Chess Prodigy Burns Candle at Both ends to Prepare for Worlds

By Fullstop Communications

Madibaz chess prodigy Gerald Wagner is burning the candle on both ends to prepare for battle against the best international players at the World University Championships in September.

The third-year mechatronics student at Nelson Mandela University will form an integral part of the University Sport South Africa team for the tournament in Belgium from September 11 to 17.

Although Wagner has represented national teams at the World Youth Championships (2014) and African Youth Championships (2016), his recent selection will be his first cap for the USSA side.

He acknowledged that there would be tough challenges in Belgium as he jumped to the next tier of international chess.

“Being a world event, I anticipate that the level will be very high,” said the 22-year-old, who inherited his love for the tactical board game from his parents.

“There is a possibility that I might face a grandmaster or an international master at this tournament.”

That meant lots of hard work leading up to and during the tournament to improve his game and to condition himself for international playing conditions, he said.

“So that’s the path I will follow and I am hoping it will put me in good standing for the tournament.”

Wagner grew up in a Salsoneville household in Gqeberha in which his parents often enjoyed a social game of chess.

“That sparked my interest and I started playing competitively at Triomf Primary School in 2012 just before my 12th birthday,” he said, a path that led him to the Eastern Province trials.

“My goal was to represent EP at SA Juniors, which I achieved from 2013 to 2017.”

He explained that his passion for the ultimate mind game only grew stronger as the years went by and he ranked travelling with the teams and building strong friendships among his fondest memories.

The Alexander Road High School alumnus earned his spot in the USSA team after a string of impressive performances over the last year.

“I represented Nelson Mandela University in an online competition last year to qualify for the USSA Closed tournament, which took place in Potchefstroom in May this year.

“It was my fourth place there that secured my selection for Belgium, where it will be an honour to represent my country, university and family.”

USSA team

Men: Nico Martin (Stellenbosch), James Allison (Stellenbosch), Sello Mahlangu (Limpopo), Gerald Wagner (Nelson Mandela University).

Women: Laurie-Ann Shaw (UCT), Anais Saayman (North-West), Kara Zahra (KwaZulu-Natal), Cora Mak (Pretoria).

Photo credit: Supplied

Our Very Own Champions!

By Siyolise Gqongwana

On 2 July 2022, the Carling Champions match returned for its second edition, as the Champions team and took on an Italian side hell-bent on spoiling the party at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Those in attendance were treated to a closely contested spectacle that saw the star-studded lineup come back from behind to defeat a resilient Italy ‘A’ side 31-27.

The home team was made up of several young players who had little to no experience at international level – and this was quite evident inside the opening 3 minutes when two successive loose passes were easily intercepted, one of them brutally punished by Italy’s Simone Gesi for the opening try of the game.

This frantic start by the hosts continued for the first 20 minutes until winger, Daniel Kasende, dotted over the line, following a crisp pass from Cheetahs teammate, David Brits, putting the Champions team right back into contention.

The scrum dominance by Stonehouse’s men was key in limiting Italy ‘A’ to only two tries, but the Achilles heel lied in their frequent handling errors – consequently going into half time trailing 17-10.

The home support was left with little time to worry about the scoreboard when Gqeberha-born artists, Naakmusiq and Heavy K, provided half-time entertainment with some of their smash hits which were very well received by the crowd. The homeboys also took some time to sign autographs and take selfies with some of the fans.

However, the Italians kept the scoreboard ticking immediately after the start of the second half by converting a penalty which gave them a 10-point lead. But this proved to be the beginning of their troubles, as a resurging Champions team found their form and responded with two back-to-back tries, putting them in front for the first time in the game. This lead was threatened when fullback, Clayton Blommetjies, got sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on inside their own 22.

Italy ‘A’ hooker quickly followed Blommetjies to the naughty corner following a dangerous tackle. This evened out the numbers and the home side ran rampage from there on in and was able to secure a narrow 4-point win, keeping the trophy on home soil.

Simphiwe Matanzima (Prop), also hailing from Gqeberha, was voted man of the match by the fans, and he expressed his gratitude for his hometown in his post-match interview.

