Press statement: Bheki Hlophe, 082 432 1805 26 October 2020 For immediate release
MUT Council re-instates chairperson after forensic investigation
The Council of Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has re-instated its chairperson, Mr Morailane Morailane after he was exonerated of any wrongdoing through a Council-commissioned forensic investigation by SNG-Thornton. Council deliberated on the final report and adopted it at its virtual meeting of the University Council held through Microsoft Teams on 23 October 2020.
In a statement to the MUT community, Interim Council Chairperson Dr Zethu Qunta explained that Council resolved that it “should invite back to Council, members of Council, such as the Chairperson of Council, whom the SNG-Thornton report has exonerated”. The investigation was commissioned to probe alleged corruption and irregularities at the University
Dr Qunta’s statement also added that the Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale will continue in his acting capacity.
“The university community and all stakeholders are requested to give the Acting Vice- Chancellor and his management team maximum support as they execute their duties and responsibilities,” said Dr Qunta.
Bheki Hlophe (Mr) Publications and Media Relations officer: Marketing & Communications
Mangosuthu University of Technology
Statement on an incident where two individuals were allegedly stabbed at MUT
On Sunday 18 October, the Mangosuthu University of Technology community woke up to the news of a near fatal incident in which two individuals were allegedly stabbed at a “University event” on Saturday. Because this was not a planned University event; it was difficult to even locate the University contact person who might have been at the forefront of planning the event.
The incident took place at the time when the University is busy with its semester examinations and continuous assessments. MUT is at the forefront of running various campaigns dissuading students from social gatherings and had thus suspended any form of social gatherings. It is unfortunate that such an unsanctioned soccer tournament took place at the university on Saturday, 17 October 2020
This matter is currently under investigation with the South African Police Services and a court case was today postponed to 27 October 2020. The University is also conducting its own internal investigation to establish what happened.
The University wishes the two individuals a speedy recovery.
Azwi Mufamadi (Mr) Director Public Relations & Brand Management
Marketing & Communications
Mangosuthu University of Technology
Being concerned with the lack of adherence to the COVID-19 protocols; Lizwi Masondo, the MUT COVID-19 Compliance Officer, convened a meeting with strategic colleagues at the University to find solutions to the problem. Such colleagues were from the Student Affairs department, Protection Services, the Marketing and Communications department, and the Clinic. Lizwi said: “The problem is so big, it is scary. It looks like some of us think that moving the country to Lockdown Level 1 has meant that the Coronavirus is no longer with us. On a number of occasions, I have noticed both staff and students not wearing their masks; or they wear them, as soon as they have gone beyond the gate, they take them off, or push them down and expose the nose and mouth. Obviously this is not how the mask is supposed to be worn. Some staff members refuse to be sanitised at the gate. They say they have their own sanitisers. That is risky. What if they forget to use their sanitisers as they leave the car? Everybody becomes exposed,” said Lizwi.
During the meeting the team took a number of resolutions which are aimed at ensuring that everyone complies with COVID-19 protocols so that the University and the public are safe from the pandemic and the possibility of a second wave.
Lizwi said one of the resolutions taken at the meeting was for the Marketing and Communications department to run a campaign to remind staff and students to adhere to the applicable protocols. “The Department of Marketing and Communications has already started preparations for the campaign to remind staff and students about adhering to COVID-19 protocols and the consequences of failure to do so,” said Lizwi. Lizwi also mentioned that the University will take measures against non-compliers.
The other resolution is for MUT management to conduct a walk-about across the University, impressing upon those not complying that drastic steps would be taken against them. “Our hands are tied in many ways. We are no longer able to distribute flyers to students and staff as scientists have said the virus can survive on the paper surface for some hours. We will use word-of-mouth, and the loud hailer to get our message across,” said Lizwi.
Lizwi also appealed to staff and students to look after the sanitisers, and report if sanitisers are no longer available at the sanitising stations.
On 14 and 15 October 2020, the Department of Student Affairs hosted its annual Sisterhood and Brotherhood programmes online. Dr Paulette Naidoo, the Director: Student Counselling said they did not want to “disappoint” the students, and decided to use technology to run the programmes.
The theme of the Brotherhood session was “Man of Substance”. The theme aimed to encourage young males to consider the values, principles and behaviours that constitute a ‘man of substance’. “The Student Counselling unit is particularly concerned about rates of GBV, alcohol and drug abuse, and the tendency to give in to peer pressure, and engage in negative activities which can adversely affect one’s academic progress at University,” said Dr Naidoo. The guest speakers were Sithembiso Ndlazi from the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), and serial entrepreneur, Sbusiso Leope (popularly known as DJ Sbu).
The speakers advised students about respect for themselves and others; be authentic and true to oneself as opposed to giving in to peer pressure and negative male stereotypes; have the right priorities; and hold oneself and other males accountable for irresponsible and unjust behaviours and actions, like alcohol and drug abuse, and Gender-Based Violence.
Students who attended the event emphasised the need for more frequent Brotherhood sessions that continued to focus on male mental health, poor help-seeking behaviours, and alcohol and drug abuse.
