Student Counselling empowers housing staff to help students at risk of suicide

Some housing staff that attended the workshop

Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director: Student Counselling, said that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that close to 800 000 people die every year as a result of suicide. “Suicide is a global problem affecting people of all ages, races, class and social backgrounds. Research and clinical statistics reveal a link between depression and suicide,” said Dr Naidoo.  Mangosuthu University of Technology is not immune to the problem of depression and suicide, with the monthly statistics of the Student Counselling unit reflecting high numbers of depression and suicide risks, especially amongst students in the residences.

Student Counselling reaffirmed its commitment to dealing with these challenges by organising a Depression and Suicide Awareness and Prevention workshop for wardens and residence assistants. The workshop was initiated by Dr Naidoo, in collaboration with Gugu Madlala, Head of Student Housing, and the Dean of Students, Thembi Kweyama. The workshop, which took place on 7 August 2019, covered various aspects of depression and suicide identification and management. Workshop highlights included experiential exercises, group dialogues and brainstorming sessions, with group participants demonstrating commendable teamwork and enthusiasm.

According to Dr Naidoo, University life poses academic and social adjustment challenges, especially for first-years. “Students can become emotionally and academically overwhelmed, leading to feelings of hopelessness, despair and suicidal thoughts,” said Dr Naidoo. Dr Naidoo added that certain triggers appear to increase student susceptibility to depression and suicide at tertiary institutions. She said those include adjustment difficulties, lack of social support, poor academic performance, and a mismatch between study choice, interests, preferences and academic potential. “Relationship and family problems also feature prominently in the profiles of depressed and suicidal students at MUT, as well as reports of historical and recent trauma and abuse, victimization and discrimination, loss and grief, inadequate social support systems, low self-esteem, poor coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills.  Other contributing factors included financial difficulties and substance abuse,” said Dr Naidoo.

Dr Naidoo added that the stigma attached to mental illness and the negative stereotypes associated with seeking professional help, perpetuated a culture of silence that deters people from getting help. “In addition, there is a tendency to minimize the importance of mental health and its link to overall well-being and holistic development,” said Dr Naidoo.

Despite the grim statistics on depression and suicide, Dr Naidoo believes that the problem can be tackled through a combination of responsive and proactive methods, and the collective involvement of the entire MUT community. To this end, the Student Counselling team have committed to increasing awareness and understanding, empowering staff and students on the early detection and management of depression and suicide risks, as well as preventative measures that include workshops for students on problem-solving, coping skills, stress management and self-esteem.

Suicide Awareness posters were put up at strategic points on campus and all the residences. The posters contain information on common symptoms of depression and suicidal symptoms, as well as emergency contact numbers and resources which students can access. Due to the high demand for training and support in this area, Dr Naidoo is exploring partnerships with mental health NPO’s in the community as part of the unit’s stakeholder engagement strategy.

MUT takes a firm stand against gender-based violence    

Dr Zaheed Khan addressing the student

On 20 August 2019 the MUT students benefited from the immense knowledge on gender-based violence (GBV) from a number of professionals from Thuthuzela Care Centre (TCC), based at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital, in Umlazi Township, and the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza.  Delegates from TCC came from a range of professional fields such as medicine, law, the police services, social work and public service. They all wanted to create awareness and disseminate vital information to students to systematically help them reduce GBV on campus, in residence and in their communities. Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director in the Department of Student Counselling, said the continued prevalence of GBV and the reluctance to report such incidents, especially among young people in higher education, prompted them to initiate a proactive, multi-disciplinary response to the problem.

Addressing students, Dr Malaza said that GBV was a global problem that permeated every sector of society. “Gender-based violence knows no boundaries. It affects all races, genders, cultures and social classes. MUT is not immune to the problem.” In 2018 the University experienced GBV first hand. A first year quantity surveying student, Zolile Khumalo, was tragically gunned down by her former boyfriend. “Zolile’s demise brought home to us the reality of gender-based violence in our community, on our campus, and in our residences,” said Dr Malaza. Dr Malaza said that such a tragedy reinforced the need to take action against gender-based violence as it manifested itself in many different ways.

Dr Malaza said that GBV was a problem that required collective action and collective solutions. “As the community of MUT, we all have a responsibility to stand in solidarity against gender-based violence, and to strive for a society based on mutual respect, tolerance and support of each other,” said Dr Malaza.

Dr Zaheed Khan from TCC, gave a medical perspective on the problem. Dr Khan emphasized the need for proper knowledge about gender-based violence. He said knowing about it may lead to prosecution of the offenders. “In most cases people are violated by people they know, like family members. A person that has been sexually violated should report the incident as soon as possible. But what is most important is to know that you are a crime scene, so don’t do anything that will remove the evidence. Call the ambulance. It is important to report to the police, or the TCC within 72 hours so you can get the necessary help. Bring as much evidence as you can,” said Dr Khan. Dr Khan takes the evidence from the body of the victim, and hands it to the police, who then investigate the incident. Both Dr Khan and Jabulisile Langa, TCC’s Site Manager, emphasized the need for bringing accurate information when victims report the cases to them.

Advocate Vuyisile Mafuna, prosecutor from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), attached to the TCC, told the students that the legal system needed the victims to prove that what they were saying was true. He said the Roman-Dutch Law that South Africa inherited says a person is innocent until proven guilty. “This places the burden of proof upon the victim,” he said.

Marvin Qhobosheane from Ethekwini Safer Cities, said communities must take a stand against GBV by reporting such matters instead of protecting perpetrators. All professionals from the TCC, including Nozipho Majola, a social worker from the centre, said TCC’s main goal was to help the victim get back to normal life. In some cases that would require that the victim be taken away from their family, and be given shelter somewhere else.

Role models teach students to be respectable men and women

Menzi Ngubane addressing students

On 21 and 22 August 2019, the Department of Student Counselling had its two flagship events Brotherhood and Sisterhood. The main aim of these annual events is to empower students by giving them information that would make them better men and women from whom society can benefit.

