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Nelson Mandela University’s efforts in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), particularly the institution’s move to manufacture its own hand sanitiser in response to the national shortage, grabbed the attention of the Eastern Cape provincial government.

Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, visited the University’s chemical technology institute, InnoVenton, which has been manufacturing hand sanitiser in response to the national shortage in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak.

The InnoVenton team, as led by Dr Gary Dugmore, initially manufactured the hand sanitiser for use by the University as part of its effort to prevent the spread of the virus. With the decreased need for the sanitiser on campus, as only critical on-site services remain on University premises, about 350 litres of the cleanser were donated to provincial government to assist where it is needed most.

Accompanied by a delegation that included Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, and Bay Acting Mayor, Cllr Tshonono Buyeye, the Premier was in Nelson Mandela Bay to engage various stakeholders about their work towards curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Mandela University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa, said the institution had offered to avail its suite of skills and expertise to aid local and provincial government’s efforts in the fight against the unfolding pandemic.

“We are known as a University in the service of society. As public universities, we have three missions – research and innovation, learning and teaching and engagement. Therefore, we have an obligation as a public university to respond in this manner; to stand and raise our hand, as it is very important for a university like ours, particularly as we are named after Madiba,” said Prof Muthwa.

“We take engagement very seriously and feel that as being part of the community, we are part of this province and this province is ours. The wellbeing and wellness of the province, therefore, is very important to the life and sustainability of the University.”

The University, through an MoU that is being developed with the Office of the Premier, will be working with provincial stakeholders to explore the various ways in which it can contribute to the broader fight against COVID-19. Details of this MoU will be shared once finalised.

While visiting InnoVenton, Premier Mabuyane expressed his gratitude for the excess sanitiser, saying it was a “patriotic gesture” by the University.

“We visited the University to appreciate the patriotic gesture that the VC and University as a whole has extended to the provincial government and to see where the sanitiser is manufactured,” he said.

Premier Mabuyane touched on discussions held with the Prof Muthwa and other members of the University’s management on various areas that the institution can avail its intellectual and other resources to aid government’s efforts against the virus.

“There is a lot of good work being done and the University is indeed showing that kind of leadership,” he said.

“So we are swiftly moving and we are now integrating [the University] into the district Joint Operations Centre (JOC), where they will be working with the entire business community and other civil society organisations.”

The University has established a dedicated COVID-19 Provincial Response Coordinating Team to drive the institution’s contribution to the broader fight against the coronavirus.

VC Prof Sibongile Muthwa, Premier Oscar Mabuyane, Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science Prof Azwinndini Muronga with some of the hand sanitiser donated by the University.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777