UKZN graduate Mr Andrew Birkett recently made the University and the province proud when he won the Dusi Canoe Marathon for the third consecutive time.


Birkett, a recipient of a UKZN 2012 Sports Scholarship, said he was brought up in a family always active and outdoors which explained his love for sports. ‘Sport is my passion and it is in my blood. I enjoy testing myself in sport and facing different challenges. What is exciting is that no two matches/events are alike.’


He said the Marathon this year was really special for him and his partner, Mr Jason Graham, as they did not put any pressure on themselves. ‘With our lead, we were able to soak it up and just enjoy the moment on the final day.’


Regarding his scholarship, Birkett said: ‘This is such a great opportunity and I feel extremely privileged to study at UKZN. I am so fortunate that I am able to fit in all my sport with studying.’


Birkett explained that balancing sports and academics was not easy but thanked UKZN for being accommodating when sport pressures mounted on him.


Birkett completed his BCom degree last year and he is currently picking up on Environmental Science modules which he says he finds very interesting.


In terms of his sport, his greatest inspiration is himself. ‘I am the only one that can push myself harder. This is because I love testing myself. Obviously the other competitors help make you train harder because of competition, and I love that. For me sport is about having fun and going as hard as I can at the same time,’ said Birkett.


Law students turned up in their numbers for the annual Law Professions Day hosted by the School of Law in Pietermaritzburg on 29 February and in Durban on 1 March.


The annual event saw South Africa’s top legal firms advising students on the various career avenues available to them within the legal profession and also provided a platform for the firms to recruit the University’s top law students.


The Dean and Head of the School of Law, Professor Managay Reddi, thanked the firms for their participation and support. ‘The students you will meet are very precious to us and the CVs you will receive from students you intend recruiting will be impressive.  You can only expect the best from the University of KwaZulu-Natal,’ she said.


Over 20 firms attended including Adams & Adams, Bowman Gilfillan, Norton Rose, Werkmans, The Phatshoane Henney Group as well as other organisations such as Legal Aid and the National Prosecuting Authority.


Representatives of the firms and organisations had discussions with students about the value of early job applications and concerns they had regarding the legal profession.


Bowman Gilfillan Law Firm Associate Mr Luyanda Mbokazi said a lot of students were curious about what his firm had to offer.


‘Everyone is a bit worried about which direction to take and where their careers are headed. The students are interested in who we are and how we can assist them in reaching their potential,’ he said.


The prestigious N’Galy-Mann Award has been presented to husband and wife team Professors Salim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Washington.


The award, named after the late Dr Bosenge N’Galy, first Head of the Zairean National AIDS Programme, and the late Dr Jonathan Mann, the first Head of the WHO Global Programme on AIDS, is the pre-eminent honour for AIDS research.


The recipients collected the award and delivered the plenary lecture in the Opening Session of CROI, attended by an estimated 4000 international AIDS scientists. Their presentation focused on the important partnerships and collaborations in creating excellence in developing scientific innovations for HIV prevention and treatment.


Salim Abdool Karim, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) at UKZN commented: ‘We are humbled and honoured to receive this award.


‘Through the power of their partnership, N’Galy and Mann, an African and an American, were able to realise major accomplishments in both AIDS research and programme implementation.  Much of our research has followed this example as CAPRISA itself is a cross-Atlantic partnership between the universities of KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Western Cape and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa with Columbia University in the USA.’


Quarraisha Abdool Karim - Associate Professor of the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, and Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA, said: ‘Our research on the tenofovir gel microbicide was made possible by joint funding from the South African and US governments.  The South African partnerships with US government agencies (USAID and NIH), US non-profit organisations (FHI360 and CONRAD), US pharmaceutical company (Gilead Sciences) and US philanthropy (MAC AIDS Fund) are central to the success of the gel research.’


The N’Galy-Mann Award was established in 2006 to recognise an individual or team of researchers for their contribution to epidemiology and clinical research. 

Geologist and Senior Lecturer at UKZN’s School of Agriculture, Earth and Environmental Science, Dr Marlina Elburg, recently returned from a six-week stay in Antarctica where she was a member of a collaborative international expedition doing research into the construction of the supercontinents.


Elburg, a Dutch national, joined UKZN in July 2011 from Ghent University in Belgium.  While at Ghent she had expressed interest in visiting the Princess Elisabeth Station, a Belgian research centre in Antarctica.


A group from Germany’s Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources Polar Division was also interested in research in the same region and subsequently invited her to join their expedition.


The team consisted of several international members, many of whom were making return trips for research. It was her personal value as an expert in geochemistry that saw her added to a team consisting of geophysicists and scientists with specialisations in structural geology and geophysics.


