Public Interest Law – Then and Now was the topic of the 11th Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge Memorial Lecture delivered at UKZN by Madam Justice Daya Pillay, a judge of the High Court of KwaZulu-Natal.

Addressing members of the legal fraternity, academics and students, Pillay compared public interest case law of the past with what comes before the courts today.  The Lecture coincided with the annual School of Law Student Awards Ceremony which rewards law students who have excelled academically.

The annual Lecture, hosted by the School of Law, pays homage to the late Victoria and Griffiths Mxenge, lawyers and struggle heroes who played a pivotal role in the demise of apartheid.  According to Pillay, the Mxenges were known for taking up causes which opposed sexism and racism.

‘I interacted closely with Victoria during the United Democratic Front’s trial in Pietermartizburg in the 1980s. The Mxenges were driven by circumstances and public interest law was important to them. Their consciousness compelled them to help the community selflessly and without fear,’ said Pillay.

‘I’m deeply troubled by the inequality that exists in our society despite the wonderful Constitution we have. Our Constitution is unmistakably the most transformative at this stage of our development. I don’t suggest that public interest law is the panacea to all our problems, but if practised properly it can transport our democracy,’ said Pillay.

Pillay urged law graduates to practice public interest law which advances the rights of the poor and disadvantaged communities.

She took guests through a plethora of case law in public interest that went before the South African courts over the years to emphasise the significance of this area of law.

Guests were also addressed by the Dean and Head of the School of Law, Professor Managay Reddi, who said the Lecture aimed to salute the Mxenges and thousands of other struggle heroes who perished in the quest for freedom in South African.

‘It is an honour to have this Lecture delivered by Madam Justice Pillay who was a former colleague of Victoria Mxenge.

‘I would like to salute our students who have the ability to make a meaningful contribution to society. I congratulate you all for your academic excellence,’ added Reddi.

Law students who excelled were presented with awards for excellence in various categories. Top honours went to Ms Kimberley Sharp, the top final year student of the Class of 2012, who got six awards for excellence in various areas of law.

‘I really worked hard and focused during my LLB, so to see the benefit of it all is extremely rewarding,’ said Sharp ‘The most personally fulfilling part of it all is to have my parents there with me and for them to be able to see my success.

‘I am so proud of myself for achieving what I set out to do and I hope that my success will inspire others studying law. Receiving these prizes is just a reminder of the goals that I achieved and how much fun I had achieving them. Having now achieved them, I am ready to set new, even higher goals.’

author email : Maharajn20@ukzn.ac.za



UKZN has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Namibia (UNAM). This is the result of a visit by UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, last year to UNAM where he met his counterpart Vice-Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula and senior leadership. 

Following the initial meeting, a delegation from UKZN Quality Promotion and Assurance and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Support Services at the Durban University of Technology visited UNAM to participate in a workshop on Quality Promotion and Assurance early in April which set the tone for the collaboration between the universities.

The MoU was signed at UKZN with the Namibian delegation including Professor Osmund Mwandemele, Pro-Vice Chancellor: Academic Affairs and Research, and Dr Sifiso Nyati, Director: Centre for Quality Assurance and Management.

Renewable energy, climate change, mushroom farming and marine and coastal resources are areas of collaboration the universities may consider exploring in the near future. Indigenous Knowledge Systems, identified as important in their region, was highlighted by Mwandemele as a particular area of interest.

With the ink hardly dry on the MoU, there have been instances of collaboration between the universities which bodes well for future collaborations. 

Mwandemele thanked UKZN for hosting 10 Electrical Engineering students from the University of Namibia recently. The Engineering students were given practical training for approximately one month.

Mwandemele acknowledged UKZN’s Director of Quality Promotion and Assurance, Dr Lumkile Lalendle, who assisted with laying the foundation for the signing of the MoU. ‘Since linking up with Quality promotion, we have benefited a lot. Dr Lalendle, we are very grateful for that.’

author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za



The Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) Careers Week held recently targeted the top 10 Grade 12 learners in Physics and Mathematics from schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

The event started four years ago after academics in UKZN’s Department of Mathematics and Physics found there was a shortage of mathematicians, scientists, astrophysicists and cosmologists.

