Vice-Chancellor Message – 23 July 2021

vice chancellor message

Dear UJ Community,

Some events of the last few days has reminded us that South Africa, for all its imperfections and flaws, also remains a beautiful country full of possibilities. This week’s news that COVID-19 vaccine makers BioNTech and Pfizer have partnered with a South African-based company, Biovac to produce vaccines locally is a significant development that we can be proud of. As many as 100 million doses are expected to be distributed annually among the 55 African Union member states.

South Africa, like other developing countries, particularly on the continent, has fallen behind in the race to protect people from the coronavirus through vaccination. It is estimated that just 1.5 percent of people in Africa are fully vaccinated, compared with 43.7 percent in the European Union and nearly 50 percent in the United States, according to Our World in Data.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a plan to turn the country into an mRNA vaccine hub. He said Africans cannot continue to only rely on vaccines that are made outside of Africa because of the steep levels of vaccine inequity. This week’s agreement will see Biovac completing the last step in the manufacturing process of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, known as “fill and finish”. Although it will take some time before the project is rolled out, with the first African-finished vaccines not expected before 2022, this is a critical development in strengthening sustainable access to the vaccine.

Still on vaccine matters, we are pleased to announce that all our staff members who are 35 years and older can now receive the COVID-19 vaccination at a site dedicated for the vaccination of staff in Post-School Education and Training (PSET) institutions. Higher Health and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) have identified the University of Johannesburg (UJ) as the first PSET institution to receive the jab at Discovery Health’s Gallagher Convention vaccination site in Midrand.

This decision is part of the PSET phased roadmap aimed at vaccinating all staff and students before the end of the year. Details about the vaccination of students will be communicated soon. Vaccination for staff will start from Saturday, 24 July 2021, and will continue through the weekend until Tuesday, 27 July 2021. Discovery has committed to vaccinating staff from UJ in two groups of 500 per day (i.e., 1 000 persons will be vaccinated per day). The time schedule below applies for UJ staff:

  • Saturdays: 14H00 to 16H00
  • Sundays: 11H00 to 13H00
  • Monday to Friday: 15H00 to 17H00

We urge all our academic and administrative/support staff (full time, part-time, contract staff and postdoctoral fellows) who are yet to be vaccinated to take advantage of this opportunity. If you wish to make use of the opportunity, please follow these steps:

1. Register on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) as soon as possible. Staff should self-register using their South African ID number or non-RSA passport:

  • Self-Registration Web portal:
  • USSD: Dial *134*832*ID Number# (No ID? – Just Dial *134*832#)
  • WhatsApp Portal: Send word “REGISTER” to 060 012 3456 on WhatsApp
  • Toll-free hotline: Call 0800 029 99

Staff members who experience difficulties registering their names on the EVDS may visit the University’s computer laboratories on each campus, where they will be assisted by student assistants. Below are the open labs for EVDS registration and contact details:

  • APB: G10 – Lab C, G11 – Lab D, and G15 – Lab E. (Stefan Bezuidenhout x1190/8723)
  • APK: E – Ring 203/204/205. (Pitso Modibe x3472/8722 and Khathu Tshiambara x4067/8721)
  • DFC (John Orr Building): G228 – Cyber Centre, JOB – 2231/2232 (Ofhani Manyaga x6059/8724)
  • SWC (Robert Sobukwe Building): GNA 107/108/109. (Aphiwe Plaatjie x5778/073 805 8891)

Staff members may also click here for self-registration general instructions

2. Complete the short UJ form here to inform us that you will take up this opportunity. Indicate the required information, including whether you will make use of the UJ transport (and from which campus), as well as the relevant timeslot.

We will send confirmation details to the cell number provided on the UJ form. Crucially, the UJ form must be completed AFTER completing the South African government EVDS site data.

Staff members must present a valid identification document and staff card, at the vaccination site for physical verification of identity. Food packs will be provided to staff at the site. It is important to note the health criteria to register for vaccination, such as not having tested positive for COVID-19 since 23 June 2021.

Staff who received a vaccination appointment through the national vaccination programme before this process are advised to continue with that scheduled appointment. Colleagues eligible for the second vaccination may also participate in this vaccination process, as long as your due date for the second vaccinations falls within the UJ schedule.

Please also direct any queries you may have to the dedicated COVID-19 email address:

I remind you to please join me in the latest VC Reading Group session today for a discussion on my latest recommended book, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Amy Wallace and Edwin Catmull, at the usual time of 14:00. The book is a New York Times Bestseller and was named one of the best books of 2014 by the Huffington Post and Financial Times. Click here and join in the conversation: If you have missed any of our previous Reading sessions, you can view the conversations on the Library’s Official YouTube Channel here.

This week also marks the beginning of the much-awaited 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. I am confident that each member of Team SA will give it their all in the respective sporting codes at this global showpiece. To our athletes, you have done well to qualify, and I wish you all the best!

Finally, to our Muslim staff and students who celebrated Eid-ul-Adha this week, Eid Mubarak! As the week draws to an end, we wish you everything of the best as you explore safe and innovative ways to celebrate with your families.

As usual, I remind you to notify our campus clinics if you have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you know of a colleague or a student who has tested positive. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing ( at all times.

Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa!

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg

Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.

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