The Sisterhood theme, on the hand, was “Real queens fix each other’s crowns”. The event sought to highlight the need for women to look after each other, and not let each other down. Dr Naidoo said they expected the MUT female students to inspire each other by doing what is good. “This is especially important in the context of GBV, where women need to build each other up and collectively stand against GBV perpetrated against women” said Dr Naidoo. Guest speaker Jabulisile Langa, Site Manager at Thuthuzela Care Centre, an affiliate to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), emphasized the importance of female codes of solidarity, loyalty and respect for each other. Jabulisile also informed the students about the resources they could utilize to educate and support each other. The Thuthuzela Care Centre is at Umlazi Township.
The second Sisterhood speaker, Ayanda Borotho, an acclaimed actress, former model, author and motivational speaker; emphasized the importance of females reflecting on and confronting their own pain and underlying insecurities which manifest in the ‘degrading and dethroning’ of female peers.
Ayanda reminded students that they “cannot heal what we do not reveal”. She challenged the female audience to interrogate what the concept of ‘sisterhood’ embodies, and to strive towards creating ‘sisterhood spaces’ where aspects such as solidarity, inclusivity, safety and security, honesty and pen-mindedness could be nurtured and expressed collectively.
The Department of Nature Conservation has used its participation in the annual weed busting celebration by removing alien plant species on the verge of the Faculty of Natural Sciences fence.
Sithembile Nkosi, a lecturer in the department, said the removal of alien plants by Nature Conservation students on 8 October 2020 was part of the Ecosystems Rehabilitation and Restoration Community Engagement Project (ERR) mandate to identify, prioritise and restore degraded ecosystems around KwaZulu-Natal. Weed busting celebration was part of the South African Weed Buster Week, an annual event that was initiated by the Department of Environmental Affairs. The event is aimed at highlighting the importance of controlling, managing, and eradicating alien plants in the country.
Winile Dludla, second year Nature Conservation student who took apart in the removal of alien plants, said the initiative was important because alien plants took up too much space at the expense of indigenous plants, and consume a lot of water. She said they identified 31 alien plants and removed them in a manner that ensured that they did not regrow. “We use hand pulling, slashing, and herbicides,” said Winile.
The species which were eradicated included Ricinus communis (Castor oil plant), Annona glabra (Monkey Apple), Ipomoea purpurea (Morning glory), Senna didymobotrya (Peanut-butter cassia), Solanum mauritianum (Bugweed), Lantana camara (Tickberry) and Sesbania punicea (Red sebania).
Recognising the role of peers in supporting fellow students, the Student Counselling Unit at the Department of Student Affairs has conducted two programmes to assist students with their academic challenges. The programmes are a result of the department’s recognition of some of the pressures that students face as a result of the COVID-19.
On 2 October 2020, the Peer Helpers set up tables in student residences and invited students to share their concerns and problems. Lungi Mkhize, Student Counsellor at the unit, said the “Friday Table” was being used “as a platform to engage with students on their current adjustment challenges and needs; and to create awareness about the range of student support services and resources available at the Student Counselling Unit.” This programme happens on Fridays.
In August and September, Peer Helpers conducted a programme that was aimed at supporting University students in residence during Covid-19 Lockdown. ‘Touching Base’, as the programme is called, was run with students at their residences. Lungi said the online programme afforded students the opportunity to discuss topical issues affecting them since their return to University. “Evident from the ‘Touching Base’ programme was that MUT students were experiencing a range of personal, academic and learnership/employment-related anxieties stemming from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. Lungi added that that students and peer helpers were able to share information, and support each other. Students also collectively brainstormed ideas and solutions to their challenges under the supervision and guidance of Student Counsellors in the unit.
A very stunned Professor Marcus Ramogale had to compose himself after his colleagues decided to organise a surprise birthday celebration for him on 14 October 2020. Offering the usual smile that has given MUT assurance over the years, Professor Ramogale said to the ‘conspirators’: “you all can act”, as his colleagues burst out singing Happy Birthday! Most of these colleagues were Executive Committee Members. Professor Ramogale had planned to have a quiet birthday with his family.
The University senior staff highlighted Professor Ramogale’s quiet but effective leadership. Dr Johan van Koller, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Resources and Planning, pointed out the calmness with which Professor Ramogale was leading the University, and that Professor Ramogale was an objective individual. Dr Manyane Makua, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, applauded Professor Ramogale for his leadership, particularly at these tough times.
Responding to comments by his colleagues, Professor Ramogale highlighted that the contribution by his colleagues was making it easy for him to meet the obligations and expectations of the Department of Higher Education and Training. “Your contribution has led to stability at the University,” said Professor Ramogale. Responding on comments about his leadership skills, the Acting Vice-Chancellor told staff that everyone could be a leader as “leadership could be learnt”.
He said that a leader must have the right approach. He said power alone was not enough. “You need to be a philosopher king,” he said.