The 2019 Brotherhood event that took place on 21 August 2019, aimed at appealing to male students’ ideas of what it means to be a man. The theme for the day was ‘How to be a real man’. Despite the event happening during the day when lectures were in progress, over 200 male students attended the event. Speaker after speaker drove home the message that real men do not harm women. Instead they protect them by behaving and by being honest.

Pastor Abel Masinga spoke to students about the importance of having a good character. “God gave you a gift. But if you don’t have character, your gift is not able to benefit you,” said Pastor Masinga. For Pastor Masinga, character should form the base for everything people do. Part of good character was treating women well, he said.

Menzi Ngubane, one of South Africa’s most notable actors, told male students that “a real man controls his emotions and does not raise a hand over a woman. Being strong does not give you a right to hit a woman,” said Ngubane.

Khetha Sokhela, a second-year Accounting student, said he learned a lot from the Brotherhood programme. “To be a real man is to learn to control your emotions as they are the source of gender-based violence towards women and other people,” said Sokhela. Sphesihle Zulu, a first-year Marketing student said he learnt the importance of walking away from someone if there was an argument.

At the Sisterhood event the following day, female students were addressed by DUT’s Student Counsellor, Zola Mdlalose; author and entrepreneur, Ntombizodwa Sibanda-Letlojane; poet and motivational speaker, Sindiswa Zulu; life coach and psychotherapist, Beverly Mothlabani from the #TotalShutDown organization; and popular radio and television show host, Somizi Mhlongo.

Speakers appealed to the female students to stay woke as women.  Mdlalose spoke on the importance of self-validation, “knowing and understanding that you were beautiful and enough even if the next person hasn’t said so”.  Sibanda-Letlojane touched on how students should embrace differences, and should not mind being a sore-thumb. “Queens don’t fit in, they stick out,” she said.

Mothlabani, who is also an activist against gender-based violence, gave students a lecture on the dos and don’ts in life. Zulu spoke about the talent of accepting rejection and understanding that requests held up are not requests denied. Mhlongo summed up the day with a speech on the importance of working hard and not looking for shortcuts and connections.

Agriculture students visit dairy farm in Creighton

MUT staff and Burnview farm manager (third from left)

Work Integrated Learning (WIL) is an important part of MUT’s curriculum. In a bid to introduce students to what they can expect when they joined the world of work, the Department of Agriculture – Animal Production took its Milk Production students to Burnview Dairy Farm in Creighton, near Ixopo, in the south of KwaZulu-Natal. Burnview is one of the largest dairy farms in KwaZulu-Natal with 2000 dairy cows that produce 60 000 litres of milk daily, and supplies Clover, one of the largest dairy producing companies.

“The purpose of this trip was to expose our students to the practical aspects of dairy farming because we don’t have a farm as a University,” said Karabo Molomo, a Lecturer in the Department of Agriculture – Animal Production. “We only teach the students theory and sometimes it is difficult to explain some aspects of farming without experiencing them,” said Molomo.

The visit, which was conducted on 21 August 2019, was a welcome experience to students. Fantastic Kunene, who was part of the students who went on this trip, said the experience further enriched his study of Agriculture. “It was a nice experience personally, an important one academically as we are subjected to theory; seeing how things are done on the farm helps us enjoy the module itself even more and the field of Agriculture in general,” said Kunene, who added that the experience made them love Milk Production even more.

Another student, Ayabulela Njeje described the experience as one of his best days. “Being on the farm and learning about farm activities is far better than only doing theories in class,” said Njeje. Zweli Mhlongo plans to use the lessons from the field trip in the beef production module as well.

MUT empowers women at the Imbokodo Experience

Some of the MUT women that attended the Women’s Day event

MUT hosts an Imbokodo Experience to empower and honour its women for their contributions to their institution, their areas of expertise and their respective communities as part of Women’s Month.

“History is littered with evidence that women have always been a backbone of every society. Their efforts at developing the society in general has always been a yardstick by which socio-economic progress has been measured.  MUT executive management recognises the battles that women face – emotionally, financially, physically and professionally,” said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Department of Marketing and Communications at the University. “We know there are young and old women who face bigger battles either at MUT or externally. In celebrating our Women’s Month, we were happy to make a significant contribution to the rape survivors.”

The Imbokodo Experience, which was held on 13 August 2019, was taken to a conference site at Zimbali away from their day-to-day work at the University. Mkhize explains that the choice of venue was to ensure that participants are physically away from their jobs so that they can fully immerse themselves in various topics that were being discussed as part of the Imbokodo Experience.

Participants listened to presentations by esteemed guest speakers; Fikile Magubane, a motivational speaker and author; Thandeka Ellenson, Acting CEO of Moses Kotane Institute; Nothando Magewu, Executive at eThekwini Municipality; and Arthie Moore, Founder of Ki leadership Institute. The guest speakers’ messages found a pride of place in the hearts and minds of women and encouraged women to look at themselves critically, to improve themselves, and to value themselves and their contributions professionally, personally and within their communities.

In an effort to highlight the significance of freeing oneself, Magubane talked to women about the talent of letting go of past and negative events. The core of her message was that women had to make peace with the past that ruffled their lives, and live a life that is governed by peace and love for humanity and for themselves. Magubane emphasised forging ahead with what was good, and not allowing negative events in their lives to hold them back.

Ellenson highlighted the value of being financially stable. “Most households are headed by women. For any home to prosper, there should be a proper way to handle cash. Women have always been shrewd financial investors. We want them to continue that way. Most importantly, we want them to learn new ways of saving cash, such as only buying what they need, and investing the rest of their cash where it will grow. The new ways of saving must match the current challenges they face every day,” said Ellenson.  She appealed to women to have “a good relationship with finances.”

Furthermore, Ellenson pointed out that women were still facing gender-related challenges in a world that still favoured men. She said in some cases women were still paid less than men even when everything about the jobs they are performing was the same.

