MUT benefits from the Higher Health Roadshow

Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia

On Tuesday, 8 September, the MUT COVID-19 Task Team had an opportunity to be addressed by Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, CEO of Higher Health. He has traversed the 26 universities virtually with an intention of ensuring that Higher Health provides the necessary support with managing COVID-19 at all universities. First he reminded the Task Team that the “virus is going to live with us and continue to grow. It is for this reason that Universities need to embrace the science of the virus as it is non-seasonal. We need to put systems, protocols and controls in place to save the academic year, the economy and lives”. Dr Ahluwalia put emphasis on some of these controls such as ensuring that students do not leave classes but let the lecturer move from one class to the other and the maintenance of a five-metre distance by a lecturer who is no longer allowed to circulate in the lecture room. In addition, Dr Ahluwalia reminded the Task Team to ensure that examinations do not become a source of contamination. “There should be a system which minimizes the spread of the virus from distribution of paper during examinations”. The presentation was well received and Mr Mike Naidoo, MUT Registrar, asked pertinent questions as the final year and post-graduate students are readying themselves for the final examination next week. One of the things the University will be looking at, as advised by Dr Ahluwalia will be the issue of a social compact which must be signed by the Vice-Chancellor, the Students’ Representative Council and union leaders. This social compact should be a guiding principle on how everyone is held to account. “It is wrong to only keep management accountable, accountability is critical at every level”. The social compact will be assessed by the COVID-19 Task Team and recommended to EMC.

MUT Clinic conducts Pap smear tests to raise Cervical Cancer Awareness

Sister Bongiwe Sithole

MUT Clinic is conducting Pap smear tests for the whole of September as part of Cervical Cancer Awareness. Sister Bongiwe Sithole said the Clinic was doing tests for both staff and students by appointment. Sister Sithole said that according to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Cervical Cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women in South Africa. Breast Cancer is the first.  Cervical Cancer occurs in the cells of the cervix (the lower part of the uterus/womb) which connects to the vagina.

This type of cancer can be successfully treated if detected early, and the MUT Clinic is determined to play its part by testing as many women as possible. Cervical Cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which spreads through skin to skin contact, body fluids and sexual intercourse. Sister Sithole said: “Early sexual debut and engaging with multiple sexual partners are some of the risk factors for Cervical Cancer. The most common signs and symptoms are abnormal bleeding between regular menstrual periods, bleeding after sex, pelvic pain not associated with your menstrual cycle, painful intercourse”.

Sister Sithole encouraged women to book their Pap Smear Tests by calling 031 907 7260. Tests will be done until the end of the first week of October.

Environmental Health lecturer chosen Employee of the Week on Ukhozi FM

Dr Gugu Mnguni

Dr Gugu Mnguni, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health, has been nominated by one of her students, Nhlanhla Chili, as an Employee of the Week on Ukhozi FM. Nhlanhla was responding to a call-in programme on Ukhozi FM, which has the biggest listenership of any radio station in South Africa, with over 7 million listeners.

What makes Dr Mnguni stand out is the decision she took when she joined the University in February 2018. “I made a conscious decision that I would try and give my students the best I can, irrespective of whether it is part of my job description or not. I wanted to make sure I unleash their full potential and make them to be ahead above the rest,” said Dr Mnguni. She said she had no limits when it comes to helping her students, “even when it means I move out of my comfort zone. For instance, with lockdown I thought to have lectures after midnight to eliminate connectivity data issues. Thankfully, it worked very well,” said Dr Mnguni.

What motivates Dr Mnguni is the relationship she has with her students. Her students are driven, self-motivated and goal-orientated.  She said her students push themselves, which makes it easy for her to push them even further, maximising their learning.

This makes it easy for her, even though, like other students, they do complain about the amount of work and that the work is “difficult”.

Dr Mnguni lectures students on one of the most difficult subjects, Research. Dr Mnguni said that teaching the students Research Methodology has been a learning curve for her and the students. The module is being offered for the first time in the department this year. “I try my best to provoke their thinking by using a lot of relevant scenarios which they need to apply their knowledge to. This relates to the tasks they need to do,” she said. Dr Mnguni added that before Lockdown they would spend a lot of time debating approaches to researching different topics which were presented as examples in class. “I still try to do this online. As a lecturer, I rarely give my students answers but ask them questions to influence their thinking, leading to the right answers,” she said. This makes them see things differently and come up with solutions, she said. She also provides a platform for them to consult with her in any form the students choose.