“Gqeberha is a hotbed for rugby talent, and to have an occasion like this here is quite special as it inspires the young kids to take up the game one day,” he said.

From Biommetjies dancing in the sin bin, to the commentary team showing off their Italian vocabulary, it was truly a fun and memorable night of rugby at the Bay.

Photo credit: SA Rugby Mag

Madibaz Aim to Pass USSA Squash Test with Distinction

By Fullstop Communications

As the varsity careers of several players wind down, the Madibaz squash team will look to pass next week’s University Sport South Africa tournament with distinction.

The event – held in Makhanda from July 4 to 8 – was scheduled for December last year before succumbing to Covid.

Now, a semester and a bit later, the Nelson Mandela University students are once again ready to shoot for the title.

One of those is the long-serving Bianca Keeley, who will line up at No 2 in the women’s team at her eighth tournament.

With the competition having been on the backburner since July 2019, the 25-year-old said it was exciting to be back in the top student arena.

“It is always a privilege to be able to represent Madibaz Sport,” said Keeley, who has been ranked in the USSA top-six on three occasions.

“After two straight finals in 2018 and 2019 we were incredibly disappointed to not have competed in 2020 and 2021.

“We are looking forward to trying to make another final in what has been a challenging period for squash,” added Keeley, who listed winning the Port Elizabeth women’s league in 2018 for the first time in 16 years and then successfully defending it as her most treasured memories alongside the brace of USSA finals.

Madibaz coach Jason le Roux acknowledged it would be a serious challenge for them to break the stranglehold of UJ. The Gauteng university has won the title eight times in a row – the last two at the expense of the Madibaz.

Le Roux said it would be a matter of everyone pulling their weight to have a fighting chance, especially after losing last year’s men’s No 1, John Kuhn.

“We always go into these events with the goal of achieving first place and our expectation is to, at least, end in the top three,” he said.

“But I know that this is going to be a very tough tournament because there are at least four varsities who are strong and quite evenly matched.”

Le Roux felt their opponents would each offer different challenges, but the bottom line was that every player needed to contribute to the Madibaz cause.

“We have a really solid men’s team in Warren Bower, Murray Schepers, Sips Mpini and Gershwin Forbes to back up women’s No 1 Dani Shone and Bianca,” he said.

“But they will be up against the best students in South Africa, with several of the men’s players ranked in the national top 10.

“It’s not going to be easy for them and it will be important that we do well across the board in each match to give ourselves a chance.”

Photo credit: Oakpics

Mandela University Adapts to National COVID-19 Changes

Nelson Mandela University will be aligning its COVID-19 standard operating procedures on its seven campuses in Gqeberha and George in line with the new national directives.

Two changes that impact directly on those working, studying and/or living at the institution are as follows:

Mask wearing

As per the repealed health regulations of 22 June 2022, you are no longer required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors.

However, as COVID-19 is still with us, the voluntary wearing of masks is encouraged where and when appropriate. This may be when visiting health facilities, the elderly or those with known underlying conditions, as well as when you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Gatherings

In addition, all restrictions on numbers at gatherings have been repealed.

However, as staff and students will appreciate, the looming water shortage means the hosting of large gatherings on campus, outside of academic-specific lectures, workshops and laboratory sessions, is not permissible as this is irresponsible.

For the full updated SOPs, please go to the University’s COVID-19 webpage.

Screening

No screening will be done upon entry to the University campuses and we will continue to provide for hand sanitisers at all venue entrances to promote hand hygiene. 

Ongoing management of COVID-19

Staff and students are reminded that the following support and guidelines remain in place for your ongoing wellbeing and safety:

                Vaccination

Vaccination remains our greatest defence against the virus. The University’s COVID-19 Vaccination Centre is still offering this to staff, while all Student Health clinics have the J&J jab available for students.

                Testing

If you feel unwell and are displaying flu-like symptoms, please contact Occupational Health (occupationalhealth@mandela.ac.za) or Student Health Services to take a rapid antigen test.

