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On Monday, 18 October 2021, the University of Venda (UNIVEN) held a commemoration event to remember staff, students and relatives who passed on during Covid-19 Pandemic. This commemoration event was held at the University Auditorium and virtually on the University’s YouTube channel. 

UNIVEN could not hold memorial services in their honour due to the country’s national lockdown restrictions. Twenty-nine (29) lives were lost during this pandemic period and the number is comprised of eleven (11) staff members and eighteen (18) students and many more relatives of staff members and students. 

When delivering the message of condolence, UNIVEN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni expressed that the pandemic brought about the unprecedented disruptions, anxieties and calamities that have significantly impacted our lives and livelihoods across the board. He said it is for this reason that as the leadership of the University of Venda they felt it necessary that they should set aside this day to remember and honour the memories of our fellow University of Venda staff, students and relatives who lost their lives since the outbreak of this pandemic. 

“This day marks a very important dispensation in our history as the University of Venda family. The year 2020 was like no other in the history of the University of Venda. We too had to face this faceless, merciless enemy that continues to cause such distress in our neighborhoods and communities.” 

“Every life lost during this pandemic is a tragedy, and we have resolved that our departed colleagues are remembered now and in the future. We will never forget them. Let us continue to observe and adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.” Dr Nthambeleni concluded his message of condolence by encouraging everyone to continue wearing their face masks whenever they leave their homes and in public spaces and to always keep a distance from each other. “Government has rolled up a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine and I encourage each of you to consider taking these vaccines if you have not yet done so because vaccines have virtually eliminated devastating and cruel illnesses like Polio, Smallpox, Measles, and other serious respiratory tract infections like Pneumococcal disease and proven scientifically that they do save lives,” he concluded. 

In his welcome address the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin said, today we have gathered at the Auditorium for reasons that are not joyful in our hearts to remember our beloved ones. He said it is a good thing to remember those we love because it assists us to find peace within ourselves. “May you find God’s comfort and peaceful spirit.” 

UNIVEN SRC President, Smile Manganyi said death is like a thief, it takes and never gives back. “It always takes our beloved staff members and students. We can only hope that this virus could disappear so that we can go back to our normal way of living our lives.” Mr Manganyi added by touching on the issue of another pandemic called gender-based violence. He encouraged attendees to work together in the fight against all these kinds of pandemics. 

Representing bereaved families, Dr Thambatshira Tannie Rabothata said Covid-19 did not only rob families concerned but also the institution lost very valuable staff members and students. “Our confidence has been shaken not knowing who is next but the University, through this commemoration event, gives us hope that this too shall pass.” She concluded her talk by mentioning that, as bereaved families they will remain connected with the University even in the absence of their beloved ones. “Stay connected with this University because this University cares about its people. Dr Rabothata is the former school manager, Author of Tshivenda Learner Support Materials, former member of Tshivenda Language Board, Praise Poet, Screener of different genres of Tshivenda manuscripts, Translator and Cultural Advisor for Muvhango Soapie. 

The sermon was delivered by Dr Lufuluvhi Mudimeli from the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education. She said everyone is going through life threatening situations. “We are a nation that is in tears due to the loss of our loved ones. It is okay to cry, as long as at the end you will feel better.” She advised attendees to always invite God to comfort them during difficult times because the strength for everything lies with God. “For nothing shall separate us from the love of God, not even death can separate us from the love of God.” 

In his vote of thanks message, University Registrar, Adv Edward Lambani said that this pandemic is devastating to an extent of denying us a chance to celebrate the lives of our beloved staff and students hence the University management took this opportunity when the restrictions have been eased. He said people should continue to be always careful of this virus and practice safety measures because Covid-19 is still with us. 

Family members and relatives of staff and students who passed on during Covid-19 Pandemic observing a moment of silence in remembering their loved ones who passed on

Issued by: 

Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710 

Date: 20 October 2021 

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