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Business park

The psychological contract: How to be happy at work

26 April 2017

UCT's Dr Linda Ronnie spoke to 702 / CapeTalk host Eusebius McKaiser about why a healthy relationship with your employer is critical to your performance in the workplace. Read more

Planet Earth

Just Google It: The SA web app that could turn ecological research into a safe, cheap desk job

25 April 2017

In the information age, the public has more agency than ever. Citizen science is streaking ahead, thanks to vast data contributions by ordinary people. In South Africa, one local ecologist just made it much easier for them to do so, whether they know it or not. Read more

Stock market

Frequency of stock market trading reduces returns

25 April 2017

Research has shown that stock market investors who trade frequently do so at their peril because trading frequently reduces returns. Read more

Imizamo Yethu

Fighting injustice helps in creating resilient urban spaces

21 April 2017

If resilience efforts don't consider justice issues, they will end up making those who are the most in need the least resilient. Read more

South Africa's former finance ministry led by Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas

South Africa must look beyond individuals to solve the current crisis

21 April 2017

The framing of the prevailing political protests in South Africa shows too much focus on the role of individuals. This is dangerous in hearkening back to the flawed Great Man Theory. Read more

Steenbras dam

Brace for frequent extreme weather

20 April 2017

The severe two-year drought that is currently laying waste to the Southwestern Cape’s water supply might become much more frequent, thanks to the impact of global warming on regional climate. This is according to Professor Mark New, the newly appointed AXA Chair in African Climate Risk at UCT.  Read more

World's water-stressed cities show the way for Cape Town‚ says UCT expert

19 April 2017

Two weeks after Capetonians were told they had less than 100 days of water left‚ dam levels have dropped another four percentage points. And no rain is expected for the rest of April.  Read more

Homo neanderthalensis fossil hominid (Pleistocene; Europe)

Hunting for hybrid hominins

18 April 2017

We carry within our DNA traces of other, ancient human species. But how have hominins – different human species – interbred, and can you identify a hybrid from the shape of its skull? These are some of the questions that Kerryn Warren’s research is seeking to answer. Read more

Professor Ambroise Wonkam, professor and senior specialist in the Division of Human Genetics at UCT, and the principal investigator for the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Center (SADaCC)

A ray of hope for neglected African disease: sickle cell disease

18 April 2017

A range of research groups under the leadership of UCT’s Professor Ambroise Wonkam have secured US$3.7 million to establish the Sickle Africa Data Coordinating Center (SADaCC), which will build capacity to help Africa tackle this disease. Read more

#ZumaMustFall protest

South Africa's crisis: Calling things by their true name

13 April 2017

Frustrated by the promiscuous use of the accusation of “corruption” to cover all sins, in recent days some scholars of contemporary South African politics have offered alternative framings. Indeed, it is helpful to look beyond the details of venality, and identify some deeper patterns. But there is a risk that the result could be to inadvertently and wrongly take the edge off a sense of urgency. Read more

Devils Peak fire Cape Town

Fire futures: lessons from the Western Cape 2016/17 fire season

13 April 2017

As the 2016/17 fire season in the Western Cape draws to a close, what can we take from the experiences of one of the worst seasons in recent history? Are we moving towards a future where extensive and destructive fires become the new normal? How should we respond? Read more

Finance ministry

Politics gutted SARS of rising stars, fears that Treasury is next

12 April 2017

The troubles at the Treasury and SARS are a microcosm of the steady hollowing out of state institutions over the past few years. Professor Mills Soko explains the causes and consequences. Read more

African elephants

‘This is amazing!’ African elephants may transport seeds farther than any other land animal

12 April 2017

The African savanna elephant holds the prize for largest living terrestrial animal, and now it apparently just set another land record: the longest distance mover of seeds. Read more

Antarctic adventure

Antarctic adventure

10 April 2017

Fancy floating around Antarctica for three months? Three UCT scientists certainly did. Read more

Harald Winkler

Harald Winkler to serve on High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices

10 April 2017

At this year’s Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and the G20 Hamburg Summit in July, Finance Ministers will gather to discuss, among other pressing matters, climate change. Carbon pricing is expected to take up some of the discussion time, particularly at the G20 Summit. Read more

Custom-built robot will study a very special star 

6 April 2017

When you need 200 consecutive days to observe a special star like Beta Pictoris, it helps to be able to build your own telescope, as UCT and South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) PhD fellow Blaine Lomberg and his collaborators have done. Read more

HIV's influence on TB evolution

HIV's influence on TB evolution

03 April 2017

Tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global health problem, with 10 million cases and 2 million deaths per year according to the World Health Organization. The only available vaccine is effective in children, but its effect wanes in older children and adults. Read more

Uncovering the social symptoms of TB

Uncovering the social symptoms of TB

03 April 2017

Rigorous as it may be, biomedical tuberculosis (TB) research has not succeeded in curing a once-curable disease. This is the premise of medical anthropology and the medical humanities. It is with this in mind that UCT anthropologists began the project Social Markers of TB: A comparative study between southern Africa and India. Read more

Jacob Zuma

Stakes for South Africa's democracy are high as Zuma plunges the knife

03 April 2017

South Africa has reached a crisis point in its political history that’s been looming on the horizon for more than a year. In the dark of night – literally – President Jacob Zuma demonstrated his ruthlessness by firing finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, amid a 20-person reshuffle of his government. Read more

#UnmaskStigma

Time to see TB patients as true champions in the fight against the disease

31 March 2017

Nearly 70 years ago, a range of antibiotics that could treat tuberculosis were first identified. But today almost two million people still die every year from one of the deadliest infectious diseases. Read more

Why South Africa’s courts cannot rein in a delinquent government

30 March 2017

South Africans sighed with relief when the Constitutional Court recently handed down a judgment in the country’s social grant saga, averting a catastrophic constitutional crisis. About 17 million social grant beneficiaries would not be left without support. Read more

People chatting in a coffee shop

Five branding mistakes you should avoid in your small business

29 March 2017

A significant portion of small business failures are caused by branding mistakes and owners who don't understand the importance of branding. Here are the common mistakes. Read more

Internet cables

How to make an Internet of Intelligent Things work for Africa

29 March 2017

The new Internet of Things has the potential to compensate for Africa's legacies of underdevelopment. Read more

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma at the World Economic Forum

‘White monopoly capital’: an excuse to avoid South Africa’s real problems

28 March 2017

The rising talk about 'white monopoly capital' as an obstacle to economic inclusion in South Africa is a red herring. Read more

water

What we've learnt from the drought

27 March 2017

UCT’s Dr Kevin Winter, from the Future Water Institute, considers the lessons that the current drought has to offer and looks forward to the solutions that must be put in place, and soon, if we are to avoid this same scenario in the coming years. Read more

Tuberculosis

Latest transmission patterns for drug resistant TB pose a new challenge

24 March 2017

The emergence of drug resistant tuberculosis has resulted in scientists taking a more aggressive and urgent approach to research into the development of the disease. As the number of drug resistant TB cases has continued to rise, so has the need for rapid diagnosis, new treatment and new strategies that could help contain the disease. Read more

UCT study shows that urine test is better for diagnosing TB rapidly among hospitalised HIV-infected patients

23 March 2017

A study published this week in the journal BMC Medicine by researchers from the University of Cape Town shows that among hospitalised patients with HIV infection, a simple and inexpensive urine test identified more TB diagnoses... Read more

How we found the gene for a rare heart disease and why it matters

23 March 2017

Heart disease is the world’s number one killer. In sub-Saharan Africa infections like HIV and TB take the lead but heart diseases such as heart muscle disease (or cardiomyopathy) are a close second... Read more

Stormwater

Stormwater harvesting could help South Africa manage its water shortages

22 March 2017

In 2016, South Africa experienced one of the worst droughts in decades. Many towns and cities across the country were left with compromised water supply systems and limited food production. Read more

Delving into the darknet

Delving into the darknet to discover the secret world of paedophiles

20 March 2017

“Paedophilia isn’t a crime. Child sexual abuse is the crime.” This controversial statement is bound to evoke mixed and strong emotions from all corners – most particularly because it’s a statement made by a South African researcher in a country where heinous sexual crimes are committed against children at a frightening rate. Read more

Why South Africa’s Constitution is under attack

20 March 2017

South Africa’s Constitution, greatly lauded around the world and the product of Nelson Mandela’s democratic transition of the mid-1990s, is under attack. It’s being blamed in some quarters for the slow pace of socio-economic transformation in Africa’s biggest economy. Read more

Explainer: how a special tax could protect South Africa from systemic risk

17 March 2017

Is South Africa safe from systemic risk in its financial system? Systemic risk can lead to the collapse of financial markets as happened in the 2008/09 global financial crisis. In a new study Qobolwakhe Dube and Co-Pierre Georg provide new insights into the extent of risk the country’s financial system faces. Read more

SASSA - no safety net for beneficiaries

17 March

The consequences of social grants being paid late or not being paid at all would be “enormous” for the 17 million or more beneficiaries, most of whom have no other income or savings to tide them over, says UCT’s Professor Jeremy Seekings. Read more

