IT&N launches Cyber Security Week

Dr de Swardt, closer to camera, and Xaba in the MUT Radio studio, appealing to staff to take the necessary steps to protect the network

October is a Cyber Security Awareness (CSAW) Month. MUT is doing its bit to bring home this message. On 8 October 2021, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Resources and Planning, Dr Johan van Koller, together with the Senior Director of the Department of Information Technology and Networks, Dr Marlo de Swardt, Mongi Nquphaza, a cyber security specialist, and Njabulo Xaba, the Workshop Technician in the Debarment of Information Technology and Networks, launched live on MUT Radio the MUT CSAW, as part of the national empowerment drive. The national CSAW is from 11 to 15 October 2021.  The MUT launch of the event was to bring into sharp focus to all staff and students the cyber-related problems. Dr de Swardt and his team, and Dr van Koller, appealed to staff to be vigilant when using the University network. Xaba and Nquphaza emphasized the importance of targeting staff. Xaba and Nquphaza both defined staff as “the weak link that is targeted by hackers.” They made a special appeal to staff to not respond to suspicious emails. Over the years of running the cyber security campaign, Xaba has always requested staff to contact his department if they suspected that there was something wrong on their computers. Xaba also appealed to staff to attend the virtual cyber security sessions that his department will run the during the Cyber Security Awareness Week. Dr van Koller said it was compulsory for staff to attend these sessions.

Even before the 1st of October, the Department of Information Technology and Networks’ Njabulo Xaba communicated the important message to staff – that they needed to empower themselves with the relevant knowledge so they would be able to act in a manner that would ensure that the safety of the network of the University was not compromised. So far in October, the department has run six CSAW segments of the competition. This is a hard test wherein staff have to choose a correct answer, out of the four. Xaba said he was very appreciative of the staff’s participation in the competition. “Our colleagues have been participating in big numbers. That is great. Even more important is that this exercise is more than winning a prize. We are appealing to colleagues to use the information we are giving them to protect our network. As simple decision like not using the MUT address when communicating a private message will go a long way in protecting our network. Hackers will not be able to trace your message back to the MUT network. This was one of the questions we gave to staff this week. We are glad most colleagues got it right. Now, colleagues, please apply that, and protect our network,” said Xaba, a Workshop Technician.

Research Directorate and NRF take major steps to empower female researchers

Dr Jordaan, left, standing, with female colleagues that attended the workshop on 1 October 2021, off campus. Dr Mienie is third from left, standing

At national level, the contribution of women to university article output has only increased by 6% since 2005 to 2019. This was only due to a 7% increase in the proportion of female academic staff appointments.  In addition, there is a scarcity of Black African, Coloured and Indian/Asian women professors in South Africa. The obstacles that prevent women’s attainment of professorship is one of the reasons for the scarcity of women professors. This leads to women in higher education institutions becoming discouraged and eventually leaving. More importantly, women play a dual role in society both as professionals and homemakers.   The dual role has an impact on the amount of research by female academics. Other limiting factors for research productivity of female staff include high teaching loads, funding, lack of infrastructure, access to specialised equipment, and, of course,  family obligations. Also the fact that transformation within tertiary institutions is taking place at a slower pace with women still being underrepresented at the top, senior and academic positions while male counterparts dominate in the higher-ranking academic positions, do not help matters. Interventions are therefore, needed to bridge the disparity in research contribution of female to male staff.

These reasons have resulted in the National Research Foundation (NRF) inviting  MUT to participate in the Customised Intervention Grant, aimed at enabling this transformation process with the goal of increasing the number of black (African, Coloured, Indian/Asian) female researchers with an NRF rating at Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs).

Dr Maryam Amra Jordaan, the NRF Administrator at MUT’s Research Directorate, said the purpose of the NRF rating system is to provide an internationally benchmarked system of evaluating and rating researchers as the DHET framework promotes the quality of research outputs. This rating provides credibility to researchers and attracts funding opportunities, not only from the NRF, but from other funding entities advancing the female researchers’ readiness for the professoriate, while imparting cutting-edge skills to the next generation of researchers.

Dr Jordaan was the champion of the Customised Intervention Grant to identify the needs and provide interventions of early career female researchers at MUT.  An oversight committee comprising of seasoned UKZN NRF-rated academic Professor Urmilla Bob, MUT’s own C-rated scientist, Dr Reshma Subbaye from the DIPR, MUT’s research veteran, and Lecturer in the Department of nature Conservation, Professor Georgina Arthur, as well as Director of the Research directorate, Dr Anette Mienie, was established to oversee all activities,  and develop terms of reference (ToR) for the grant.   The Customised Intervention Grant allowed for the hosting of workshops and networking sessions.  The last session was hosted on 1 October 2021, off campus. The guest speaker, Joyce Olivier (NRF Rating Programme) provided advice on NRF Rating applications.

‘Students like any other students are making it big in business’ – Lecturer and mentor

Mthembu, standing, left, and two guest speakers, and some of the students during the second day of the event

The University continues its drive to promote the entrepreneurship  spirit among its students. On 6 to 7 October 2021, the University’s students that are involved in entrepreneurship were part of the two-day event at the University’s North Campus. The discussion about business was part of the national Student Entrepreneurship Week. Ntombifuthi Mthembu, the Co-ordinator of the campaign, said they wanted the students to consider entrepreneurship as an alternative to formal employment. “This event gave students an opportunity to show case their businesses in whatever form. This year they are showcasing entrepreneurship through storytelling, and evidence of their business activities. It was very inspiring to listen to our current and past students sharing their entrepreneurial journey and experiences with other students”, said Mthembu.

