Dear members of the UCT community,
As we consider the progress and long-term effects of COVID-19, I invite you to think further into the future, when we can begin to put our country back on track to growth. The process of rebuilding will require energy, creativity, commitment and resilient minds – all qualities that you can find in University of Cape Town (UCT) students, staff and alumni. When our students complete their programmes of study, they will be able to begin contributing to the restoration of not only this country and this continent, but the rest of the world. As stakeholders and supporters of UCT, we have a privilege and a responsibility to help build that future now.
When the UCT executive first heard news of the outbreak of the pandemic in South Africa, we set up the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund to assist in the fight against the virus and its impact on the UCT community. This fund has so far helped with needs such as providing transportation for students who needed to return home ahead of lockdown, disinfecting buildings as they were vacated, sourcing laptop computers and arranging their delivery to needy students, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to essential staff members who needed to remain on campus, and purchasing data bundles for students who are able to study online at home, to name a few. The laptops alone have incurred a total cost of about R16.4 million.
When the lockdown is lifted and students and staff start returning to campus, the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund will help to provide for other needs, such as PPEs to ensure their safety.
I know you share in my belief in higher education, because so many of you have taken the initiative to support UCT in responding to this pandemic. Your support now will help to ensure that this important institution continues to play an important role in the growth of South Africa.
My own commitment to UCT’s future is so strong that I have committed 20% of my salary to the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund for a three-month period. This is above and beyond my regular monthly donation of 10% of my salary to the Mamokgethi Phakeng Scholarship Fund (which was set up when I took office in July 2018) and my contributions towards my Adopt-A-Learner education trust and other initiatives since before I joined UCT. I mention this to underscore how important higher education is to the growth of South Africa and all countries where poverty and inequality dominate. It has been proven that the path out of such great need is through higher education. And now, more than ever, we need to ensure that South Africa stays on that path.
I am grateful to others who share this commitment to higher education, because rebuilding the country is so clearly a team effort. UCT’s Chancellor, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, led by example late last month by announcing the donation of R5 million by the Motsepe Foundation to help the university manage its multifaceted response to the pandemic. I also want to acknowledge the UCT alumni and staff members who have pledged to support the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund, along with the generous contributions of African Bank (R100 000), Community Chest (R100 000), the Harry Crossley Foundation (R185 000), the Stella and Paul Loewenstein Trust (R50 000), Mr Daniel Maseko (R100 000), Mr Trevor Norwitz (R100 000) and Willis Towers Watson (R600 000).
Even a small contribution can make a big difference. By giving to the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund, you will become part of a heroic support community that so far has succeeded in raising donations and pledges totalling R6,8 million, according to the donations barometer on the Development and Alumni Department (DAD) home page.
The COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund demonstrates solidarity and a strong commitment to supporting the most vulnerable members of the UCT community. I invite you to pledge your support today.
Any amount will go a long way towards helping our students complete their academic studies so that the UCT community can contribute to the restoration of our country. While the pandemic has placed new demands on everyone, the need to build towards the future is so strong that I have no hesitation in asking for your support.
COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund donations can be made to the following account:
Bank name: Standard Bank of South Africa Limited
Account name: UCT Donations Account
Branch name: Rondebosch
Branch code: 025009
Branch address: Belmont Road Rondebosch 7700 Cape Town South Africa
Account number: 071522387
Type of account: Current
Swift address: SBZAZAJJ
NB: Please use COVID-19, Initials and Surname as your reference when making your donation and please email proof of payment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March. The intention of these drastic measures is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected. Although South Africa has recently reached a peak of COVID-19 infections, the country is expecting a surge in positive cases in August.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and evolves, civil society groups are responding to growing and diversifying needs – just when access to resources is becoming more insecure, writes UCT’s Prof Ralph Hamann.03 Jul 2020 - 6 min read Republished
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.