Kelp in southern Africa

Kelps in southern Africa are thriving, but some key inhabitants of kelp forests are not

15 March 2017

There’s a forest in the extreme west of South Africa which very few people know much about. It’s 1000km long but only around 100m wide, and also extends along the rocky coastline of Namibia. This forest is a kelp forest. Read more

Five Xhosa women

The power and politics of prefixes

13 March 2017

Using the correct prefixes when referring to local languages in English is a matter of both linguistic and political necessity, says UCT linguist Dr Mantoa Motinyane-Masoko. Read more

young African penguins

Young African penguins are dying because they can't find the fish they need

13 March 2017

When young African penguins leave their nests for the first time they do so alone, without any guidance from their parents. They need to use their instinct to follow cues in their environment to find food and stay alive in their first months at sea. Hard as that may have been in the past, today climate change and high fishing pressure have made it even more difficult. Read more

Women are leading the way in HIV research

14 March 2017

There is a saying in South Africa: Wathint’ abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo. You strike the women, you strike the rock. On International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the strong women who have always been at the heart of fighting the HIV/AIDS... Read more

UCT students write their exams

Decolonising the curriculum: it’s in the detail, not just in the definition

13 March 2017

There are other ways to conduct meetings and present lectures. Could adopting, adapting or even just understanding more about these help universities to release colonialism's grip on their practices? Read more

Emperor penguins

Penguins on the move in a warming world

6 March 2017

No animal is more iconic of Antarctica than the penguin, but now there is evidence global warming is forcing some colonies to move. Mount Siple stands alone in one of the most remote parts of West Antarctica. It's one of the continent's largest volcanoes, rising 3,110 metres from a normally frozen sea. Read more

To maximise a child’s development, genetics provide important insight

6 March 2017

A child’s genetic make-up can play a large, hidden role in the success of efforts to maximise his or her development, South African research suggests.The study, published February 28 in PLoS Medicine... Read more

Child grants can help mothers get better jobs

2 March 2017

Research shows that grants make it easier for women to look for work. Contrary to some popular myths, the child support grant does not discourage women from looking for jobs. On the contrary: the grant makes it easier for them to look for better jobs, as Alessandro Tondini found in his research. Read more

TB blood test for children

Adult TB test safe for children

27 February 2017

A blood test used to detect tuberculosis in adults can predict the onset of the disease in young children, researchers from the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative at UCT, Stanford, Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have found. Read more

The peer-review system for academic papers is badly in need of repair

27 February 2017

Peer review, or scientific refereeing, is the basis of the academic process. It’s a rigorous evaluation that aims to ensure only work which advances knowledge is published in a scientific journal. Scientists must be able to trust... Read more

This water crisis won’t be Cape Town’s last

23 February 2017

It’s time to implement long-term strategies in the face of climate change and population growth. In February, Cape Town’s dams were at 36% of their total capacity, down by nearly 7% from this time last year. If the water level falls below 20% it can no longer be pumped out. Read more

Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema in Parliament, South Africa

Why opposition parties in southern Africa struggle to win power

22 February 2017

Over the last three decades there’s been some progress towards institutionalising multiparty democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this elections in the region rarely result in changes of government.  Read more

Cullinan diamond

Mysterious origins of mega diamonds

21 February 2017

Mega diamonds, such as the Cullinan and Koh-i-Noor, may be worth a king's ransom for their rarity, size and purity, but for Professor Steve Richardson they provide tantalising clues about the evolutionary timeline of our planet. Read more

Pravin Gordhan

Replacing South Africa’s finance minister, or his deputy, would carry a heavy cost 

21 February 2017

Many see the decision by South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) to send the disgraced former CEO of the power utility Eskom to parliament as the precursor to another attack on the National Treasury and to remove finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Read more

"Design thinking" can prepare graduates for the real working world

20 February 2017

At first glance, it looks as though the group of young adults is building Lego. But these are actually students at the University of Cape Town’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking. Read more


Countering complications of starting ART in TB and HIV-infected patients

17 February 2017

Untreated HIV infection is associated with progressive weakening of the body’s immune system. This predisposes a person infected with HIV to other serious infections. Read more


Altitude training

Altitude training and anti-doping

16 February 2017

Associate Professor Andrew Bosch of the University of Cape Town’s Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) is involved in a study that will investigate whether training at high altitude causes specific genetic changes, ie creates a molecular “fingerprint”. Read more


Inequality in SA

Populism will not fix problems of economy

16 February 2017

Research findings show poor education that hinders young people is a central source of inequality in SA, write Murray Leibbrandt and Pippa Green.  Read more


Rugby match

Concussions from schoolboy rugby: why parents need coaching

15 February 2017

Concussions are one of the most commonly reported rugby-related injuries. Young rugby players have a higher risk of prolonged recovery following a concussion. Preventing concussions in schoolboy rugby is therefore very important. Read more


The days of water wasting are over

15 February 2017

Contrary to what we’ve all been thinking, Cape Town has had a “super wet” summer, according to UCT scientist Peter Johnston. And that is the problem, in a sense. Read more


How the birth of Earth made a planet fit for life

14 February 2017

In an extract from his book Human Origins, John Compton describes how dust and gas from an exploding supernova came together to form our sun and the planets, among them Earth, the one planet within the habitable zone of our solar system that we call home.  Read more


How c*change is a catalyst for transformation at UCT

14 February 2017

For change to occur, one requires a catalyst. Someone or something needs to create change that, in turn, will spark a chain of events. As one of the first centres of excellence established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in the country, c*change is that something... Read more


Jeremiah Mutungi’s lifelong passion to make mobile work for Africa

14 February 2017

“I remember, as a child, walking several kilometres out of our village in Kenya, up mountainous terrain with my father as we searched for a spot where the signal was strong enough to support a call..." Read more


How strong family ties play a role in sex trafficking in Nigeria

13 February 2017

Discussions about human trafficking between Africa and Europe are frequently blurred by generalisations about villainous traffickers and their naïve young victims who have been misled into prostitution. Read more


BRICS wants to set up an alternative rating agency. Why it may not work

10 February 2017

The idea of establishing an alternative credit rating agency led by the BRICS bloc of countries is gaining momentum. But there are questions as to whether it will prosper given the major challenges it’s bound to face. Read more


What South Africa can do about youth unemployment in the short run

10 February 2017

South Africa’s youth unemployment rates are now considered to be chronic. The latest figures show that about 48% of South Africans between 15 and 34 were unemployed in the third quarter of 2016. Read more


Award-winning South African punk documentary is back. Why it’s so special

9 February 2017

An award-winning documentary about the iconic South African Afrikaans punk-rock band Fokofpolisiekar (Afrikaans for “fuck off police car”) made nearly 10 years ago is back on screen; this time on the small screen. Read more


mental health

Politicians must account for the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients in South Africa

06 February 2017

The local government minister for health in Gauteng, South Africa’s wealthiest province, resigned on Tuesday 31 January just before the release of a report into the deaths of 94 mental health patients. Read more


Health Ombudsman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba

Mental health care 'chronically underfunded' in SA

06 February 2017

Mental health care in South Africa has been chronically underfunded for many years, which is reflected in inadequate care in primary clinics, community residential care facilities and acute mental health units in district and national hospitals, says Professor Crick Lund. Read more


How a gene test can solve side effects linked to ARV drugs in Africa

29 January 2017

Antiretrovirals have significantly improved the lives of people living with HIV. Today there are more than 17 million people on treatment and the number of deaths from the disease has been drastically reduced. Read more


bacon and egg meal

Why cutting meat from your diet could be a revolutionary act: A response

2 February 2017

In their article ‘Why cutting meat from your diet could be a revolutionary act”, Carla Tsampiras and Neil Overy argue against eating meat on the grounds that animal agriculture is “having a devastating effect on the environment and human health”.  Read more


Towards a waste-free world: Urban mining, SA style

1 February 2017

Urban mining is fast becoming a more prolific research area, with scientists, economists and other scholars the world over channelling their energies towards a waste-free world. New research from the University of Cape Town suggests that not one or two, but all waste streams can be monetised in South Africa – and that this could have a profound impact not just on the environment, but on the economy as a whole. Read more


The role of African universities in achieving the SDGs

31 January 2017

In September 2015, United Nations member states adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to provide a pathway to sustainability. While the goals are wide-ranging, said Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, a keynote speaker at the recently concluded World Sustainability Forum, "it is striking how closely they speak to critical problems for the African continent". Read more


Waiting for the rain

24 January 2017

Cape Town residents are increasingly familiar with the constraints of water use – the region is in the grip of its third major drought since 2001. Read more


Robert Mugabe

What southern Africa can learn from west Africa about dealing with despots

24 January 2017

Has the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) just taught the Southern African Development Community (SADC) a lesson? The West African states effectively took a dictator to task after he refused to comply with the democratic will of the people to vacate office. Read more