MUT student businesses were divided into three categories: ideation stage businesses; existing general businesses; and agri-business. There were 13 businesses founded and run by the students. Mthembu said this was an indication that “that the seed of Entrepreneurship has been planted at MUT. We have a responsibility of nurturing and assisting student entrepreneurs to have the courage of taking their businesses to the next level,” said Mthembu. Mthembu said they would like to see businesses that are currently in ideation stage progress to the next level. “Ideas must be turned into action. Our students are participating in various sectors of the economy,” she said. According to Mthembu, it was overwhelming to realise that the University has students who are playing a meaningful role in the agricultural sector, and their businesses have healthy turnovers. The Ithembalamazubane Business, owned by Zuzile Mthiya, a student from the Department of Human Resources and Management produces and sells white and brown sugar beans. The business makes a good turnover per annum. Musa Mkhize, also from the Department of Human Resources and Management, farms on sugarcane and bananas. Mkhize’s business also makes a good turnover per year. Mkhize is one of the suppliers of Umfolozi Sugar Mill.

Nompilo Vilakazi, an Engineering student grows chickens and supplies one of the big retailers in KZN. “The students we are talking about have classes to attend and tests to sit for, but are still able to do such amazing things. All the presenters had amazing stories to tell,” said Mthembu

The University alumni also got a chance to talk about their businesses. Sabelo Madiba talked about his business called Blackhorse Group; Ntuthuko Khathi told a story about Khathi Charcoal; while Simphiwe Goniwe and Sanele Shandu talked about their business called Isiqalo Institute in Academics. All speakers advised students to learn to do something for themselves. They told the students to be brave and “not hesitate to take calculated risks, and be resilient.”

On the second day, speakers conducted interactive workshops to the students. Kwazi Bhengu from Sibani Consulting shared with the students the importance of personal entrepreneurship competencies and their behavioural indicators. Ndumiso Ncala, an Information Officer from SEDA, outlined SEDA’s mandate in implementing the government’s small business strategy. Ncala unpacked business sectors supported by SEDA, and the role played by SEFA in assisting small businesses in securing finances. Ncala encouraged students to keep abreast of the opportunities advertised by SEDA, and seek assistance in applying for them.

Maths PhD graduate takes student to Wits to witness him crossing the stage

Dr Mabaso and Mhlengi at Wits

While it is true that there are well known ways of ensuring that students grasp what they are taught by their lecturers, it is equally true that there are some innovative ways of getting the message to the students. This  was illustrated last week by an unfamiliar decision that was taken by Dr Sibusiso Mabaso, a Lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Dr Mabaso took an unprecedented decision of taking a student to Wits University to witness as he was stage-crossing for his PhD in Mathematics, on 30 September 2021. Dr Mabaso said the reason for his decision was “to encourage students to perform well in Statistics and also to change their attitude about this subject as being a challenging subject, and reach the apex qualification. I organize some awards for students who performed well for each test,” said Dr Mabaso. Dr Mabaso lectures Statistics to students from various academic departments.

“I decided to take a student who has the highest DP from three tests they have written thus far, to witness this august occasion. Eight students were qualifying and not to be statistically biased I approached Mr Bheki Hlophe from MarComms to do a selection-draw in the presence of the tutors and class reps. A Marketing II student, Mhlengi Hlongwane, happened to be the fortunate student to win the all-expenses paid trip to accompany me for my graduation ceremony,” said Dr Mabaso.

Dr Mabaso took the student to the Department of Actuary Sciences and Statistics at Wits University “to instil love for Statistics and widen his horizon on other fields, like Actuary Sciences, where Statistics is applied. Another reason for Dr Mabaso to motivate students to change their attitude towards Stats is a scarce skills subject.

Dr Mabaso’s PhD was on Number Theory, and was titled: “Solving some Diophantine equations involving Fibonacci numbers, Catalan numbers, Ramanujan tau-function and factorials”. His supervisor was Professor Florian Luca, an A-rated Number Theorist. As far as the future is concerned, Dr Mabaso said he was now going to pursue his studies now in Statistics and statistical softwares to help the researchers on analyzing their data.

Hlongwane said he would forever be grateful to have experienced  seeing Dr Mabaso crossing the stage. “I had before only imagined myself completing all my studies and obtaining a PhD in Marketing Management. After yesterday it is no longer something that I just imagine, but it is now a mission of mine that I hope to accomplish one day,” said Hlongwane.

MUT health experts give staff advise to deal with cancer

Sister Sithole

October is a Breast Cancer month. This is time when health professionals make a special appeal to all to seriously consider checking their breasts so they would know if they have the breast cancer, or not. Sister Bongiwe Sithole of the University’s Clinic, said that cancer is a “debilitating disease that affects people across all races and class structures. Breast cancer in particular is the most common cancer affecting South African women, with one in 31 women diagnosed in her lifetime,” said Sister Sithole. Sister Sithole said that according to World Health Organization, approximately 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2020,  and 685 000 deaths globally. Less than one percent of all breast cancer cases develop in men and only one in a thousand men will ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Rajendrie Govender, a Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, said that despite significant strides in treatment modalities, the global burden of breast cancer remains high.

Both Sithole and Govender said  that “knowing what is normal for your body, and reporting any changes to your doctor or nurse,  is important for investigation which leads to early diagnosis, treatment and positive prognosis.” They ask staff and students to perform regular breast self-examination every month, preferably after menstrual cycle for early detection. “Mammogram helps detects breast cancer as early as possible,” said Sister Sithole.

Sister Sithole added that the risk of developing breast cancer increases as women grow older. However, even women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer, said Sister Sithole. Some circumstances that may lead to cancer are family history of breast cancer; being overweight, especially after menopause; sedentary lifestyle; early onset of menses; first pregnancy after 30 years of age; excessive alcohol consumption and smoking; and poor dietary habits.

Vaccination Tuesdays

Sister Mkhwanazi

Sr. Nomusa Mkhwanazi, the Covid 19 Task Team Convener at MUT has promised that the vaccination centre will reopen on Tuesdays. This is good news as the University is supporting the call from the President of getting more people to be vaccinated.

MUT second semester registration has commenced

Tebogo Goqo, an IT&N intern, left, assisting Sibiya in the student card registration station

While the University can gladly announce that the first semester examinations have been successfully conducted, it is equally glad to announce that the registration for the second semester has commenced. Xolani Kunene, the Head of Academic Administration, said the registration that started on 27 September 2021, is expected to end on 8 October 2021. Lectures are expected to commence soon after.