Ellenson’s views were supported by Magewu who emphasized the need for training women so they would be able to perform their obligations well. For Magewu, nothing had to be left to chance. A knowledgeable woman could take bold steps, which included breaking free from stereotypes. From Moore, women learned that it was vital to clearly define themselves, and let their psychological needs govern their lives. Such needs had to be the centre of a woman’s life, and should give definition to how a woman relates to her environment, which included men. A woman should not come out second best in any relationship, of whatever nature, Moore warned.

The 241 MUT women that honoured their invitation to the Imbokodo Experience were joined by guests from the KwaZulu Natal Department of Education, Iqraa Trust, Marriott International, Mancosa and the MUT VC’s wife, Mrs Yolanda Malaza, among others.

MUT bids farewell to Professor Ndlazi

Staff bid farewell to Professor Ndlazi

On Thursday, 15 August 2019, MUT bid farewell to Professor Nokwethemba Ndlazi after over 20 years of service at the University in various capacities, with the final one being that of Executive Director in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor (OVC). She leaves MUT to join the University of Fort Hare as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Support.

In an event, hosted at the MUT Council Chamber, staff took turns expressing the difficulty of bidding farewell to a colleague of over two decades who has contributed to their professional lives in her many responsibilities.

MUT VC Dr Enoch Duma Malaza thanked Prof Ndlazi for her contribution to the University over the years.

“In the short time I have spent with Prof Ndlazi, I have had time to have a little glimpse at what she could do. Prof Ndlazi has left a footprint at MUT. I appreciate the time I have had with you in my office, and also being a member of the EMC. You were open-minded, and valued others’ opinions. We differed several times, but we reached a compromise on issues. We dealt with complex issues at MUT. Things are not always clear-cut. I am happy that you are embracing change. It is said that the average person changes six or seven times, it’s time for you to grow,” said Dr Malaza.

Dr Malaza explained that he hoped to meet Prof Ndlazi at the higher education meetings and platforms since she will still be in the higher education sector.

Professor Ndlazi reminisced about her time at MUT and the various leaders she served under.

“When I joined MUT I was a young lecturer and now I leave a different person,” said Prof Ndlazi. “I have been blessed to serve under great leaders. I thank my colleagues who never treated me like a woman.”

Prof Ndlazi explained how she has served the institution in many various positions; starting as a lecturer and moving up to the positions of Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Resources & Planning and Teaching and Learning, ending with her current position of Executive Director in the OVC.

“These acting positions helped me interact with various people,” said Prof Ndlazi.

Her former direct line manager of over 10 years, Professor Ramogale found it difficult to say goodbye but mentioned: “how great a team player, rational and level-headed, Prof Ndlazi was”.

MUT hosts second Congress on ecosystem rehabilitation and restoration

Workers clearing invasive plants

In its continued attempt to highlight the importance of the rehabilitation of the environment, and the mitigation of the effects of climate change, MUT’s Department of Nature Conservation will host its second Congress on Ecosystem Rehabilitation and Restoration (CERR) from 28 to 29 August 2019 at Seme Hall.

The theme of this year’s Congress is: “Working together to curb the tide of environmental degradation”.  The vision of the CERR is to be an internationally recognized Congress affording scientists a platform to present high-quality research that contributes to improving ecosystems functioning and sustainable utilization.  Given the multi-facetted global changes that cause shifts and realignments in both human communities and ecosystems, there is an urgency to address pressing environmental issues such as climate change, degraded ecosystems, desertification and the loss of biodiversity.

Delegates to the CERR will benefit from presentations from the following leading keynote speakers:  Dr P. Mazibuko, Group Executive for Corporate Safety, Health, Environment, Security and Forensics at TelkomSA; Mr M. Dopolo, Marine Ecologist and Director of Earth Systems Strategies at the National Department of Environmental Affairs; Dr M. Masubelele, Landscape Ecologist at South African National Parks; and Mr S. Kubheka, Freshwater Ecologist at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The department urges staff to register and be an integral part of this initiative.  Please access the website (https://www.2019cerr.webnode.com) for more information and online registration or alternatively email the Steering Committee at Ecosystems@mut.ac.za.

MUT adds a sparkle to Dloko High’s matric dance  

Some of the learners dressed by MUT

Just a month before matriculants start their trial exams, what better way to cool one’s mind than having a day at a gala dinner with all the glitz and glam! Umlazi Township’s Dloko High School offered its most senior class this honour when it hosted its annual farewell Matric Dance ceremony on 7 August 2019 at Coastlands Hotel in Durban.

As part of the Anchor Strategy, MUT played a big role in bringing a smile to some of the learners. Three weeks ago, Accounting teacher Thokozani Ndinisa, requested the University to assist learners who could not afford gowns for their matric dance. MUT staff rose to the occasion. The University’s Department of Marketing and Communications received dresses for 11 learners. These learners are among the top achieving students in matric this year.

Dloko High School is among the best performing schools in KwaZulu-Natal. It was one of the awards recipients of the University’s annual Circle of Excellence awards in March this year.

The school’s principal, Happy Sishange expressed his gratitude to MUT about the gesture. Addressing learners and other participants, MUT’s Nature Conservation lecturer Sithembile Nkosi, shared her life journey, and related it to the theme of the day, which was ‘growing up, and not giving up’. “You can’t change the situation, but you can change the way you react to it. You don’t stop when you’re tired, you stop when you’re done,” said Nkosi. Nkosi emphasized the importance of respect, and the necessity for learners to focus on their work. Nkosi was one the guest speakers.

The Prom Queen and King were Nomthandazo Cele and Junior Ntsele.

On a mission to promote hockey, meet Sanele Madida

Madida, middle, and his team

For Sanele Madida, the love affair with hockey started at a very young age, more than 20 years ago. In 1997, Madida started playing hockey as part of hockey development which was driven by Skemma, a production company.  His passion for the sport saw him transition from player to coaching young players, which he has been doing since 2001. His main focus was primary school pupils at Mandeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Madida said that the hockey development he was part of was under the iLembe Municipality. “The KwaZulu-Natal Hockey Association also helped.  Some of the players I developed were snatched by the provincial team and they are doing well,” said Madida.

