Autumn Graduation
Ceremonies 2024
World University Rankings - Top 600



The Engagement Office under the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement (DVC: RIE) at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted the Engagement Showcase and Pitching Awards Ceremony 2024 at the DUT Hotel School, Ritson campus and online on Tuesday, 26 March 2024.

Programme Director, Ms Runyararo Marima gave context to why the Engagement Showcase and Pitching Awards 2024 was held which was to recognise and award engagement projects that positively impact communities while aligning with the values, principles, and objectives of ENVISION2030 initiated by DUT staff and students. “We want to celebrate each and everyone that brought their work forward, to let us know about the impactful work that DUT is doing for its surrounding communities,” she said.

In terms of prizes to the project awardees, third runner-ups received R3000, third position obtained R10 000, the second position winner received R20 000, and first position got R30 000.

Delivering the opening remarks on behalf of Professor Fulufhelo Nemavhola, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, was Mr Alan Khan, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at DUT.

“It is with great joy and enthusiasm that we convene to celebrate the innovative spirit and dedication to engagement that characterises all that is best of the Durban University of Technology. This event marks a pivotal moment as we witnessed the culmination of hard work, creativity and dedication from our students and staff. The core of our assembly resides in the exchange of ideas, the exploration of possibilities and ultimately in the celebration of achievement,” he stressed.

Khan further commented that the first segment where DUT staff and students pitched their engagement activities and projects was nothing short of inspiring.

“We celebrate those who have dared to innovate, those who have dared to lead and those who have dared to make a difference. To our finalists, I say this, you are the architects of tomorrow, the visionaries of the future. Your ideas have the power to shape the world around us and to inspire generations to come. As you stand on the cusp of greatness, remember that success is not merely about achieving your goal; it’s about the journey, the resilience and the unwavering belief in one’s self,” he said.

Following his opening remarks, the keynote address was then delivered by Professor Firoza Haffejee: Interim Head of Department (HOD) for the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, where she lectures undergraduate Epidemiology and Physiology. Prof Haffejee has supervised over 20 master’s and doctoral students as well as an international postdoctoral fellow. With a PhD in women’s health, she is an avid researcher in public health, with particular emphasis on HIV, women’s health issues and disease preventionShe spoke of her engagement project with students at the herbal area of the market. The students worked with the women in this market, looking at their lives and how living and working within the market is impacting on their health.

“We need to reflect very critically on our roles and relationships within our community engagement and we should try and include teaching and learning as well as research and triangulate these three factors together. And in doing so, we can work with the communities, gain knowledge from them and let them gain knowledge from us as well, and let them be mutual learning going forward,” she said.

After the exhilarating presentation by Prof Haffejee, the much-anticipated presentation of the Engagement Showcase and Pitching Awards 2024 winners:  Students Category, was announced by Nkululeko Mbatha, Administrative Assistant at the Communications unit.

Here is the list of winners.

Runner-Ups in the Students Category were:

  1. The Nonkululeko Catherine Foundation, Project Leader: Sinalenjabulo Ndlovu.
  2. Siyakhula Msinga Empowerment (NPO), Project Leader: Simphiwe Thembelani Mnyandu.
  3. Maswamahle Youth Development (NPC ), Project Leader: SpheleleDlamini.
  4. EduCareConnect: Integrated Health and Education Hubs for Rural Empowerment, Project Leader: Nkanyiso Mhlongo.
  5. Let’s Do Tech, Project Leader: Sanelisiwe Thwala.
  6. Digital Discovery, Project Leader: Lungile Madi.
  7. Bookworm, Project Leader: Luyanda Shabane.

Third prize Winner

  1. Africa’s Waw (AW), Project Leader: Kyungu Lubaba Lubadi.

Second Prize Winner

  1. Project Green, Project Leader: Mzomuhle Msweli.

First Prize Winner

  1. Coding and Robotics, Project leader: Thembelihle Queen Hadebe.

Following the exciting announcements of the student winners, Ms Noluthando Mchunu, Design Studio Manager, shared the names of the winners in the Staff Category of the Engagement Showcase and Pitching Awards 2024.