Kunene said up until the afternoon of 30 September 2021, 3501 students had registered.

“These are new, as well as returning students. It will be remembered that the Faculty of Engineering students has to register new and current students each semester. As far as the Faculty of Natural Sciences goes, only the Department of Analytical Chemistry registers new students during the second semester,” said Kunene. Most of these students will receive their tuition online because of the COVID-19 restrictions.

One of the new students that has enrolled with the University is Nkanyiso Sibiya. Sibiya said he was glad to register for Chemical Engineering at MUT. “I could not find a place during the first semester,” said a former KwaMakhutha High School learner.

MUT lays foundation to its turnaround strategy

Professor Ramogale, left, with Pillay

With the continued decline in higher education funding from government, universities are looking for ways to supplement their finances to remain sustainable. This also means thinking of innovative ways to reduce spending while rendering services of the highest standard to the university.

On Monday, 27 September 2021, the MUT executive management convened a Turnaround Strategy Workshop to map out a turnaround strategy to reduce the university’s operational spend in a bid to save the university money.

Speaking at the workshop, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, said: “We need to tackle this belief that government will provide. So, this idea that we are a public institution and Pretoria will provide is misguided. It is an old idea, it is a myth.”

Professor Ramogale told the workshop participants that the university needed to start a new culture of using resources efficiently. The workshop was facilitated by veteran academic and administrator, Kanthan Pillay, who was invited to give an outside perspective.

The workshop was the initial step in the process. Professor Ramogale said the turnaround strategy would be delivered in five phases as part of the bigger Vision 2025. These phases entail: Diagnosis, Stakeholder engagement, Develop a turnaround strategy and buy-in, Implementation and monitoring, and Recovery.

“We have a responsibility to change this institution,” said Ramogale.  “We need to ensure that we do not hand over a failed institution to the next generation.” The enthusiasm showed by the executive as they took turns presenting after each, shows the strategy is moving in the right direction. In general, employees take pride in winning organisations.

Senior Engineering academic appointed to higher government body

Professor Naidoo

Government organs and other organisations continue to regard the University staff as partners and sources of knowledge. This week it was announced that senior academic at the University, Professor Ralph Naidoo, was appointed to serve as panel member in the Institutional Audits Committee (IAC). Professor Naidoo of the Department of Electrical Engineering will serve in this body for the next five years. His tenure starts next year. He was appointed on 9 September 2021 by the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), the permanent sub-committee of the Council on Higher Education (CHE). Professor Naidoo’s appointment is an indication of how high government regards the University’s staff. Professor Naidoo will be part of a team that will audit all universities.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Naidoo said he felt honoured to be appointed to serve on the highest national quality assurance structure that reports to Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

“I have been part of quality assurance in the SETAs and Umalusi, covering the TVET and skills sector, focused on engineering specifically. CHE & HEQC covers the sector that I am currently serving on, and I will now be part of a more diverse quality assurance process at institutional level, and not field-specific,” said Professor Naidoo.

Professor Naidoo’s appointment will benefit MUT as he will be able to better prepare his colleague in the institution for future CHE audits. Professor Naidoo said he would be able to better prepare the Department of Electrical Engineering for visits by ECSA, which is mandated by CHE, to quality assure our engineering programmes.

“Ultimately, the requirements for ECSA are specified by CHE, under HEC,” said Professor Naidoo.

MUT hosts prayer against generational curses

Khanyi Msweli in the studio, providing a prayer

MUT has had a series of prayers ranging from student and staff prayer focused topics; including COVID-19, peace and stability and academic success, and Gender-based violence.

On 30 September, the prayer focused on generational curses. Generational curses are behaviours that we adopt as a result of our upbringing and run across generations. Addictions and various types of abuses can have an impact on our lifestyle, attitude and behaviour, but we all have the option to break free from those shackles and embrace divine intervention.

“The sins of the fathers are punished in the children through becoming the children’s own sin.” This was the message by Pastor Khanyi Msweli.

Pastor Mpontshana, lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering specifically came to the Radio Station despite not being too well. “The Holy

Spirit wants me to deliver a special message and I hope my message will change behaviour and lead people to introspect their own behaviours”, he said earlier. Continuing, he took the message of generational curses by taking it home. “We have prayed for our curse as a family and the

Holy Spirit is prevailing”.

Pastor Zinhle Mabaso, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Communication, preaches the word

of truth and living an honest life. Pastor Mabaso stated that those who believe they are blessed by God will reign high, they know they have been guarded and protected from curses.

Anchoring the prayer from the University side, Ms Jade Mthiyane, reminded the listeners that regardless of religion, everyone is finding ways of how best to deal with generational curses. “The prayer continues and everyone is invited to come with ideas on how our prayers as a multi-cultural and multi-racial society could augment the values that the University has pronounced for MUT. Those values are accountability, integrity, respect and excellence”.

Alumni magazine gets new look and feel

Can you spot the Alumni magazine?

There is a change in the University’s communication repertoire! Although not entirely new, this week the Department of Marketing and Communications launched a brightly coloured, A4 size Alumni Magazine. Zama Sishi, Director: Stakeholder Relations Management, at MarComms, said the new look and feel of the magazine fully captures the full extent of the possibilities that the new Corporate Identity allows.

Almost two years ago, the University unveiled its new logo, colours, and the new philosophy as it forges into the future. During the unveiling of the University’s new identity, Mbali Mkhize, the Senior Director in the department, said like every other organisation, the University had to adapt to the new era, and be ready for the future, while acknowledging its illustrious past. Sishi said this is the very view that informed the new look and feel of the magazine. “We are heartened by the positive feedback from our alumni. We have been inundated with calls from afar making requests for the Gems magazine to be delivered to them. Biiger doors have been opened for MUT graduates and we are happy as we engage various stakeholders that we are able to showcase our pride”.

The first edition was an A5, and had the old identity of the University. Please visit https://www.mut.ac.za/publications/ to see the new edition.