In less than six weeks, South Africa will be rallying behind the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. There will be lots of speeches and campaigns and the world will continue later on as normal. Women and children will continue to be abused because ill-minded individuals cannot admit their addiction towards abuse. Today, we are pleased to announce a campaign against sexual abuse of students and staff spearheaded by Dr Manyane Makua. The campaign is ‘Hands Off Me, Perve’. It is a call to action for the University community to root out abuse on women and children. Speaking at EMC last week, Dr Makua who was acting as Vice-Chancellor at the time said, “I cannot believe for the life of me that some people could be preying on our students. These are children sent to study and we should be parents to them and help them navigate a successful student experience.” Dr Makua insisted on a sustainable programme that will protect “our students and staff as there could even be staff impacted by sexual harassment activities”. The ‘Hands Off Me, Perve’ campaign purports to show students that the University has taken a serious stand against Gender-Based Violence; and the campaign is strongly aligned to the Draft Policy on Sexual Harassment against students. With support from management, the focus on sexual harassment is meant to provide students with a great experience while on campus and an assurance that the university will not tolerate any acts of abuse. To report abuse, use the following platforms: 0800 228 999 | email@example.com | www.tip-offs.com. The identity of those who report will remain anonymous.
The rate of new COVID-19 infections might be low but South Africa and the rest of the world are not out of the woods yet. This is according to Dr Kuben Naidoo, Senior Lecturer at MUT’s Department of Nature Conservation, during a lecture he delivered on Tuesday, 6 October 2020.
In his lecture address, titled COVID-19: A threat on a global scale, Dr Naidoo gave an explanation of the nature and behaviour of the notorious Coronavirus, and how it transfers from animals to human being. Dr Naidoo reminded virtual attendees that South Africa was at risk of being hit by the second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Responding to a question from one of the attendees, Dr Naidoo mentioned that “there will be a second wave” in South Africa; a sentiment that was also echoed by Professor Roger Coopoosamy, Acting Head of Department of Nature Conservation. Dr Naidoo appealed to everyone not to be complacent. “The Coronavirus is going to be with us for a long time since there is no vaccine yet. We just need to learn to live with the virus,” he said. He added that there was still to learn about the Coronavirus.
Dr Naidoo further emphasised the need for everyone to abide by the COVID-19 protocols to limit the spread of the disease. Professor Coopoosamy reminded fellow attendees that the total eradication of the virus was not possible as yet. Professor Coopoosamy explained to participants that there is no vaccine for the common flu, even though people have been living with this flu for ages. He pointed out that the same could be true with the Coronavirus, which is in fact a kind of flu.
Although things seem to be almost back to normal after the national Lockdown, the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic remains real despite the lowering of Lockdown alert levels. MUT remains on high alert. The University’s Department of Marketing and Communications is not leaving anything to chance; it has now extended its awareness messages to the restrooms. The Senior Director: Marketing and Communications, Mbali Mkhize said one of the ways to get the message across was through putting up messages in places where they are least expected. “Restrooms are one of the places that are frequented by staff and students. We thought we needed to post some of the messages there so that all will remember that we are still in the war against COVID-19. As much as we appreciate the fact that students and staff are doing their part, we are aware that everyone still needs to be careful. In fact, this could be the most dangerous time when people might think that things are back to normal since the President’s last announcement. We want to remind our stakeholders to remain on high alert despite the opening of the economy,” said Mbali.
Like all post-school education institutions, MUT utilises tutors to assist students with their course material to improve their academic performance, which leads to a better throughput rate. At least two of the University’s academics, Dr Vince Ndou of the Department of Community Extension, and Dr Joseph Bwapwa of the Department of Civil Engineering, rely on the work of tutors to help students with their academic work. “Tutors can help strengthen subject comprehension, boost confidence, and build important learning skills to students,” said Dr Ndou, who is a Lecturer. Dr Ndou said he has always believed that supplemental learning to students was the best way of improving understanding of course content because tutoring gives students individualized attention that they do not get in a crowded classroom during the normal lecture times. Dr Ndou said he uses tutors from the Department of Community Extension to increase the throughput rate for the agricultural modules he teaches. He said one of those tutors also helps to keep students on track during their study time during recess.
Similarly, Dr Bwapwa said that unlike lecturers, tutors form personal relationships with students, which makes it easier for students to approach tutors about their academic challenges. Dr Bwapwa also said that the relationship between tutors and lecturers channels the former towards a career in academia. “Such a relationship may be part of succession planning,” said Dr Bwapwa. Dr Bwapwa added that he picked one of the best students to help in tackling students’ academic issues in order to produce well-equipped engineers.
Dr Bwapwa has nine tutors who assist over 400 students that he lectures across three levels of study. Some of these tutors are Thabani Sikhakhane, an S4 student; Ngcebo Kunene, an S3 student; Xolani Nkosi, another S3 student; Ayanda Gumede, an S2 student; and Ximba Minenhle, another S3 student. Dr Bwapwa said that what encouraged him was that he had people he looked up to when he was a student. For him the tutoring system gives tutors the same opportunity.