Outreach and Public Relations Co-ordinator at the Unit, Ms Prashina Kallideen, developed the concept for the event which includes presentations and seminars designed to expose learners to careers in science and specifically astrophysics and cosmology. The presenters include senior researchers, post docs and undergraduates.

The week is funded by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Undergraduate Block Grant. In addition to informative presentations, learners are exposed to information about ACRU bursaries whereby four students are given an annual award to pursue a BSc degree (M stream) with intention of undertaking research in astrophysics and cosmology. The bursaries are given to the ACRU to administer by the SKA and the National Research Foundation (NRF).

One of the most exciting and  informative presentations was done by Dr Megan Govender who uses “magic” in the most creative and innovative way to educate learners about science and mathematics. The students were astonished by Govender’s Gangnam Style dance moves, and Einstein’s equations and infamous nitrogen gas experiments. After all the excitement, students were treated to a meal.

‘The ACRU Career Week has proved to be extremely successful over the last four years and has been instrumental in recruiting learners into our Research Unit,’ said Kallideen.

‘Currently we have a strong group of undergraduates who are performing exceptionally well on the programme and we foresee the programme developing. In addition, we have extended the programme into Gauteng where we visited the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy to recruit top achieving African women learners.’   

author email : Rajpall@ukzn.ac.za



Ms Yugashree Govender, a student in the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science won two top prizes at the college’s awards function.

Students from the School of Chemistry and Physics and the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science were recognised at the function for excellent achievements.

Govender collected the Perkin Elmer Lucas award for the Best Overall student in Chemistry and the SASOL Medal for the Best Student in Chemistry Honours.

Govender’s honours project was based on the Analysis of Pesticides in Molasses and was supervised by Dr Brenda Moodley. The project compared and evaluated the effectiveness of the traditional method of extraction and the QuEChERS method, for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of pesticides in molasses samples.

Several compounds were identified using fragmentation patterns as well as the mass spectral library matches.

Pesticides that are commonly used by sugarcane farmers in KwaZulu-Natal such as glyphosate, paraquat, diuron, ametryn and acetochlor, to name a few, were targeted and found to be significantly lower than the South African Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) which render these samples safe for consumption.

‘Ms Yugashree Govender is a model student who is extremely hardworking and dedicated to her studies and fully deserves the awards presented to her,’ said Dr Moodley.

In addition to the support that Govender received from the School of Chemistry and Physics, she also received the National Research Foundation (NRF) bursary.

‘My honours year was most challenging but also very rewarding and it is the one which I am most proud of. It takes a significant amount of hard work, sacrifice and perseverance coupled with the desire and passion to succeed,’ said Govender.

‘I am grateful for my family’s and friends support, encouragement and patience and I would like also to thank my exceptional supervisor, Dr Brenda Moodley, for her assistance and guidance throughout my project.’

Govender is currently an Applications and Development trainee at the Dow Chemical Company.

author email : Rajpall@ukzn.ac.za



UDkt Lisa Kaltenegger weKolishi lezoLimo, ubuNjiniyela kanye neSayensi wethule inkulumo esihloko sayo sithi: “ukuhlolisisa umhlaba wesibili,” eDurban Beacon Ridge Primary School.

Inkulumo ka-Kaltenegger ibiyingxenye yezinhlelo zokufinyelela kude, ebizwa phecelezi - Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU).  

Abafundi  abaqhamuka emiphakathini entulayo ezungeze indawo yase-Chatsworth bathole ithuba elihle lokuzitika ngemibuzo behlabeke umxhwele inkulumo ka-Kaltenegger.

Emva kwenkulumo abafundi baphiwe ‘okukhala kamnandi’ abasebenzi beKolishi. 

UThish’omkhulu uMnu KR Vayapuri uthe: ‘sijabulile kakhulu ukuthi Ikolishi lase-UKZN lisivakashele nokuthi linikeze abafundi bethu ithuba lokuthi bethamele inkulumo ka Dkt Kaltenegger. Siyathemba ukuthi iNyuvesi izoqhubeka nokusilethela izinhlelo ezifuze lezi esikoleni sethu. Ngaphezu kwalokho,  sithanda ukubonga i-UKZN ngokupha abafundi bethu ‘izipho’ezibe wusizo kakhulu’. 