MUT hosts Research Awards to recognise excellence

Press release statement

For immediate release: 23 September 2021

Submitted by: The Department of Marketing & Communications

Via email: Hlophe@mut.ac.za

 

23 September 2021

MUT hosts Research Awards to recognise excellence 

Like all universities in the country, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has three pillars – Teaching and Learning, Community Engagement, and Research. The University highlights the importance of these pillars in different ways. The Institution highlights Research by encouraging staff to conduct research and publish in recognised journals.

This year, MUT held is annual Research Awards on 17 September at the Coastlands Hotel (Umhlanga) to celebrate and recognise staff who have made positive strides in research.  Speaking at the event, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, said: “We are gathered to congratulate colleagues who have excelled in their research. We cannot overemphasize the importance of Research. Every academic must do Research.”

The star of the event was Professor Babatunde Bakare, Acting Dean of Faculty of Engineering, who bagged two awards. He received the Most Productive Researcher Award for the Faculty of Engineering, along with the Senate Prize. The runner up for the Most Productive Researcher in the Faculty of Engineering was Dr Matthew Lasich.

Dr Taurai Mutanda was awarded the Most Productive Researcher in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Dr Mutanda’s also holds the title of being the most cited researcher in the University.

The contribution of the Retired Research Professors was also recognised at the Research Awards. Evan Mantzaris, a Professor in the Faculty of Management, and Professor Aroonkumar Beesham, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, walked away with the Most Published Retired Research Professors.

The University also acknowledged nine staff members who recently obtained their PhDs, and 10 staff members that have secured external funding ranging from R100 000 to R1 million. Dr Bheka Ntshangase, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Management Science and Professor Theo Haupt, DST/SARChi Chair for Sustainable Work, Education, Environment & Transformation (SWEET), were recognised for having secured funding ranging from R1 million and above. The event would not have been complete without acknowledging the University’s four NRF-rated researchers.

The Research Awards were broadcast live on MUT Radio (www.mut.ac.za/mutradio). See attached programme for a comprehensive list of winners.

End

 

MUT hosts Research Awards to recognise research excellence

MUT staff members that attended the Research Awards. The faculty winners were Professor Bakare, seated, right;  Dr Mutanda, standing, front, third from right;  and Dr Lasich, right, standing, front

Like all universities in the country, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has three pillars – Teaching and Learning, Community Engagement, and Research. The University highlights the importance of these pillars in different ways. The Institution highlights Research by encouraging staff to conduct research and publish in recognised journals.

This year, MUT held is annual Research Awards on 17 September 2021 at the Coastlands Hotel (Umhlanga) to celebrate and recognise staff who have made positive strides in research.  Speaking at the event, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, said: “We are gathered to congratulate colleagues who have excelled in their research. We cannot overemphasize the importance of Research. Every academic must do Research.”

The star of the event was Professor Babatunde Bakare, Acting Dean of Faculty of Engineering, who bagged two awards. Professor Bakare received the Most Productive Researcher Award for the Faculty of Engineering, along with the Senate Prize. The runner up for the Most Productive Researcher in the Faculty of Engineering was Dr Matthew Lasich.

Dr Taurai Mutanda was awarded the Most Productive Researcher in the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Dr Mutanda’s also holds the title of being the most cited researcher in the University.

The contribution of the Retired Research Professors was also recognised at the Research Awards. Evan Mantzaris, a Professor in the Faculty of Management, and Professor Aroonkumar Beesham, of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, walked away with the Most Published Retired Research Professors.

The University also acknowledged nine staff members who recently obtained their PhDs, and 10 staff members that have secured external funding ranging from R100 000 to R1 million. Dr Bheka Ntshangase, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Management Science and Professor Theo Haupt, DST/SARChi Chair for Sustainable Work, Education, Environment & Transformation (SWEET), were recognised for having secured funding ranging from R1 million and above. The event would not have been complete without acknowledging the University’s four NRF-rated researchers.

The Research Awards were broadcast live on MUT Radio (www.mut.ac.za/mutradio).

MUT SRC launches a Trust Fund for students in need

Professor Ramogale emphasizing the importance of perseverance, trait that led to the success of the SRC to achieve desired aim

‘Burning tyres and protesting do not work.’ These very powerful words were uttered by the 2020-2021 Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Mthokozisi Gumede on 23 September 2021 as the University management and the SRC were launching an SRC Trust Fund. This is an unprecedented initiative by the student leadership to help fellow students in need.

Gumede said that the Trust Fund came from the realisation that there was a larger number of students in the University who could not register because they owed the University. The situation is getting worse as breadwinners lose their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The yearly protest action by students, demanding financial assistance and concessions from the management, only resulted in the destruction of property, he said.

The SRC’s solution was to create a fund that will assist students to deal with the finance-related problems. In setting up the Trust Fund, they had several people to thank – management, who encouraged them to forge ahead with what seemed ‘impossible’ to others; the Department of Student Affairs, for having trust in them, and for guiding them.

The University’s Chief Financial Officer, Rodney Delomoney was the first to pledge his contribution. “I will put in the box a R1, 000,” said Delomoney, who described the launch of the Trust Fund as a “step in the right direction”. Delomoney’s decision was partly because of his knowledge of the state of the University’s funds.

Gumede said launching the fund was only just the first step. “The next step is encouraging interested parties to make contributions,” said Gumede. “We are aiming for a million rand.”

The staff members who wish to contribute will have their contribution deducted from their salaries. Dr Mthoko Ntuli, the Student Development Officer in the Department of Student Affairs, appealed to all stakeholders to contribute to the Trust Fund for it to be sustainable.

The event was livestreamed for students to watch from wherever they are. MUT Radio also broadcast the event.

MUT patron continues his quest to position MUT globally

On the right hand side of the broadcast table, Ndaba, left, and Professor Ramogale, inside the MUT Radio studio

Cyril Ndaba, well known as Balozi to everyone whom he touched as part of his civic duty, visited MUT on 22 September 2022. Despite having lost his friend, Professor Senzo Malinga, Ndaba continues with his mission to put MUT on the global map.