Madida has been coaching primary schools at Umlazi under the KZN Hockey Association since 2013.  He has  a level zero coaching qualification, which is for coaching children. He plans to acquire further qualifications – from level 1-3. Madida has also been coaching the MUT teams – both male and female, for nine years. He has been working well with the students, but would be happier if more attention was paid to the teams at primary level. Madida said it is easy to teach youngsters at that level; they go on and do well at senior levels. Some of these players have been taken by INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu) team, which plays in the super league. The INK team has been to England.  One of these players is Sisipho Mokoena, who was Madida’s player.  Mahlapang Mokoena, one of the development players at Mandeni received a scholarship to Nelson Mandela University. Mahlapang is now doing her second year.

Madida said his ambition was to get more support for children as hockey is an expensive sport. A hockey stick alone costs R2 000. “I also wish to see people changing their views of hockey. It’s not for white people only,” said Madida.

Madida said he was very optimistic about MUT teams. “The future of the MUT teams is bright. The players are determined. However, every year I have to work with new players as players come and go every year. But this is nature of things,” he concluded.

SRC Elections and other activities timelines

ACTIVITY DATE
Elections Venue Confirmation 16 July 2019
SRC Elections Risk Management Meeting 06 August 2019
Presentations 13 August 2019
Appointment of Service Providers 13 August 2019
Submissions for Res to Res Campaigns Schedule 21 August 2019
Security Planning Meeting 21 August 2019
Social Cohesion Workshop 24 – 25 August 2019
Closing Date for Res to Res Campaigns Submissions 27 August 2019
Preliminary Voters Roll 02 September 2019
SRC Elections Security Meeting 02 September 2019
Opening Nominations 02 September 2019
Res to Res Campaigns Commence 02 September 2019
Miss MUT 2019 07 September 2019
Closing Nominations 10 September 2019
Publication of Candidate list 12 September 2019
Candidates Meeting 12 September 2019
Final Voters Roll printed and confirmed by the Registrar 13 September 2019
SRC Elections Risk Management Meeting 17 September 2019
Manifesto Presentations 17 September 2019
List of Observers submitted 17 September 2019
Res to Res Campaigns End 18 September 2019
Voting 19 September 2019
SRC Elections Entertainment event 19 September 2019
Counting 19 – 20 September 2019
Preliminary Results 20 September 2019
Final Results 23 September 2019
Portfolio Allocations 01 October 2019
SRC Elections Risk Management Debriefing Meeting 02 October 2019
SRC Inauguration 09 October 2019
Student Life Achievements Awards 11 October 2019
SRC Internal Induction Workshop 15 –17 October 2019
SRC Strategic Planning and Induction Workshop 09 – 12 December 2019

Communications academic obtains PhD in linguistics and literacies

Dr Mgijima at his graduation

As MUT continues to strengthen its academic offerings and increase its research output, it requires that its academic staff obtain the highest qualifications to respond to the University’s goal of excellence in teaching and learning. Dr Vukile Mgijima, a lecturer in communications department, has responded to this call for academic excellence by graduating with a PhD in linguistics and literacies from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Dr Mgijima’s study investigated the effects of translanguaging techniques on the reading abilities of bilingual learners in Grade 4. Translanguaging is the process whereby multilingual speakers utilise their languages as an integrated communication system. The study focused on the influence of translanguaging on the learners’ ability to recall information, their text reorganisation skills, and their ability to make predictions and draw inferences when reading texts. The study was prompted by the researcher’s observation about the Grade 4 learners’ low reading abilities.

The findings demonstrated that translanguaging techniques in which two languages (the learners’ home language and first additional language) are used simultaneously in one lesson have a positive impact on the reading comprehension skills of the learners. The findings also indicated that reading comprehension is determined by a number of factors, which include the reader’s familiarity with the content, the context of the reading text, the vocabulary used therein, and the reader’s writing skills in general.
Through his study, Dr Mgijima recommends that “teacher training institutions, curriculum designers and educators in South Africa and elsewhere should create an enabling environment for learners to freely use their tongues and minds. It is only when the linguistic barriers are removed that bilingual education can truly enable multilingual learners to acquire knowledge and express the same using various languages and semiotic repertoires”.

IT&N builds-up towards Cyber Security Month

Njabulo Xaba promoting cyber security

August, September and October 2019 are going to be crucial months as far as cyber security is concerned at MUT. The University’s Information Security Officer, Njabulo Xaba said that IT&N department wanted to ensure that they closed all the gaps that expose the University’s network and computing to cyber-related threats. “The first two months are a build-up towards the Cyber Security Month, which is October. Our drive is meant to ascertain whether staff are paying attention to cyber-related information we relay to them. For instance, we have posted a set of top 15 tips on all the University’s strategic points, and have sent out messages to inform our staff as to how they should structure their passwords,” said Xaba.
Xaba said that this month, they will be giving away prizes to staff who comply with cyber security messages and instructions. “In September we will have interactive discussions with all departments around cyber security. Our main goal is to make our staff aware of the threats that exist on the cyber space. Then in October, for the whole month we will be running a cyber security campaign. Reputable cyber security vendors will be invited to share their knowledge with MUT staff,” said Xaba.
He added that as much as the University had a cyber-resilient infrastructure, which is a proven fact considering the ongoing information security assessments performed, the human error remained the weakest link in the cyber space.

Electrical Engineering student wins SAIMC

Mahlobo, right, and Lonappan

On 7 August 2019 Lungelo Mahlobo, an S4 Electrical Engineering student at MUT received a SAIMC (Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Measurement and Control) award, accompanied by a certificate and cash prize, for being the best student in design projects III. Mahlobo received the certificate at Durban Country Club after attaining the highest marks out of over 300 students.
Mahlobo designed an automated irrigation control system. He presented his design to the Durban branch of SAIMC on the same date. Anil Lonappan, a lecturer in the department and mentor to Mahlobo said that the project was relevant to the KZN Province given its water challenges. Mahlobo said he was excited about receiving the award. “I achieved this through hard work and consultation, particularly with my mentor,” said Mahlobo. Lonappan said he was impressed by Mahlobo’s proposal, but did not think it would win him an award.