Click here for English version

author email : rajpall@ukzn.ac.za



Two UKZN third year Statistics students, Ms Megandree Govinder and Mr Mtobisi Nkala, received the top scholarship and bursary award in this year’s South African Statistical Association (SASA) national competition for second year students.

Govinder received the R6 000 scholarship for the best second year student while Nkala won the R11 000 bursary for the best second year student “who has demonstrated need”.

The students were congratulated by Professor Delia North, Academic Leader: Statistics. ‘Most importantly, I want to thank all the staff for assisting these students and for creating an environment which encourages our students to become passionate and excited about Statistics.  

SASA’s mission is to facilitate the advancement of statistical knowledge and to promote applications of statistical theory in all spheres of life in an effort to contribute positively to the development of South Africa. In an attempt to accomplish this mission, the association strives to create a forum for attracting and nurturing statisticians in South Africa. One of the ways that SASA creates this platform is through the hosting of various national competitions, whereby the winners are awarded bursaries and scholarships.

The competition for second years offers scholarships and bursaries to outstanding students registered for a major in statistics with entrants being judged based on their second year statistics results. 

The scholarship award is based on merit only while the bursary award is based both on merit and need.

author email : rajpall@ukzn.ac.za



South Africa’s largest and longest running film festival hosted by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) - the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) - has a new manager.

‘We are pleased to announce the appointment of well-known film critic and arts journalist, Peter Machen,’ said Mr Kishore Gobardan, Director of Professional Services in the College of Humanities in which the CCA is housed.

The CCA is also currently a special project of the newly appointed College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

‘Peter has been working with the Durban International Film Festival for the last seven years as a programme advisor,’ said Gobardan. ‘He comes to the Festival with a wealth of institutional knowledge which provides much needed continuity.  Along with a solid knowledge of the programming requirements, Peter has also been responsible for writing synopses in the festival publications and editing and designing the festivals’ Reel Times daily newsletters.

‘He has appeared on various DIFF panels, as well as introduced directors and facilitated Q&A sessions during festivals. So we are pleased to welcome him on board the team and look forward to the significant value he will add to the mix.’

Machen, who has a BA Honours degree in economics from UKZN, is a leading South African arts writer and communication consultant. A talented publication designer, Machen has produced a range of publications and is author and designer of two coffee-table books Durban - A Paradise and its People and Durban - A Return to Paradise. He is currently the Sunday Tribune’s resident film columnist.

Earlier this year, Machen attend the Rotterdam and Berlin Film Festivals as part of his research as a programme advisor for DIFF, and is excited about the challenges that lie ahead.

‘It is quite a daunting task to step into someone else’s programming shoes,’ he said, ‘but because I have been so intimately involved in the festival for some time now, I know my way around and look forward to creating a programme that will be interesting and varied for our audiences.’

Machen will be at the Cannes Film Festival next month to seek out additional cinematic treasures for the DIFF 2013 programme.

‘The Assistant Film Festival Manager position will be announced within the next few weeks, and the CCA Director’s post has been advertised and should be filled soon,’ said Gobardan.

The 34th Durban International Film Festival takes place from July 18 to July 28. The full programme will be on the www.durbanfilmfestival.co.za website five weeks before the festival begins.

author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za



A conference on San representation held recently on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus brought together scholars from a range of disciplines to discuss, examine and debate various aspects of San and Khoi representation.

This included representation of the Khoi and San in various media including academic writing, popular culture, literature, film, advertising and tourism. Another focus of the conference was the representation by people who have been identified as Khoi or San in the past or who themselves claim such an identity today.

‘The idea from the conference originated from my experience of the power of interdisciplinary engagement and my desire to produce new and collaborative research in relation to San studies in terms of my NRF competitive research grant for rated researchers,’ said Conference organiser Dr Michael Wessels. ‘In many ways it grew out of the research networks that I established as a postdoctoral researcher at UKZN.’

The Conference was characterised by high quality presentations including a talk by Professor Pippa Skotnes on the Bushman Diorama in the National Museum in Cape Town; a paper by Professor Keyan G Tomaselli’s titled: “Who Owns What? Struggles Over Representation”, and a presentation by Frans Prins titled: “AmaZulu or Abathwa: Dual Identity Issues Among San Descendants in the Maloti/Drakensberg Region”.

