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Tata Africa focuses on scarce skills

- By Buhle Zuma

The contamination of crime scenes, the gathering and the preservation of evidence have been reported to be among some of the key issues hindering the successful conviction of criminal cases.

The low conviction of criminal cases is of concern to Malik Mohammad, a student at Wits whose family has been subjected to several criminal incidents. Mohammad is completing his Bachelor of Health Sciences Honours degree in Forensic Sciences and hopes to boosts the skills pool of the South African Police Services (SAPS). It is reported that South Africa faces a skills shortage in the areas of forensic science, forensic chemistry, forensic genetics or forensic entomology, areas vital to the delivery of justice.

Mohammad is one of the students pursuing specialist academic programmes to fill the gap in scarce skills. He is one of 20 students awarded scholarships by Tata Africa as part of their contribution to the intellectual capital of South Africa. The company and the Wits Development Foundation Office recently held a function for the 2014 bursary recipients to recognise and encourage them in their endeavours.

The bursars range from honours to doctoral students and have been awarded sums ranging from R30 000 to R53 750 to cover the students’ tuition fees, books, accommodation and living costs. The Tata Africa Scholarship Awards were established in 2006 and first awarded to Wits students. Since then the scholarships has expanded reaching students across South Africa’s institutions of higher learning. View the list of scholarship recipients.

Speaking to the Witsies, TATA Africa Managing Director Thami Mbele said that he considers Wits his home although he is not a Wits graduate. Mbele regaled the students about the political education that he acquired at Wits in the 80’s and this, he said, has shaped his perspective on life.

Mbele said that he was confident that the students, through their knowledge, would assist the country to reach its full potential. “South Africa has a lot of potential and needs skilled youngsters to unlock its beauty and prowess.”

The health of a nation is the lifeblood and is one of the indicators used to measure its development. No one knows this more than Vania Duxbury, a masters health sciences student with interests in immunology. Throughout her studies Duxbury has been intrigued by the various factors that affect immunology. In her honours thesis, Duxbury probed how sleep deprivation affects the immune system. Her findings showed that those who were denied sleep did in fact show a weakened immune system and that sleep is essential to the body’s regeneration process. For her masters she is investigating the immunology of pregnancy and hopes to decrease the number of miscarriages and the life chances of babies.

The TATA Scholarships are awarded to students who are financially challenged and have a proven excellent academic track record throughout their academic years. 

The financial awards were a welcomed relief for Duxbury who funded her undergraduate studies through loans.

Zamani Masinga, reading for a masters of management degree in finance and investment, was unsure how he would pay the outstanding balance on his fees. Masinga originates from eMangozi in Kwa-Zulu Natal and took a gamble when he registered for his masters degree even though he was unsure how we would raise the remainder of his fees. His gamble paid off when he received a call in the first week on November from the DFO advising him of his nomination for the scholarship. As the last name to make it on to the 2014 scholarships list, the quiet Masinga expressed relief at being able to walk freely again and focus on his studies.

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