Capitalising on the friendship he built with Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, during a 2012 visit in the USA, Ndaba has been meeting strategic stakeholders to bring them ‘home’ to MUT. He has approached the MUT Founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi about an opportunity that MUT should grab. That is for MUT to be associated with Professor Hildreth ‘Hal’ Walker, and his wife, Dr Bettye Walker. Professor Walker led the team that manufactured, tested and operated the laser system in 1969 during the Apollo 11 Moon Landing Mission.

Ndaba said Professor Walker was a hidden gem and his association with MUT would have long-term benefits. Talking on MUT Radio, Prof Ramogale commended the gesture by Ndaba and encouraged him to continue his tireless journey of wanting to do the best for MUT.

“This visit cements our vision of what the Institutional Advancement Office will be doing to position MUT globally. The visit by Ndaba is a launchpad to a long-term strategy of internationalising MUT”, said Professor Ramogale.

MUT will dedicate an international agenda before the end of the year. There is a lot that MUT will learn from an association with Professor Walker.

MUT bids farewell to retirees at a virtual ceremony

Some of the MUT retirees: left to right, Sizakele Ngcobo; Dr Malizo Buyeye; Professor Ewa Zawilska; Elizabeth Magwaza

As it has become tradition at MUT, the University hosts a ceremony to bid farewell to its retiring employees to celebrate their contribution to the University over the years. This ceremony could not happen last year, but not even COVID-19 could stop this year’s ceremony.

On 20 September 2021 MUT bade official farewell to the 2020 and 2021 retirees in a virtual ceremony.

Speaking during the virtual ceremony, Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal of MUT, informed the retirees that their contribution to MUT did not go unnoticed.

“On behalf of management and Council, I would like to thank you for all the service that you rendered over many years. Some of you have been with MUT for 10 years, 15 years, and some of you have been with MUT for over 20 years. Some have been with MUT for over 25 years. We really thank you for the dedication and all the contribution that you made to the Institution over these many years,” said Professor Ramogale.

Professor Ramogale added that it was contributions made by employees like those retiring that changed the Institution for the better.

“I am sure you will agree that the MUT you left upon retiring was a completely different Institution from the one that you joined,” said Professor Ramogale.

Nondumiso Mayvis Mathonsi, one of the retirees who was speaking at the ceremony, took the audience through her journey at MUT. She said the highlight of her stay at the University came when she became a permanent employee of the Institution, which enabled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of studying further.

“Being a permanent employee meant that I qualified for a study grant,” said Mathonsi. “I am glad that today I have a Master’s degree in Public Management, thanks to MUT.”

MUT core values themed selfie spot excites the youth

Sindile Mthembu, S3 Civil Engineering student, enjoying the new selfie spot

Taking the cue from Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, who uses every speaking opportunity to talk about MUT values, the University has taken a bigger step to put values ‘right on your face’, as people say. The first three value sets are Respect, Excellence & Integrity. These values are painted on the walls where there is a large traffic of students passing by. This is one of the new on-campus selfie spots.

“We decided on using a non-mainstream approach to communicate our message. These days, we note that young people prefer to take photos in areas with a certain aspect of ambiance. Our painted messages on values have been so designed to create an impression that the person is doing something on or with the painting. We encourage our colleagues to take part in a challenge to see how best one takes a picture such that it looks like they are doing the real deal”, said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: MarComms.

These new selfie spots reinforce awareness on what MUT’s core values stand for.

Correction: “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”

Press release statement

For immediate release: 19 September 2021

Submitted by: The Department of Marketing & Communications

Via email: Hlophe@mut.ac.za

 

19 September 2021

Via email: mondli.makhanya@citypress.co.za 

Correction: “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”

Dear Mr Makhanya

The article, “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”, published on the City Press edition of 19 September 2021, makes inaccurate and misleading claims about the sexual harassment investigation and how MUT treated it. MUT wants to correct the following for the record:

  1. The headline, “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”, is inaccurate and misleading. While there was a Task Team assigned to this investigation, their recommendation was made bearing in mind that a formal disciplinary process would be undertaken by the university. The Task Team’s mandate was to establish whether there was ground for the University to institute disciplinary hearing against the accused. That disciplinary process is underway and has not yet been concluded.
  2. The disciplinary process against the same lecturer in 2016 could not proceed because the witnesses were no longer available to testify against the accused. MUT, like all universities, operates within the confines of the law where a disciplinary process of this nature requires witnesses to give evidence to support their claims. It is unfortunate that universities are spaces of transit, where students leave as soon as they complete their studies. It is also equally unfortunate that when it comes to rape, sexual assault and harassment; many victims choose to remain silence in fear of being stigmatised.
  3. The University’s stand on issues of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and Gender-based violence (GBV) is unequivocal. This is the reason why the University placed the alleged lecturer on precautionary suspension as soon as the allegations were brought to the University’s attention. While it is important to remember that the alleged lecturer is presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise, the University can confirm that he is still suspended from all University’s activities until this matter is concluded.
  4. In addition, the University ran an aggressive sexual harassment campaign to raise awareness on sexual harassment and GBV, and encouraged staff and students to report such incidents.

To address the continued silence among victims of crimes of a sexual nature, the University has now coined a new campaign, “Breaking the silence” and will be collaborating with prominent rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors. The Institution recognises that this case is a microcosm of the bigger rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment pandemic that South Africa faces. As such, the University’s campaign – “Breaking the silence” – will contribute to this fight on a scale that transcends MUT’s confines.

It is unfortunate that despite the University issuing a detailed response on Tuesday 14 September 2021, the reporter chose to cherry-pick the responses that make the University seem as though it is not doing anything to bring the matter to its finality. This vital, yet omitted, information could have made the story to appear more balanced and not contribute to the sad narrative that the country has no political will to address crimes of a sexual nature.

Please refer to the University responses to your questions attached to this document.