‘The response from those who attended and participated was overwhelmingly positive and many people expressed the desire for this sort of event to be held on an annual basis. Several research collaborations will follow from the contacts made at the Conference. Some very heated discussions were generated as well,’ said Wessels.

The conference was funded by an NRF grant and funding from the College of Humanities and School of Arts.  The highlight of the Conference was the opening of an exhibition of San art at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum accompanied by the launch of books by UKZN’s Keyan Tomaselli (editor) and eminent historian John Wright and his co-writer Aaron Mazel.

The Conference papers will be assembled in a special issue of the journal Critical Arts.

Asked about the likelihood of another conference, Wessels replied: ‘It is likely the next one will be held at the Khoisan research institute that will be housed in the yet to be opened University of the Northern Cape.’

author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za



The English Academy of Southern Africa together with UKZN’s College of Humanities presented the academy’s annual commemorative Lecture - this year in honour of Professor Margaret Lenta – at the Howard College Theatre.

College of Humanities Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Cheryl Potgieter, and Vice-President of the English Academy of Southern Africa, Professor Colin Gardner, welcomed the guests. Gardner noted that individuals honoured in previous academy commemorative Lectures included writers such as Lewis Nkosi and Es’kia Mphahlele. 

A tribute, presented by Professor Johan Jacobs, highlighted Lenta’s extensive academic achievements.

The commemorative Lecture, presented by Professor Margaret Daymond, was titled: Home, exile and resistance in letters from Bessie Head, Dora Taylor and Lilian Ngoyi.

Providing a background to her Lecture, Daymond said: ‘Known to share an interest in women’s letters; we were approached a few years ago to contribute to a series to be published in England called: Women Writing Home.

‘Although we decided not to contribute as the focus was to be on the Empire, we did choose to follow up on women’s letters and so, with the aid of an NRF grant we began our search in archives around the country. The result was an article on letters by women in the International Defence and Aid files, while my part of our project led to articles on Lilian Ngoyi and Bessie Head.’    

During the Lecture, Daymond explained that the three letter writers did not know each other and were active at different times in recent South African history. But they had two important features in common: all three were profoundly opposed to the apartheid regime in South Africa and they were women who conducted an important part of their resistance from their homes.

Daymond shared excerpts from the letters with the audience and proceeded to explain the story behind the letters, showing that each of them made “home” (the concept and the place) ‘a creative and powerful site of utterance, even when it was most under threat’.

‘These writers had to bridge cultural, economic and generational gaps, and in doing so they opened themselves and their homes to the comprehension of their primary readers,’ said Daymond. ‘I began by observing that “home” has been criticised for being an exclusionary centre, but these women’s letters indicate how it can be made an inclusive concept and set of practices. 

‘This is how, as South Africans, we might approach the fact that our homeland has to be actively lived in as a multi-cultural state, and how we might respond to the fact that our capacity to meet even the most basic of needs, like feeding our families, may be decided by people and events in far distant parts of the world.’

author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za



Decentralisation, capacity building and service delivery are pertinent governance matters for Africa, says Honorary UKZN graduate and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, Mr Carl Wight.

Wright made the comment during a round table discussion with academics in the School of Management, Information Systems Technology and Governance.

Having travelled to Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria recently, Wright identified a string of challenges facing the African countries namely, poor service delivery, difficulties in centralisation of the government system and urbanisation challenges.

It was important for the African countries, he said, to focus on the post-2015 development goals which received a lot of attention at the United Nations.

Wright cited several areas of development including: democratic self-governance both regionally and locally; food security and nutrition for poverty; quality sanitation; the provision of youth development initiatives; local economic development with emphasis on job creation; sustainable urbanisation; culture as the driver of development; and the protection of natural resources and the environment.

Professor PS Reddy, an academic in the School, said if higher educational and research institutions were made aware of priority areas the school would channel its researchers to focus on certain areas of study and investigation.

Effective development, according to Reddy, will occur if certain areas were addressed. He identified the need to distinguish between urban and rural policy; develop the capacity of municipal managers and the significance of political will for the implementation of policies.

For African countries to advance their development agenda it was important for monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to be in place to establish the efficacy of existing development programmes.