Runner-Ups from the Staff Category were:

  1. Vantshwa Va Xivono (Youth with a Vision), Project Leader: Samuel Ntsanwisi.
  2. Research Conversations with FMS, Project Leader: Zandile Mahlobo.
  3. PAT Administration Programme, Project Leader: Siphesihle Mthethwa.
  4. Smart Wastewater Treatment to Energy System (SWTES), Project Leader: Dr Emmanuel Kweinor Tetteh.
  5. uMphafa Participatory Praxis: Mural, Project Leader: Dr Tanya Dayaram.

For the Third Prize, it was shared between three winners which were:

  1. Using Action Research to Upskill Community Health Workers: A Case Study, Project Leader: Dr Colette Kell.
  2. Waste Biomass & Valorization – Plastic fused bio brick from waste plastic and sugarcane begasse ash Project Leader: Dr Farai Dziike.
  3. Faculty of Health Sciences Khula Wellness Initiative, Project Leader: Dr Pavitra Pillay.

Given a change to say her thanks for the award, Dr Pavitra Pillay, the Deputy Dean at the Faculty of Health Sciences said that they received the  award on behalf on the community that they served in the Khula Village. “It is not just one person contributing to it, it’s our entire faculty. So, I am really grateful to have received this award and ensure that we are going to use the money  effectively to give back to the community,” said Dr Pillay jubilantly.

Second Prize Winner

  1. Improving Mathematics and Science in Rural Schools, Project Leader: Dr Siyabonga Ndlela.

First Prize Winner

  1. EmpowerEDpreneurs-Business and Social Leaders Programme, Project Leader: Yâchal du Plessis.

Giving her thanks, Yâchal du Plessis, a lecturer from the Department of Applied Management at the Pietermaritzburg campus said that she was  truly honoured to receive this award but more so for the reason that this award recognises the impact that each of us can make on our students and our community.  “This award serves as a reminder that purpose is fueled by passion, and that we can actually effect change when we turn our passion to serve into action that is impactful. It is a privilege to be recognised in this way, and it motivates me to pursue community engagement with even more fervour and commitment,” she said.

After the announcements of the sterling winners, messages of support were given by Ms Nompumelelo Madonda the Director at the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) in the Office of the Premier (KwaZulu-Natal), and Ms Thandazo Jafta a District Manager from Ikamva Youth.

Jennifer Frances Ducray, a Basic Medical Science lecturer at DUT congratulated Phumzile Xulu, the DUT Engagement Practitioner and her team on a wonderful celebration of DUT community engagement initiatives.

“Pulling the entire thing together must be very challenging but was so worthwhile. It truly was wonderful to see the efforts, enthusiasm and dedication of staff and students in this arena. As an institution, we are blessed with wonderful resources and expert domain knowledge in so many fields. The responsibility of stewardship of these with respect to community engagement rests on our shoulders as much as the education of our graduates. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to present some of our work. It means a lot to have efforts affirmed and supported by the institution in this way. I know we will do DUT proud in the current project and hope to see continued growth occurring going forward,” she said.

The closing remarks and vote of thanks was delivered by Xulu, who thanked all guests for coming to the prestigious event.  She also gave a brief history into her journey into community engagement saying that she worked for over 15 years to support those working in the informal trade sector.

“I am truly grateful that you have taken the time and moment to do the community engagement work, the projects that were presented were top notch and of great quality. Both staff and students projects were very impressive but the students impressed me more because they do this work with not much support, not much knowledge even of what they need to do but they are driven by the passion for wanting to see the lives of other people changed, for wanting to make a difference in the world,” she said.

She relayed that the impact that community engagement work has to changing the lives and livelihoods of others, is the biggest income, the biggest money, the biggest prize.

She further went on to thank all the role-players who were instrumental in making the event a success.

The event concluded with a scrumptious lunch and entertainment by Abahambayo Music Pty (LTD).

Pictured: The first prize staff and student winners at the awards event.

Waheeda Peters

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