                Guidelines

Please also note:

  • Employees and students who test positive with no symptoms do not have to isolate.
  • Employees and students that test positive with symptoms, the isolation period is seven days. 
  • Contacts do not have to isolate unless they develop symptoms.
  • Occupational Health and Wellness will continue to follow up on positive COVID-19 cases.
  • Should employees require emotional support, a referral to Wellness @Work can be arranged.

Day Zero Readiness Preparations Ongoing

By Water Crisis Management Team and Human Resources

Plans to support basic emergency relief efforts ahead of a looming Day Zero are ongoing, which will see the closure of certain ablution blocks, the addition of portable toilets and securing of fresh drinking water at key locations.

These preparations have become necessary with Day Zero looming when the taps are expected to run dry for large parts of Nelson Mandela, including the University’s North, South, Ocean Sciences, Second Avenue and Bird Street Campuses.

Certain ablution blocks are being closed to enable more effective management of water and related hygiene matters. Portable toilets are being introduced so that alternative facilities are available for the emergency period when the taps run dry.

In the interim, we are grateful for the rain that has fallen in the catchment areas as this will hopefully offer some reprieve in holding off Day Zero. It will also give the University more time for introducing its alternative water source supplies (borehole and reclaimed water) as explained below.  

Emergency period

The University’s key priority is to ensure that the University’s students are able to continue with their studies and complete the 2022 academic year.

To enable this, during the emergency period (until the University is able to introduce its alternative water source supplies), please take note of the following:

  • If possible, to bring your own drinking bottled water onto campus
  • Use water sparingly from the designated drinking water tanks
  • Liaise with line managers as per working arrangements
  • Go to the sustainability website for all supporting information

Remaining functional

The COVID-19 pandemic required a reduction of numbers on campus to mitigate against the chances of contracting the virus. The water crisis requires us to drastically reduce water consumption but still keep the University operating.

Essential services are critical in ensuring that the institution is able to function – through the ongoing supply of catering, cleaning, security, ICT, technical, administration, health services and the like, as well as providing key internal and external services.

While it will be advisable to reduce on-campus numbers during the Phase 1: Emergency Day Zero Period, it is imperative that students’ day-to-day needs are met so that they are able to complete their studies.

Functional departmental meetings

To assist staff with what is expected and to provide greater understanding and appreciation of the water crisis challenges, a series of meetings with different stakeholder groups will be held virtually across the institution by Human Resources. This will offer you the opportunity to ask questions.

Phase 1: Emergency Period

The Emergency period will start when the taps run dry, and end as soon as the alternative water source supplies (reclaimed water and boreholes) at the University are implemented, and Phase 2 is introduced.

Phase 1 will be an uncomfortable period of fetching water for washing, drinking and flushing of toilets.

It will also be an expensive exercise – as trucking in fresh municipal water for residence students and day staff and students is set to cost about R3 million a month, which will be difficult to sustain.

Phase 2: Alternative Water Supplies  

Contractors are already on site to connect all boreholes on North, Ocean Sciences and Second Avenue campuses. This water will be fed into the municipal reticulation system to enable semi-normal functioning.

Dependent on the volume and quality of the water from the boreholes, this supply may also be acceptable for washing and cleaning.

Reclaimed water from our own water works system on campus will also be piped into the reticulation system on South Campus to enable flushing of toilets. 

Again, as with the boreholes, testing, filtration and treatment of this water, also means there is a good possibility, going forward, of its usage for washing and cleaning.

These efforts are all part of the University’s long-term plans to be more sustainable and less reliant on expensive municipal water.

It is hoped that these interventions will be in place by mid-August. 

Continue to save

By cutting back on our consumption – as many concerned, responsible staff, students and other citizens have been doing for some time – we can hold back the Day Zero timeline.

This will “buy time” for the University to get its medium-term alternative water source plans in place by August to enable completion of the 2022 Academic Year.

Your changed water usage behaviours, in using less than the maximum of 50 litres a day, are critical now and in the future on our water scarce continent.

Returning to his Roots Leads to Adams’ Sprint Title in Paris

By Fullstop Communications

Gqeberha sprinter Luxolo Adams believed that knowing what worked best for him had been the catalyst behind his eye-catching performance in the Paris Diamond League athletics meeting last weekend.

