TASK Staff Newsletter – August 2019

Out in the Community - SU Tygerberg Career Fair 2019

Recently TASK was invited to host a stand at the Stellenbosch University Tygerberg Career Fair.

Here TASK team members Karen Cloete, Lauren Philips, and Tshepo Kabutu informed students about various career opportunities in research, as well as what TASK does and how we do it.

The stand was very well received and a big thanks to all staff teams that assisted to make it happen: HR, Lab, Academy and Marketing/PR.

Pictured here is the “teaser bucket” where students were dared to open it. If they did it would reveal a mirror inside, to which one of our team would ask the question: “Are you maybe the next generation conducting research?”


Community Advisory Board - 67 Minutes for Mandela Day

The Delft CAB (Community Advisory Board) team visited Masibambisane High for Mandela Day.

CAB members Bravo Thompson and Andile Metshi informed the school students about the signs and symptoms of TB.

Vela Mhlola, TASK’s Community Engagement Officer, is pictured here sitting with the students.


Dr Elana Van Brakel presented at a recent conference in Castelldefels, Barcelona

TASK was represented at the Tuberculosis Drug Discovery and Development Gordon Research Conference 2019 in Castelldefels, Barcelona. Dr Van Brakel presented the EBA results of the beta-lactam study that TASK is currently doing as part of the anTBiotic project. Prof Diacon presented a poster that showcased the work on the Rifometer that Dr Veronique De Jager and Dr SP Le Roux are performing.

TASK attended the ACTG Annual meeting 2019

A TASK staff team attended the ACTG Annual network meeting in Washington, USA.
The ACTG annual meeting took place in June in Arlington, and drew more than 850 attendees. Highlights included robust discussions about the ACTG research agenda among international investigators, a workshop introducing new investigators to the ACTG and plenary sessions providing a sneak preview of new ACTG data that will be presented at the 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science, taking place in Mexico City in July.

” While attending the ACTG annual network meeting in Washington we used the opportunity to visit the NIH team. The NIH sponsored two other studies we participate in. We were shown around their offices and the clinical research hospital. ” – Christelle Van Niekerk,  Regulatory Manager & ACTG CRS Coordinator for TASK


Visitors at TASK

Recently we hosted Dr Nyanda Elias Ntinginya from NIMR – Mbeya Medical Research Centre, Tanzania and Dr Stellah Mpagama from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre Moshi, Tanzania

They traveled to TASK in an effort to discuss opportunities for future collaboration between the organisations. They are pictured here in TASK’s canteen with Duncan McDonald, Dr Elana Van Brakel, and Prof Andreas Diacon.

WhatsApp Image 2019-08-05 at 11.14.20
J&J visit 1

Johnson & Johnson visit

We were honored to host a delegation from Johnson & Johnson which included Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels.

He was instrumental in availing bedaquiline to TASK and thus critical in our organisation’s inception.

Pictured here with Dr Vanker in front of the lab at HQ, also in the photo are Prof Diacon and Dr Ramonde Patientia, who were both involved in the first trial at TASK.


Want to be kind to the environment or do more good?

All used printer cartridges can be dropped off at TASK HQ in Parow and will be collected by one of the Brooklyn drivers every Friday.  These are then collected at our Brooklyn site for recycling.

Further details can be made available if anyone is interested.


The SAMAST (mass sterilization and animal clinic) in Khayelitsha are asking for donations of dog collars and leads and also asking if staff want to volunteer at the clinic.  They can also take blankets and cat and dog food donations if any kind staff member is willing to donate.  Finally, cash donations are welcome too for the sterilization and emergency clinic.


Michelle Eriksson Site Coordinator

t +27 21 510 2207 | michelle@task.org.za



One of the TASK staff team, Dr SP le Roux, has been working on an interesting anti-rhino poaching initiative.

 Save the Rhino.

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Financial Update

Dear Staff
We are pleased to inform you of the positive developments in TASK’s financial situation. Most staff will be aware that we placed a hold on salary increases from 01 October 2018 due to the company’s difficult financial position at the time. The company’s financial position is slowly recovering and we are able to reach some important goals.

We would like to show our appreciation to all staff who remained committed to TASK during this very challenging time. We have therefore decided to reinstate salary increases from 01 June 2019. It will be a 5% increase. We will furthermore give back-pay to those staff who should have had an increase between 01 October 2018 and 31 May 2019. The back-pay will be from the month in which you would have had your yearly increase until 31 May 2019. The salary increases will be paid at the end of June 2019. Your next salary increase will be in the same month as in the past; it will not change to June.

I urge you to keep on saving as much as practically possible. TASK would like to be in a financial position to pay bonuses at the end of the year. However, please note there are no guarantees that bonuses will be paid this year. The company needs to recover enough to make bonuses possible without getting into financial difficulties in future.

You are welcome to contact HR if there are questions.

Kind regards
Jaco Swart

Director – Finance

Updates from the CEO:

  1. Dr Naadira Vanker has agreed to serve as a director on the boards of TASK

Dr Vanker, MBChB, MBA, will focus on expanding TASK Laboratory operations and will lead TASK with Mr Jaco Swart (Finance), Mrs Norma Hughes (Operations) and Prof Andreas Diacon (CEO).

  1. Operations Support to the CEO

Riana Stander has agreed to help Prof Diacon to organise his various commitments better. This function does not change her current role.

  1. Melissa Mitchells’s role in TASK

The role of Melissa Mitchell at TASK has been queried. Ms Mitchell is no longer a director of TASK or an employee. She resigned from her position when reducing costs to the company was paramount to its survival. She is now in charge of TASK Eden, which is run independently, and fulfills consultancy assignments for the CEO at TASK on request.



Questions or comments for the CEO from staff members:

“Sometimes as humans we are prone to finding problems and issues.  However, psychologically we benefit from expressing our thanks and appreciation for the good elements in our lives.    

One of the good elements in my life is working for TASK.  So I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to Professor Diacon and the other Directors for firstly providing me with employment and secondly giving me the opportunity to work for this innovative company.  I have stimulating, challenging work that has helped me learn and understand more about clinical trials.  Life- long learning is so valuable and we are definitely provided with this at TASK.  And I know that if I leave TASK that I will take with me skills, knowledge, and experience that I probably would have not got elsewhere.  Many of my colleagues who have left TASK have expressed this same thought, and their understanding now they are in other workplaces that TASK was indeed a good company to work for.  

So thanks Professor Diacon.  We are grateful that you took the risks many years ago to build this great organisation and for giving us the opportunity to work here. ” Anonymous      


Submit your question or comments: duncan@task.org.za

Thank you for reading our newsletter. 

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