more relevant.’

The highlights of his years at Law School include the awards he started to bag since second year, which motivated him to work even harder. Bagwandeen admits to enjoying the freedom of university life, meeting new people and making new friends.

With a particular interest in commercial law Bagwandeen aspires to work his way up the corporate ladder and become an associate.

He advised current law students to ensure that they enjoy their university years, but not at the expense of their marks. ‘Get involved in the culture of the University. Balance freedom and studying. Don’t leave upping your marks to your final year; instead work hard from your first year.’

Bagwandeen said he planned to celebrate his success by going out with family and friends.

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Izelamani okungo Shihaab kanye no Muheeb Buckas, bobabili bathweswe iziqu zeqhuzu leKhomesi kwezamabhuku eziMali  mhla zi-19 kuMbasa.

Izelamani, ezihlukaniswa izinyanga eziyishumi nje vo, zanquma ukuba ziqhubeke nezinhlelo zezifundo zeKhomesi ngenxa yokwenza kahle kakhulu kwimiphumela yezibalo kanye namabhuku eziMali, ukuze bafeze amaphupho abo okuba abacwaningi-mabhuku, phecelezi chartered accountants.

UShihaab, okunguyena omdala, kumanje wenza izifundo ze-Honours kulo iqhuzu lezamabhuku ezimali eNyuvesi yase Ningizimu Afrika, futhi ungumsizi osabambe okwesikhashana kwiSikole samabhuku ezimali, ezeziMali nezoMnotho, e-UKZN.

Ukuba sithweswe iziqu kanye kanye kusihlab’umxhwele kakhulu, kusho uShihaab, obekunguyena obefukula atakule umtakwabo lapho edinga usizo.

Lezi zinsizwa zibeke ukuthi ukufunda kanye kanye akuzange neze kubaxabanise njengezelamani, kodwa kunalokho bebekhuthazana ukuba basebenze ngamandla ukuze benze kahle kakhulu. 

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Participation in South Africa’s political uprising in 1976 against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at schools, and ongoing motivation from his father, Mr Patrick Dumisa, gave Professor Bonke Dumisa a lifelong love of education, inspiring him to pursue seven degrees at universities across the globe.

The School of Management, Information Technology and Governance professor was conferred with his seventh degree, a Masters in Law, at UKZN on 19 April. His other six degrees include: a Bachelor of Commerce from the National University of Lesotho (1982); Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from the University of South Africa (1987); Master of Business Administration from Bentley University in Massachusetts, United States (1988); Master of Science from the London School of Economics (1993); Doctor of Business Administration from the University of Durban-Westville (1998) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Zululand (2001).

‘I have not accumulated degrees for the sake of it. It is about multi-skilling myself and being productive in many fields, rather than being an expert in just one area,’ Dumisa told UKZNOnline.

Dumisa, who teaches the Advanced Labour Law module to Masters of Commerce students and Labour Dispute Resolution at Honours level, believes the disciplines of Law and Commerce complement each other.

On a more personal note, Dumisa, an admitted Advocate of the High Courts of South Africa and Lesotho, chose to obtain two law degrees in memory of his late brother, Mr Thamsanqa Dumisa, who received a BProc degree in 1992 from the former University of Natal but did not have the opportunity to pursue a career in the field as he passed away a few years later before he could be admitted as an Attorney.

Dumisa said while in detention for a year in 1976, he realised he wanted a better education. Upon his release from prison in 1977 he left South Africa for Lesotho where he began his pursuit of Higher Education.

Believing that travel broadens the mind led to him obtaining three of his degrees from universities abroad.

Dumisa’s is aiming for an eighth degree – a Doctorate in Law which he plans to plans to pursue in either Australia or New Zealand.

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Ms Nokulunga Ndlovu is living proof that through hard work, passion and determination, dreams can come true.

Her academic dream was realised when she was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Investigation and Criminal Justice during a School of Law Graduation ceremony on 19 April.

Ndlovu is a UKZN staff member working at Risk Management Services (RMS) as an Investigations Officer responsible for investigations across four campuses.

Her career emerged from humble beginnings in 1989 when she was appointed as a security guard with a matric certificate. Once inside the University she pursued part-time studies and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Public Administration degree. She is now focusing on completing her studies towards a National Diploma in Security and Risk Management through UNISA in July 2013.

Her passion for investigations kept her motivated throughout her journey, during which she had to juggle work, family life and her studies.

‘Even though times were tough, working during the day, attending evening classes, driving to Amanzimtoti after classes and arriving home late at night, I never gave up,’ she said.

Ndlovu said her achievement was made possible through the support of her family and the Director of RMS, Mr Jabulani Fihlela, who has been her professional and academic mentor.

Ndlovu sees UKZN as an Institution of choice for staff and is grateful to the University for affording her the opportunity to excel academically through staff remission and development.