How plugging into well-connected colleagues can help research fly

16 January 2017

Informal intellectual collaboration is crucial for good social science research. This includes interactions with colleagues to improve a paper before it is sent to a journal. Read more


Social factors drive up suicide rates in pregrnant women

How social factors drive up suicide rates in pregnant women

20 January 2017

Pregnant women in South Africa who live in poor communities are more likely to consider or attempt suicide than the general population. That’s a key finding from a recent study we undertook at Hanover Park. Read more


South African currency

Why junk status still hangs over South Africa

19 January 2017

Although South Africa avoided a downgrade to non-investment grade, or junk status, in 2016, the country is not yet out of the woods and may be downgraded this year. The reasons for this are ongoing political risk as factional battles in the governing African National Congress intensify, policy inconsistencies and low economic growth. Read more


Science must grow young advocates - Tolu Oni

Science must grow young advocates if it wants to connect with the real world

18 January 2016

Science needs more “academic hybrids”: scientists who buck the stereotype of working in silos. This way of thinking must be broken if the narrative around the reality of science’s role in improving society for future generations is to change. Read more


woman breastfeeding

Uncovering the deeper secrets of every mother’s breast milk

17 January 2016

Investigating the make up and composition of breast milk has been a critical part of understanding how newborn babies build their immune systems and ward off disease later in life. Read more


Use waste to stimulate economic growth

Use waste to stimulate SA's economic growth

11 January 2016

With the ever present threat of a downgrade to junk status, high unemployment figures and a shrinking GDP, the SA economy is facing a tough time. The depreciating rand and natural resources mean we can no longer rely on legacy industries such as mining and manufacturing to drive much needed industrial development and job creation. So where to from here?. Read more


Africa is poised for sustainable growth and development

Africa is poised for sustainable growth and development. But there are risks

09 January 2017

As we know, growth accelerations are pretty commonplace among developing countries. But most growth accelerations, and especially those in Africa, were short-lived and do not amount to a take-off. Have these growth accelerations completely fizzled out? Read more


Lesser-known stories of how ordinary South Africans felt the effect of an active public protector

30 December 2016

Thuli Madonsela’s tenure at the helm of the office of the public protector of South Africa has significantly raised the profile of the institution. This was mainly due to several high profile and controversial cases being referred to the office for investigation and adjudication. Read more


Development in Africa is on a firm footing – here’s how to take it to the next level

21 December 2016

The end of 2016 provides an opportunity to take stock of Africa’s recent economic performance and future prospects. It’s been a tumultuous year for some African countries largely due to a commodities crisis and a global economic slowdown. Read more


The future of TV – where documentary meets fiction meets mocumentary

20 December 2016

The National Geographic Channel is known for its nature documentaries, not for fictional television programming. But the recently launched TV mini-series “Mars” seems to mark a distinct move away from their regular programming. This series combines “real” documentary with fiction and mocumentary in a formula that is not only different from NatGeo’s regular offering, but also from other series currently available on conventional broadcast and streaming platforms. Read more


Why cutting meat from your diet could be a revolutionary act

Why cutting meat from your diet could be a revolutionary act

12 December 2016

Controversy erupted at the University of Cape Town in 2016 when some academics suggested that only meat-free meals should be served on parts of the campus. The debates and opposition were couched in arguments around ethics and choice. They did not make connections between multiple forms of oppression, power and privilege. Read more


rheumatic heart disease

Rheumatic heart disease: unknown plague of the poor

6 December 2016

It starts with a sore throat, commonly known as ‘strep throat’. It usually strikes in childhood, but can end with a stroke, heart failure and death before the patient even reaches their thirties. Read more


Iconic conifers under threat 

5 December 2016

A team of UCT ecologists has used repeat photography to study the decline of the critically endangered Clanwilliam cedar. Their findings, published last month, suggest that climate change and more frequent fires are threatening the survival of this iconic conifer. Read more


Rings and things… other ways to prevent HIV are on the cards 

30 November 2016

The rate of HIV infection remains greater than the number of people initiating treatment. This imbalance will stop the eradication of HIV/AIDS. It begs for increased investment into primary prevention. Read more


HIV vaccine test hopes for breakthrough in combat against the virus

HIV vaccine test hopes for breakthrough in combat against the virus

28 November 2016

The first new trial of a potential vaccine against HIV in seven years has begun in South Africa, raising hopes that it will help bring about the end of the epidemic. Read more


Vietnam cancels nuclear reactor deal: a lesson for South Africa

28 November 2016

Vietnam recently announced that it would be cancelling its contract to buy two nuclear reactors from Rosatom, the Russian nuclear vendor. Read more


Human-wildlife conflict

Wildlife solutions for a crowded planet

25 November 2016

A centuries-long war has been ongoing in the Western Cape province of South Africa – a war that pre-dates apartheid, the South African war and the militaristic rise of the Zulu Kingdom. It is a battle between humans and baboons over territory and food; just one example of conflict between people and wildlife on our crowded planet. Read more


Africa's health won't improve without reliable data and collaboration

Africa's health won't improve without reliable data and collaboration

24 November 2016

Africa battles with a dearth of data and seems unable to scale up health innovations. If these can be systematically addressed, the continent can take great strides towards better health for all. Read more


rooibos

How justice can be brought to South Africa’s rooibos industry

24 November 2016

There are political, environmental and social controversies associated with that most delectable of South African beverages: rooibos tea. Read more


New lens on how Middle Stone Age stone tools were used

New lens on how Middle Stone Age stone tools were used

23 November 2016

One of the most commonly surviving artefacts of Middle Stone Age sites are the triangular stone points our early ancestors used to go about their daily business of survival. But what exactly were they used for? Read more


Peace parks and people's rights

Peace parks and people’s rights

23 November 2016

Southern Africa’s peace parks have given animals a regional passport to move freely across international borders. However, the people who used to call those regions home are not enjoying the same liberties. Instead, they have been disconnected from their environment and heritage, and their clans remain separated by political borders. Read more


supercluster

A giant leap for astronomy, another giant leap for South Africa

21 November 2016

An international team of astronomers, led by UCT's Professor Renée Kraan-Korteweg, has announced the discovery of another massive supercluster of galaxies – one that covers more sky than the biggest supercluster previously known to man, and has a gravitational pull that could have a massive cosmological impact on the galaxies around it – including ours. Read more


Desmond Tutu

Why a narrow view of restorative justice blunts its impact

17 November 2016

If violent contexts aren't taken into account, restorative justice does not serve broader society. Instead it serves as a peacemaking process within a paradigm stacked against the poor and vulnerable. Read more


Kelp

Kelp: the canary in the coal mine

14 November 2016

A new study suggests that losing the world’s kelp forests may indicate that our environment has finally "tipped over the edge of the precipice". Read more


Rise of the hired hitman

Rise of the hired hitman: assassinations and democracy in SA

11 November 2016

Researchers have studied targeted killings in South Africa, and have revealed how consistent a feature ‘hits’ are in resolving conflict in many sectors of society – with, they argue, very negative consequences for democracy. Read more


TB culture

New research brings hope of stemming 'TB tsunami'

11 November 2016

Scientists at the University of Cape Town are engaged in new research in the battle against tuberculosis (TB), which has overtaken HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death from infectious disease. Read more


Karoo

Considering the technical readiness of South Africa to support the shale gas industry

11 November 2016

Shale gas holds considerable advantages. But there are still a number of uncertainties around whether South Africa is ready for such a bold step. Read more


Sustainable tourism

Southern African tourism: the ‘multiplier’ effect 

9 November 2016

For every night that a tourist stays over at a high-end game lodge in a remote part of southern Africa, 14 people in the surrounding community benefit indirectly from the income generated by the services offered by the industry. Read more


Are our media holding our institutions accountable?

Are our media holding our institutions accountable?

9 November 2016

The role that the media can play in deepening democracy and the development of society is often held up as an important justification for allowing the media freedom to criticise politicians and officials. There is often disagreement, though, about how well this ideal is translated into practice. Read more


Karoo

Fracking in the Karoo: pollution versus pay-off

9 November 2016

South Africa has the eighth-largest technically recoverable shale gas reserve in the world, located in three geological formations in the Karoo; surely, that should be cause for celebration? Read more


Why patronage and state capture spell trouble for South Africa

8 November 2016

South Africa has caught the world’s attention with an epic battle between two powerful factions within the governing African National Congress (ANC) which has spilt into government. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has aptly described this as a government that wages “war with itself”. Read more


Vaccine

Explainer: the how, what and why of the latest HIV vaccine trial 

4 November 2016

For the next five years, South Africa will be leading one of the latest large-scale trials for a vaccine for HIV. Linda-Gail Bekker explains the significance of the trial for the global fight against HIV. Read more


Pravin Gordhan and Shaun Abrahams

South Africans learn that the law can be a double-edged sword

2 November 2016

Law professor Penelope Andrews discusses the significance of the National Prosecuting Authority's withdrawal of charges against finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Read more


Drought

How a climate crisis can lead farmers to joint planning and response

27 October 2016

Drought is a problem in South Africa and it affects farmers. As a result, farmers and government are working together to develop strategies. Read more


Hunting for leaks in a mismanaged water system

25 October 2016

Africa is home to the highest number of water-scarce countries in the world. In this water crisis, the continent cannot afford to lose one drop, and yet it does – continuously – through leaks in pipes and general mismanagement.  Read more


Seeds under siege

Seeds under siege: it’s time to support traditional systems

25 October 2016

Since 2000, the growth of the commercial seed market has almost tripled. More than 63% of the world’s commercial seed is now owned by six corporations. Read more


Student protests

Why have university protests been so violent?

