Durban Metro Police Inspector, Ms Phindile Ntuli and legal practitioners Mr Mzwandile Khahula and Mr Dudula Maoela were among the six students in the 2021 cohort of the Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Investigation and Criminal Justice who achieved distinctions and celebrated their achievements during the May Graduation season.

Offered by the Centre for Extended Legal Studies in UKZN’s School of Law, the postgraduate diploma programme aims to provide working professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to specialise in the field of forensic investigative accounting – a specialised branch of forensic investigation which uses intelligence-gathering techniques, together with accounting, legal and communication skills, to investigate and provide evidence of crimes of a financial or commercial nature.

Ntuli, a mother of three teenagers who joined the force in 2010 with the goal of bringing about change and showcasing women’s capabilities in the field of law and order, said that the Diploma taught her the importance of paying attention to detail, working hard and collaborating to obtain the desired results. On the value of her new qualification, she said: ‘My goal is to become more involved in investigative inquiries, and with the academic experience I obtained from UKZN, I am confident that many doors will open for me. I am eager to put my passion for Black women’s empowerment and recognition to use in a male-dominated sector.’

UKZN LLB alumnus and Director at Poswa Incorporated, Khahula (32), who specialises in public law litigation, construction law, town planning disputes and forensic investigations believes that the newly-acquired qualification will give him and his practice a competitive edge. He said: ‘Business leaders, entrepreneurs and accounting officers should regard forensic investigation specialists as business partners who offer lifetime business solutions, because forensic investigations practise involves a process of identifying shortfalls in organisations’ procedures and processes and thereby assists them to prevent reoccurrences of misconducts.’

With 24 years’ experience as a legal practitioner in the public and private sectors, Maoela, believes in continuous professional development in order to remain abreast of changes in the sector. He said: ‘It is of paramount interest to continuously equip myself with a sound understanding of the sector I practice in. With commissions being the new order of the day in South Africa, one couldn’t help but take note of the booming industry in forensic investigations.’ He advised students to ‘Always move from a point of not knowing in order to know something. Approach every learning opportunity as your first because often it is what we think we know that stands in the way of what we ought to know.’

The trio juggled their demanding jobs with two years of study with ease as the programme was offered online in the evening.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan


Unregulated or Not? A Legal Analysis of South Africa’s Legislative Framework Relevant to Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Testing was the title of Ms Amy Gooden’s research dissertation which earned her a Master of Laws degree at UKZN in May.

Gooden explained that direct-to-consumer genetic testing refers to DNA-based genetic tests that can be ordered and undertaken by consumers themselves, often without the involvement of healthcare professionals. These tests provide information on one’s predisposition to various diseases and genetic conditions. Given the potential risks of such testing, primarily because the results are sent directly to consumers with little professional oversight, a study on this practice was long overdue, especially in the South African context where it has not been investigated.

‘I undertook an analysis of South Africa’s extant law relevant to the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry, and the issues associated therewith. I found that the country’s legal landscape in this regard is multi-layered and the industry is governed by a variety of sometimes overlapping statutes and regulations,’ said Gooden.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Laws summa cum laude from UKZN in 2019, Gooden chose Health Law as her area of specialisation. ‘Health Law is a field that is constantly changing, providing new challenges and opportunities. It is an innovative and promising area that has the potential to influence human health, medicine, health technologies, and research.  By working in this area, I am able to make a meaningful and positive impact through addressing global concerns and debates on various topics from a South African perspective, providing guidance to those working in the field, and offering potential solutions to legal policy development.’

Gooden is the former editor of UKZN’s Student Law Review and her goal is to join the academic sector where she can make a meaningful contribution to society through research. She is currently completing her doctoral studies in the field of Health Law and Ethics, focusing on modes of consent in genomic research, and working with the Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa (DSI-Africa) team on a project funded by the United States National Institutes of Health (US NIH).

Gooden’s dissertation was supervised by UKZN’s Health Law expert Professor Donrich Thaldar. ‘It has been an absolute privilege to work with Professor Thaldar. He is knowledgeable, supportive, and always goes the extra mile for his students. He constantly encouraged me to strive further and gave me opportunities beyond my research field, which broadened my knowledge and provided me with invaluable experience,’ she said.

As a budding researcher Gooden has taken advantage of research opportunities which will propel her career in academia including exploring the publication of her research in reputable legal journals with Thaldar.  She has presented it at local and international conferences. At the end of 2021, she was awarded a bursary to pursue her doctoral studies through a grant for the DSI-Africa project from the US NIH which focuses on the legal aspects of the use of data science for health innovation in Africa and aims to provide legal clarity and practical guidance on issues critical to scientists.

She is extremely happy about her achievement and thanked all those who supported her academic journey.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indarajan