Eastern Cape school impressed by MUT’s academic programmes

Palmerston High learners and teachers, with Bulose, left

This week Palmerton High School from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape paid a visit to MUT to learn about its academic offerings. Ayanda Bulose, a School’s Liaison Assistant, who delivered a presentation and took the learners on a tour of the campus and laboratories said the learners were impressed. “Even the teachers were impressed by MUT’s programme offering. They encouraged their learners to apply at MUT, said Bulose.

Bulose’s presentation focused on programmes offered by the Faculties of Engineering and Natural Sciences, which correlates with the visiting learners study streams.
Bulose said that school visits were one of the core focus areas of positioning MUT to potential students. He said interacting with learners about MUT’s offerings helps them make an informed choice about what to study. He said they host an average of 30 schools per year.

TRIBUTE: She is gone but will never be forgotten by the women of SA, too!

Toni Morrison with former US President Barak Obama – picture courtesy of the BBC

Toni Morrison, novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus has been a global inspiration to women globally. As SA celebrates its Women’s Day, on 9 August and a month-long celebration of women, we are proud that there lived a woman called Toni Morrison, whom we sadly lost on 5 August 2019. For shaping the lives of women, giving them confidence and wit; we are happy she had an impact on South African women too. “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” Toni Morrison. May she rest in eternal peace!

Netball is my first love – MUT coach

Foreground, Hlongwa, left, with a teammate

Phumelele Hlongwa spent this week in Gauteng playing for the Ethekwini Metro Netball team. Her team is taking part in the National Spar Championship. “Netball is my first love”, she said. Hlongwa went to Gauteng as a player – she plays centre and wing defence, but she is MUT’s netball team coach, a job she started this year.

Hlongwa, who is from Umlazi Township’s R Section, defined 2019 as the best year in her short netball coaching career. “I have the best players; they are passionate about the game. They show commitment. My plan for the MUT netball team is to move from Section C, to Section A, but we will take one step at a time,” Hlongwa said. Also, as part of her plan, she is going to study towards a qualification in netball.

Hlongwa has been playing netball since her primary school days. It was instilled in her by her teachers at Mthethweni Primary School in P Section, Umlazi Township.

MUT welcomes new students

Dr Malaza addressing new students

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) welcomed its mid-year intake students during an Orientation programme at Bozzoli Hall on Friday, 2 August 2019.

Speaking at the Orientation, MUT Vice-Chancellor Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, congratulated students for choosing the University and for working hard to get the marks that booked their place at the University. He reminded the new students that making it in was only the beginning of the journey and that their fate was in their own hands.

“We expect that you will be the principal author of this new chapter in your life,” said Dr Malaza. “You will have the opportunity to determine the direction, plot and tempo of your life. The great thing is that you will be doing something that you chose.”

Dr Malaza gave students advise on three areas as they prepare to start their university careers at MUT. First, said Malaza, “You must take responsibility for your learning.” Dr Malaza explained that the new students were coming from a background where most of the learning had been structured for them and was intended for them to get good marks at matric.

“The life you are starting now is less structured than you are used to. You have greater freedom and with that freedom comes greater responsibilities. You will now be expected to be more self-reliant. You are accountable to yourself. No one will chase after you,” said Dr Malaza.

Second, Dr Malaza reminded students to make the most of their time at MUT and to take full advantage of all the extramural opportunities that the student structures offer. He also encouraged the new students to take advantage of opportunities to give back to the community.

“You are here to assist the community that is less fortunate than yourself,” said Dr Malaza. “Get involved and help others along so that you can enhance your learning.”

Third, Dr Malaza encouraged the new students to embrace diversity. “It will be a loss of opportunity to stick with people who are the same as you all the time,” he said. “Knowing others and understanding them will help you grow as a resilient person.”

Mthokozisi Ntuli, MUT Student Development Officer, added that the other issue students had to keep in mind as they start their university studies was to choose the right kind of friends that would propel them into the future.

Zolisa Gqamane, Deputy Registrar: Academic Administration, reminded students to carefully read the rule book that they had to adhere to and to check that they were registered for their modules, and that they attended the lectures.

Gqamane also warned students about the dangers of attempting to cheat on tests and exams. “Should you be caught with notes or textbooks you will be taken to disciplinary hearings and be possibly expelled,” he said.

Curriculum Development Workshop to strengthen MUT’s academic offerings

MUT academics and education experts

In its continuous efforts to offer quality education to students, MUT hosted a Curriculum Development Workshop for staff to strengthen teaching and learning and to improve its academic offerings. The workshop, which was held from 29 – 30 July 2019 at Zimbali, Durban, empowered the University’s academics with the required curriculum knowledge so that they would, in turn, empower their students.

Dr Manyane Makua, Senior Director: Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) said that the main aim of the Curriculum Development Workshop was to empower academics in their respective fields. While Prof Marcus Ramogale, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, said that the workshop would directly benefit the students and increase their employability. “Our students are now going to be able to ply their trade anywhere in the world,” said Prof Ramogale. He added that some MUT academics did not come from a teaching background and that they needed the technical knowhow, which the Curriculum Development Workshop provided. Prof Ramogale said the Workshop was also preparation for the new academic programmes that the University would introduce.

Prof Mahlaphahlaphana Themane of the University of Limpopo’s Department of Education Studies said that MUT academics would now be able to meet the minimum standards when it comes to curriculum development. Prof Themane said the ultimate goal was to improve all academic programmes so that the students would benefit.

Dr Makua added that they were planning to make the Curriculum Development Workshop an annual event wherein they would invite academics from the country’s higher education institutions, particularly the universities of technology.

