Dear UJ Community,
This week’s news that Cabinet has further eased several restrictions on the COVID-19 Adjusted Alert Level 1 sparked a wave of euphoria across the country. The morning after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Tuesday, the hashtag #StadiumsOpening trended on social media platforms. This was as many South Africans expressed excitement that they would soon be able to watch sports, cultural and entertainment activities live.
Our students and staff members were visibly caught up in the thrill. The excitement is understandable because our lives have been shaped by this pandemic on a scale unprecedented for two years. As the President put it, the pandemic has changed how we work, travel, worship and socialise.
However, it was also encouraging to see some people expressing doubt at the announcement that wearing face masks is now only required when in public indoor spaces and not when outdoors. Amid the frenzy, there was a more sober assessment of the situation and an alertness to the fact that the invisible enemy that is the coronavirus still lurks at every corner of our public spaces. This cautious attitude augurs well for a university like ours because we have achieved many gains through our Mandatory Vaccination Policy.
In this regard, I am thrilled to announce that 98% of our permanent and fixed-term employees have uploaded their vaccination certificates and are now fully compliant. Not to be outdone, more than 77% of our undergraduate students have uploaded their certificates – and still counting... We cannot afford to be slack now. From what I have observed, our students are excited about being back on campuses, and they are opposed to anything that stand between them and their beloved campuses. We must keep this momentum going!
It is against this background that after careful consideration, the University has resolved that access to sporting, cultural and entertainment events will now be allowed subject to providing proof of vaccination. Such events must strictly accommodate up to 50 percent of their capacity, as per the government’s COVID-19 Disaster Management regulations. UJ also welcomes Cabinet’s announcement that international travellers entering South Africa now need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.
Now let us pause to celebrate excellence. Please join me in congratulating Dr Nolitha Vukuza, Senior Executive Director: University Relations, Student Affairs and UJ Sport, who has been appointed as a Trustee of the FirstRand Foundation Trust. This is an important appointment because the FirstRand Foundation has a strong legacy in corporate social investment, contributing to the development of a better South Africa through mainstreaming disability, capacity building, leveraging partnerships and knowledge sharing. Well done Dr Vukuza, on the latest of the many important roles that you play!
On a sombre note, news of the attack on world-renowned artist Dr Esther Mahlangu, our University Alumnus and Honorary Doctorate recipient, has left me deeply depressed. What type of a person would break into a home of an 87-year-old woman, assault her and rob her of her belongings at gunpoint? Being forced to endure the pain and trauma of having her hands tied up with a cable and being strangled until she became unconscious is an unimaginable horror. It makes one wonder why our country seems to descend to such barbarity and depravity that even the most defenceless and fragile citizens are not spared. We appeal to the law enforcement agencies to pull out all the stops to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested and face the full wrath of the law.
Today the UJ Chair of Council, Mr Mike Teke, will be reading a book, How to be a bad emperor: An ancient guide to truly terrible leaders, by Suetonius at 14:00. Please join us on https://zoom.us/j/95607191554.
Lastly, and on matters of COVID-19 again, I wish to remind our students that they have until 31 March 2022 to be fully vaccinated and uploaded their certificates or to have been approved for exemption from vaccination. You can upload your proof of vaccination on http://www.uj.ac.za/covid-19 under “COVID-19 Services”, select “UJ Covid-19 Mandatory Vaccine Disclosure Facility”.
Two of our University’s COVID-19 Vaccination sites will still be open from 09h00 until 15h00, as follows:
- Kingsway Campus: 25 and 30 March 2022, Sanlam Auditorium Foyer
- Soweto Campus: 25 March 2022, Kopanong Hall Foyer
- Doornfontein Campus: 28 March 2022, John Orr Building-A&B Atrium
NB: APB will be catered for at APK.
Both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are available for individuals to choose from. Students can use the inter-campus bus service to access these sites. Please note that the vaccination schedule has been revised subject to one’s own medical condition:
- Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine: the period between the first dose and the second dose has been shortened to 21 days.
- J&J COVID-19 Vaccine: the booster dose can be given 60 days after the initial dose
For more information on mandatory vaccination protocol, as well as assistance for vaccination and downloading of certificates, please visit our University website, www.uj.ac.za.
As usual, we appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.
Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa, thank you!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg
Times mentioned in this newsletter refer to the South African time-zone.