Research in Antarctica was focused on the Sør Rondane Mountain Region, an area critical for understanding continental drift, more specifically in relation to how Africa and Antarctica may have collided as a result of tectonic movement. 


Elburg said the study would help to clearly understand which parts came together, and when. This would assist in creating detailed reconstructions, which could be useful when prospecting for ore deposits and searching for areas rich in mineral content in Africa.


She described her stay in Antarctica as ‘absolutely amazing’, saying the environment was very different, and that members of the expedition had to be trained on how to negotiate the terrain safely and, for example, how to manage the threat of crevasses and severe snow storms or “white-outs”.


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In an effort to promote mathematics education, a group of academics from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science has undertaken an innovative project as part of the HP Global Catalyst initiative.


Spearheaded by Dr Aneshkumar Maharaj, the project team has sought to create and develop online material focusing on basic knowledge and skills for mathematics required for the study of first year mathematics modules.


The core thrust behind the project is to allow for wider access to learning material that will prepare students for university mathematics. The project team collected data from a number of sources and compiled a database of common errors and areas in which students were lacking. Material was then created and made available online to enable access not only to current students but prospective students as well.


Maharaj said his involvement with the HP Global Catalyst’s Multiversity Consortium had been interesting. It began with the Consortium initially turning down an application for funding a programme on science ethics, and had evolved to Maharaj becoming an active associate member of the organisation, travelling abroad for several conferences and meetings.


As a result, funding was obtained from HP Catalyst and the International Society for Technology Education to carry out an innovative project to promote Maths e-Learning. In July 2011 the UKZN project titled: “Mathematics e-Learning and Assessment: A South Africa Context”, was one of only seven successful innovation projects worldwide for which funding was awarded.


Maharaj hopes that after the current review process, more funding will be found to take the project to the next level. Another HP Catalyst project (funded in July 2012) which he is co-ordinating at UKZN for West Chester University in the USA concerns science ethics.


The programme software developed by WCU will be used by honours students in the School to confront ethical dilemmas through the use of online avatars. This project is currently undergoing a pilot study under the stewardship of Professor Kesh Govinder and Professor Dharmanand Baboolal.
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Dr Jürgen Reinhardt, a Senior Lecturer from UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, has co-authored an innovative book titled: Guide to Thin Section Microscopy.


The book was written by a team of German academics with extensive experience in the field. It was originally written in German but an updated English version has since been published to ensure a wider distribution.


Reinhardt said in terms of current literature on microscopy, there was ‘nothing quite comparable in terms of high-quality photomicrographs and graphical presentations’. He said while the theoretical background to crystal optics might be covered in more depth in other books, this publication offered a very practical option with its core strength being the link between mineral microscopy theory and its practical application.


Reinhardt described the book as being a compact guide that could be used by students and professionals alike. He said that polarised-light microscopy was one of the most important methods for the identification and description of minerals and rocks. Geology students at UKZN receive intense training in microscopy as part of their undergraduate curriculum.


The book is available freely online, and has primarily been distributed through two professional society websites which include the German Mineralogical Society (German and English versions) and the Mineralogical Society of America (English version).


Although the book has only been available since January 2011, the text has already been adapted by many instructors and the authors received very positive feedback from South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, India and the United States, to name a few of the countries. Judging from the responses already received, the book may well be on its way to become a very popular mineral microscopy text worldwide.


The second edition of the book will be released in the next few weeks, with Reinhardt’s next project being the compilation of an internet-based atlas of minerals in thin section, something that does not exist in the comprehensive form that he plans to create.

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UKZN Student Surgical Society members were inspired by an address on trauma and surgery by Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital surgeons led by Professor David Muckart.


Muckart is Chief Specialist and Director of the Hospital’s Level I Trauma Unit and Trauma Intensive Care.


He and the team were invited by the Student Surgical Society Committee to address students at UKZN’s Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine (NRMSM) where Muckart is Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery.


Students were eager to hear from the professionals as most of them are considering specialising and conducting research in surgery in the future.


Muckart, who was impressed by the turnout of students, took them through a presentation which highlighted the history of surgery and some of the work done at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. He believes that there is no profession which brings greater satisfaction.


Mr Xolani Ntombela, Chairperson of the Surgical Society, said they were very grateful for the address and the committee looked forward to monthly talks from high calibre speakers.
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Abaphathi abasha bekolishi lakwaHumanities bebehlangene ukuzobonisana ngezindlela ezintsha ezizoyisa iKolishi phambili.

Umphathi wekolishi uSolwazi Joseph Ayee nabaphathi abasha abangu21 beminyango eyahlukene ekolishini bebehlangene ngomhlaka 25 no26 kuNhlolanja eThekwini.