One of the tutors, Mfundo Mlambo, an S3 student, said his duties were helping students to cope with academic work. “I inspire them and share tricks on how to master exam questions, and understand the dynamics of life at the university,” said Mfundo.
Tshifhiwa Muravha, an S4 student, said that being a tutor has helped her personally and professionally. She said she learnt time management, among other things. Tshifhiwa heaped praises upon Dr Bwapwa for guiding her through S1.
At the meeting of Senate on Thursday, 8 October 2020, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale announced the appointment of Richard Chidzonga as Head of Department of Electrical Engineering and Professor Roger Coopoosamy as Acting Head of Department of Nature Conservation. MUT wishes them the best in their new positions.
LIVING FIT – by Lungi Nhlanhla, nutritional advisor
Start your LIVING-FIT journey today! Joining the MUT LIVING-FIT movement is free to all staff members and students. Book your free cardiovascular assessment done at the campus clinic. Talk to Lungi our in-house nutritional advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org) and then follow our regular posts on the GnF.
This week’s LIVING FIT topic is ‘obesity’. This year’s theme is: “Make eating whole foods a way of life”. This theme will have a big impact upon the health talks we are going to have in the coming weeks, starting this week. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines obesity and overweight as “having excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health”. WHO’s ‘crude’ population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). In terms of this measurement, the relationship between your height and weight is important. It determines if you are obese or not.
Did you know that 31% of men, and 68% of women in South Africa are obese? Being overweight or obese not only affects your self-esteem; it also leads to heart diseases, and potentially an early death. This is a big problem, not only in adults but also in children. In South Africa, 13% of children are obese. As a parent, you can reduce the risk of obesity in your children by ensuring that they eat healthy at home and at school and that they play or exercise regularly.
Some sobering statistics include that physical inactivity is responsible for 9% of premature deaths worldwide, yet 31% of adults worldwide (50% of South Africans) are physically inactive. To reduce the chances of obesity, please exercise regularly. Start small so you are not overwhelmed. Make good preparations. This is a change in your lifestyle. You will need to make some changes in your diet. You may need to buy a new training gear. Make sure you buy a good pair of training shoes. A discussion with a well-informed salesperson at a sport shop will help. Using wrong training shoes will hurt your joints, and discourage you from exercising.
Below is this week’s recipe. No Deep Fry Quick Crispy Fish and Chips
3 Fillets of fish (your choice and with skin on)
2 tablespoons (30ml) Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (125ml) Panko Crumbs (or any bread crumb or crumbing, preferably brown or whole wheat)
1 tablespoon (15ml) Seafood Spice Mix
1. Pat each fillet dry using a paper towel.
2. Brush each fillet with Dijon mustard covering only the fleshy surfaces.
3. In a bowl combine the crumbs with seafood spice and dip the mustard-covered parts of each fillet to evenly coat.
4. In a hot pan, heat a little amount of oil and sear each fillet skin side down first for a minute on each side to brown evenly.
5. Place the pan into a preheated oven for 3-5 minutes. Once removed, serve the fish with crispy veggie fried and salad.
Females should have a waist circumference of 88cm or less. Males should have a waist circumference of 102cm or below.
Exercise of the week
Planks are great because they work your core and will help you reduce your waist circumference. Planks work the whole body. This naturally results in a strong posture and overall strength.
On an exercise mat, or a beach towel, lie down on the floor face down, palms on the floor. Bend elbows to your chest. Your elbow and shoulder must be in a straight line. Keep your palms on the floor. Balance on your toes, keeping legs and shoulders width apart. Keeping your body straight, raise your body off the floor by tightening your stomach, thighs and bum muscles. Take care not to raise your bum, use your back or dip your hips, then hold this plank position for a minimum of 30 seconds. Keep your body straight and parallel to the ground.
Do three sets per day. Start from 30 seconds and build up to 50 seconds per day. Try to push to 60 seconds. The target is three 60-second sessions per day by the end of one month.
Today is the last day of Cyber Security Awareness Week presentations. Njabulo Xaba, IT Security Specialist at the Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) said MUT staff have been attending the presentations in their numbers. “This is a clear indication that staff take security of our network seriously. We hope this will translate to a massive improvement in the protection of our data, and information. The presentations are meant to empower our staff,” said Njabulo.
The MUT Registrar, Mike Naidoo was very appreciative of this initiative. “As an institution we need to ensure we have systems in place to prevent cyber infiltration, and in this regard, we rely on the expertise of our IT personnel. Should there be a data breach then as per the Protection of Personnel Information Act (POPIA) we could be fined up to a R1 million,” said Mike. The Institution stores large volumes of personal data which belongs to all its stakeholders. The Registrar said that any breach in the security of the system would have disastrous results for the University.
Dr Manyane Makua, who is the Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal this week, thanked staff for taking part in the initiative, and applauded IT&N for organizing the presentations, and for bringing experts with requisite knowledge and expertise. Dr Makua said that management had noted that the efforts of the IT&N had helped in bringing to the attention of everyone the risks and dangers in the cyber space that could cause damage on the University’s systems.