21 October 2016

Factors that fuel male aggression are key to understanding the violent university protests, writes Guy Lamb, Director of the Safety and Violence Initiative at UCT. Read more


David Jacobs

Jacobs bats away evolutionary fallacies

20 October 2016

Associate Professor David Jacobs reveals evolution’s mysteries and untangles some common misconceptions about evolution through the sonar scopes of nature’s 'chimera' – bats. Read more


Pravin Gordhan

Charges against finance minister show misuse of South African law

18 October 2016

Closer examination of criminal charges brought against South Africa's finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, suggests that they are weak in law and serve a political agenda. Read more


Pravin Gordhan

Why South Africa faces a train smash if its finance minister is removed

12 October 2016

What lies behind the decision to criminally charge South Africa's finance minister? Pravin Gordhan's removal would be very bad news for the country, argues Alan Hirsch. Read more


Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, UCT Health Sciences #feesmustfall

Students in South Africa feel unheard. Here's one way to listen

11 October 2016

The new round of protests at South Africa’s public universities was triggered by the announcement that universities will be allowed to raise their fees in 2017. Amid discussions about high fees and free higher education, many may have forgotten that students’ demands aren’t just related to cost. Read more


Why heart disease is on the rise in South Africa 

29 September 2016

In South Africa, 210 people die from heart disease every day. A lack of awareness around cardiovascular disease means many people go undiagnosed and untreated until it is too late. Paediatric cardiologist and President of the South African Heart Association Dr Liesl Zühlke explained the challenges around cardiovascular diseases to The Conversation Africa. Read more


SA Police

Responding to student protests: should the law be a tool of justice or violence? 

3 October 2016

Clashes between student protesters and armed security (whether public or private) compel South Africans to consider the role of use of force in the context of protests. Read more


Global rankings

Underfunding, not protests, is driving SA universities down global rankings

27 September 2016

It's unlikely that student protests are directly affecting South African universities' rankings. Instead, decades of government underfunding in higher education may be at least partly to blame. Read more


Mystery tooth linked to Paul Gauguin

23 September 2016

When a University of Colorado – Boulder professor contacted Dr Petrus le Roux to analyse a tooth thought to have belonged to French artist Paul Gauguin, the UCT geochemist thought he was being jibed. But it’s not the geochemist’s first unusual assignment. Read more


University fees in South Africa: many questions, lots of anger, and fires to fight

19 September 2016

South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande has announced it is up to the country’s universities to “individually…determine the level of (fee) increase that their institutions require…”. But he cautioned that no university’s fees should be raised by more than 8% for 2017. This follows a blanket freeze on fees in 2016 that left a number of universities on the verge of financial collapse. The Conversation Africa asked Professor Suellen Shay to unpack Nzimande’s announcement. Read more


Herbivores triggered the grass revolution

14 September 2016

The origin and spread of savannahs is one of the great mysteries of the earth’s ecological histories, say botanists. A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that mammal herbivores played a key role in the spread of these grassy ecosystems. Read more


Will the ANC turn South Africa into a developmental welfare state?

13 September 2016

South Africa is grappling with the possibility of a sovereign downgrade by global credit rating agencies. This will bring unnecessary economic costs if it happens. Read more


Rethinking the nature of institutions

9 September 2016

The Graduate School of Business’s Dr Warren Nilsson has become the first scholar from an institution in the global south to win the prestigious Academy of Management Review’s Best Article Award for 2016 for his startling new research on positive institutional work. Read more


Virtual reality will change the world. Here’s what parents need to know

11 September 2016

VR is a technology that creates a virtual environment. It is presented to our senses so you feel like you’re actually there. Read more


Murder on the rise as South Africa fails to stem high crime rates

9 September 2016

South Africa struggles with very high levels of crime and violence. Take the crime statistic on murder rates. The country ranks in the top 10 worst countries that report crime statistics according to the most recent data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Read more


Transforming higher education: first comes knowledge, then curriculum

8 September 2016

If you want to learn about Africa, there’s no need to go to Algeria, Mali, Zambia or anywhere else on the continent. Instead, you’ll need to visit – at great cost – institutions in the global north like Johns Hopkins or the School of Oriental and African Studies. Read more


Five applications where plastic is not fantastic

6 September 2016

Effective solutions are needed to stem the flood of waste plastic. These include creating greater awareness among consumers and providing incentives to promote reuse or recycling. Read more


How schools use language as a way to exclude children

6 September 2016

Today, decisions about which language resources should count in schooling – as the language of instruction, a subject, or a legitimate language for learning – continue to be informed by the relationships between language and power. Schools and universities in post-colonial contexts still operate within the logic of coloniality. Read more


Licensing metered taxis does more harm than good – South Africa should stop it

4 September 2016

Using a metered taxi is a nuisance in most countries: just try to find a cab on a rainy afternoon in downtown Manhattan or London. New e-hailing services like Uber have vowed to revolutionise the transportation industry. But they have also left city officials scratching their heads about regulations, and traditional metered taxi drivers from Jakarta to Toronto and Nairobi to Casablanca fuming. Read more


South Africa’s finance minister is vindicating the law by ignoring police unit

29 August 2016

When an elite crime-fighting unit investigates a member of Cabinet, what does the rule of law require? In South Africa the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) have been circling finance minister Pravin Gordhan. Read more


Fingerprints

What to look for in South Africa’s troubling crime statistics

28 August 2016

Since the 19th century, a growing number of countries have attempted to systematically collect and analyse information on all the crimes known to their police. At least 139 have made some such data public at least once in the last decade, but there is major variation in quality and in the frequency and ease of public access. Read more


Is all ‘engaged scholarship’ socially just?

22 August 2016

Emeritus Associate Professor David Cooper knows of a nearby upper-middle-class neighbourhood which is mobilising. They’d like to put gated fencing around their community, ostensibly to keep criminals out. Read more


Women champion their right to land

22 August 2016

When it comes to conversations about land, we are all certain to unearth our political side. Nolundi Luwaya learned this from her father, who, despite professing that he was not a political man all of his life, always made clear the value of land and land rights. Read more


Jump or die. How a silver medallist leapt over the odds that marginalise drug users

22 August 2016

Since winning the silver at the Rio Olympics, everybody loves South African long-jumper Luvo Manyonga. Read more


Apathy among young people stands in the way of Africa’s demographic dividend

18 August 2016

Two in three Africans are younger than 35. Youth - people between the ages of 15 and 35 - make up more than 35% of Africa’s total population. They have been identified as central to efforts to drive the vast continent’s economic development. Read more


Unpaid women of Marikana prop up the mines

16 August 2016

When police were firing at mineworkers at Wonderkop in Marikana on 16 August 2012, UCT lecturer Asanda Benya was underground, working as a winch operator at a mine a few kilometres away. Read more


Lewis leads the way among raft of awards

15 August 2016

Professor Alison Lewis was one of four UCT winners at the annual Department of Science and Technology’s Women in Science Awards (WISA) held in Johannesburg on 11 August. Read more


Diamonds: a scientist’s best friend

15 August 2016

They’re almost as old as the planet itself – and they have secrets to share. Read more


Africa must do more to harness young people’s entrepreneurial drive

12 August 2016

As the world marks International Youth Day on August 12, it’s important to consider the role that African youth can play in driving sustainable development. Read more


Jacob Zuma

Decade-old rape charge sticks to President Zuma like the original sin

11 August 2016

In the wake of the protest by four women at the announcement of South Africa’s municipal elections results on August 6, the details of the rape trial of President Jacob Zuma in 2006 once again come to the fore. Read more


Autism expert's brainwave is a diagnostic breakthrough

05 August 2016

An expert in autism has made a breakthrough that could allow doctors to diagnose the condition from brainwaves. Read more


How SA's new ruling coalitions will work

08 August 2016

South Africa’s 2016 local election heralds a new era of local government in South Africa: that of coalition politics. After no political party secured an outright majority in several key urban municipalities, parties have had to scramble to form alliances, in many cases unlikely ones. But how will this play out in practice? Read more


Giant stellar void in the Milky Way

02 August 2016

A team of researchers from Japan, South Africa and Italy has found a huge stellar desert in the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy - a region where no stars have been born for millions of years. Read more