About her future plans, Ndlovu said she dreams of wearing a red academic gown one day.

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Identical twins, Sumira and Sumita Vasudev of Verulam have similar interests, similar personalities and they think along the same lines. So it’s not surprising that they’ve both chosen to study in the field of Commerce.

Sumira was awarded her Bachelor of Commerce degree on 18 April. A day later her sister Sumita was capped with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting (BCOA) degree.

Sumira, currently pursuing her BCom Honours degree in Supply Chain Management, was “excited” to have graduated but admitted to being a tad bid nervous about the high expectations of the industry she would soon enter.

Academically, Sumira performed well in her final year, achieving the Dean’s Commendation for academic excellence and scoring merit awards for outstanding performance in two modules.

The twins, who often have episodes of mistaken identity due to their similarities, said their interest in the field of commerce goes back to their high school days.

Sumita’s interest in accounting developed at school and she was set on becoming a chartered accountant, therefore the BCOA degree was an ideal academic programme for her to follow.

She has secured a contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers and is studying towards her Honours in Accounting degree at UKZN.

She said she was happy to have concluded her three years of studying without failing subjects or writing supplementary examinations.

‘As twins together at school and university, we’d study separately but assist each other if necessary. We realised tertiary studies would be difficult but we didn’t let this deter us. Students must be focused and work hard. Every student’s experience at university is different. Just keep at it and be consistent in your studies,’ said Sumita.

The twins, who turned 21 in March, plan to celebrate their milestone birthday and academic success together with family.

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A lesson learnt from her policeman father – that everyone deserves a fair chance to be heard and defended – inspired Ms Rakhee Singh to pursue law as a career. This week she was one of five students to be awarded their Bachelor of Laws degrees summa cum laude.

According Singh, the last four years have been characterised by late caffeine-driven nights, tears, pushing to the utmost extremes, happiness, and some quite inexplicable emotions.

Paying tribute to those who played a critical role in her recent success, she said: ‘I attribute my success to my parents, Roheath and Firoza, and God, without whom none of this would have been possible. My mother has always encouraged me to reach for the moon because even if I am not successful I will land amongst the stars. My mother has shared my joys and tears. She definitely is the greatest friend I have.

Singh said one of the primary reasons for selecting a career in law was her father, who served in the South African Police services for 27 years. ‘From him I have learnt that everyone deserves a fair chance in life. I was thus drawn to a profession that involves giving everyone a fair chance to be heard and defended. I am extremely satisfied with my career choice,’ she said.

Although she obtained six distinctions in matric, which opened many avenues of study to her, Singh favoured law. ‘The presumption that everyone is innocent until proven guilty underlies my aspiration to be the best counsel, thereby giving my clients the best outcome in the given situation. Studying law has also made me appreciate the sacrifices made by legends such as Nelson Mandela,’ she said.

Singh said the high level of education and academic stimulation she received from the UKZN School of Law further boosted her passion for the field. ‘Being surrounded by such pleasant and iconic role models as Professors Managay Reddi, Karthy Govender, Steven Peté and Max du Plessis has instilled in me a sense of admiration and determination to one day achieve such greatness. The helpful support staff, such as Mr Reuben Govender, has taught me the importance of being humble.’

Singh told UKZNOnline that she took a decision not to commence articles this year because she wanted to supplement the invaluable theoretical knowledge she attained at undergraduate level with the practical skills necessary to be a successful legal practitioner. She is currently registered at the School for Legal Practice.

‘I believe this will ease the transition from student life to working life. The practical skills I gain will allow me to work more independently and therefore be an asset. I intend to complete my articles in an environment that will expose me to the various aspects of law so as to gain a practical insight prior to specialisation. Thereafter, I intend to complete a postgraduate degree,’ she said.

Singh, who completed her LLB through funding from UKZN Financial Aid, said she was accustomed to the associated hardships that many students experience. ‘As such, I hold myself up as an example of the idea that “anything is possible if you work hard”.’

Singh says she maintains a good balance between work and play. When she is not reading law textbooks she enjoys spending time with family and friends and recommends her favourite sport of volleyball for relieving stress. 

Advising current students, she said: ‘To be successful one needs to make sacrifices. There is a time and place for everything. Now is the time to soak in as much knowledge as possible. ‘Knowledge is power!’

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For Dr Simphiwe Ndlovu, having a doctorate is still a bit surreal, but nevertheless real. Witnessed by a large and jubilant audience, the son of a domestic worker and a gardener from Ndwendwe district in KwaZulu-Natal graduated with his PhD on 19 April.

His thesis, titled, “Evaluating Public Sector Service Delivery In Provincial Hospitals: A Case Study of the Durban Metropolitan and Ilembe Regions”, was supervised by Dr Abdulla Kader, part-time academic in the Graduate School of Business & Leadership and Head of  Leadership & Development at Nedbank.