Throughout the week staff also got a chance to win prizes. Today one of those winners will walk away with the ultimate prizes.
On the last day of September 2020, the Department of Nature Conservation planted trees at Enduduzweni, a place for the visually impaired. This was part of the department’s Arbour Month celebrations.
September is recognised the world over as Arbor Month, a time to plant trees, and to revive the relationship people have with the environment. Enduduzweni is neighbour to the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
Sithembile Nkosi, a Lecturer in the department, said they decided to plant these ‘lungs of the earth’ because they are an important source of life and contribute to the environmental process. Sithembile said during September various efforts are coordinated planting trees and raising awareness on the importance of plants.
Quoting the Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, Makhotso Sotyu, Sithembile said the protection of the trees and forests was key to a healthy environment. “This includes the reduction of greenhouse gases through the absorption of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. The rate of developing industries should be equal to the rate of tree planting; in that way, we can enjoy luxuries provided by current developments while not compromising our future and the future of the next generation.”
Sithembile also said that planting trees was also a form of atonement for the damage that humans are causing upon the environment, and that involving communities would allow them to take ownership of tree planting. This was the case for the community of Enduduzweni; they showed interest in the planting of the trees and asked important questions, one of which was whether the yellowwood tree that was planted would not damage their environment. Some members of the community described the yellowwood as a ‘umnqumo’.
The planting of trees was an initiative of the Ecosystems Rehabilitation and Restoration Community Engagement Project (ERR), which the department runs. ERR believes in partnering with communities, especially the University’s immediate neighbours.
When the national Lockdown was announced in March, many international students could not travel back to their home countries. The fact that the Lockdown was accompanied by the uncertainty of not knowing how long it would last made the thought of travelling home an even harder one to entertain. As a result, many of these students ended up staying in their host countries. This was the case for third year Human Resources Management student, Namile Dlamini.
Namile is from Swaziland. “I did not go home when the lockdown started, because I thought it would be just three weeks of Lockdown to contain the virus. I sadly have not been home ever since,” she said. Namile spent her Lockdown in University residence. MUT moved international students to on campus accommodation where it could guarantee their safety and access to University resources. “The biggest highlight was getting us accommodation on campus. I had never felt so safe and content like that in my years of being at MUT. Staying on campus has been an even bigger achievement given our newly adopted learning system. I’ve been coping much better with virtual learning, because of the quietness and resources at my disposal,” said Namile.
Namile is a fan of online teaching and learning. She has taken advantage of lectures being conducted online to minimize her travel to and from lectures, reducing chances of coming in contacting with large groups.
“I love online lectures firstly because the sessions can be recorded, so you can always listen to them at any time. You can just log on to class wherever you are. But it’ll take time for others to get a hang of it because it is very new. The only problem with virtual lectures is the network glitches in some areas, but that’s when the recording comes in to save the day,” said Namile.
With the restriction on international travel having been lifted, Namile hopes to go home to meet her family. She admits that she has been homesick and looks forward to being with her family.
On 28 September 2020, the University’s alumni officers, Modjadji Baloyi and Nganele Dube, visited eThekwini Municipality’s Departments of Architecture and Human Settlements where they met four alumni – Nokwethemba Zulu, Nkosinathi Dlamini, Hlengiwe Mthethwa, and Sibongakonke Gumede, as part of the on-going programme to strengthen relations between the University and its former students. The visit was part of the University’s general programme to create and keep a strong bond with our alumni. Modjadji said they wanted to reconnect with the alumni. The office has lost contacts of some of the alumni. “Contacts were lost as a result of alumni moving around. We also invited the alumni to take part in alumni projects, some of which are initiated by the alumni themselves, and run by the Alumni Office,” said Modjadji. Modjadji added that their main goal was to maintain a productive relationship with alumni.
The two pressing projects that alumni are requested to take part in are the Alumni Fund, and the revision sessions for students. Alumni contribute to the Fund by donating money. The Fund assists students from disadvantaged background with registration fees. Alumni can also donate benches so the students can have some comfort while they are still part of the student body.
The revision programme aims at assisting students who have been hard hit by the COVID-19 restrictions. Students had to vacate the University residences before the Lockdown started; some of them struggled with online learning. Some alumni came back to give their time to help students with revision sessions on Teams organized by the Department of Marketing and Communications. These sessions are much needed to reduce the academic anxiety students have because of the pandemic.
Modjadji said their focus on the two projects was out of necessity. “Students will be registering for their second semester soon. They will need money to register, and they will need to have passed their assignments and tests; hence our involvement in these areas,” said Modjadji.
Although the national Lockdown alert levels continue to drop in South Africa, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic remains present regardless of the alert level. Countries around the world remain concerned about the possibility of being hit by the second wave of COVID-19 infections which could force stricter restrictions.
In a bid to contribute to sharing knowledge on current national and international issues, the Faculty of Natural Sciences will present a lecture on the COVID-19 pandemic. The lecture, which will be accessible through the Microsoft Teams platform, is entitled COVID-19: A threat on a global scale. The lecture starts at 10h00 on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 and is presented by Dr Kuben Naidoo, senior lecturer at Nature Conservation.