How humans and wild birds collaborate to get precious resources of honey and wax

22 July 2016

By following honeyguides, a species of bird, people in Africa are able to locate bees’ nests to harvest honey. Research now reveals that humans use special calls to solicit the help of honeyguides and that honeyguides actively recruit appropriate human partners. This relationship is a rare example of cooperation between humans and free-living animals. Read more


elections 2016

Sharp-tongued South African voters give ANC a stiff rebuke

05 August 2016

South Africa has entered a new era of competitive politics and coalition government. The August 3 municipal election represented a sea change in the country’s democratic journey. The party of liberation – the African National Congress (ANC) – has suffered a significant erosion of its core working-class support, at least in urban areas. Read more


Africa languages

How the Queen's English has had to defer to Africa's rich multilingualism

28 July 2016

For the first time in history a truly global language has emerged. English enables international communication par excellence, with a far wider reach than other possible candidates for this position – like Latin in the past, and French, Spanish and Mandarin in the present. Read more


Elections 2016

An open letter to university students: your vote matters

28 July 2016

It seems like the world is in a frenzy of voting right now, from the recent vote in Britain to exit the European Union to the US choosing its next president – who may be a former reality TV star. Read more


Physio intervention helps arthritis pain management

27 July 2016

Pain, it turns out, is not a terribly accurate measure of whether or not something is wrong with our body, says Associate Professor Romy Parker of UCT’s Division of Physiotherapy. The pain we feel often has more to do with everything else that is going on in our lives. Read more


Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D, identifies potent anti-malarial candidate

27 July 2016

The University of Cape Town (UCT)’s Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D, has identified a new potent anti-malarial development candidate with potential for both treatment and prevention of malaria. Read more


Aids conference

AIDS conference 2016: the gains, the gaps, the next global steps

22 July 2016

The focus of the 2016 International AIDS Conference has on access to necessary antiretrovirals, equity and making sure no-one is left behind. But there is a funding gap that needs to be addressed. Read more


Crime scene

Facts show South Africa has not become more violent since democracy

22 July 2016

The widely-held assumption that murder rates have been increasing in South Africa in the past two decades is incorrect – and it may divert attention from a new problem that needs attention. Read more


HIV/Aids

South Africa's remarkable journey out of the dark days of AIDS denialism

15 July 2016

HIV changed the nature of health in South Africa as the new democracy emerged. It slashed life expectancy and wiped out a generation of economically active adults in their prime across sub-Saharan Africa. Read more


Interet freedom

South Africa's vote against internet freedom tarnishes its global image

15 July 2016

South Africa has yet again sided with repressive regimes such as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia against progressive efforts by the United Nations (UN). This is counter to the spirit of the country’s enlightened constitution. Read more


Namib Desert

What Africa’s drought responses teach us about climate change hotspots

13 July 2016

Understanding how drought is impacting on livelihoods and local governments can help in the development of longer term climate adaptation responses. Read more


Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius sentence: you might not like it, but it is the law 

11 July 2016

Under South African law, murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years for first-time offenders. But courts may deviate from this if they find ‘substantial and compelling circumstances’ to do so. Read more


Oscar Pistorius

The Oscar Pistorius interview: are we being manipulated? If so, by whom?

07 July 2016

Convicted murderer and paralympian, Oscar Pistorius' first interview since the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 was broadcast in late June 2016. Called Oscar Pistorius: The Interview. Read more


Fossil fuels, global warming

Fossil fuel interests might derail efforts to stem extreme global warming

01 July 2016

The Paris Agreement, adopted by the United Nations in December 2015, aims to keep global warming to below 2 °C, but unless countries ramp up their climate-change-combating duties, global temperatures could rise by nearly double that by the end of this century. Read more


Rising stars

Rising stars choose to work in Africa

28 June 2016

Young, gifted researchers are choosing to return home from studies abroad, bringing with them a wealth of skills, ideas and energy to contribute to the generation of African solutions and capacity building within the continent. Read more


A minimum wage needs to balance risk and opportunity, says DPRU

A minimum wage needs to balance risk and opportunity, says DPRU 

27 June 2016

A minimum wage of R2 447 per month would need to be certain that it balances the opportunity of protecting workers against the risk of job losses. Read more


Lucy

Meet 3-million-year-old Lucy – she'll tell you a lot about modern African heritage

22 June 2016

The unearthing of important fossil remains often entails the burying of important information about who should share in the prestige it brings. Read more


Litheko Modisane

Renegade Reels is a rebel in its own right

14 June 2016

Dr Litheko Modisane has won 2016’s UCT Book Award for South Africa’s Renegade Reels: The Making and Public Lives of Black-Centred FilmsRead more


Jenni Case

Higher education must change students’ agency in the world

14 June 2016

Professor Jenni Case’s book Researching Student Learning in Higher Education: A social realist approach is the winner of UCT’s Meritorious Book Award for 2015. Read more


Rhodes falling

Decolonising the curriculum: it's time for a strategy

13 June 2016

There is a risk that because of fatigue, frustration and silencing the important moment created by South Africa's student movements will pass by with no proper, long-term structural change. Read more


Hector Pieterson memorial

Soweto uprising: four decades on South Africa still struggles with violent policing

13 June 2016

It is exactly forty years since the Soweto uprising in June 1976 where the South African police met the students with brutal force. How much has changed in terms of policing? Read more


Cookie-cutter shark

How the antics of cookie-cutter sharks sharpen our knowledge of migratory whales

13 June 2016

Examining the habits of cookie-cutter sharks – which sink their teeth into whales and other large marine animals, making crater-like wounds – has provided fascinating insights into the migration patterns of some of the world’s largest mammals. Read more


Sad child

Perfect Storm of kids at risk: Why a third of SA’s children are sexually abused

7 June 2016

One in three young South Africans are sexually abused in some way, a new UCT study says – challenging assumptions of previous research and providing a worrying glimpse into the fractured system that is supposed to provide safety and protection. How did this happen? Read more


Barn owl

Google Images 'as good as fieldwork' for studying animal colour

7 June 2016

Studying photographs of animals posted online by the general public has proven to be as valuable as traditional fieldwork in research on the locations of species that have evolved with different colours. Read more


Gang Town

Gang violence exposes truth about lost generation

7 June 2016

Don Pinnock’s latest book Gang Town is a searing, methodical study of the gang crisis in Cape Town, distilling 36 years of research, and forays into the ghettoes and shacklands of places such as Mitchells Plain, Lavender Hill and Khayelitsha, in a bid to make sense of one of the world's most dangerous places. Read more


Cancer

Cancer care meets big data: SA’s latest treatment breakthrough

7 June 2016

Two UCT chemists have made a breakthrough in cancer research that paves the way for early diagnosis and specialised treatment based on each cancer’s unique genetic expression pattern. Read more


Dikgang Moseneke

South Africa marks the end of a remarkable judicial career

2 June 2016

The retirement of Dikgang Moseneke, one of South Africa's eminent judges and the Constitutional Court's deputy chief justice, is a moment to reflect on the court's place in society and his legacy. Read more


BRICS

BRICS needs to mature before it can challenge current world order

1 June 2016

The BRICS bank is positioning itself to play a significant role in those areas in which the international financial institutions are seen to have failed. Read more


Smoker on a bench

Why South Africa needs to up the ante against smoking again

31 May 2016

Countries that have successfully decreased illicit trade have typically used a combination of political will and technology. South Africa should join the pack. Read more


Hlumani Ndlovu and Mohlopheni Marakalala

Inflammatory proteins offer insights into how TB spreads in the lungs

31 May 2016

Two scientists at UCT have found proteins in the body that promote lung inflammation which helps the bacteria that causes TB to spread throughout the lung. Read more


Collage of NSTF Awards finalists

10 UCT researchers selected as finalists for the 2015/2016 NSTF Awards

20 May 2016

Ten UCT researchers have been chosen as finalists for a potential total of 14 awards at the 18th National Science and Technology Forum Awards, which will be announced on 30 June 2016. Read more


Julius Malema and the EFF

Why Julius Malema’s EFF doesn’t offer South Africans a way out of poverty 

19 May 2016

Understandable anger about the excessive inequality in South Africa lies at the heart of the rise of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters. The problem is how the party wants to address these issues. Read more


Black Sparrowhawk

How rapid urbanisation is changing the profile of wildlife in cities

17 May 2016

The unprecedented rate of urbanisation in Africa poses a major threat to biodiversity. It presents one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time. Understanding exactly how urbanisation affects wildlife is crucial to help animals to survive in our vicinity. Read more


Bongani Mayosi

Fast-tracking professors is key to transformation

13 May 2016

Growing and fast-tracking a new cohort of black and women professors is key to transforming the Faculty of Health Sciences. And with the right conditions it can be done, says dean-designate Professor Bongani Mayosi, whose own journey is a case in point. Read more


Tightrope walker

Universities and the financial sector must work together to plug skills gaps

8 May 2016

Financial institutions in Africa are worried that universities aren't producing graduates with relevant skills for the industry. Read more


SKA

The SKA will help us answer questions we have not even asked yet

5 May 2016

How did the universe evolve? What is the nature of reality? Are we alone? These are some of the questions the world's top astronomers are hoping to answer with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s biggest telescope that is being built in the Northern Cape. Read more


What’s on the to-do list for Africa’s statistical ecologists

4 May 2016

Statistical ecology is a new scientific discipline that has grown rapidly in response to changes in the global environment. The Conversation Africa’s energy and environment editor Ozayr Patel asked Sanet Hugo, from the Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation, how this has affected African scientists. Read more


Internationalisation at UCT

20-year milestone for international office

3 May 2016

UCT's International Academic Programmes Office opened its doors 20 years ago, just two years after the country's first democratic elections. It was the start of a renewed push across the university towards international partnerships and outreach into Africa and beyond. Read more


Location of Te 11 in the constellation Orion (background image by Rogelio Bernal Andreo).

