“It will be economically accessible even for the poorest billion in the world.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $400 000 grant to UKZN’s Pollution Research Group (PRG) to fund an innovative and groundbreaking initiative that will take toilet technology and sanitation to a new level. The PRG, led by international expert and academic Professor Chris Buckley, will explore the design and implementation of an innovative toilet system that will lead to the safe disposal and recovery of valuable material from excreta from community ablution blocks. 

The researchers envisage a 21st century toilet that will be free of utility connections (although a modest amount of electricity may be used in initial circumstances) and could be used anywhere.  According to Buckley, ‘It will be economically accessible even for the poorest billion in the world.’ In addition, he said, ‘The objectives of the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” are directly applicable to the situation within Durban.’

The announcement was made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the AfricaSan conference in Rwanda as part of more than $40 million in new investments launching its Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Strategy.  UKZN was amongst eight institutions chosen to receive the one-time project grant, and the only one on the African continent.  A total of 22 universities worldwide were invited to submit a proposal to the “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.”

The PRG’s project, which will partner with local companies, will be based on actual ablution blocks serving informal communities in eThekwini (Durban).  This area is home to approximately one million people, the vast majority of whom are unemployed and do not have access to acceptable sanitation facilities.  The situation is exacerbated by an influx of poor people at a rate of 10 percent per annum. 

Currently utilised urine-diversion toilets will be modified and developed to include three streams of waste (urine, faeces and wash water).  The solid waste and bulk objects (e.g. toilet paper and diapers) will be processed to ultimately produce ash for fertiliser, flue gases and steam for water recovery, and energy for heating the drier and combustor which are integral to the process.  

The urine and flush water will be filtered and transferred to a water-recovery unit where a high-quality water stream will be removed and sent to a general water-storage tank.  The remaining concentrated urine stream will then be processed in order to separate the urea and other salts.  It will, however, require deodorising and would need a microbial risk analysis in case any of the separation processes fail, resulting in water-borne disease.  It is envisaged that this water will be used for flush purposes, system cleaning and hand-washing, once chlorinated. 

Buckley, a Chemical Engineer, has conducted contract research into urban and industrial water management since 1970.  The research by the PRG is grounded in the realities of service delivery to unserved communities and it has provided extensive scientific support to the water and sanitation division of t
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UKZN’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) is the best business brand in KwaZulu-Natal.

This is according to the KwaZulu-Natal Top Business Top Ten Brands, a competition which is opened to all businesses with headquarters in KwaZulu-Natal. The GSB, which obtained first place out of over 360 KwaZulu-Natal-born brands, was up against business giants like Spar, KZN Mr Price, The Shark. Coo-ee, and Edison Power Group, etc.

According to KZN Top Business officials, a large number of these brands have been grown and driven from within the Province and have made an indelible mark on consumer behaviour.  Several companies have histories that started in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century and they continue to expand their footprints still further today.

There were no specific criteria for the competition as there was a poll and businesses in KZN were invited to vote for the brand they liked. The prize went to the brand with the most votes. Out of all the votes, the GSB attracted 20.3 percent.

Student from the School, Mr Maemo Kobe said: ‘One of the attributes of a good brand is its ability to touch and improve people's lives through its products and services. The GSB is one of the few organisations in KwaZulu-Natal that has the ability and the capacity to touch and improve people's lives and has done so continuously over the years. As such, it comes as no surprise that the GSB has won the KZN Top Ten Brands award and it is well deserved.  Congratulations to GSB.’

Student, Mrs Fiona Calitz said: ‘The GSB provides the up and coming leaders of tomorrow in KZN with invaluable insight, guidance and training to deal with the changing face of business. The fact that the GSB has won the award indicates that industry has faith in the institution and is admired and respected for this.’

GSB student, Mr Ricky Bhikraj, said: ‘On behalf of Transnet, well done and congratulations.  It is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of your team as such an accolade does not come easily. Keep up the good work!’

Head of the GSB, Professor Anesh Singh said: ‘We have worked extremely hard to create and develop brand awareness among our stakeholders both government and business within the Province… I have always believed that the GSB must be recognised by business as an important contributor to the economy. This award is certainly a strong sentiment from business that we are.’

He added that GSB branding in 2011 has become more visible as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Law and Management Studies, Professor John Mubangizi had allocated strategic funding to grow the GSB’s visibility.  ‘Our adverts are
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UKZN’s female staff, students and alumni have accomplished impressive achievements in sport at provincial and national level. 