The 25-year-old, who is a member of the Madibaz Athletics Club, scorched to a career-best 19.82 seconds in the 200m as he stunned Olympic champion Andre de Grasse in winning his first Diamond League race.

It is the second fastest any South African has been over that distance, just short of Clarence Munyai’s record of 19.69.

The outcome marked a beacon of hope for the Gqeberha athlete after a few challenging years following his decision to move to Pretoria.

“That did not really work out and in August last year I returned to Gqeberha to resume training with my former coach (Gerrie Posthumus) and that has worked well for me,” said Adams.

“I believe being able to know what works for me and having a coach that knows which boxes to tick have enabled me to produce better performances.

“This, I feel, is the biggest factor that has contributed to me being a sub-20 athlete.”

Adams added that it was a boost for his confidence as he surveyed the journey ahead.

This includes an upcoming meeting in Switzerland where he said he would go down in distance to the 100m to test his speed, and then the World Athletics Championships in the United States in July.

“This performance has definitely lifted me because it is always a good feeling when you get rewarded for hard work,” said Adams.

“It is exciting to run a sub-20 and it will be even more exciting to find the consistency in running fast as I go forward.

“Considering how training has been going I can definitely say I have been expecting such performances.

“It was just a matter of being patient and being confident in my coach and the work we have put in.”

He added that building on the Paris success depended on staying injury-free.

“This is the biggest factor in being able to continue performing at this high level. That means doing the little things that I have been doing to condition my body; so that will yield consistency to my performances and results.

Adams described the Paris moment as the biggest of his career.

“I’ve said this before, records can be broken but titles stay forever.

“So this was a proper highlight and it would even be sweeter if I could run a sub-20 and medal at a major championship, be it the Commonwealth or Olympic Games or world championships.”

Adams and fellow Madibaz field athlete Ischke Senekal, who won shot put gold at the recent Africa champs, have been included in the national team for the worlds in Oregon, United States, from July 15 to 24.

Photo credit: Supplied

Eastern Cape Netball on the Rise as Aloes Clinch Promotion

By Fullstop Communications

A fierce determination to earn promotion to the top division of the Telkom Netball League was the driving force behind the Eastern Cape Aloes’ success at the weekend.

This is the view of SPAR Madibaz coach Lana Krige, who mentored both the Aloes and Eastern Cape Comets squads during the national tournament.

The Aloes, who finished top of the class in division two the previous two years, went through the league phase unbeaten and then defeated Mpumalanga Sunbirds 48-43 in the division two final.

That, though, was not their main goal, said Krige.

“I think in previous years the focus may have been on winning division two, but this year it switched to not only winning the division, but also succeeding in the promotion-relegation game,” she said.

“After the win over Sunbirds on Saturday it was not a time for celebrations because the big match was coming up on Sunday.”

The Aloes, captained by Madibaz star Jeanie Steyn and managed by Madibaz Sport netball manager Melinda Goosen, then defeated the Kingdom Stars from KwaZulu-Natal 42-39 to win promotion to division one next year.

Steyn led from the front, winning three player of the match awards and being named the division two player of the season.

The team included nine players from Nelson Mandela University, while four Madibaz players turned out for the Comets.

Krige felt the promotion to division one would be a major boost for netball in the province and at Madibaz.

“For example, when Madibaz came up against the top teams in the USSA and Varsity Netball tournaments, they had not been exposed to that level because most of the players from those sides competed in division one of the TNL,” she said.

“Next year the Aloes will play against the best players in the country and that exposure will help them develop their games and understand the intensity of the competition at the top level.”

The Madibaz players are now preparing for next month’s USSA tournament and Krige believed the TNL experience would have a positive impact.

“Normally at this stage we wouldn’t have had a lot of game time, but these players have performed in hour-long matches on a regular basis during the TNL,” she said.

“We will be up against A section teams at USSA so the intensity will be high, but at least we will have had some experience of how to manage these situations.”

Looking to 2023, Krige said it would be important for the Aloes to be meticulous in their preparation as they venture into the top flight of the TNL.

“The main focus will be to get in as much training time before the TNL next year,” she said.