As part of the LIVING FIT journey, this week we introduce Lungile Bongiwe Nhlanhla, an intern at the Clinic focusing on wellness issues. She is also a professional cook. Lungile holds a National Diploma: Consumer Science, Food Nutrition, from the Durban University of Technology. She took part in the famous MasterChef television programme. Over the coming weeks, Lungile will be writing about wellness-related issues in the GnF. Her first topic, in next week’s issue, will be obesity.
Follow through on Lungile’s advice, and keep fit and healthy.
MUT has introduced a digital register system for all that enter the gates. Samukelo Mrafa, Desktop Support Administrator at MUT, said the new technology will speed up the process of screening everyone entering the university and keeping records of those who enter. “The new system captures the most vital information like surnames, identity document numbers, the staff member’s department, etc. Staff and visitors will have to scan the required identification on the device. This will eliminate the need for staff and visitors to fill in the paper register when they enter,” said Samukelo. Staff are requested to carry their staff cards at all times. The driver’s licence and new South African identity document can also be used. Samukelo said Protection Services staff will still take temperature at the entrance but staff are still required to do the self-check.
October is the International Cyber Security Awareness month. From 28 September 2020, the Department of Information Technology and Network (IT&N) will again run a week-long campaign to educate staff on cyber-attacks. Njabulo Xaba of the IT&N said almost 90% of data breaches are caused by human error resulting from lack of knowledge.
“This is the reason we still have the presentations to empower our staff. We need to close the gap; at the moment we define people as the weakest link when it comes to cyber security. The training of staff will be on-going as wrongdoers constantly look for new ways to steal information,” said Njabulo.
He added that the recently introduced Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) will take centre stage during these presentations. “We have invited renowned industry specialists to create awareness around the use of personal information for both staff and students. We will also take a closer look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for more staff education on phishing scams, password management and impersonation attacks, especially for those working from home,” said Njabulo. This year’s programme will be run on Microsoft Teams to avoid creating a large gathering in line with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We are urging all University staff members to attend these presentations so they can learn more on how to stay safe in the cyber space,” said Njabulo.
Noting the pressure that the country has been under since the Lockdown started, President Cyril Ramaphosa reminded the nation that it was important to loosen up, and start having fun again while being on guard for the coronavirus. The President encouraged South Africans to take-on the now famous Jerusalem Dance Challenge. On 23 September 2020 the MUT community joined the bandwagon and had real fun, as a response to the President’s call, and also as part of the Heritage celebration. Sections of the University community with different identities – staff, student political formations, sport codes, etc., took up their positions at the Anniversary Lane and the main campus entrance, and the Faculty of Natural Sciences, and danced the day away, despite the blazing Spring sun.
The dance outside the main gate was to draw the attention of the Umlazi Township community. The University believes it is important to bring in the community in what it does. Dressing up in traditional regalia was a big part of this mix. The day was an affirmation of how seriously the University regards diversity. Diversity is at the centre stage of the University’s values. “It is our MUT values that make us a family. The MUT community came out in numbers to take part in the Jerusalem Dance Challenge, and also to show unity. Unity is where our great strength lies,” said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications.
The Challenge was also accompanied by traditional food tasting in line with celebrating diversity as part of the University’s collective heritage.
The University has received tons of calls and messages of commendation for opening the Public Lecture to the rest of South Africa and the world through television, YouTube and Microsoft Teams. Prof Marcus Ramogale, Acting VC & Principal, was inundated with calls from his peers, friends and family members expressing appreciation for the concept of celebrating the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife on mass media platforms. “I realized that the power of TV is amazing. I received positive feedback. I also wish to congratulate our EMC Secretariat, Ms Pinky Ngcobo for her musical rendition. I can see a new career loading”, Prof Ramogale said. Mr Mike Naidoo, the Registrar jokingly reminded the VC that the musician already has a manager. You can guess who the manager for the budding singer is.
Annually, on the third Saturday of September, volunteers around the world take part in the world’s biggest coastal clean-up, the International Coastal Clean-up Day (ICCD). The event has been held internationally each year since 1986, when people first headed to the beaches and began removing debris and plastic from shorelines, waterways, and the oceans. The ICCD initiative remains the largest volunteer environmental data-gathering effort and clean-up event of coastal and underwater areas to date.
Despite the Lockdown, Mangosuthu University of Technology Green Campus Initiative (MUT GCI) took part in this great initiative. The MUT GCI joined DSW, MUT Waste Management Ambassadors, MUT Enactus, Plastic SA, and Isiphepho Enviro Ambassadors at the Durban Harbour on 18 and 19 September 2020 to do their bit in keeping Durban shoreline clean.
Sthandiwe Biyela, Chairperson of MUT GCI, said they wanted part of the international event. “We feel that environmental issues have been ignored for a long time, and the results have been detrimental to the environment. Animals and water have been severely affected,” said Sthandiwe.