Ends

Correction: “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”

Press release statement

For immediate release: 19 September 2021

Submitted by: The Department of Marketing & Communications

Via email: Hlophe@mut.ac.za

19 September 2021

Via email: mondli.makhanya@citypress.co.za

Correction: “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”

Dear Mr Makhanya

The article, “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”, published on the City Press edition of 19 September 2021, makes inaccurate and misleading claims about the sexual harassment investigation and how MUT treated it. MUT wants to correct the following for the record:

  1. The headline, “MUT lecturer guilty of sex for marks”, is inaccurate and misleading. While there was a Task Team assigned to this investigation, their recommendation was made bearing in mind that a formal disciplinary process would be undertaken by the university. The Task Team’s mandate was to establish whether there was ground for the University to institute disciplinary hearing against the accused. That disciplinary process is underway and has not yet been concluded.
  2. The disciplinary process against the same lecturer in 2016 could not proceed because the witnesses were no longer available to testify against the accused. MUT, like all universities, operates within the confines of the law where a disciplinary process of this nature requires witnesses to give evidence to support their claims. It is unfortunate that universities are spaces of transit, where students leave as soon as they complete their studies. It is also equally unfortunate that when it comes to rape, sexual assault and harassment; many victims choose to remain silence in fear of being stigmatised.
  3. The University’s stand on issues of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and Gender-based violence (GBV) is unequivocal. This is the reason why the University placed the alleged lecturer on precautionary suspension as soon as the allegations were brought to the University’s attention. While it is important to remember that the alleged lecturer is presumed to be innocent until proven otherwise, the University can confirm that he is still suspended from all University’s activities until this matter is concluded.
  4. In addition, the University ran an aggressive sexual harassment campaign to raise awareness on sexual harassment and GBV, and encouraged staff and students to report such incidents.

To address the continued silence among victims of crimes of a sexual nature, the University has now coined a new campaign, “Breaking the silence” and will be collaborating with prominent rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors. The Institution recognises that this case is a microcosm of the bigger rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment pandemic that South Africa faces. As such, the University’s campaign – “Breaking the silence” – will contribute to this fight on a scale that transcends MUT’s confines.

It is unfortunate that despite the University issuing a detailed response on Tuesday 14 September 2021, the reporter chose to cherry-pick the responses that make the University seem as though it is not doing anything to bring the matter to its finality. This vital, yet omitted, information could have made the story to appear more balanced and not contribute to the sad narrative that the country has no political will to address crimes of a sexual nature.

Please refer to the University responses to your questions attached to this document.

 

Ends

MUT broadcasts its State of the University address on radio

Professor Ramogale addressing staff, students and parents on MUT Radio

In an unprecedented move on 16 September 2021, the Mangosuthu University of Technology executive management delivered the annual State of the University (SOTU) address on its recently opened radio station, MUT Radio. The Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale, and his team, were also heard on the Nongoma FM, Ugu Youth Radio, and Ntokozo FM as part of a strategy to increase accessibility for parents and the public.

Having the SOTU broadcast on Nongoma FM, Ugu Youth Radio, and Ntokozo FM was part of collaboration between MUT Radio and its three community radio counterparts. At the heart of this collaboration was the university’s commitment to overcome the barrier that the internet often creates and increasing access for students and their parents in remote areas.

Leading from the front, Professor Ramogale commented on the resilience shown by both staff and students. He observed that despite the gloom and uncertainty that continues to accompany the lockdown that is imposed by the government to deal with the coronavirus, staff and students were going about their daily duties “quietly and attentively”. He also thanked staff and students for complying with the COVID-19 protocols to save lives, and secure the academic year. He also acknowledged the role played by the University’s COVID-19 Task Team in raising awareness about the virus “and introducing the measures that ensured protection of all”. One of these measures was the introduction of the vaccination site on the University main campus on 15 September 2021.

Professor Ramogale also acknowledged the role played by the University Council, labour unions – NEHAWU and TENUSA, and the Student Representative Council, in bringing stability to the University.

Professor Ramogale pointed out a “huge milestone” that has been achieved by the University. The University has just finished its first semester. “We are commencing our second semester on 4 October 2021. The faculty deans have informed me they have bid farewell to S4 students who are now going to begin their work integrated learning,” Professor Ramogale said.

Professor Ramogale appealed to the annual students to “keep your nose to the grindstone. By 18 December 2021, some of you will be done with your university studies; some of you will be moving to the next academic year. I wish you good luck,” said Professor Ramogale. The Acting VC also thanked staff without whom the “journey would not have been possible.”

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua, who presented the state of teaching and learning said: “As complex as the challenges of blended learning are, we cannot afford to be left behind. our infrastructure needs to be up to scratch; students must be supported but students must also take responsibility for their own learning by taking responsible decisions and not allow themselves to be misled by short term interests of people pursuing personal agendas.”

Professor Ramogale also stated that the University has had to deal with a difficult financial situation, where students’ debt is huge, and staff expect the University to keep a conducive situation for them. “Our needs are greater than our financial resources,” he said. Professor Ramogale said everyone must brace for a tough 2022, and be prepared “to walk the difficult path.”

This view was supported by the presentation of the University’s Chief Financial Officer, Rodney Delomoney. Delomoney said, “We need to take measures to build a financially sustainable University.”

Another member of Executive Management that made a presentation was  Dr Johan van Koller, the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Resources and Planning.

Follow the links below to listen to speeches:

  1. Professor Marcus Ramogale – https://iono.fm/e/1101760
  2. Dr Manyane Makua – https://iono.fm/e/1101765
  3. Dr Johan van Koller – https://iono.fm/e/1101767
  4. Rodney Delomoney – https://iono.fm/e/1101769

 

SWEET Chair selected to Innovation for African Universities programme

Professor Haupt

The DST/SARChi Chair: Sustainable Work, Education, Environment & Transformation (SWEET) and Research Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, Theo Haupt, has been selected to be part of the Innovation for African Universities programme.

Evarita Kamau, the Communications Officer of the Innovation for African Universities team, said the programme would be managed by the Centre of Excellence team that comprises Change School, University of London, and University of Nairobi. Professor Haupt said the achievement demonstrates that MUT is being noticed, and is growing a reputation as a research partner that international universities want to work with to solve societal challenges.