Kulomhlangano bekwethulwa ukuthi iKolishi liqhamukakuphi, bebheka ukuthi likuphi okwamanje kanye nokuthi liyakuphi. Bekuhlanganiswa amacebo, kuphikiswana ngezinto ezingasebenza nezingeke zisebenze, ekugcineni okukhombise ukubambisana nokuzimisela ukusebenza ndawonye.

U-Ayee ubeke abantu esithombeni ngesikhathi ethula inkulumo ngezeHumanities nezeSocial Sciences eNingizimu Afrika nasemhlabeni wonkana. Ukhulume ngesivumelwano sakwaHumanities neSocial Sciences esisanda kwethulwa ithimba elaliqokwe uNgqongqoshe wezeMfundo ephakeme uDkt Blade Nzimande, nombiko we- Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf) nawo ngezihloko ezifanayo. Yomibili lemibiko yephuma ngonyaka ka2011.

Lemibiko ibinikeza izindlela ezintsha zokufundisa nezokwenza ucwaningo eziNyuvesi zaseNingizimu Afrika emikhakheni yakwaHumanities nakwaSocial Sciences. Ngokusho kukaNgqongqoshe lokhu kuzobeka lomkhakha ezingeni eliphezulu kwezenguquko nezentuthuko.

U-Ayee ukhumbuze abaphathi beKolishi ukuthi noma lemikhakha emibili isengcupheni ngenxa kokubhekwa kakhulu imikhakha yezesayensi ezweni lakithi nasemhlabeni wonkana,  bangalilahli ithemba bahlale bazi ukuthi lomkhakha udlala indima enkulu ekuthuthukiseni imiqondo yabantu emphakathini. Uthe akumangazi ukuthi leliKolishi libizwe nge “dlozi” lase-UKZN.

Ukuthi kufikwe esivumelwaneni esisha sekolishi, abaphathi basebenzise imigomo eyisikhombisa  yeNyuvesi iREACH ekubalwa kuyo ukuHlonipha, Ukuzimisela, Ukuvuma icala, ukuphatha kahle abantu bangaphandle nokuthembeka.

U-Ayee ubabongile abasebenzi ngokuzinikela kwabo nokuyeka konke ukuze bazokwazi ukuthamela lomhlangano obalulekile eKolishi. ‘Wonke umuntu ukhombise ekuzimisela ekufakeni umbono wakhe ekuyiseni iKolishi phambili.’

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A recently published book Kidney Diseases in an African Setting was launched in Durban recently by Professor Alain Assounga, Head of UKZN’s Department of Nephrology.


The book - co-authored by Assounga and colleagues, Dr Nomandla Madala and Dr Sudesh Hariparshad, will serve as a reference guide for all role players in dealing with the challenges of renal diseases in KwaZulu-Natal.


The successful launch took place two days before World Kidney Day on 8 March with the underlying message being that kidney disease is common, harmful and treatable.


The book, a comprehensive guide written in simple language to provide valuable information to both medical practitioners and the public, details the challenges of renal diseases currently experienced in KwaZulu-Natal.


The book also proposes a plan for the management of renal diseases at district level which is in line with KwaZulu-Natal’s strategic health plan.  It is therefore a tool that can be used by anyone involved in renal care including nurses, medical practitioners and health care managers.


Assounga agreed with Dr Indiran Naicker, a world-class nephrologist who directed proceedings at the launch, that such a book was long overdue.


Assounga said the global challenge of kidney diseases was amplified in Africa due to various factors including limited resources, rural versus urban healthcare and private versus public healthcare. ‘We hope everyone who reads the book will learn something,’ he said.


Sister Paddy Chettiar, Director: KwaZulu-Natal Kidney Association (KZNKA), congratulated and thanked the authors for their partnership with the association.

The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) has welcomed Swedish Lecturers Professor Eva Ekstrand and Professor Anna Edin of the University of Gavle who are at UKZN this year on a Linnaeus-Palme international exchange programme.


The programme aims to stimulate co-operation between universities in Sweden and developing countries such as South Africa. The University of Gavle and UKZN have already established a decade-long partnership with the initial stage of planning visits already completed.


The second stage of the programme has seen both Ekstrand and Edin placed at the CCMS where they are involved in teaching and supervising students at honours and masters level.


‘Our time at CCMS has been very nice. Everyone here is so welcoming and hospitable,’ said Ekstrand, adding that being at the CCMS was an enriching, learning experience.


Both Ekstrand and Edin have presented at the CCMS weekly research seminars during which postgraduate students listened  intently and thereafter bombarded the speakers with questions. Ekstrand discussed her research into internet usage in Sweden and sustainable development while Edin spoke on communicating politics and the different theoretical perspectives.