Academics suggested partnerships between government organisations and research institutions to create awareness of the issues that needed to be investigated and addressed.

In undertaking development initiatives, Wright said the bottom-up planning approach should be adopted as this was important in the identification of what the needs of the community were. Government engagement at grassroots level was important to establish what the communities needs were.

‘The role of universities in development is important. We also need to have a committed government and have the political will to implement the policies we have in place,’ added Reddy.

author email : maharajn20@ukzn.ac.za



A UKZN MBA graduate’s research on the status of ballast water has been adapted into a research paper to be presented before the International Association of Maritime Economists Conference in Marseille, France, in July.

Ms Fiona Calitz, a Director at Mainport Africa Shipping, has joined forces with UKZN academic, Dr Mihalis Chasomeris, to produce a paper to be delivered at the Conference. The dissertation titled: “The Status of Ballast Water Management in the Ports of South Africa”, examines the status of ballast water management in the ports of South Africa and to ascertain progress made since South Africa participated in a pilot project on the implementation of control measures against the release of ships ballast water within its ports.

Research findings indicate that while ballast management plans were in place the actual implementation occurred effectively in only two ports – Saldanha Bay and Ngqura. The other six ports in South Africa were not fully aware and complied with policies in place.

Assessing the benefits of this research, Calitz said: ‘It provides a better understanding of ballast water management and the reasons for implementing these controls, as well as the current awareness of the issue within the South African ports.’

Calitz said she was pleased to know her research findings would be conveyed to a wider audience at the Conference in France and would benefit the maritime industry.

Delighted to be awarded her MBA cum laude, Calitz said: ‘The MBA is a wonderful programme in that it opens one’s mind and way of thinking. You do not graduate as an expert on any one of the subjects covered in the course, however, you do graduate with a basic understanding of each subject and the skills to research further and resolve any complex issues which you may come across in the business world.’

Chasomeris said he enjoyed working on collaborative projects with his master’s students as it presented them with the opportunity to publish in research journals or present at conferences.

author email : maharajn20@ukzn.ac.za



The University of Cape Town’s Dr Amanda Weltman delivered a motivational talk titled: “The Dark Universe”, at UKZN recently.

Weltman, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at UCT, was invited to give the presentation by the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit (ACRU) in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.

She is well known for proposing a new particle – the chameleon particle - to explain the observed accelerated expansion of the universe. This is a dark energy theory that can be observed in a non-cosmological setting which makes it testable and very exciting. She is working on bridging the gaps between cosmology and string theory and on different approaches and tests for dark energy. Last year she received a “P” rating from the country’s National Research Foundation.

The talk explored some interesting questions including: ‘Why we make up the tiniest part of our observable universe and why we live at what appears to be a special time in the history of the universe’.

Weltman touched on issues such as Dark Energy and Dark Matter and the potential for research in the current South African climate. ‘The purpose of the talk was to share with UKZN undergraduates the information about the world around us but also the potential to still learn,’ said Weltman.

‘These big open questions about our universe are likely to be solved by the next generation of new students entering the field of Cosmology. I hope I was able to convey some of the excitement in the field and to highlight to students what a major contribution South Africans can and are making in Cosmology today.

author email : rajpall@ukzn.ac.za



Eleven teams competed against each other at this year’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) Quiz.

The annual event has become synonymous with great fun, social interaction and mental stimulation for academic and professional services staff in the CHS. Each team dresses up in funky costumes chosen according to a creative name they decide on before entering.

The event was attended by Professor Fanie Botha, Director for College Professional Services, who said the quiz was a social event symbolising unity among staff as well as providing a platform for networking outside the office environment.

Botha said the ultimate goal was to make this exciting College activity a memorable one for all and to encourage collegiality among academic and professional services staff.

This year’s quiz was won by Caesar Chiefs, a team from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology with the Department of Anaesthetics’ BIS 100s team in second place, just a few points behind. BIS 100 were also runners-up last year

Dr Neil Moran of the winning team said the questions were fair but in order to win, good all-round knowledge was necessary coupled with the ability to score well in the “own category section”  when the opportunity to double up on points arose.

Participants Dr Lucelle Padayachee and Ms Jill George said they had an “awesome” time although the questions were challenging and the environment competitive.

author email : memelal@ukzn.ac.za