This was not the first time this year that the MUT GCI has been involved in cleaning the shoreline. Sthandiwe added that on 31 July 2020 the MUT GCI was involved in plastic waste removal along the Durban beach. Plastic takes many years before it decomposes. In the meantime, it causes a lot of damage on the environment, said Sthandiwe.
The MUT Clinic is launching an exciting and dynamic Fit-Life wellness programme for staff and students. The programme will be rolled out by staff in the coming weeks. The Clinic will introduce its staff and what they do, so that the rest of the university community will be aware of the services each individual offers. Among the Clinic staff will be Lungile Nhlanhla, an intern from the Durban University of Technology. Lungile was part of the last five participants that took part in the MasterChef programme. Dr Zodwa Ngobese, the University doctor, said Lungile will be the resident nutritional advisor, working in partnership with the clinic health professionals to create a unique and meaningful programme for MUT staff and students. This week’s health topic is how to look after your heart. Dr Ngobese said they chose this topic as September is a Heart Month. Here is Dr Ngobese’s take for the week.
Everyone is focusing on COVID-19, a pandemic that has surely taken the world by a storm. The attention on the pandemic is justified. However, we still need to remember that there are other health challenges that we still need to contend with. One of these is the condition of the heart. One out of eight people (12%) who suffer a heart attack will die from it whereas about one in 50 will die if infected with COVID-19. To a very large degree, the condition of the heart determines the quality of life that you lead. Unlike some other parts of the body that come in pairs, you have only one heart. This life-providing and life-sustaining valve needs to be cared for so it will care for you; a true symbiotic relationship!
A few facts about the cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels that increase the risk of acute events like strokes and heart attacks. One of the reasons for such problems is the lifestyle that people lead. A lifestyle that does not include eating healthy food, and is without exercise and has been dominated by excessive drinking and smoking is almost guaranteed to lead to heart problems. Did you know that South Africa has one of the highest rates of being overweight and obesity in the world, and that CVD is the leading cause of death in South Africa after HIV/AIDS and COVID-19? Some other facts about the heart are:
More South Africans die of CVD than of all the cancers combined.
CVD is responsible for almost one in six deaths (17.3%) in South Africa.
Two hundred and fifteen people die every day from heart disease or strokes.
Every hour in South Africa five people have heart attacks and 10 people have strokes. Ten out of those 15 people will die.
The following are some of the risk factors of CVD.
Overweight and obesity
High cholesterol levels
High blood pressure
Lack of exercise
What is pleasing is that these can be controlled.
You can keep your heart healthy by doing the following:
Play more, and take your health seriously. Make sure you eat right, and exercise regularly to lose excess weight and be fitter. Take your treatment if on chronic medication. Stop smoking, and drinking.
MUT welcomes the last group of students back to campus
Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) is ready to welcome the last group of students to the University while following the COVID-19 protocols. Second year students are expected to arrive back on campus from 26 September 2020. The Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua said that preparations were currently underway to welcome this group of students and to facilitate their safe return to residences and campus. “I am pleased to announce that the final group, which is our second year students, is scheduled to return to campus for the resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning activities,” said Dr Makua. Lectures for these students will commence on 1 October 2020.
Dr Makua added that only students who must attend lectures will be allowed to be on campus at any given time. According to Dr Makua, the students that require access to the library will be allowed to do so on a rotational basis. The library will communicate access times to ensure the safety of students and staff at all times.
The second year students will be given orientation on COVID-19 protocols and regulations when they return to campus as part of MUT’s efforts to ensure that both staff and students are safe. This will be run from 28-30 September 2020. Further logistical arrangements will be communicated with the students as soon as they return to campus.
A paper that was presented by two academics from the Faculty of Engineering in September 2019 has been nominated as the ‘Best Paper’. The paper, titled “Gender differences in perceptions of workplace interactions among University students in male-dominated work”, was presented by Professor Theo Haupt, Research Professor in the faculty, and Mariam Akinlolu, a lecturer in the Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, at the 13th Built Environment Conference, in Durban. The paper was presented at the Association of Schools of Construction Southern Africa. Mariam said she was “happy and grateful” to have her work honoured in that way.
The study explores the University students’ perceptions of gendered interactions in male-dominated environments such as the construction industry in South Africa, where women are under-represented. The study also assesses whether gender differences affect the perceptions of students regarding gendered workplace cultures. The study was conducted under the DST/SARChi Chair: Sustainable Work, education, Environment & Transformation (SWEET) at MUT. Management of the University has congratulated the academics for this massive achievement.
The University Clinic is continuing to give the orientation to the first year students about how to adjust to the new normal as they returned from an extended break because of the Covid-19 restrictions. On 15 September 2020, Sister Bongiwe Sithole and Nonkanyiso Xaba from the Clinic gave a presentation to the first year Biomedical Sciences students. The main focus of the presentation was the importance of self-protection, and that the students needed to co-operate with the University authorities so that everyone would be safe.