Sport Science Co-ordinator in the School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, Mrs Prem Ramiah, describes sport as a ‘national religion’, transcending race and language. ‘Sport unites all of South Africa, not just the male half of it. Sport highlights a new woman of autonomy and self-determination,’ she said.

The Pietermaritzburg campus has 16 sports clubs, of which 13 have an active female component. Sport Administrator, Ms Kusthuri Srikewal, notes some recent activities. ‘This year’s introduction of a ladies cricket team has been successful and well accepted. Our Varsity ladies won both the ladies league and the T15 ladies competition…four of them have been selected to represent the KwaZulu-Natal Inland Ladies Cricket Team,’ she said.

Mr Madoda Moses, Sport Officer on the Westville campus is very proud of the Ladies’ Karate Team which competed in the University Sports South Africa (USSA) Games and the National Tournament in Cape Town. ‘Four ladies in our team won gold at the USSA finals, three of them at the Nationals. Only one guy came home with gold this year.’ The Ladies’ Hockey Team is participating in the USSA National Hockey tournament hosted, by UKZN on the Pietermaritzburg campus in July.

Ramiah notes that the major challenges women face in this saturated industry is graduate employment. ‘The government needs to re-introduce sport as part of the school curriculum as its absence affects the health of children, and the employability of qualified sport scientists,’ she said.

Two alumni sports stars are Mrs Sumaya Khan and Ms Onke Mjo.  Khan served as the Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation. Mjo, Ramiah’s former student, sits on the International Olympic Committee. She was also the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup Volunteer Manager.

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A group of 26 Cuban-trained South African doctors graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Villa Clara (Cuba) at a graduation ceremony hosted at UKZN’s Westville campus on July 14.

The doctors are currently serving internships in South African hospitals in order to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. Their success is a result of the SA-Cuba Programme which was initiated by the South African Department of Health in the mid-1990s, as one of the initiatives to address major human resources challenges in the country's public health sector within the context of the burden of diseases.

The Programme has produced 311 medical doctors, who are currently employed in different health facilities throughout South Africa. Candidates are largely drawn from rural, under-serviced areas. On completing their training, the doctors are placed in rural areas. A further 388 students are currently receiving training in three different medical schools in Cuba as well as in language institutes.

The key-note address at the graduation ceremony was delivered by South African Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa who congratulated the graduates and lauded the SA-Cuba partnership. ‘This is not an event but the culmination of a programme that has produced impressive results over the past 15 years,’ she said.

Drawing comparisons between South African and Cuba, Ramokgopa indicated that under resourcing of the medical profession remains a problem, especially in rural communities, and encouraged the doctors to commit themselves to giving back to disadvantaged communities. She outlined some of the country’s prevention initiatives for HIV, highlighting that tuberculosis (TB) remains a huge challenge. ‘Remember that prevention is better than cure,’ she said, and lobbied for a collaborative re-engineering of the primary health care system.

‘I would like to thank the South African government for its decisive leadership,’ said Dr Sanele Madela who addressed the congregation on behalf of the graduates. Coining the phrase ‘a sacrifice towards the creation of a rainbow nation’, he said the students were humbled by the opportunity and that hard work indeed pays off. Not only were their degrees obtained in Cuba, but the students were taught in Spanish – ‘Quite an outstanding achievement,’ noted Director-General for the National Department of Health. 

Acting Chancellor of the University of Villa Clara, Professor Juan Ceballos and Dr Jorge Gonzalez who is Vice-Chancellor at the University of Medical Sciences in Havana, Cuba, were impressed with the partnership. ‘On behalf of the political direction of my country, the Minister of Health would like to forward a congratulatory message to the graduates and supporting parents and relatives who have contributed to their success,’ said Gonzalez. ‘Love your work and take care of your patients as if they were your family,’ he added.

UKZN’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba said that at the heart of any university is knowledge production through research; ‘solving the challenges facing humanity today by producing knowledge that is applicable and relevant.’ He said that after graduation, ‘a watershed in one’s life’, graduates should remember that their first responsibility is to their parents, followed by their profession, the community and then the country. 

Attending the ceremony were the MECs for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the
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Craft production in South Africa contributes significantly to the economic sector. In 1997, estimates indicated that craft generated R3.5 billion annually – at a national level – and employed over 1.2 million people. In 2002, figures for just KwaZulu-Natal indicated that craft generated nearly R1 billion annually.

Craft provides an entry point to the economy for thousands of marginalised people, the majority of whom are women. Barriers to entry are low as it draws on existing social/cultural and human capital and, where production is home-based, it allows flexibility to engage in livelihood activities (agriculture, child-care, food-provision etc). In addition, it builds broad life-skills, promotes expression of cultural heritage and affords the opportunity to engage across a range of other economic sectors (tourism, culture and heritage, manufacturing, and retail).

