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Mandela Day - UWC at your service

Author: Myolisi Gophe

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) students and staff are out there every day doing what Madiba implored us to do.


(Published - 17 July 2020)

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) students and staff are out there every day doing what Madiba implored us to do.

From cultivating the coronavirus in a lab to help scientists find a cure, to collecting funds for food parcels during this difficult time – and even tutoring primary school maths online for free. This Mandela Day our movements might be limited, but we are paying it forward.

One amazing project involves one of our academics, a top model and an international clothing retailer – among others - who joined forces to raise close to R200 000 for Women for Peace, an NGO in Mfuleni.

Professor Marion Keim is the Director of UWC’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Sports Science and Development (ICSSD). The Centre has worked with Women for Peace for 10 years on community projects, research and training. When the national lockdown came into effect the NGO chose to focus on its soup kitchen programme which was initiated in 2017. They feed more than 300 people daily, distribute food parcels and educate the community about preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Prof Keim, retailer Peek & Cloppenburg in Germany, actress and model Adeola Ariyo, Nicole Brandt from Boss Models Cape Town and Elise Elsing from the Khayelitsha Foerderverein jumped into action to assist.

Peek & Cloppenburg sold unique T-Shirts in Germany and Austria with the logo: “impossible”. A percentage of the sale went towards Women for Peace.

“Support for women in communities is crucial. Together we can achieve a lot, not only for Mandela Day but all year round!” said Prof Keim.

The retailer donated top-up funds to reach the total amount of 10 000 Euros for the organisation.

“Women for Peace is delighted and blessed to receive funding from Peek & Cloppenburg in Germany, which will be used to run this project, especially during this hard time,” Director Thandeka said.

The organisation has called on locals and international funders to support their programmes – especially their after-school care programmes, as many children have returned to the classrooms. They require stationary, blankets and winter clothing.

For more information or donations, please contact Prof Keim on 082 202 3454 or

Here are links to other projects UWC has been involved with.

UWC Student Helps the Needy During Lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic lockdown introduced a serious crisis of scarcity in disadvantaged communities across the country as many people were deprived of means to put food on the table.

Instead of doing nothing about the problem, University of the Western Cape student Yonela Kanzi took it upon herself to organise food parcels and distribute them to the needy households in her community - in true UWC fashion of producing community-engaged students and graduates.

Growing Coronavirus: UWC And SU Isolate South Africa’s First Laboratory Culture Of SARS-CoV-2

While much of the scientific and medical community rushes to develop therapeutic agents for COVID-19 based on clinical data, getting a better understanding of the brand-new virus remains crucial. That’s why it’s so important that South Africa obtained its very first known laboratory isolate of SARS-Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on 1 April 2020, courtesy of the collaborative efforts of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Stellenbosch University (SU).

No more maths woes - UWC teaching graduate assists parents and learners online

A maths wizard to the rescue! There isn’t a more apt time to provide free online help to parents and learners when it comes to primary school mathematics than during the current challenge posed by the COVID-19 lockdown.

University of the Western Cape (UWC) Education graduate Lizette Booys received her honours degree at the most recent virtual graduation ceremony in April. The bubbly and resourceful educator is already making a meaningful impact at a much bigger scale - living the ethos of UWC, which is community engagement.


COVID-19 Modelling At UWC: Good News, Bad News after Lockdown Effects,-Bad-News-after-Lockdown-Effects.aspx

Updated COVID-19 epidemiological models from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and international collaborators suggest the Western Cape has already reached its pandemic peak.

Professor Nico Orce - from UWC’s Department of Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Astrophysics - as well as national and international collaborators have been modelling and monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic for months.

Their simplest “D” (for Deaths) model - originally developed by Prof Orce’s very own lecturer in Quantum Mechanics, Jose Enrique Amaro from the University of Granada in Spain - indicates that the COVID-19 death rate in the Western Cape has already reached its peak towards the end of June. Furthermore they found that it should fall close to zero by the end of August, with a total mortality at less than 3 000.


Universities Rally To Fight Pandemic: UWC’s Ventilator Prototype

Ventilators have become one of the most sought after health items during this Covid-19 pandemic. Essentially this is the machine that helps patients with severe lung infections to keep breathing.

As the number of positive cases increases around the world, so the need for these machines has grown. Last month the department of health told Parliament the country has 3 216 ventilators. It is estimated that the country will need about 7 000 ventilators when the number of cases peaks and more people with serious symptoms are admitted to hospital.

But work is afoot at higher education institutions, such as the University of the Western Cape, which is working on a ventilator prototype.


Decoding Covid-19: SANBI Scientists Peek Inside First South African SARS-CoV-2 Genome

COVID-19 has emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, to upend our lives and our world - but scientists around the globe are working around the clock to find out more about this pandemic, and the SARS-CoV2 virus causing it. Now researchers from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and UWC’s South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI) have sequenced the first SARS-COV-2 genome in South Africa, providing a genetic "fingerprint" that can help us understand - and contain - the spread of COVID-19.


Self-management training helping frontline workers to protect themselves against COVID-1

Community health workers (CHWs) have been identified as key partners in the primary healthcare sector that is needed to combat the shortage of other health workers.

Prior to COVID-19, the focus of Levona’s PhD was on equipping CHWs to manage their own health and ensuring that they are role models when promoting health and the prevention of risky behaviour among their clients. Having completed her intervention programme as part of her PhD, her six-month follow up period coincided with the outbreak of COVID-19.

This presented her with a clear opportunity to explore how CHWs, as frontline workers in the community, were using the skills and knowledge of self-management to firstly protect themselves during this time, and secondly to create the awareness among communities about the importance of self-adherence to medication and protection during this crisis.

Report of the UWC Moot Court Society’s Covid-19 Fundraising Initiative

When President Ramaphosa, on the 9th of April 2020, announced that the South African coronavirus lockdown would be extended until the end of April, two of the UWC Moot Court Society’s Executive Members saw the need to intervene and to assist our fellow students. It is plain that the extension of the lockdown will have a dire impact on the most disenfranchised and marginalised people in society, and that we need not look too far nor search too wide to identify and help these persons. It is in this light that we saw it fit, as an organisation with a platform, to lend a helping hand.


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