Astronomers pinpoint echoes of ancient exploding star on our stellar doorstep 

28 April 2016

A team of astronomers from UCT and the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) has identified a rare star that exploded around 1 500 years ago. At the time, the star would have outshone all the stars of the Orion constellation, reaching a similar brightness to Jupiter in the night sky. Read more


Paramedics Shukri Petersen (far left) and Brian Allchin (far right) prepare to transfer a ‘baby’ as part of a simulation exercise.

Study reveals the obstacles mothers face in getting help for their critically ill children

26 April 2016

A year-long research study by UCT and the University of Oxford has highlighted the difficulties facing critically ill or injured children when accessing quality emergency care in South Africa. Read more


Court of law / defamation

Where the South African defamation law stands on 'naming and shaming'

22 April 2016

Naming and shaming is a common tactic among activists, lobby groups and the media. Corporations are blasted as polluters. Politicians are exposed as expense cheats. Paedophiles and sex offenders are outed on social media. Read more


Women work in a field in Kenya.

Leadership is the key to sustainability in Africa

20 April 2016

If sustainable development is to take root in Africa, we need to give the leadership the tools to make it happen. This is the view of Associate Professor Richard Calland who recently co-convened an inaugural African Sustainability Leadership Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. Read more


Freedom Day celebrations

South Africans still committed to national unity despite growing dissatisfaction 

20 April 2016

As South Africa celebrates 22 years since the end of apartheid this month, a new survey suggests the country still has a long way to go in fulfilling the promises of freedom. Read more


Potatoes

Why urban agriculture isn’t a panacea for Africa’s food crisis

15 April 2016

It's important to question whether the promotion of urban agriculture can actually help people, or whether other solutions should be explored. Read more


Lessons from semi-arid regions on how to adapt to climate change

12 April 2016

Rising temperatures and more extreme, unpredictable climate events are making sustainable livelihoods tough for many people living in semi-arid regions of the world. To adapt, local communities, and especially farmers, use different strategies and responses. Read more


The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope is an array of radio telescopes at metre wavelengths.

Black Holes 'NSinc: The SA discovery that’s got astronomers in a spin

12 April 2016

Deep radio imaging by researchers at UCT and UWC has revealed that supermassive black holes in a certain region of space are all spinning in the same direction - a discovery that could change the way we understand the evolution of the universe, writes the Daily Maverick's Marelise van der Merwe. Read more


Why emergency care in Africa needs to become a specialised course

11 April 2016

Few African emergency centres are able to provide comprehensive emergency care because they are staffed by general practitioners. Read more


Justice is still not being done in the exploitation of indigenous products

5 April 2016

There has been a sea change in the biodiversity business. International and national laws now oblige companies and researchers to “do the right thing”. Indigenous people and local communities must be included as beneficiaries in ventures exploiting their knowledge or resources. Read more


President Jacob Zuma

Dramatic night in South Africa leaves president hanging on by a thread

2 April 2016

For the time being at least, South African President Jacob Zuma is not ready to relinquish power. But perhaps sooner rather than later he may have to face the inevitable. Read more


Constitutional Court

Zuma court ruling: South Africans witness a massive day for democracy

1 April 2016

The accountability of public governance in South Africa has come a long way since 1994. When the transitional constitution was hammered out in negotiations in 1993 the primary consideration was to establish an unshakeable commitment to government under law in terms of a binding constitution. Read more


Namaqualand community pick-up needed – Marianna's story

1 April 2016

For most of her 52 years, Marianna Lot has lived in Paulshoek, a town barely 1 000-strong on the edge of Namaqualand. It’s one of 10 villages in the broader Leliefontein communal area that are reliant on goats and sheep and the thin grazing of the Succulent Karoo. Read more


Why democracy should be taught in South African schools

Why democracy should be taught in South African schools

30 March 2016

Research has revealed that South African learners born after the end of apartheid, the so-called ‘born-free’ generation, are less supportive of democracy than their parents or older generations in comparable studies. Read more


Double earthquake trouble

Double earthquake trouble

30 March 2016

A group of international researchers, including UCT seismologist Dr Alastair Sloan, have shown that ruptures from earthquakes on thrust faults can jump between fault segments 50 km apart – 10 times farther than previously thought – increasing the likelihood of ‘double earthquakes’ in many regions around the world. Read more


Why southern Africa’s peace parks are sliding into war parks

Why southern Africa’s peace parks are sliding into war parks

30 March 2016

Many books have been written on peace and war. But proposals to promote peace among nations through nature conservation in the war-torn borderlands of India and Pakistan, North and South Korea and other regions have only recently become prominent. These proposals also gained momentum in post-apartheid southern Africa. It took place in the form of cross-border conservation areas popularly known as peace parks. Read more


How sexting is creating a safe space for millennials

How sexting is creating a safe space for millennials

30 March 2016

Millennials have become cyborgs. They exist far beyond biology and through a variety of technological devices which don’t function as external entities but as a platform and backdrop to their daily lives. Read more


SA labour force

Why South Africa isn’t cashing in on its demographic dividend

30 March 2016

South Africa has very high unemployment levels. Part of the reason for this is that there has been a disconnect between the growth in employment and the growth in the labour force, that is people who are working or looking for jobs. Read more


Bat wing development

Scientists at UCT and UCSF uncover genomic blueprint of bat wing development

29 March 2016

A team of scientists from the University of Cape Town and University of California, San Francisco has for the first time identified both genes and gene regulatory elements that are essential in wing development in the Natal long-fingered bat (Miniopterus natalensis). Read more


Why taking vitamin D pills could help the fight against TB and HIV

23 March 2016

Clinical trials have shown that adding vitamin D supplements to the antibiotic treatment regimes for TB patients improves their chances of recovering from the disease. The supplement reduces inflammation in the body much faster than normal drug treatment does. Inflammation in the lungs is the greatest cause of death in TB patients if left untreated. Read more


The fight against TB shifts to fixing the immune system, not only bacteria

The fight against TB shifts to fixing the immune system, not only bacteria 

23 March 2016

Tuberculosis (TB) has managed to remain a major global health problem, despite 100 years of research and more than 50 years of treatment being available. It still claims up to 1.5 million lives each year. Read more


President Jacob Zuma at World Economic Forum

High-stakes drama as South African president and finance minister square off

17 March 2016

A gripping soap opera is unfolding in South Africa. The two protagonists are Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the President Jacob Zuma. The jury's out on when the curtain will fall. Read more


New practices reinvent traditions in bow music

14 March 2016

It is largely a story of cultural demise and death. Yet the current tale of musical bow instruments is only partly a sad one thanks to a faraway martial art form, and the musical quests of young musicians. Read more


Is it piracy? How students access academic resources

16 March 2016

Academic textbooks are expensive and the cost of textbooks globally has continued to rise alarmingly even as other educational resources have become relatively cheaper. For students, open educational resources should make more sense – certainly financially. Read more


Why South Africa is finding it difficult to wean itself off coal

15 March 2016

South Africa has made domestic and international commitments to climate change mitigation. But the country continues to depend on coal-fired power plants, which provide 92% of its electricity. A key challenge for the country in dealing with electricity shortages is that the bulk of power comes from coal, which is harmful for the environment and local communities. Read more


Constitutional Court of South Africa

How Commonwealth countries have forged a new way to appoint judges

11 March 2016

The second half of the 20th century witnessed a substantial shift in patterns of national governance. This happened among developed nations as well as those which achieved independence as imperial powers withdrew from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. Read more


Khomani San

Rare ‡Khomani San archive tells a story of fragility

7 March 2016

A small but rich digital archive on the ‡Khomani San of the southern Kalahari, which includes irreplaceable audio material of the almost-lost N|uu language, has been launched by UCT Libraries Special Collections. It’s the most extensive documentation of ‡Khomani San heritage ever undertaken, overcoming even the challenge of years of fragmentation and invisibility. Read more

 

Mandla Mandela

What happens when customary marriage goes wrong?