Recognising this, UKZN’s School of Environmental Sciences has, for the past six years, conducted research on, and supported rural craft development. Under the leadership of contract researcher, Mr Duncan Hay, the School and several partners recently completed two projects for the Gijima KZN Local Economic Development Support Programme.

These projects focused on continued support for the Inina Craft Agency, based in Eshowe.  Inina is a thriving, women-owned and managed, craft business which has been supported in its development for the past five years. Over the years Inina has seen a major increase in its annual turnover: in 2006 it brought in R200 000 and by 2009, this had grown to R1.4 million.  Its products, many of which are specifically designed for the corporate and conference market, are manufactured using traditional techniques that pay homage to the heritage of Zulu crafts. 

Inina acts as a ‘living laboratory’ where both mentors and craft leadership can learn about the dynamics and intricacies of small business. Inina has been the inspiration for two handbooks on the business of craft, and there is growing interest about how the ‘Inina Model’ might be adapted and applied more broadly in rural economic development.

As part of the Gijima Programme, UKZN’s School of Development Studies, under the leadership of Professor Julian May, was commissioned to conduct an independent socio-economic impact assessment of the Programme. The Inina support projects formed one of the case studies selected for detailed analysis. Overall results were very positive with Inina ‘ticking all the relevant sustainability boxes’ and emerging as one of the leading initiatives of the Gijima Programme. ‘It is particularly heartening to discover, through a completely independent assessment, that we are getting a few things right. Also important is that, while we make mistakes, most of lessons are being learnt through success rather than failure,’ said Hay. 

The Inina initiative has acted as a wonderful catalyst for interactions within the University. Beyond the School of Development Studies assessing an Environmental Sciences project, the UKZN Foundation is actively sourcing development funding to continue this work.  UKZN’s Professional Conferencing Services also makes regular purchases of beaded pens and other conference products from the Inina Craft Agency.

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UKZN’s Bews Herbarium, cognizant of the importance of finding innovate ways to document and publish the large volumes of plant diversity data, recently hosted a three-day training course on the Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System (BRAHMS). 

A powerful and flexible database management system for botanical researchers and herbaria, BRAHMS was developed by the University of Oxford’s department of Plant Sciences.  The system effectively ‘manages and integrates data and images from specimens, botanical surveys, field observation, living collections, seed banks and literature.’  It is used by organisations in over 50 countries worldwide, ranging from world renowned herbaria, such as Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to remote field stations and universities.

The course, which was presented by Mr Denis Filer from the University of Oxford, attracted 17 participants from a range of herbaria and conservation organisations located mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, as well as UKZN herbaria staff.  Curator for the Bews Herbarium, Dr Benny Bytebier said they wanted to offer the course on a bigger scale, catering not only for UKZN staff, but for other botanical researchers. The South African Biodiversity Information Facility (SABIF) and the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) Early Detection and Rapid Response Programme (EDRR) provided the financial support for the course. 

UKZN is home to two research and teaching herbaria: the Bews Herbarium in Pietermaritzburg, which has approximately 150 000 plant specimens and the Ward Herbarium in Westville with 21 000 specimens.  According to Senior Bews Herbarium Technician, Dr Christina Potgieter, ‘these are important facilities for plant taxonomic and systematic research, ecology and any research field involving plant collection and diversity.’

The Bews Herbarium will be utilising BRAHMS to digitise its complete collection, using its well-identified and extensive collection of invasive alien plants (IAPs) as a pilot project.  This group of plants is a major threat to indigenous biodiversity and ‘their negative effect impacts on ecosystem services, which in turn affect community livelihoods, food security through destruction of agricultural areas and ultimately economic development,’ said Bytebier.  Their accurate identification is, therefore, crucial for managing the problem. 

The end result will be a web-based virtual herbarium of all the weed specimens lodged at UKZN.  It will be an easily-accessible free tool for the identification of weeds and problem plants, incorporating high-quality images of two representative specimens per species.   ‘The distribution data will feed into national and international databases, facilitating more accurate mapping of IAP spread,’ said Bytebier.  It is envisaged that this project will give impetus to further work on the digitisation of the UKZN herbaria collections.  
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Mrs Nikani Zondi’s hopes of finding her missing husband had been shattered and she had nowhere to go. She was left to look after her kids on her own with no income and no skills. She had always been a housewife and her husband, a University laboratory assistant who had been missing for three years, was the only breadwinner.