The Workshop was well-received by MUT academics. Prof Koos Landman of the Department of Civil Engineering, said he learned how the principles of curriculum development could be applied to teaching and learning. “Now we have a greater insight of the requirements of our students,” said Prof Landman.  Xolile Mkhize, a senior lecturer in the Department of Community Extension, said she gained more clarity on curriculum development.

The meeting gave the excited academics a chance to discuss some of the issues they encounter as part of teaching with experts in the fields of teaching and education. Dr Siphiwe Gumede, Deputy Director: Teaching and Professional Development Unit at TLDC, asked what could be done in a case where there was a strike that interfered with the curriculum. Prof Themane advised that there should always be contingency plans.

MUT embraces National Science Week

Students were shown how some gases pollute the air

MUT once-again embraced the National Science Week’s (NSW) invitation to participate in the annual science activities. A number of the University’s departments were engaged in various science-related activities on and off-campus throughout the week.

Prof Alfred Msomi, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, led the University’s participation in the NSW, which started on 29 July 2019 ending on 3 August 2019.

For the first session of MUT’s NSW schedule, Prof Babatunde Bakare of the Department of Chemical Engineering delivered a lecture on the effects of the earth’s greenhouse gases on air temperatures to his class. He demonstrated his point by conducting an experiment with water and carbon dioxide mixed to show how the climate changes from human factors such as the smoke from factories and emissions from cars. Prof Bakare then elaborated important solutions that can be implemented to reduce the devastating effects of climate change.

Nomfundo Mthuli, an S4 Chemical Engineering student, said she gained valuable insight from the lecture.  “I am excited to learn about activities that we, as human beings do in our daily lives that affect our ozone layer, and result in climate change.”

This was one of the 11 activities that the University undertook in campus and as far off-campus as Jozini in the north of KwaZulu-Natal, and Port Shepstone in the south coast of the province.

Nature Conservation hosts a series of climate change lectures for National Science Week

Zodwa Msweli, middle, responding to students’ queries

The Department of Nature Conservation hosted and presented a two-day series of lectures on climate change as part of the National Science Week (NSW). The lectures, which took place on 1 and 2 August, were open to students at every level of study and from various departments.

Prof Roger Coopoosamy of the department said they wanted to have a maximum impact upon the students in line with the NSW’s theme of ‘Facing the harsh realities of Climate Change’.  “We wanted our students to understand climate change and its effects, and what role they can play in dealing with the problem. Our department does active research among other things,” said Prof Coopoosamy.

Eight lecturers from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and a guest speaker Zodwa Msweli, an eThekwini Municipality Environmental Officer, presented lectures on various topics related to the theme of climate change.

Prof Georgina Arthur of the department highlighted the role that students could play in managing the effects of human activity upon the environment.  Prof Arthur’s lecture stressed the importance of using organic fertiliser, which is eco-friendly.

Professor Small, the Head of the Department, said climate change had been happening over the ages. Prof Small said people could adapt and reduce their carbon footprint over a long period of time, but so much of the environment would have been lost, including animal species.

Trevor Govender, a researcher in the department’s Centre for Algae Biotechnology (CAB), drove the point home by his presentation, the gist of which was what students could do to mitigate the effects of climate change. Govender’s presentation was on the study he and Prof Akash Anandraj, the Director of CAB, conducted at the mouth of Umgeni River in Durban. They discovered that due to climate change, the vegetation texture at the river mouth had changed. Prof Anandraj said that the changes were a result of the amount of saltwater increasing and affecting larger parts of the river. Prof Anandraj said the mangroves, which are dependent on saltwater, had pushed up further. They discovered that in the 1930s these plants were found only around the immediate vicinity of where the sea connected with the river. Their research has drawn the attention of the eThekwini Municipality, which is now using Prof Anandraj and his team as consultants.

Sthembile Ngongoma, a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) student in the department presented on how they rehabilitated a degraded wetland in Mandawe, in the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal.  The wetland was infested with alien plant species, had unstable banks and polluted water as a result of illegal dumping.

Other presenters were Dr Michael Shapi, the Head of the Department of Analytical Chemistry, and Dr Kuben Naidoo, Dr Devandren Nadasan and Sithembile Nkosi, both of the Department of Nature Conservation.

An emotional farewell by MUT Fulbright Scholar

Madiba, fourth from the left, with her students on her last day at MUT

Mantwa Madiba, a lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Law, left MUT on 23 July 2019 to study towards a Scientiae Juridicae Doctor (SJD) in the United States for three years as a Fulbright Scholar. Madiba says this opportunity will broaden her understanding of law. “I will be a full-time student at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. I have been selected as the 2019 International Scholar. This programme is an invaluable opportunity to broaden mutual understanding of legal systems that increasingly span across national borders,” said Madiba.

Madiba described her departure as “bitter-sweet” and added that she hated leaving her students in the middle of the academic year. “I am really excited to have been selected to take part in this prestigious programme. I really appreciate the support that I have received from the MUT community,” she said. She thanked MUT staff and students for making a positive contribution to her life. “I would like to say a special thank you to the following people: DVC: Teaching and Learning, Professor Marcus Ramogale, the extraordinary Teaching and Learning Development Centre team who moulded me into the teacher I am today, especially Dr Manyane Makua and Dr Siphiwe Gumede. A big thank you goes to the people that mentored me during my stay at MUT, who are the Senior Director:  Marketing and Communications, Mbali Mkhize; Director: Research Directorate, Dr Anette Mienie; Human Resources and Management Head of Department, Thembi Kotelana; Former MUT Research Professor, Kedibone Phago; and Head of Department of Accounting and Law, Sikhumbuzo Mhlongo,” said Madiba. Madiba said these staff members were giants on whose shoulders she was standing. She described them as her ‘family’. She also mentioned her father and colleagues in various departments, both academic and support.

“Last but not least, I would like to thank my students and the Enactus MUT team, thank you for teaching me so much. I hope this opportunity inspires you,” said Madiba.

Nokubonga Nxumalo, a second year Cost and Management student, one the many students that Madiba touched at MUT, said it was very sad that Madiba was leaving, albeit for three years. “She was like a mother to me. She was a good faculty advisor. Madiba is always smiling and is fair. She gave us good guidance,” said Nxumalo.