2 March 2016

What is considered marital property in customary marriages and how can it be shared on divorce? Elena Moore and Chuma Himonga report on the results of research on this topic conducted in association with the National Movement of Rural Women. Read more

 

UCT Science Open Day

Why it's crucial that young scientists are taught the value of being wrong

1 March 2016

Albert Einstein is the most famous scientist of all time. From Calgary to Cape Town the image of the wild-haired, contemplative lone genius holed up in a messy office, changing the universe, has evolved into the archetype of how society sees scientists. More than that, it has shaped the social perception of the whole scientific endeavour. Read more

 

Taking vitamin B to ward off dementia? Try adding Omega-3

29 February 2016

While research has already established that B-vitamin supplements can help slow mental decline in older people with memory problems, an international team has now found that having higher levels of Omega-3 acids in your body could boost the B-vitamins' effect. Read more

 

Voices of the poor are missing from South Africa's media

29 February 2016

Poor communities in South Africa feel that their voices are not heard and their issues not taken seriously by the media. Read more

 

Bodies of evidence: the forensic anthropologists furthering local knowledge

 

Bodies of evidence: the forensic anthropologists furthering local knowledge

29 February 2016

Every day, between 10 and 30 bodies arrive at the Salt River forensic pathology lab, one of the two main mortuaries in Cape Town. In many cases the identities of the corpses are unknown; and sadly, often they remain that way. One of the main reasons for this is that local forensic anthropologists do not have sufficient information on how local conditions affect the decomposition of bodies. Read more

 

Why so few reports of rape end in conviction in South Africa

29 February 2016

About 150 women report being raped to the police in South Africa daily. Fewer than 30 of the cases will be prosecuted, and no more than 10 will result in a conviction. This translates into an overall conviction rate of 4% - 8% of reported cases. In this edited extract from her new book, Rape Unresolved: Policing Sexual Offences in South Africa, Dee Smythe explores why this is the case. Read more

 

Can the global dominance of Western rhetoric be challenged?

29 February 2016

Western rhetoric has become globally dominant since the end of the Cold War, but the rise of the Islamic State might be an example of a voice of dissent that is challenging the “global drone of Western modes of argument,” argues Philippe-Joseph Salazar. Read more

 

Hidden galaxies: why does the discovery matter?

29 February 2016

The recent discovery by astronomers of a supercluster of galaxies hidden behind our Milky Way has sent waves of excitement around the world. To have found the first evidence of galaxies we thought were there but could not see because of the dust of the Milky Way is clearly headline-grabbing – but why does it matter? Its true significance, researchers argue, lies in the fact that the discovery could well test our current model of the universe to its limit. Read more

 

Eagles and agriculture: not a zero sum game

19 February 2016

Conservationists worry about the impact of agricultural development on Africa's biodiversity. But a recent study shows it isn't necessarily all doom and gloom. Some species, like eagles, can coexist successfully with agricultural development. Read more

 

How to reverse the decline of southern ground hornbills

3 February 2016

Southern ground hornbills are vulnerable across the world, but their conservation status in South Africa has been raised to endangered. In the past 100 years they have experienced a two-thirds reduction in their national area of occupancy as well as their population size due to their high site fidelity. Read more

 

How one region is planning ahead to help farmers cope with climate change

27 January 2016

In South Africa's Western Cape, agriculture plays an important role in the economy, job creation and socioeconomic development. But the sector is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. Read more

 

Using FM radio broadcasts to make air traffic control safer for Africa

14 January 2016

Africa has the highest accident rate per flying hour in the world, according to Professor Michael Inggs of the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Radar Remote Sensing Group. The lack of regional air traffic is crippling development in Africa. In the meantime, FM radio broadcasting is experiencing a meteoric rise across the continent, serving as the dominant mass medium in Africa. Read more

 

It's time for Africa to take a stand on skin lightening creams

14 January 2016

With up to 70% of women using skin lightening creams in parts of Africa, Cote d'Ivoire has led the charge in tackling skin lighteners and has banned the practise nationally. It is time for the rest of the continent to follow. Read more

 

'Babies for bling': how teenage pregnancy became emblematic of misspent youth in South Africa

14 January 2016

Is teen pregnancy in South Africa a symptom of conspicuous consumption, a sign of a morally dissolute generation, or a symbol of post-apartheid disillusionment? Based on three years of qualitative research in the Eastern and Western Cape, Dr Rebecca Hodes explores how attitudes towards teenage pregnancy vary between generations and genders, and how these attitudes provide a lens through which the paradox of women’s rights in South Africa is clearly visible. Read more

 

Leading with soul

11 January 2016

Profitability and service-oriented leadership, in the mould of Nelson Mandela or Gandhi, are not mutually exclusive, argues Prof Walter Baets. If we are to build a sustainable economy, he says, introspective and ethical leadership is the way to go. Read more

 

Missing in action

11 January 2016

SA institutional investors have publically bought into the principles of responsible investing practice, but they are not always asking the right questions when it comes to corporate governance – and Marikana is a case in point. Stephanie Giamporcaro asks why. Read more

 

What matric exam results reveal about South Africa's school system

6 January 2016

Some experts say that there's too much focus on these results and not enough elsewhere in the country's troubled education system. The Conversation Africa's education editor Natasha Joseph asked Alan Cliff, associate professor in higher education at the University of Cape Town, to put the results into context. Read more

 

Smartphone app empowers small-scale fishers

5 January 2016

Small-scale fishers have a low carbon footprint and play an important role in the food security, economy and culture of coastal villages, yet they remain a marginalised group in South Africa – lacking rights, a say in the management of their resources, and empowerment in the market chain. Dr Serge Raemaekers is working with fishers and government to develop a smartphone application that will empower the fishers, and possibly completely change the power dynamics in their sector. Read more

 

PhD highlights 'unintended consequences' of academic development

28 December 2015

Chemical engineer Dr Disa Mogashana graduated with a PhD in engineering education on 19 December 2015. Her research looked at how students negotiate their way through the academic development programme. Read more

 

NHI white paper: the good and the bad

18 December 2015

South Africa is one of the most unequal nations in the world, and despite having the highest GDP on the continent, it boasts poor health indicators and faces a high burden of disease, both communicable like HIV and non-communicable like diabetes; high rates of violence and injury and mortality. Read more

 

South Africa needs to spend more on healthcare to achieve universal cover

12 December 2015

For the second time the world is celebrating Universal Health Coverage Day. It comes as the South African government releases its universal health coverage policy to ensure equitable, accessible and affordable healthcare: the National Health Insurance White Paper. Read more

 

UCT's biotech lab takes drug discovery to new level

11 December 2015

The recent launch of H3D’s state-of-the-art, R22 million medicinal chemistry laboratory marks a new chapter in the university’s drug discovery programme. Read more

 

Tracking baboons in hail and shine

10 December 2015

Recent PhD graduate Dr Matthew Lewis lost five kilograms in the first six weeks of his master’s fieldwork, as one does when following a troop of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) through parts of a mountainous nature reserve where few venture. Read more

 

What the death of two men teaches us about our blind spot in the AIDS response

4 December 2015

Dean Peacock from UCT's School of Public Health writes in The Conversation about the lessons that can be learnt from two men's stories: highlighting the need for lifesaving HIV services. Read more

 

Understanding evolution might help us understand patriarchy and xenophobia

18 November 2015

Evolution has drawn more criticism from non-scientists than any other scientific theory, probably because it speaks to the origins of humanity. Read more

 

Understanding global change - from space

18 November 2015

In order to understand the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, researchers need to be able to measure it within a consistent geocentric global terrestrial reference frame. Read more


South Africa mulls body cameras to improve police accountability, safety

18 November 2015

The argument for the use of police body cameras is gaining momentum in South Africa, amid growing demand for greater police accountability, especially in the wake of the Marikana massacre. Read more

 

How neurosurgeons can now look at your brain through your eyes

18 November 2015

For many years scientists have been trying to find a way to measure the pressure in a patient's brain without having to drill a hole in the person's skull. Although this remains the most reliable way to measure pressure in the brain, it is invasive, expensive and comes with the risk of infection and bleeding. Read more


How climate change is causing pied crow numbers to soar

18 November 2015

Pied crows, or Corvus albus, are a natural part of the landscape of southern Africa. They are bold, common, and familiar. But over recent years, especially in South Africa, there is evidence that there are many more of these birds. Read more

 

Powering Africa's first hydrogen fuel-cell aircraft

18 November 2015

An award-winning aircraft - a large, fixed-wing, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) - has been designed to carry out long-range surveys and environmental research. It will be powered using miniaturised hydrogen fuel-cells that were designed, prototyped and trialled by HySA/Catalysis. Read more


WHO designation for UCT mental health centre

6 November 2015

UCT’s Alan Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health has been designated as a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre, the only one in South Africa and one of only two in Africa. Read more

 

Rescuing ruins with lasers

26 October 2015

One of UCT’s most barnstorming engineering-cum-historians has a big decision to make. Emeritus Professor Heinz Rüther uses laser scanners to digitally map priceless heritage sites that might soon crumble under the weight of time, or by more sinister forces. Now he must decide whether to quite literally risk life and limb to capture the essence of a crumbling monument in Afghanistan. But more on that later. Read more