“To compete in division one, we have to get the structures right in terms of pre-season training, select a squad earlier and make sure the players’ fitness is up to scratch.”

Krige added that she was also impressed with the efforts of the Comets.

“They just missed the semi-finals by one point to Western Cape Tornados and then went down against the Kingdom Queens to finish sixth.

“Unfortunately, they lost their captain Britney van der Merwe through injury, and she had a big role to play.

“But it was a great experience for them and they will be able to take a lot of positives from the games they played.”

Photo credit: Netball SA Facebook

“Every Drop Counts” a Necessary Evil in Drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay

By Dr Gaathier Mahed

It’s been said that the next world war may well be fought over water. Countries are already pulling political pranks to secure inflow from upstream across their borders, while entrepreneurs scramble for first place in the race to offer solutions to a thirsty, embattled Eastern Cape.

The province’s ongoing drought has created multiple business opportunities, as well as innovation in related fields – new products and schemes for smart and efficient delivery of the most basic necessity, water, to communities.

The solutions are varied, and some won’t work long-term; yet those who can are paying top dollar for supply in the short term, regardless of the much-touted 70-million litres of water flowing in from the Nooitgedacht Scheme Phase 3.

Government continually points to the short-term solution of reducing water use, but irrigation-related agricultural practices consume around 60% of total available water – and we can lose up to half of that through evapotranspiration.

In an urban context, then, we must investigate how we’re using water, and what for. This starts in the home, with simple devices such as plastic water sprayers on each household tap, for example.

Capturing and storing roof and gutter water in rainwater harvesting tanks is a popular solution, and boosts availability during periods of low flow and pressure. Some households have installed a system connecting boreholes for pumping when tank water levels are too low – although pressure problems mean small pumps are a necessity.

Water recycling is a growing trend, and easy to start. It could be as simple as placing a bucket in the shower, using the run-off to clean the home or water the garden.

What we put into our water is as important as saving it. Choose compostable and biodegradable products, as this has a direct impact on water quality, and a build-up of toxic products could contaminate water supplies long-term.

New way of life

Water reduction can only work if coupled with lifestyle changes, such as altering garden landscapes – use less or no grass, replacing these with indigenous plants and shrubs. This practice, called xeriscaping, helps reduce irrigation needs and lowers water consumption.

Installation of drip irrigation systems also targets water delivery at the base of the plants directly to the roots. This could be coupled with mulching, to reduce evaporation from soil surfaces.

The Nelson Mandela Metropole has implemented water saving campaigns and flow restrictors in an effort to help curb consumption. This, together with “water shedding” to ration flows, is coupled with multiple drives to stop leaks – but complaints about the slow pace of plugging these leaks continue.

These municipal interventions are excellent ideas, in theory, but need surgical precision during execution to effectively reduce leakages and wastage from reticulation systems – a situation that can account for up to 40% loss in some urban settings.

What about boreholes?

Large-scale drilling of boreholes, particularly in some suburbs, such as Summerstrand, might not be the best solution, either.

Cumulative abstraction has greater impact over time, owing to the public’s limited understanding of groundwater reservoirs.

Some side-effects in the coastal aquifer include ingress of salt water, reduction of water quality and even potential slumping of soil masses. This leads to issues around home foundation stability and could be devastating, if not curbed.

This is cause for concern – approximately 1000 wells have been drilled in the Summerstrand area alone. The rest of the city, on the other hand, has drilled in the Coega vicinity, with a view to large-scale supply. Here, however, the issue is water quality, and a plant and pipeline must be constructed to deliver this water to the municipality for potable purposes. This medium-term will help to alleviate system strain, but needs to be in tandem with other water-saving initiatives.

Looking ahead

Some long-term solutions have been explored by multiple stakeholders, including government.  The Umzimvubu project is one of these and has been priced at a whopping R15-billion. It’s one of many multi-million-rand projects sitting at various stages of the construction phase. Some are incomplete or over budget, and little has been done to reactivate them in the Eastern Cape. One possible future project is also Nooitgedacht Phase 4.