The Head of department, Dr Thobile Poswa, said he was very pleased with the news.  “It is pleasing to know that Dr Mnguni took an extra-ordinary initiative to reach out to students. She advised me of the plan and the initial session she conducted at midnight to accommodate students. I was touched by her commitment and sacrifice that put students’ interests over everything else,” said Dr Poswa.

‘Reflections’ radio drama raises COVID-19 awareness

Heed the message from ‘Reflection’

A newly created Radio Play called ‘Reflections’ created by MarComms, is fast becoming a Friday staple for students and staff as the University continues to raise awareness on COVID-19. The first episode was circulated last weekend.

“‘Reflections’ comes from us trying to raise awareness on COVID-19 in a different way than we are used to. We are trying to remind our stakeholders that COVID-19 is still out there and we still need to comply. We are communicating compliance through storytelling that reflects real life encounters. Going down on Lockdown Levels does not mean COVID-19 is gone; we are just sensitising MUT stakeholders that protocols still need to be observed even when we are on lower levels,” said Zama Sishi, Director: Stakeholder Relations Management. “Reflections” is gaining traction also because the actors are MUT students. “We are also laying a foundation for the launch of the MUT Radio Station and hope this will be sustainable even beyond COVID-19”.

All episodes are loaded onto Student Portal

Khovy takes the internet by a storm

Khovy the terrible!

With COVID-19, having the right information could save your life. But hearing the same information every day can also cause apathy. This is where Khovy comes in. Khovy performs the important task of raising awareness on COVID-19 through storytelling. A protagonist to a MarComms Facebook story, Khovy is like Homer Simpsons to those who follow The Simpsons. Khovy has a knack for getting into trouble; it is through these troubles that real lessons about COVID-19 can be learnt.

In the last post on the MUT Facebook page, Khovy reached 45193 people and 6908 engagements. The post was accompanied by 106 comments and 44 shares. You either hate or like the character. Khovy has touched many of the followers on the MUT Facebook page to a point that some even wondered if the beloved character will one day be killed by COVID-19 because of his careless nature. Some have even created a new character, uBaba ka Khovy. Catch the next instalment of Khovy’s adventures on the MUT official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MUTUmlazi).

Jerusalem Challenge to bring unity to staff

Please join the rest of the staff at the grounds for the challenge

On Thursday morning, MUT staff and students met by the Anniversary Lane to prepare for perhaps the most popular challenge since the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Lockdowns across the world. This is the Jerusalem Challenge, and MUT is not taking it lying down. Staff and students were warming up for the real challenge which takes place this morning between 11h00 and 13h00 at the Seme Sports Grounds.

The Challenge has taken the social media platforms by storm as various organisations come together to showcase their dance moves and their unity in the face of adversity. Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director, MarComms, said the decision to have this light event was to remind the University staff that it was important to unite amid the gloomy times. “The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us, there is no two ways about it. This dance challenge is meant to symbolise to staff that we can be happy together, again. We want to unite as the university and live out our values,” said Mbali. “The world is also noticing South African indigenous music. It is therefore befitting that as part of the Heritage month activities, we elevate our music and put it out there for the world to appreciate. Master KG, the songwriter has sparked a global frenzy and as South Africans, we should be amplifying this talent and help him top the music charts just like the Mexicans did with Ay Macarena in the 1990s”, Mbali added.

First year students rejoice as they resume their lectures

Nokwanda testing at the main gate while Mpatho waits for her

For many students across South Africa, the national Lockdown has also exposed the lack of infrastructure to enable remote learning from home. Some students struggled because they live in places that do not have the infrastructure that will support their learning while away from the University. Such infrastructure includes data, computers, electricity, and smartphones. This is more so for students in universities such as MUT where the majority of these students register. This week, first year students are rejoicing as they resume their lectures after returning to campus as part of the phased return to campus.

Two such students are Nokwanda Masondo and Mpatho Sibiya both from Ulundi, north of KwaZulu-Natal. Being away from the University since March as a result of the national Lockdown had disruptive effects on the students’ academic progress.  Nokwanda said she was able to study at home. She did assignments using her own data. Mpatho was not able to do anything. She had no data and her home was crowded since the Lockdown prohibited movement.

“I could not focus, there used to be lots of noise,” Mpatho said.  She said being away from the University also meant that she and her classmates could not work in groups, and that at home there was a lot to deal with. “Woza uzopheka”, would be an instruction, even when she was trying to do her University work.

Nokwanda says she is still anxious about the Coronavirus. Fortunately, MUT has scheduled training for all returning students although some of these students are yet to attend the training. They are aware that the academic year has been extended to March next year, which is the other reason some students are still anxious. Mpatho says come December, they might not be able to focus. “We are used to being with our families in December. This year will be different,” said Mpatho.