MUT gears up for National Science Week

National Science Week (NSW)

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is busy with final preparations for the 2019 annual National Science Week (NSW), running from 29 July to 3 August. The theme of this year’s edition is “Facing the harsh realities of Climate Change”.

The project leader for the NSW at MUT is Professor Alfred Msomi, the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. “This is an important opportunity for our University to get the schools to begin to think about the effects of climate change, our contribution towards it and how we can prepare for its adverse effect,” said Prof Msomi. “We have already seen some of the devastating effects of climate change and unless we take drastic steps, the effects will keep getting worse.”

MUT has organised activities covering 11 areas of expertise. These activities will be conducted at MUT and outside the university in schools.

“The purpose of our engagement with learners as part of the NSW is to provide basic knowledge about climate change, its psychological effects and how they could be managed, human factors/contribution to climate change, the solutions and remedies, and the current state of climate change in South Africa,” said Prof Msomi.

Some of the areas that MUT staff will present on as part of the NSW will include: Effect of the earth’s Greenhouse gases on air temperatures, Seasonal and long term atmospheric CO2 trends during the past 20 years and predictions of the future, Calculation of carbon footprints based on learner energy usage, Entrepreneurship in Green Technology, Tree planting and the Effect of climate change on human health, amongst others.

“Our University serves a largely disadvantaged population, and it becomes our duty as an Institution to take science to our community,” said Prof Msomi. “We strive to cultivate scientists from our communities, but in order to do that we need to provide them with the necessary scientific knowledge.”

MUT Green Campus Initiative wins big at UWC

Achieved! Mafuleka, middle, with Yako, left, and Lunga

The winter of 2019 will go down as a highlight of the University’s efforts to prepare itself for a future that is eco-friendly. From 30 June – 4 July 2019, MUT Green Campus Initiative took part in the Green Campus Conference (GCC2019) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and won five prizes which confirmed their determination to highlight a need for all within MUT to stand against activities that are detrimental to our environment.

The conference is an annual event that features higher education institutions from Southern Africa. The MUT Green Campus Initiative won the Greenest Campus, and the Greenest institution participating in GCC2019. Two of its students, Thulisile Lunga and Yandisa Yalo, won the Green Ambassador of the Year award. A third student, Fundile Maqhekeza, won the male Green Ambassador of the Year category.

The Chair of the MUT Green Campus Initiative, Siyabonga Mafuleka, said their presentation put forward all the facts about MUT as a green campus. “Our presentation illustrated all the green activities that we run, the green buildings, like the new 640 bed student residence, and the rooftop garden at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. The partnerships we have formed with other green organisations also worked in our favour,” said Mafuleka, a third-year Environmental Health student. Mafuleka added that he was also proud that some of his colleagues were honoured for “keeping the campus going green”.

The students’ hard work was acknowledged by Nombulelo Zuma, a warden of E, F and G, known as Umzana Residence. Zuma accompanied the students to the Western Cape. She said that she was honoured to be part of a delegation and to be offered a chance to experience the hard work done by students in preparation for the conference.

A rural school in Umbumbulu benefits from MUT’s Mandela Day efforts

MUT staff and partners as they prepare to paint as part of the Nelson Mandela Day

A rural school in Mtshengwana, a remote part of Umbumbulu, south west of Durban, is one of the beneficiaries of MUT’s efforts as part of Nelson Mandela Day, in honour of the country’s first democratically-elected president.  On 18 July 2019, MUT’s Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement (IRDCE) and the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) joined hands with Airport Company South Africa (ACSA) and gave Uminathi Junior College a facelift.

Khonzani Nzuza, Community Liaison Officer at the IRDCE, said they renovated the school and worked on its surrounding gardens. “We repainted the whole block into cream white and blue. But our involvement with the college goes beyond the 18th of July. ACSA will buy some essential items like glass for windows, and our maintenance staff will do the repairs,” said Nzuza.

Nzuza told the learners that everyday should be a Mandela Day. Student mentors from the TLDC Student Success Programme will facilitate extra classes, while the IRDCE assists learners with computer coding lessons.

MUT empowers Umlazi Township residents as part of Mandela Day  

Dr Malaza addressing MUT staff, community members and learners. Behind him are representatives from Toyota SA, MKI, and MUT staff

The Institute for Rural Development & Community Engagement (IRDCE) at MUT hosted its Nelson Mandela Day event to empower residents of Umlazi Township. The event, which was held on 19 July 2019 featured workshops meant to empower residents with various economic and social skills.

The workshops included beadwork, computer coding for primary school learners, flower arrangement, manicure and make-up, peace education, recycling and urban agriculture.

In his opening remarks, MUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza said that the event was part of the University’s efforts to deepen community engagement and advancing its Anchor Strategy.  Dr Malaza explained that part of Mandela’s legacy was to have all South Africans making a difference in their own right.

“We are inspired by Nelson Mandela’s legacy. He taught us that no matter how small your contribution is, you must make a difference. We are reminded that though we have made significant gains in the development and promotion of the welfare and wellbeing of our society since the advent of democracy, we still need to do more to ensure that human dignity and equality is permanently entrenched in the lives of our people,” said Dr Malaza. Dr Malaza added that MUT wanted to remain relevant and responsive to the communities it serves.

The event also featured guests from eThekwini Municipality, Moses Kotane Institute (MKI), Toyota SA, and the University of Free State.

Dr Simphiwe Buthelezi, Head of Research at MKI, said that all South Africans had a role to play and they all must be the change that they wanted to be. “As MKI we conduct research to ensure that government strategy and policy respond to the needs of the people,” said Dr Buthelezi. “We conduct research to try and address the challenges that our people face, like inequality, unemployment and poverty.”