Another long-term option is Managed Aquifer Recharge. This involves pumping  water into an aquifer, allowing the water to be “banked” – stored underground – for later use. This minimises the impact from evaporation and thus reduces water losses.

Water can also be recycled from various sources, rather than wasted. This recycled water could be drawn from stormwater or even wastewater treatment plants and then be put back into the aquifer.

Ultimately, service delivery, honesty and properly trained people in the right positions will, hopefully, lead to improvement, medium to long-term. The fact that legislation and policies should be a catalyst, rather than a hindrance, is key. This is particularly true when examining Supply Chain and the inefficacies around delivering the correct materials for the job within the specified time, and limiting exorbitant costs. This is critical for long-term maintenance and longevity of assets, which are the backbone for water supply in this country.

Sooth your Soul with Ebubeleni

By Bantu Ndiki

Another huge event hosted by the Ebubeleni Festival and their partners is set to strike the Sun Boardwalk in Gqeberha on Saturday 25, 2022.

According to the event’s social media pages, more than 270 active Facebook users have confirmed their attendance, and judging by the previous show and the festival’s amazing reputation, this one will also be a sold out show!

The ‘Evening of Jazz’ forms part of the festival’s concert series, which is a continuous build-up to the main event in December. This one will feature jazz giants, with the likes of Selaelo Selota, Mandisi Dyanti and Dumza Mawanda. Jazz is a huge cultural event under the festival, and is known to bring people and families together under the warmth of the soothing tunes.

Dumza Maswana, from uMhlobo Wenene FM, is host of the ‘Umculo we Jazz’ show, and will be one of the headliners for the evening. He is an afro soul and jazz artists born in Peddie, Eastern Cape and is no stranger to the local music industry. His well-known tune ‘Nguye’ from his debut album, became a hit on national and provincial radio stations. He will be bringing the same vibe to the festival “I will be performing at Ebubeleni evening of Jazz event, my people please rush, rush, the tickets are selling fast” Maswana pleads.

The Evening of Jazz has not happened ye, but is already a guaranteed success. Tickets can still be purchased on web ticket and at your local retailer, Pick N Pay.

Photo credit: Ebubeleni Festival Organisers

Going Back in Order to Go Forward

By Somila Tiwani

“We have entered the month of young people, the only month where young people are given a platform to express their frustrations without suppressions”, says Bonginkosi Shongwe, the Branch Secretary of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) at Nelson Mandela University. The EFFSC-led Student Representative Council (SRC) conducted an online political lecture on 1 June 2022, where NMU SRC president, Pontsho Hlongwane was the facilitator.

‘Going back in order to go forward: lessons from the past to correctly shape the future’, was the programme’s theme while the purpose was to discover what lessons we can take from the past to fully understand how we got to where we are now and how we should address the socio-economic challenges that we face as the youth.

This is part of the SRC’s pledge to reintroduce politics to our campuses and the country in general, as there has been a significant decline in student activism. We are challenged to make sense of black consciousness and its impact on the student movement, thus we must begin by honouring Steve Biko, the father of black consciousness.

“Steve Biko says that being black is a reflection of a mental attitude”, Hlongwane states. He further elaborates that black consciousness is a medication that aims to infuse a renewed sense of pride in the black community, within themselves and their contribution to life. It is a philosophy that advocated that black South Africans should get rid of the inferiority complex and their psychological freedom through self-reliance, self-assertiveness and black pride. Black consciousness inspires black people to unite in order to achieve their own emancipation.

According to the SRC president, all the people who influenced Steve Biko had one thing in common, the primary contradiction of the 21st century is that of race and all other issues were secondary. They argued that we’re black first and we’re members of society, we cannot be entirely free until the black race is free.

Further, “South Africa does not belong to black people, it’s still in the hands of the capitalist. Those who have economic power are the ones who are in control of the country.”

“The reason why we don’t have free education in SA is because we can never have free education in a capitalist society, but that does not mean that the struggle for free education must wait.”

Black consciousness remains relevant to the student movement. “As young people we ought to sharpen our tools of analyses to actually understand the fundamental problems we face as black students in universities and be able to confront them head on,” concluded Hlongwane.

Photo credit: sahistory