The only option was for her to apply for a Presumption of Death Certificate from Home Affairs.  Before granting such an order, the court will consider all the relevant facts such as age, state of health and mind and, more importantly, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance.  South African law does not make a presumption of death automatic after a certain period. Interested parties must apply to the High Court for an order of presumption of death.

Zondi could not afford a lawyer to take her case to court. Zondi, from Pietermaritzburg, says her life would not be the same if it was not for the UKZN Law Clinic agreeing to fight her case and help her get her husband’s Death Certificate.

Tears rolled down her face as she explained the welcome and help she received from the Clinic. Once she received the Death Certificate, the University released all the money due to her and she was able to reclaim her house, which had been repossessed by the bank.

‘My mind just stops when I think of how much the Law Clinic has assisted me and there are no words that could express the happiness that I feel,’ added Zondi

The UKZN Law Clinic, which is part of the Faculty of Law, is non-profit organisation established 36 years ago and has offices both in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.  The purpose of the clinic is two-fold. It acts as “laboratories” for final year Clinical law students (full-time and part-time) to be able to practice the legal skills they have learned by dealing with real clients and solving actual legal problems under the supervision of trained practitioners, and for Candidate Attorneys to complete their articles. A Candidate Attorney is a trainee attorney who works under an admitted Attorney.

The Clinic also provides free legal services to the needy and vulnerable people in surrounding communities who cannot afford to pay private lawyers.  It also provides family and social justice services to those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

The students are required to interview clients and assist them in getting the correct legal advice and legal assistance.

Mr Sandile Nhlapho, a Candidate Attorney at the Durban Clinic, said that the clinic provided him with an opportunity to deal with real life clients with real life problems. Nhlapho use to volunteer at the clinic during vacations to gain more experience and he said that made it easy when he started working at the Clinic to supervise the final year students.

He added that working at the Clinic has challenges but it is a learning curve and a skill to prepare him for the future.

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Choosing the right field of study is a daunting task for high school learners about to embark on their academic careers.  UKZN’s Faculty of Engineering, in the form of a Winter School, provides the perfect opportunity for prospective students to discover for themselves, in a non-threatening environment, if engineering is for them.  Held annually for a week in the July holidays on the Howard College campus, this year’s event was touted by some as ‘the best ever.’

A total of 181 learners from Grades 11 and 12, from 66 different schools, participated in the fun-filled, but educational, experience.  According to the organiser of the event, Ms Cathi Bond, ‘An amazing group of learners came onto campus expecting to be a little bored and instead, they had an absolute ball. So many of them said they expected to find a run-down university with little to offer and instead they found it to be world-class.’

To break the ice on the first day, the learners took part in an “Amazing Race” activity which familiarised them with the campus and allowed them to interact with their fellow participants.  Highlights of the week were a trip around Durban Harbour on the Isiponono boat and a guided tour of the FFS Refinery in Prospecton, providing the learners with a glimpse of engineering at work.  The last day was spent in the different engineering schools or disciplines, working on projects and finding out what each area has to offer. 

Eskom came to the party with R60 000 worth of sponsorship which was used to pay for 20 students from disadvantaged schools to attend the event, stay in the residences and receive three meals a day.  An additional 20 local students were also given the opportunity to attend without having to pay.  Each Winter School participant received an Eskom-sponsored backpack and a UKZN Engineering tracksuit.

The success of the Winter School was largely due to the many UKZN staff and students who gave up their time to plan activities for the learners and to interact with them to ensure they had a worthwhile experience.  Many of the learners were impressed with the staff and students’ enthusiasm to answer their questions and encourage them to excel in the final school exams.  ‘Judging by the survey sheets they filled in, they loved it,’ said Bond.   
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Professor Anesh Singh, Head of UKZN’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) was recently invited to Kenya to conduct a review of the International Business Administration and Master of Business Administration programmes of the Chandaria School of Business of the United States International University (USiU).  Singh was selected to conduct the review based on his experience of running the MBA Programme at UKZN and his previous involvement as an executive member of the IT Standards Generating Body and a reference group member of the Meraka E-Skills institute. 

USiU, a private institution, is the leading provider of IBA and MBA qualifications in Kenya and East Africa.  Singh’s brief was to identify shortcomings in the offerings and to make recommendations in order that USiU could retain its number one position in the East African region.  The task required the reading of two self assessment reports and interviewing a number of stakeholders including:  the dean, head of department, academics, students, administrators and alumni.  According to Singh, ‘I was touched by the humility of all the participants and the fact that they all admired South Africa as being the jewel in the African crown.’  After some sleepless nights, Singh gave the School a bill of good health together with a long list of recommendations. 