Executive Director in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at MUT, Professor Nokwethemba Ndlazi said the University’s objective was to contribute to the advancement of the disadvantaged communities. “As MUT, we took it upon ourselves to have activities that will change the socio-economic conditions of our communities. The idea behind the Mandela Day is that each person has the power to change the world. We want to start by imparting skills and knowledge to the community,” said Prof Ndlazi.

MUT Senior Leadership Lekgotla to plan for next year

Senior Management that attended the Lekgotla

MUT hosted its annual Senior Leadership Strategic Lekgotla to review the previous year’s performance and plan for next year.

The first day of the Lekgotla, which was held at Pumula Beach Hotel in the South Coast on 17 and 18 July, featured presentations on the higher education regulatory environment, KPMG’s feedback on last year’s performance, finances, and the risks that could impact on the University.

MUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza said the main objective of the Lekgotla was meant to plan for the year to come and allocate a budget for those activities. “We want to look at how we are doing this current year, and begin to plan for the next year,” Dr Malaza said. “It is very important for us to begin to think of the resources that would support the plan for next year.”

The second day of the Lekgotla saw participants divided into various groups to map out activities meant to achieve the five goals of the MUT Strategy 2020 – 2025. Groups will continue to put together the activities on the Strategic goals until the middle of August where all the activities, along with their budget estimations, would be collated.

MUT students benefit from the Gift of the Givers’ donations

Some of the students that benefited from the Gift of the Givers’ donation

Londiwe Shezi, a third-year Marketing student, and Nomzamo Mqadi, a first-year Human Resources and Management student, are some of the 42 MUT students that are now going to be shielded from the cold winter nights, thanks to the generosity and care of the Gift of the Givers. The Gift of the Givers donated winter clothing and other essentials.  Aslam Essa, one of the Liaison Officers at the Gift of the Givers, said they not only assist when the disaster struck. “We also help people that are destitute,” said Essa.

A thankful Shezi, who stays at the rented Colonial Building residence, said she was particularly happy to receive a throw. She caught cold when she had to tidy up after the April storm. Her books and Mqadi’s were soaked during the storm.

Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director, Department of Marketing and Communications, said “We are happy to see the partnership between MUT and the Gift of the Givers continuing. It is pleasing to see our students showing gratefulness towards what they received. Now they are going to keep warm during the last days of the winter, and be able to focus on their studies.”

eSwatini learners impressed by MUT, and commit to register  

Ayanda Blose talking to the learners

Among the prospective students that will apply for enrolment at the University for 2020 will be an 18 year old Simphiwe Shongwe, a matriculant from eSwatini’s Mbalenhle C Academy. The Academy’s grades 9-12 learners paid MUT a visit on 16 July 2019 to learn about MUT’s requirements, and how life is like at the University. After receiving a lecture from the Department of Marketing and Communications’ Schools Liaisons Assistant, Ayanda Bulose, Shongwe made her decision to apply to MUT to further her studies. She wants to study towards a Diploma in Environmental Health.

The learners were impressed by campus environment, especially the on-campus residences.  Learners also used the opportunity to ask questions on how they were going to benefit from studying at MUT.

All that Shongwe needs to do now is to fill in the Central Applications Office (CAO) form, and send to the CAO offices. She was made aware that she needed to obtain good marks to qualify for entry.

MUT holds sport strategy workshop to strengthen its position

Phindani Nene making a presentation

The MUT Sport Strategy is embedded in the University’s Anchor Strategy because sport at MUT needs to make some headway on empowering the MUT students, the youth and people of Umlazi. On 11 July 2019 the Division of Institutional Planning and Research (DIPR) convened a workshop to consult on the draft sport strategy.  Present at the workshop were members from the University’s Student Affairs department; Student Representative Council, MUT Staff Sports Club, Finance, the Department of Marketing  and Communications (MarComms), Operations Directorate, Risk & Compliance as well as Phinda Nene, one of the leading sport administrators in the country, and Senior Manager from an Accounting firm, Price WaterhouseCoopers, Thasleem Osman. Paulo Braga, Hemis Officer at the DIPR, said the renewed focus on sport was as a result of the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza’s vision for MUT to be a global player through sport excellence, and contribute in community development by allowing MUT’s surrounding communities to leverage the University’s resources and sporting facilities.  “Considering that the new Strategic Plan, MUT 2020-2025 focuses on a holistic learning experience, it is only natural to focus on this area where MUT has such a high student participation rate. Moreover, the cognitive, social, and physical benefits of sport participation at universities are the reasons to focus on sports at MUT.” Braga was the facilitator of the meeting.

Nene’s involvement in the MUT Sport Strategy development has shown a potential for MUT sport to move towards a new paradigm shift.   Nene is networked and understands how SA’s ‘Ivy League’ institutions are leveraging sport through sponsorship and using sport to attract students that excel in it. In his presentation which was described as ‘great and valuable’ by the participants, Nene advised that MUT should craft a sport strategy that would make it a global player. Nene said the University should be bold and daring, and knock on doors of prospective funders with a list of what is needed. “You need to decide on what you want to have. Don’t look at this as just sport; look at every sport code as a product that you need to sell to funders and sport supporters. At the end of it all, the sport strategy needs to result in sport as a product that will contribute to the overall MUT strategy,” said Nene.  Nene and Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director at the University’s Department of Marketing and Communications, emphasised that the culture at MUT should change to promote sport activism at the University. Njabulo Xaba, Secretary of the University’s Sport Club, said they were ready to support Management in all its efforts to grow sport culture at the University.  The Staff Sport Club was founded in 2009. It has visited a number of higher education institutions in the country and those of some of South Africa’s neighbours, eSwatini and Mozambique. The Staff Sport Club is natural fertile ground for sport at the University.

Braga ensured that all participants contributed to the strategy see to it that all aspects of the plan were catered for. Some of these aspects were the risks that are inherent in sport, particularly those that have to do with finances. Osman made a presentation on this area; and Rodney Delomoney, the University’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), made a presentation on the budgeting side of the plan. Other participants in the workshop were leaders of the Student Representative Council.

Fair corporation! The team that met to craft the strategy

Far corporation! The team that met to craft the strategy