Professor Haupt added that MUT has been successful in its bid to participate in the prestigious Innovation for African Universities (IAU) programme with a project that has entrepreneurship education as its focus.

According to Professor Haupt, the project aligns with MUT’s commitment to expose students to entrepreneurial thinking and approaches, and the decision by the MUT Senate to incorporate entrepreneurship education in all academic programmes offered at the University.

“This particular project contributes to realising the vision of MUT to be a transforming, equitable, sustainable and academically excellent University of Technology anchored in its communities,” said Professor Haupt.

It’s 221 and counting for MUT on-campus COVID-19 vaccination site

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Dr Johan van Koller, left, and SRC President, Mthokozisi, cutting the ribbon at the vaccination site

This week, MUT officially opened the University’s COVID-19 vaccination site on the University’s main campus. The on-campus vaccination site has already registered over 221 staff and students in a week that it has opened its doors.

At the official opening ceremony, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Resources and Planning, Dr Johan van Koller, and the Student Representative Council President, Mthokozisi Gumede cut the symbolic ribbon officially welcoming staff and students to the site. Staff were then handed over to the vaccination site manager who took them through the steps that individuals have to go through when they go to the site for vaccination.

The university commended Gumede for leading students from the front in the campaign to get vaccinated. Gumede, who took his jab at site last week, continues to encourage his fellow students to protect themselves and their loved ones by taking the jab.

Sister Nomusa Mkhwanazi, the Head of the University Clinic, said staff and students should take advantage of the convenience of having the site on campus and use the site. She added that vaccinating against the virus has many benefits.

Meanwhile, the Department of Marketing and Communications continues with its campaigns to encourage staff and students to get a jab and win prizes.

MUT celebrates National Wills Week with free will drafting services for Umlazi residents

Professor Sam Lubbe, right, with Akbar Ally, middle, and an intern at Ally’s department

Residents of Umlazi Township, and MUT staff members are now breathing a sigh of relief after consultations with legal experts at the University’s North Campus from 14 – 16 September 2021, to draft their last will and testament.

Azwi Mufamadi, Director: Public Relations and Brand Management, said the university chose will drafting services as an area that the university can be of assistance to the Umlazi Township residents as part of the Anchor Strategy.

“In the first place, as an anchor university, MUT wants to partner with its immediate communities in a bid to improve the well-being of its surrounding communities. Drafting a will can be expensive for many in our communities and there is this misconception that you need to have a lot of money or a large estate to have a will. Yet, having a will is important for protecting one’s legacy and ensuring that one’s asserts are left to in the right hands. Our Accounting and Law colleagues, partnered with law firms to dedicate their time to assist communities with free will drafting services,” said Mufamadi.

The central message from the legal experts was that a will is an official document that makes it clear who inherits the possessions of the deceased. Mufamadi said having a will was essential for preventing fights over the deceased’s estate, which is prevalent in the townships and other places where the word-of-mouth rules. This view was supported by Noluthando Ndlovu from Qomazitha Zikode Attorneys.

Bongekile Mthembu from Umlazi ‘S’ Philani Valley, who made use of the services starting on 14 September, said she always worried about what would happen to her house when she passed away. Mthembu said the legal experts “were God-sent”. Mthembu lives with three grandchildren. On 15 September, she again visited the University to have her Will drawn by the legal experts.

Retired Research Professor in the Faculty of Management Sciences, Sam Lubbe, also benefited from the free legal services provided. He discussed his inheritance matters with Akbar Ally, a Lecturer in the Department of Accounting and Law. Ally is also an attorney. MUT Maintenance staff were also some staff members that benefited. The free service, which stated on 14 September 2021, ended three days later.

The free will drafting services were offered by staff members from MUT, ProBon.Org, and Qomazitha Zikode Attorneys.

Co-operative Education brings financial wisdom to final year students

The meeting was conducted online

The Directorate of Co-operative Education has collaborated with the Heartlines to bring financial education to final year MUT students. The Heartlines Money Value Programme, offered in partnership with Nedbank, is designed to influence students’ attitudes and behaviour positively regarding using money.

The first to benefit from this collaboration were Information and Communication Technology (ICT) work integrated learning (WIL) class on 15 September 2021. According to Dr Fundiswa Nofemela, the Director in the department, the Heartlines Money Value Programme uses teachings from an award-winning film, ‘Nothing for Mahhala,’ to address topics around maintaining and budgeting for financial health; the importance of savings; understanding credit; and banking products and services offered in different financial institutions. These sessions seek to teach individuals to maintain or improve their current financial situation and begin a journey of achieving financial wellness.

Explaining the programme, Fana Mahlangu, Consumer Finance Education Programme facilitator, said: “How we save, borrow and spend is often dictated by our intrinsic beliefs and values about money. It is important to correct the wrong beliefs about the use of money, and to instil financial education which will lead to the community being financially healthy.” Mahlangu prompted the ICT class to think about whether they were saving money.

Dr Nofemela said the students enjoyed this session and shared their stories. This was indicated by some of the questions they asked. They wanted to know what costs more between transferring money using an ATM, or using an app. Moreover, what happens if one starts investing in a retirement plan and something happens to them. “Will my family/children still get the money,” the students asked.

Dr Nofemela said the nature of the questions “indicated that these sessions are necessary for our final year students”. The programme will be presented to more groups of students soon.

MUT academics present paper on internationalisation efforts in supporting students

Professor Bryant

MUT is making in-roads in its quest to build and maintain strong relationships with international organisations. Professor Katie Bryant, Head of the University’s Writing Centre, and Dr Nathi Madondo, a Lecturer in the Academic Literacies and Language Unit (ALLU), and Dr Muntu Chili, Executive Director of the Centre for Academic Development at Vaal University of Technology, presented an academic paper at a conference on internationalisation in the South African university context.

Professor Bryant said their project was supported by MUT and Canada’s Academics Without Borders. She said they presented on findings from their project that was entitled: “Tools of empowerment: investigating how an evidence-informed approach to writing pedagogy and research development can increase graduation rates, graduate employability, and research impact at Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban, South Africa”.