‘Something that I learnt from USiU is that the teaching endeavour should not be interrupted by any means. To that end, every class has a technician in attendance to ensure that the lecturer doesn’t have to worry about technology failure,’ said Singh.  According to Singh, ‘USiU takes technology very seriously and they have invested in the latest audio-visual equipment including Smartboards, lecturers young and some very old all use the latest teaching technology.’  Singh took the opportunity to invite USiU to establish a formal a link with the UKZN GSB which will see an exchange of staff and students in the near future.  According to Singh, ‘All I saw of Kenya was my hotel, the USIU campus and traffic worse than anywhere else in the world.  This venture into Africa was a humbling and an enriching learning experience for me – Asante!’

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ANGISEBENZELI UKUBA NEMALI, KUSHO UMMELI WASE UKZNUkusebenza esitolo sezimpahla zasendlini ebona abantu abaswele bexhashazwa ikona okwenze uMnu Sipho Ngubane, ongummeli e UKZN Law Clinic eMgungundlovu, akhethe ukufundela ubumeli.

Abanye babathengi bebephelelwe imisebenzi bengasakwazi ukukhokhela izikweletu zabo beze esitolo bezofuna usizo noma bezocela ukukhokha kancane kancane. ‘Ngibone ukuthi umphakathi uyangidinga ukuthi ngiwusize,’ kusho uNgubane.

UNgubane, ozalwe wakhulela eNkandla, wafunda unyaka owodwa eNyuvesi kwadingeka ukuba ayeke ngezinkinga zemali. Wabe esehamba eseyobamba amatoho esebenza ezingadini ukuze athole imali.

Ngo-1989 wabe esethola umsebenzi esitolo edayisa izimpahla zasendlini kwathi ngo-1996 wabe esebuyela esikoleni ukuyofunda ntambama. Wakhetha ukuthatha izifundo kancane kancane minyaka yonke kukhona ezokwazi ukusebenza abe efunda anake nomndeni. 

Ngo 2008, washiya umsebenzi ukuze akwazi ukuqedela izifundo zakhe zonyaka wokugcina.  UNgubane ongubaba wezingane ezintathu, uthe impilo ike yaba nzima kakhulu ngoba ubengasakwazi ukondla umndeni wakhe.

Emva kokuqedela izifundo zakhe nangalenkathi esebenza kuLegal Aid Board, lapho ayesebenza ngamacala angaphezu kwamahlanu ngosuku, ngekhefu lakhe uNgubane ubezinikeza ithuba lokusiza mahhala eLaw Clinic abantu abadinga usizo ngamacala athinta izivumelwano abanazo nezitolo.

Uthe umsebenzi wakhe akawenzeli ukuba nemali kodwa ingoba uyathanda ukusiza abantu abahlwempu nabaphansi. Uthe yena owakhe umsebenzi ukusiza umuntu ongakwazi ukuzisiza.

Uthe amanye amacala abucayi abasebenza ngawo eLaw Clinic awokuhlukanisa umshado ngoba abantu abashade nabo sebebathelele ngesifo sikagawulayo.Uthe noma bengawasebenzi amcala odlame, abawayeki amacala okushaywa kwabantu besifazane ekhaya.

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Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek Islands and is known for its maritime culture that has produced several generations of successful ship owners and operators.  It was an appropriate location for an international conference on shipping.

In June this year this beautiful island was invaded by more than two hundred maritime specialists from several countries around the world including South Africa. Dr Mihalis Chasomeris of UKZN’s Graduate School of Business presented one of the 134 papers accepted for the European Conference on Shipping, Intermodalism and Ports (ECONSHIP 2011). The theme of the conference was: “Maritime Transport: Opportunities and Threats in the post-crises world”.

Chasomeris presented his research on: “Port Pricing in South Africa”. The paper reviewed the literature and examined industry perspectives that contribute towards a better understanding of the historical evolution of port pricing in South Africa as well as examined contemporary pricing reforms. The paper and presentation were well received.

When asked what the most beneficial aspects of the conference were, Dr Chasomeris said, ‘The opportunity to meet academics from other countries, who are also interested in maritime studies, is always of great benefit to me.  I enjoy the opportunity to reacquaint with old friends and to meet new people and to network.  The papers presented were very interesting and useful to me and my students.  I was pleased that some papers are directly relevant to the research topics of several of the MBA students that I am supervising and I look forward to sharing this knowledge with them.’

This conference was a regional event of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME).  Dr Chasomeris is a member of IAME and he encourages staff and students interested in joining or learning more about IAME to contact him at

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