 

How South Africa's higher education leaders missed a golden opportunity

22 October 2015

There were several elephants in the room at the South African Higher Education Summit which ran just as university students were beginning a nationwide series of protests against fees. Read more


Six new UCT fellows announced

16 October 2015

At a ceremony on Tuesday 13 October, UCT announced the names of six new fellows – permanent academic staff who are being recognised by UCT Council for distinguished academic work. Read more


Stem cells may hold the key to fixing a mutated gene that causes blindness

12 October 2015

Stem cell research is being used in South Africa to develop "disease in the dish" models that fix a gene mutation that results in night blindness, tunnel vision and eventually blindness. Read more


Debunking the myth that orality trumps literacy in Africa

12 October 2015

Africa is often said to be the oral continent. This is a persistent stereotype which maintains that people in rural sub-Saharan Africa mainly operate and interact using the spoken word. Read more


UCT's young 'upstarts' take flight

12 October 2015

A 20-week pop-up social innovation curriculum for aspiring social entrepreneurs at UCT culminated recently in an ‘idea auction’, which had investors putting up money and resources to help ideas get off the ground. Read more


How plants dupe dung beetles into burying their seeds

12 October 2015

A Cape Restio (Ceratocaryum argenteum) produces large, hard nuts that smell and look remarkably like dung, and are buried by dung beetles. These nuts provide no food for dung beetles or their larvae – a classic example of biological deception, and possibly one of the best examples of faecal mimicry for seed dispersal anywhere in the world. They were recently described by biologists from UCT and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), in a paper in Nature Plants. Read more


FactCheck: is South Africa the most unequal society in the world?

2 October 2015

It is often said that South Africa is the most unequal society in the world. Andile Makholwa, Business and Economy Editor at The Conversation put a few questions to Haroon Bhorat, Professor of Economics and Director of the Development Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. Read more

 

What the coat of arms reveals about us

23 September 2015

How do we define a 'South African culture' and heritage, and how might this be expressed in coats of arms and the fonts we type in? Read more

 

Planting the seeds for a more sustainable city

14 September 2015

City officials are sometimes so close to what they are doing, they can't see the wood for the trees, while academics word in a theoretical world where it is easy to lose sight of the practicalities on the ground. Read more

 

International conference spotlights wellbeing of world's children

10 September 2015

Over 200 researchers from more than 40 countries gathered at UCT for the 5th Conference of the International Society of Child Indicators. And while there was a geeky element to many of the presentations and discussions, which focused on how to measure these things – the underlying message was very serious indeed: The children of the world need our help. Read more

 

Multilingualism boost learning - and can create new science knowledge too

9 September 2015

Teaching science involves far more than someone simply standing with a few sheets of paper or a PowerPoint presentation while learners diligently take notes. Meaning is made in science through many forms of communication. Read more

 

What lies behind the hype and hope of stem cells

9 September 2015

The words "stem cell research and therapy" evoke a number of responses. In emotionally vulnerable patients, a sense of hope. In scientists, a great deal of excitement about future prospects. Read more

 

Somalia's ICT boom: the untold story

5 August 2015

Somalia is often held up as a textbook example of a 'failed state'. However, there are other stories to tell – not least about the country's thriving ICT sector and growing economy. Read more.

 

What it means to be a coloured man on the Cape Flats

30 July 2015

Men on the Cape Flats are often perceived as violent, addictive and courting risk. However, there is little research on their own views on what it means to be a man – particularly in a marginalised community where they have limited access to the symbols required of 'ideal' masculinities. Jacqueline Mthembu, who grew up among these men, set out to plug this gap. Read more.


Fact and fiction in Jurassic World

29 July 2015

'Nothing in Jurassic World is natural!' proclaims Henry Wu, the chief scientist in Colin Trevorrow's Jurassic World. And to complicate matters even further, he explains how even the DNA used to 'create' the animals is not authentic dinosaur DNA: gaps in the ancient genome have been filled with the DNA of different living animals. In a movie such as this, the public is often left wondering: what is fact, and what is fiction? Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, palaeontologist and head of biology at UCT, unravels some of this confusion. Read more


Using mobile phone networks to help beat hypertension

29 July 2015

Lifestyle-related diseases are on the rise in South Africa, including high blood pressure. An ingenious partnership involving Oxford University is putting the nation's extensive mobile phone network to work in beating the disease. Read more

 

Street-smart E. coli outfoxing modern medicine

8 June 2015

Before the advent of antibiotics in the 1930s, infections associated with E. coli claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives. Today, as we see a rise in the prevalence of drug-resistant E. coli infections, we risk a return to those dark days. Read more.

 

Why property ownership is not a path out of poverty

8 June 2015

Home ownership is associated with a sense of security in an unpredictable world. But recent research suggests that property ownership in and of itself provides no real poverty alleviation, either direct or indirect. This finding holds very real implications for policy in countries such as South Africa, where government is rolling out housing subsidies to build low-cost housing for the country's poorest citizens. Read more.


Fighting TB – South Africa's 'insidious epidemic'

8 June 2015

South Africa stands at the centre of a global TB epidemic that is devastating the health of millions and their communities. Researchers at UCT are working with colleagues at Oxford University, health workers, and community volunteers, in the hunt for an urgently-needed new vaccine. Read more


Unease reigns as culture and the constitution collide in South Africa

8 June 2015

King Zwelonke Sigcawu, the new king of amaXhosa, the second largest traditional grouping in South Africa, ascends to the throne at a time of heightened tension between culture and constitutional democracy in South Africa. Read more


A life with birds: special edition of journal honours ornithologist Phil Hockey

8 June 2015

Understanding avian adaptation to climate change, why the African oystercatcher is no longer a threatened species, and the discovery of a new breeding ground for blue petrels – all of this is covered in a special edition of Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology, published to commemorate the life and work of the late director of UCT's Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Professor Phillip Hockey. Read more


Tackling child abuse with affordable parenting programmes – and clowns

8 June 2015

In one of South Africa's poorest areas, an imaginative new parenting programme – a collaboration between Oxford University, UCT, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the South African Government – is tackling the physical and emotional abuse of children. Read more

 

Genetic diversity of the Chacma baboon key to understanding conservation in a time of climate change

3 June 2015

The Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus) is one of the best-known characters of the southern African landscape. What we have not known until recently, however, is that South Africa may be home to two distinct baboon species, separated around 1.5 million years ago during a time of immense environmental change. This has important implications for the conservation of biodiversity in the future. Read more.

 

Why we should care about dust – and the crucial role it plays in our climate

11 April 2015

Dust doesn't get a lot of attention until it makes us sneeze or collects in dark corners, or blows up in dramatic storms. However, that is beginning to change. While carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change, scientists have begun to realise that dust also plays a crucial but highly complex role in controlling global climate ‐ as well as a number of other global scale processes, including ocean productivity, and even soil and water quality. Read more.

 

Forget the myths about immigrants

10 April 2015

A new wave of attacks on foreign migrants working in the informal economy makes it clear that the problems that bubbled over recently are far from resolved. Read more.

 

African photographers: How we frame ourselves

10 April 2015

The Other Camera is an exhibition of 67 photographs curated over six years by veteran photographer Paul Weinberg in his current manifestation as archivist for the University of Cape Town libraries. Read more.

 

South Africa by numbers: what is happening to poverty, employment and disease?

9 April 2015

The National Income Dynamics Study is one of a kind, allowing over 100 interviewers to track nearly 30 000 citizens across the country and measure the changing dynamics of their lives. Each member of each household is interviewed and measured. From this we know that poverty is falling, but that nearly two-thirds of those classified as poor in the 2008 survey were still poor in 2012; that nearly half of employed youths don't have stable employment; and that chronic lifestyle disease is the second most pervasive illness after HIV/AIDS. Read more.


UCT Great Minds: Five exemplary academics in the neurosciences

6 April 2015

The Neurosciences Initiative, which aims to transform research and teaching in the neurosciences in Africa, has sparked great interest since being launched at UCT on 23 March 2015. To mark this dynamic initiative, we look at six former UCT students, five exemplary academics and five emerging talents who have gone on to pioneer critical research in neuroscience around the world. Here are some of the extraordinary staff who have made their mark in the field. Read more


UCT Great Minds: Five emerging talents in the neurosciences

6 April 2015

The Neurosciences Initiative, which aims to transform research and teaching in the neurosciences in Africa, has sparked great interest since its recent launch at UCT. To mark this dynamic initiative, we look at some of the leaders generated by UCT who are pioneering critical research in the neurosciences around the world. Here are five emerging talents doing extraordinary work. Read more


UCT Great Minds: Six extraordinary alumni in the neurosciences

5 April 2015

The Neurosciences Initiative, which aims to transform research and teaching in the neurosciences in Africa, has sparked great interest since its recent launch at UCT. To mark this dynamic initiative, we look at some of the leaders generated by UCT who are pioneering critical research in the neurosciences around the world. Here are six alumni doing extraordinary work. Read more