The project was a collaboration between Canada’s Carleton University and MUT. The project sought to develop evidence-informed writing, and academic literacies support for MUT students and staff. It was funded by MUT’s UCDP-Grant and Academics Without Borders. Since early 2020, Heloise Emdon, Manager: Internationally Sponsored Research, at Carleton University, facilitated regular sessions with the Academic Literacies and Language Unit (ALLU). The Writing Centre staff conducted an in-depth evaluation of practices within both units.

“From this evaluation, we have devised evidence-informed ways of moving forward to ensure we offer the most effective methods of helping students and staff at the University to learn how to write for academic and research purposes in their disciplines,” said Professor Bryant. Professor Bryant said that they had been working on the project since August 2019, “and continued our efforts despite the challenges COVID-19 posed to this international project.”

Professor Bryant said the forum provided them with an opportunity to show case important internationalisation work they have been doing at MUT to the South African higher education context.

“Engaging in this work and then presenting on this research and praxis at a conference on engaging in internationalisation efforts at South African universities is related to MUT’s strategic goal 4 – targeted national engagement and internationalisation,” said Professor Bryant.

Quarterly IT conference to augment cyber security

Njabulo Xaba

As technology continues to advance, cyber crimes are evolving with it. Cyber security is on the minds of information technology professional.

To ensure that the MUT informational technology system is secure and on par with higher education IT standards, staff members at the Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) took part in the quarterly IT Directors Forum organised by the Higher Education Information Technology South Africa (HEITSA). The IT Directors Forum, where all 26 South African universities share ideas on the profession.

Njabulo Xaba, IT Technician in the department, said one of the areas of focus this quarter was the cyber security scorecard. Xaba said the security scorecard is a tool that is used by 14 Universities out of the 26 to compare the maturity of each university’s cyber security resilience.

Xaba added that the university’s IT systems would be more secure “as per the conversations that took place during this workshop.  Also, the IT&N staff members who attended this workshop would have gained so much knowledge from colleagues from other universities which were presenting”. The other members of the IT&N that attended the conference were Dr Marlo de Swardt, Senior Director: IT&N and Pritham Seethal, Head of IT Operations and Infrastructure.

This virtual conference took place on 15 September 2021.

MUT on-campus vaccination site opens its doors

Raymond Zulu, left, and Nikela Mchunu

Members of the University community are taking advantage of the on-campus COVID-19 vaccination site to get themselves vaccinated.

The COVID-19 Task Team Convener and Head of the Clinic at MUT, Sister Nomusa Mkhwanazi said there was evidence that some people were not vaccinating because they had to commute or walk long distances to get to the vaccination sites.

“So, we thought that with a bigger population at MUT, it will be convenient for them to vaccinate on campus” said Sister Mkhwanazi. Our main objective is to increase the uptake of the vaccine.”

As of this morning, over 110 individuals had vaccinated since the site started operating on Tuesday, 7 September. Those who were the first to vaccinate include Mthokozisi Gumede, the President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at MUT, and other student leaders. The first staff members to vaccinate at this site were Nikela Mchunu, the Supervisor of the cleaners, and Raymond Zulu, from the Department of Maintenance.

The numbers of staff and students vaccinating are increasing as the site gets popular, and as staff and students realise the convenience of having a vaccination site on campus. The site provides both Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

Sister Mkhwanazi advised staff and students to first register to make it easier for the staff at the site. She mentioned that the site was meant to serve only MUT staff and students for now.

Research Directorate hosts its annual indaba

Some staff members that attended the Research Indaba, with Dr Mienie, front row, middle

Inspired by goal 4 of the MUT Strategic Plan 2025 – targeted national engagement and internationalization – and the prevailing atmosphere of cooperation, the Research Directorate at MUT held the annual Research Indaba from 6 to 7 September 2021 off-campus.

The Indaba laid foundation for improvement of research output and quality in the coming years. There are several reasons for this. In the first place, staff were satisfied with the report that Dr Anette Mienie, Director of the Research Directorate presented at the Indaba. The report highlighted how the directorate was paying attention and prioritising the needs of staff members that are doing research. On the first day of the Research Indaba, Dr Mienie gave feedback on the initiatives agreed upon during the previous Research Indaba. Dr Mienie’s report was widely accepted by staff as it showed that the directorate had given attention to some of the crucial issues that staff raised. Some of these issues were the revision of the policy and procedures on Trust Funds.

Another important aspect of the report was a development affecting funds in the personal trust funds. Dr Mienie reported that the amount available in the personal trust funds will now be increased, while amounts allocated to departmental trust funds will be decreased.

“It is suggested to increase the amount (per output unit) allocated to personal trust funds from R15,000.00 to R20,000.00.  Further, decrease the amount allocated (per output unit) to departmental trust funds from R10,000.00 to R5,000.00,” said Dr Mienie.

In addition, procurement matters were presented by Siboniso Mthembu, the Acting Head of the MUT Procurement Department. Mthembu emphasised the need for staff to educate themselves about Procurement procedures and understand their roles. Procurement holds a strategic position as it provides the whole University with the required infrastructure.

The guest speaker was from Carleton University in Canada. Heloise Emdon, Manager of International Sponsored Research, gave an update on what is happening in the world of research. Emdon told staff of the new dynamics in the research arena. She said the prevailing atmosphere was that it was no longer enough to gauge the impact of academic research papers based only on the journals the papers are published in. Emdon said there are now other indicators that are used to measure the impact of research papers. One of these is the impact the research would have upon the society. This indicator blends in well with the University’s philosophy that the Institution should uplift the immediate society. This dovetailed on a presentation on the Anchor Strategy during the event.

The second day focused on the Research Strategic Plan.  Dr Mienie said that the activities and targets of her Directorate’s Plan were realistic and achievable.

“It is my hope that going forward we will make great strides towards meeting and even exceeding the objectives captured in the MUT Strategic Plan 2020 – 2025,” said Dr Mienie.