‘The response to our seminars has been very good. The students here are very ambitious, skilled in their research and they’re rather verbal in expressing their views. It really is a pleasure to supervise and teach them,’ said Edin. She added that she too had learnt quite a lot from the students. ‘We learn from them every day because they’re so interested in different subjects and they’re also open-minded.’


CCMS Masters student, Ms Mariclair Smit, has enjoyed the seminars and lectures with the visiting lecturers, pointing out that they had also been instrumental in providing a different perspective to her research into social media. ‘At my initial masters draft proposal stage, Eva gave me advice and also managed to critique my work and I found that to be very helpful,’ said Smit.


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Senior Researcher in the crime and justice programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Dr Johan Burger, recently presented an insightful discussion at UKZN on The Policing of Trio Crimes.


Burger’s talk focused on the credibility of police crime statistics with emphasis being placed on the trio crimes (house robbery, business robbery and vehicle hijacking).


‘Every year when the police crime statistics are announced, the first thing people ask is how credible the statistics are and can they believe them? And there are cases where the police are guilty of manipulating crime statistics,’ he said.


Burger referred to a recent case in Limpopo involving three four senior sta tion officerscommanders who in which the  officers are being charged with defeating the ends of justice for allegedly manipulating crime statistics in Tzaneen, making it appear as if crime in their areas was decreasing. ‘It’s a good thing that these sorts of activities are being looked into and that the policemen are being disciplined and even criminally charged.   Hopebutfully we can root out these types of problems quickly,’ he said.


According to Burger, ex-National Police Commissioner Mr Jackie Selebi had never called for the crime statistics to be manipulated but he wanted the crime levels to drop. ‘I think some police officers thought they could impact on these crime levels by looking at the way the crimes are recorded and manipulate the figuresm, rather than finding creative ways of addressing crime itself..


When crime statistics were released in September last year, Burger and his colleagues at the ISS – suspicious of the credibility of the stats - decided to also look at other information sources in the country to see the general trend in the current crime situation.


They looked at statistics made available by institutions such as the Consu
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The Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) recently hosted the Forum for Entrepreneurship Development Centres at Universities (FEDCU) workshop.


The two-day workshop attracted 20 participants from South African universities who discussed the formalisation of a forum representing university centres, units and disciplines of entrepreneurship.


A core group has been working on the concept since last year. The group comprises  Dr Thami Mazwai, Director of the Centre for Small Business Promotion at the University of Johannesburg (UJ); Ms Girlie Silinda, Director of the University of Petoria’s Mamelodi Business Clinic; Professor Giel Nieman, Head of the Department of Business Management at the University of Pretoria; Mr Mike Herrington, Director of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business and Professor Shahida Cassim, Associate Professor, Entrepreneurship, Graduate School of Business and Leadership at UKZN.


The Forum worked on an initiative - Entrepreneurship for Disadvantaged Youth - which is currently running at UCT and at UJ.  It will be rolled out to another five institutions this year. 


‘We have a good representation of universities and we are excited about our mandate of teaching the youth and equipping them to go out and face the challenges of the world,’ said email :



A presentation on Twitter Revolutions and Cyber Crackdowns by postgraduate student Mr Alex Comninos was held on the Howard College campus recently.


Comninos’s research presentation – hosted by the Centre for Civil Society within the School of Built Environment and Development Studies - focused on the internet and human rights. Comninos investigated the role of user-generated content (UGC) and social networking websites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) in the recent protests and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.


‘While the use of user-generated internet content shared over social networks can prove a powerful tool in the hands of protest movements, it has also proved a powerful tool for governments to use in crackdowns on protests,’ he explained. 


Comninos referred to instances when Twitter was used in protests in Moldova and Iran in 2009 resulting in commentators proclaiming them Twitter revolutions. He also pointed out that Information and communication technologies (ICTs) - such as mobile phones - had played a significant role in struggles for democracy and human rights in the MENA region, but the role of ICTs should not be overstated.


‘ICTs were not the causes of the protests and uprisings in Tunisia or Egypt, or indeed in any other MENA country. The causes of the protests involve a combination of non-technological factors including: decades of repression, political and economic marginalisation, the long-term structural decay of the effectiveness and legitimacy of state institutions, and soaring food prices,’ he stated.


However, it was noted that governments were able to take advantage of advanced internet filters to block content during the uprisings. In Tunisia, Egypt and Libya there were state crackdowns on UGC and the internet in general through internet blackouts, slowdowns and filtering. There were also arrests, detentions and harassment of those involved in the creation and dissemination of UGC.


‘Twitter and Facebook, as well as being possible instruments of protest, can also render users vulnerable to state surveillance. These platforms have been used by security and intelligence agencies to identify and locate activists and protesters,’ said Comninos.

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