Sister Sithole emphasized the importance of adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines, particularly as there is no cure for the virus. Explaining the nature of the coronavirus, Sister Sithole said that it was important for the students to observe social distances to protect themselves from contracting the virus. “It has since been discovered that the virus is airborne; it can stay in air for two hours. You need to wear your mask all the time,” she said. She advised the students not to touch their masks; they needed to unhook it properly when taking if off. The large part of the mask may be contaminated with the virus. Nonkanyiso told the students to see to it that they wore masks that are three layered, and have been approved by the authorities. Nonkanyiso said that such masks could be washed; they needed to be soaked into warm water for at least 20 minutes, then be washed, and ironed before they could be used again.
Sister Sithole’s presentation made it clear that the so called new ‘normal’ was actually a new culture that everyone had to get used to. For instance, now it has become imperative for people not to touch their faces; their hands may be dirty. This way they may be spreading the virus into their systems through the mucus membrane in their eyes.
Sithole also informed the students that the University now has a flu clinic specifically for people that have Covid-19 symptoms. Sister Sithole said only students whose health is coded amber, or red, in terms of the Higher Health regulations, should go to this clinic. “You will be assisted, and be asked to isolate yourself for the required period if you have the Coronavirus. You need to provide us with proof that you are now clear before you are allowed back to the University,” said Sister Sithole. This clinic is at the main campus. It started working on 2 September this year. Sister Carol Ngubelanga who is in charge of the clinic, said she has referred six students, and one staff member to the D Clinic in Umlazi Township. Sister Ngubelanga examines the students and staff, and treats them for flu. If they show signs of Covid-19, or if their recent history shows they have been in contact with people who might have the virus, she refers them to the D Clinic.
Sister Sithole impressed upon the students the necessity for exercising, and living a healthy life. “Please avoid alcohol. You need to exercise. Exercising helps with the distribution of oxygen to the all parts of the body. This helps in eliminating the cells that cause cancer, concluded Sister Sithole. In appreciation of Sister Sithole’s presentation, Siphokazi Dube said she learned a lot about virus, and generally found the lecture “very informative”.
The Clinic will give similar orientation to more students this week. It has been offering the orientation to students via Zoom.
MUT will host a Public Lecture to honour the contribution of nurses in their efforts to save lives in their day-to-day work and also during pandemics. The Public Lecture is titled, Transformation Leadership in 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, will be broadcast on 1KZN (Channel 261, DSTV), YouTube and Microsoft Teams on Saturday, 19 September from 10h30 to 11h30.
The MUT Public lecture comes at a time when the World Health Organisation declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in recognition of the vital role that nurses played this year as the world is battling the Coronavirus. “This Public Lecture is our way of reaching out to touch the lives of our people and bring those outside MUT closer to our campus in order that we may find ways as a collective to build the nation together. This is in line with MUT strategic goals, in particular Goal 4: Targeted national and international engagement,” said Prof Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal at MUT. “This goal outlines MUT’s nation-building agenda. It is for this reason that we have chosen the theme of Transformational Leadership in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.”
The centrality of the role of nurses has been highlighted by stories of nurses selflessly putting their lives on the line to save the lives of those infected by the Coronavirus pandemic. “The nurses were quick to adapt to the new norm and contributed enormously on saving lives during the outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic. Teamwork, proactivity and innovation which have always been embedded within the nursing profession even as we date back to Florence Nightingale, suddenly became more relevant to everyone; from household, boardroom, remote-learning and many other scenarios. In many respects, transformational leadership became the norm for all of us. We still need to talk loud and clear about transformational leadership and that is the reason why we have the Public Lecture to reiterate the need for transformational leadership across various professions, said Prof Ramogale.
Popular Ukhozi FM radio presenter, Dudu ‘Lady D’ Khoza will facilitate the lecture proceedings. Belinda Lehnerdt, nursing manager at Netcare Umhlanga, will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way the health sector works. Dr Ntombizodwa Linda, lecturer at the Department of Nursing Science at the University of Zululand, will share the important lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for training future nurses. MUT award-winning researcher, Dr Maryam Amra Jordaan will take the audience through the difficult journey of finding vaccines against global pandemics. The keynote speaker, Professor Betty Mubangizi, NRF SARChI – Chair in Sustainable Local (Rural) Livelihoods at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will consider the implications for transformational leadership for the nurse and the mid-wife in the context of the urban – rural divide.
For more information on the speakers and the lecture visit,
After a long forced break, the University students have to adjust to the new ‘normal’ that has had to be introduced as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions. The students have had to re-adjust their personal lives. A student from the Faculty of Engineering said he was made aware that he had to keep a distance between herself and his friends. Moses Peru a first year Chemical Engineering from Nigeria, said that given the continuing safety restrictions and limited densities permissible on campus, he was grateful of once again getting a chance to continue with his academic journey. “One of the major challenges has been to adjust to online learning, given the limited experience that I have in this area. I have also had to adjust my time management as things have changed quite a bit.” Moses also said that he had to dig deep within himself to stay motivated, as there is now limited face-to-face interaction with the lecturing staff. He said he found it great to be back on campus again; he was going to dedicate his time on his studies.