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26 March 2020
DSI Deputy Minister visits iThemba LABS and addresses students attending Training programme

(Published - 26 March 2020)

The Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation (DSI), Buti Manamela, visited iThemba LABS at Faure in the Western Cape as part of his self-orientation to familiarise himself with the work of research facilities and entities across the country that currently reside within his department.

iThemba LABS is a national research facility administered by the National Research Foundation (NRF), under the DSI.

Mr Manamela’s visit to iThemba LABS coincided with the first day of the Spectrum Presentation, Analysis, Manipulation and Simulation (SPAMS) workshop organised under SAINTS – the Southern African Institute for Nuclear Technology and Sciences. SAINTSis an iThemba LABS initiative, and one of the four pillars of iThemba LABS.

The SPAMS workshop is attended by more than 20 postgraduate students drawn from a number of South African universities, including the University of the Western Cape.

Mr Manamela had the opportunity during the visit to meet and briefly interact with about 25 students attending the SPAMS workshop, organised by SAINTS co-ordinator at iThemba LABS, Prof Richard Newman.

“Our country is privileged to count as future leaders young people like you who are pursuing technical fields of study. We at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation shall continue to use all means at our disposal to empower the youth, and there is no other form of empowerment better than education”, he said.

Three PhD Students from UWC, Lumkile Msebi, Cebo Nqwetsheni and Monushia Zimri, attended the workshop with their supervisors Prof Nico Orce and Prof Leslie Petrik.

The Deputy Minister’s visit comes after iThemba LABS recently secured government support to finance its strategic flagship project, the South African Isotope Facility (SAIF). This initiative seeks to secure future sustainability of the facility by procuring a dedicated 70 MeV cyclotron accelerator to boost the production rate of a range of accelerator-based radioisotopes.

iThemba LABS is the only research facility in South Africa and throughout the African continent that utilises particle accelerators to produce radioisotopes which are used in nuclear medicine for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Commenting on the Deputy Minister’s visit, the Managing Director of iThemba LABS, Dr Faïçal Azaiez, said the visit afforded iThemba LABS a crucial and privileged opportunity to present the executive management’s vision for the future of iThemba LABS.

The NRF Deputy CEO in charge of National Research Infrastructure and Platforms, Dr Clifford Nxomani, added: “We are deeply delighted with the Deputy Minister’s visit to one of our key national research platforms. We are particularly thankful to the Deputy Minister for taking the time out from his tight schedule to visit iThemba LABS, and trust that it was an enjoyable and informative time for him and his team.”

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