Describing his feelings about his success, Ndlovu said: ‘Nothing can express the joy that I had when I was informed that I had completed my research. It’s still unbelievable but it was because of hard work, patience and determination that I succeeded.’

Ndlovu is a Deputy Manager in the Expanded Public Works Programme in the Department of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Pietermaritzburg. Previously, he worked as a Director at the Department of Home Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal.

His PhD study focused on investigating and evaluating the service offered at three provincial hospitals – Stanger, King Edward and Addington – and the impact that such service has on the lives of South African citizens daily.

He said his study was prompted by the fact that public health care is poor and the majority of patients at these hospitals are poor people. He investigated why the hospital service is in such a dire state and made recommendations for improvements.

It is envisaged that his research could be used as a tool to improve service delivery at provincial hospitals and to implement the National Health Insurance effectively by providing better healthcare facilities and service all over the country.

With support from the MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, Ndlovu plans to implement some of the recommendations made in his study. ‘I will be meeting with Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo who played a critical role in ensuring that this study was a success through his support, by answering my calls and short messages at all times … he never doubted the intention of the study and what it seeks to achieve,’ he said.

Ndlovu attributed his success to the support he received from his family, friends and UKZN academics and support staff. He said: ‘All these people played a critical role in the development of this work and they kept me motivated throughout the journey and they kept on pushing me over and over again until I realised that this was a possible dream.’

His plans for the future include publishing his work and producing research papers.

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Dr Mabutho Sibanda was one of five members of staff from the College of Law and Management Studies to be awarded a doctorate at this year’s Graduation ceremonies. Other staff members were Dr Vannie Naidoo and Dr Devina Oodith, both from the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance; Dr Stanley Hardman of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership; and Dr Kathy Holland, College Director of Professional Services.

Sibanda, from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, produced an empirical analysis of the influence of institutional investors on the financialisation of capital in South Africa. His thesis was supervised by Professor Merle Holden.

Sibanda’s success and that of his colleagues has contributed towards the strategic objectives of the College, which embarked recently on a project to improve the number of PhDs amongst staff, and boost research productivity. The project is ongoing and progress is constantly monitored. Sibanda will now be available to supervise doctoral students and he has been commended by the College management for his sterling effort.

Sibanda’s study explored the influence of institutional investors in shifting economic gravity from the production of goods and services to finance. The theory of financial intermediation was central to the study which hypothesised a financialised economy in which finance drove economic development.

According to Sibanda the recommendations contained in his study are practical and relevant to developing countries. ‘I intend to pursue programmes which are aligned to my study and enhance economic growth through financial development,’ he said.

Sibanda is also passionate about teaching finance at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and he supervises Masters students. 

He said he is indebted to his wife Phathiwe and their three children for their support and understanding during his doctoral studies.

He intends to extract at least four journal articles from his thesis and publish them in Department of Higher Education and Training accredited journals.

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A thesis investigating service quality perceptions in tertiary institutions has not only earned its author a PhD but has enhanced her understanding of students’ academic needs, and the teaching and learning experience more generally.

Dr Vannie Naidoo was delighted about her latest academic achievement and said: ‘I now can wear the “red gown” with honour as the PhD degree is highly recognised by my peers abroad with whom I interact at conferences and in collaborative research projects.’

Throughout her 15 years in academia Naidoo has written conference papers and journal articles on strategy, management issues, project management, small business, gender issues and service marketing.

Her PhD titled: “Investigating Service Quality Perceptions in Tertiary Institutions: The Case of the University of KwaZulu-Natal,” has already produced papers which Naidoo presented at various conferences, including those hosted by the College. They include the South African Institute of Management Scientists Conference in 2011; the Business Management Conference in 2011; and the International Conference on Business and Economics (ICBER) which was held in Cairo in 2011.

She received the Best Paper Award at the ICBER Conference and the research was later published in the International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance.

Naidoo said her PhD study, supervised by Dr Maxwell Phiri, has contributed positively to her everyday teaching experience. She has gained a better understanding of students’ academic needs which shape their perceptions and this in turn has improved the teaching and learning experience of her students.

Naidoo faced a huge hurdle when she lost her father in 2012 during her studies. She said: ‘This PhD journey would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from my late dad – Mr George Naidoo – and my mum – Mrs Goonum Naidoo. They have been my foundation. Whatever I have achieved is as a result of their unwavering guidance and love throughout my life.’

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Deputy Head of the UNITE programme Dr Rudi Kimmie was capped with a PhD in Leadership for his research on academic development in Higher Education.

Kimmie chose to research academic development in the higher education sector due to an inherent need to make students’ experience more effective and enriching.

Titled “A Constructivist Approach to Theory U as a Transformation Model in Academic Development within South African Higher Education”, Kimmie’s research found  that prevalent academic deficiencies cannot be treated in isolation.

‘We have to consider the “social field” or the context of the learner.  Simultaneously, the learner has to be an active participant in the process through interrogating their mental paradigms which shape how they learn,’ he said.

Kimmie said he hoped his research findings would add impetus to the introduction of new approaches to academic development and transformation within the education sector.

He said he had mixed feelings about finishing his PhD: ‘I’m elated to have graduated but somewhat sad that it [the research] is complete!  I miss the robust discussion and productive engagements with my supervisor. However, I don’t doubt that I’ll invest my academic energies in other productive pursuits.’

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Challenging and enriching aspects of the scholar-practitioner divide was one of the aims of a doctoral thesis produced by conflict resolution practitioner and research associate of the Social Law Project at the University of the Western Cape, Dr Sarah Henkeman, who was awarded her PhD at a UKZN Graduation ceremony on 19 April.

The thesis: “Restorative Justice as a Tool for Peace-building: A South African Study” was supervised by Professor Geoff Harris, the former Director of UKZN’s Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies Unit.

Henkeman said her study has become the basis upon which she conducts her work as a facilitator, trainer and researcher. She plans to publish parts of it in publications read by practitioners in her field.

Henkeman’s study examined restorative justice practice to establish whether it contributes to peace-building in South Africa’s unequal, transitional context. The empirical evidence showed that the criminal law definition of crime limits the impact of restorative justice to the micro level. A conceptual argument was made that contemporary forms of restorative justice do not currently make a contribution to micro-macro peace-building as practitioners filter out the interaction of structural and individual level factors that produce crime. The study recommends education, training and coaching of practitioners to align their practice with peace-building goals.

Since 1994, Henkeman has made a significant contribution to the field of conflict resolution in South Africa. She was the co-ordinator of mediation services to the Independent Electoral Commission for South Africa’s first democratic elections. Prior to this she worked for public interest/human rights organisations such as the Legal Resources Centre, the Street Law Programme and a public interest law firm. She has worked with most of the peace-building organisations in South Africa and with Norway’s Peace Corps (Fredskorpset).

She told UKZNOnline that she feels vindicated by her study: ‘Practitioners can, with the help of able and supportive supervisors and visionary examiners, theorise about their practice and can enrich or challenge some entrenched theoretical ideas or point out blind spots that constitute the practitioner-scholar divide. I am happy that I could theorise about an interlinked gap in peace-building practice in South Africa’s unequal, transitional context, and make recommendations to fill the gap from a practitioner’s perspective.’

The sacrifices made by many struggle heroes and heroines for the liberation of many South Africans as well as the support of her friends and family kept her energised throughout her PhD journey.  ‘Strong women of the struggle - of all races - served as inspiration of how we can all be a link in a chain and make a contribution to freedom from all forms of violence, at different levels of action, to make this world more just and equal for everyone,’ said Henkeman.

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It was a significant and joyous moment when three childhood friends – Mr Bradley Naidoo, Mr Travis Pillay and Mr Wayne Govender – graduated at this year’s College of Law and Management Studies’ Graduation ceremony. The three have been friends for 23 years.

Naidoo was awarded an LLB degree while Pillay and Govender were both awarded Bachelor of Commerce degrees. All were extremely pleased with their academic achievements. ‘It has been a relief to finally achieve something special after the sleepless nights and lots of coffee. All the hard work I put in can only make me stronger for the years ahead,’ said Govender.

Naidoo added: ‘I am very happy and proud of my latest academic achievement. I recently passed all four attorneys admission exams but this [Graduation] has definitely been one of the highlights for me and it is extremely exciting for the three of us to be graduating at the same time and from the same College.’

Govender is based at the Johannesburg branch of printing and packaging company Hitech Graphics. Naidoo is currently serving articles at a law firm in Durban, while Pillay is working at Standard Bank in the Interims Command Centre at the Durban head office in Kingsmead.

When it comes to building a lasting friendship, both Naidoo and Pillay advised young people to look out for those who share your values and principles, people with good influence, and make a positive impact in one’s life. ‘It always helps if they share common interests and will motivate you to achieve your goals,’ added Naidoo.

The trio admitted that the bond shared between their parents also helped them to keep their friendship strong over the years. They also stay connected through the use of technology and social media.

Govender said: ‘It has been strange how at times we have gone our separate ways, especially in high school and particular fields of study, but we remained in contact and all ended up finishing what we started, which is a kind of sign that we are all on the right path.’

The trio has celebrated many milestones together, from kindergarten to matriculating, including obtaining drivers’ licences, celebrating 21st birthdays – and now graduation.

Future plans for Pillay and Naidoo include pursuing postgraduate studies in Economics and an LLM respectively.

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