Students are also aware of the COVID-19 regulations and measures that were taken by the university to install sanitising stations across the University. The distribution of masks is ongoing and students are aware that they need to wear masks at all times and to maintain the required social distance.

As for the rest of the academic year, they are going to do their best. “We are going to focus on our studies, even though the situation is not so good,” said Mpatho. They say they feel the pressure because there is a lot of work to do.

MUT student advisor assist students to cope with academic pressure

Mnelisi Xaba

As the university welcomes first year students back on campus against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University cannot neglect the psychosocial support that will be needed by students, particularly first year students whose start to university life was disrupted. Apart from physical protection to prevent contracting COVID-19, the University is also working on being readily available and reachable to students, and to offer improved and visible psychosocial and academic support. This is why according to the theme; “save lives, save academic year”; the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) is determined to support students to lift-off the anxiety and pressure brought upon them by the new ‘normal’, which has resulted in a new way of learning and living.

Mnelisi Xaba, Student Academic Advisor, said that “throughout the Lockdown we have been doing consultations online and referring students to various student support services, particularly student counselling as students have been dealing with anxiety and seeking psychological assistance”. Using digital platforms to reach out to students, the student advisors have been communicating diverse strategies to assist students on how to overcome academic pressure. In his advice to students, Xaba said: “Life always presents its challenges, one needs to understand the end goal because it is much easier when you are working towards achieving the end goal”. He further said students should develop help-seeking behaviour because “we are walking this journey together, we are here to assist students who come forward with their challenges”.

In the upcoming project, TLDC seeks to support returning and first year students to assimilate to the new normal and to facilitate online studying, coping with academic pressure and balancing academic and personal life.

“Students should develop the appetite to study, and commitment and consistency in what they do in their academics that would help in facilitating their studying skills,” said  Xaba.

Using branding to tell our story

Our new pull-up banners

The Lockdown from 27 March 2020 disrupted many brand positioning initiatives that were planned by MarComms. This week, MarComms has intensified its efforts to make the MUT brand memorable and noticeable among its stakeholders. “We are compelled to market our University digitally, and now the background must always be the MUT brand. Even if the media has a story on us, the brand must be articulate and on point. We have thus developed various banners with all the information on the programmes that we offer. These include the post-graduate and advanced diploma programmes. We will be embarking on a campaign to get academic staff to support the idea of having our branding visible during online classes. We will be open to loaning these to the e-learning platform so that even when students are being taught digitally, they should have a constant reminder of our brand,” said Zama Sishi, Director, Stakeholder Relations Management.

TLDC staff advocates women empowerment on radio

Dr Gumede

So much information was shared during the Women’s Month. The common theme of the many messages was highlighting the centrality of women in society, their achievements and the many challenges women continue to face.

One such occasion was when Dr Simangele Gumede of the TLDC was part of a panel of esteemed women discussing ‘Generational Equality: Women’s Dialogue, and South African Women Academic Excellence’. Dr Gumede said she was approached and hosted by the eThekwini Municipality in partnership with Inanda FM and Vibe FM on 22 August 2020. On 30 August 2020, Dr Gumede was with Pillar of Strength Media and Gagasi FM, still advocating women’s issues. “I spoke as a South African woman who wants to uplift other women,” said Dr Gumede.

Dr Gumede said that generational equality focused on a range of issues that have to do with women and girls, and how they could be empowered. “Some of these are campaigns around closing the gap between the new generation and old generation. Care is taken not to do away with one’s own identity,” said Dr Gumede. She said their talk was meant to inspire older and younger generations to challenge their gender stereotypes, and the importance of balancing the roles that women have to play in a patriarchal society. The presenters also advised on the use of technology such that it does not become a problem to them in the future.  For instance, women were asked to use social media responsibly, “with an understanding that the society will define you based on what is in your social media account,” Dr Gumede said.  Women were also told about the importance of managing their finances so that they do not fall into debt.

The presenters also emphasised an end to violence against women and girls, including sexual harassment.

Dr Gumede added that they also proposed that women consider seriously getting involved in business and the market place.

Promoting sustainability in local community through Agriculture

The seedlings that IRDCE donated to the community

The MUT’s Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement (IRDCE) continues to support Umlazi District households that have been left financially-destitute  as a result of the COVID-19  pandemic. Working in collaboration with Isigqi Sobuntu Organisation (ISO), a local non-profit organisation that solely focuses on social entrepreneurship, IRDCE donated over 800 vegetable seedlings to the organisation, which has already distributed them to the community. The handing over of the seedlings is meant to encourage members of the community to practice urban agriculture within their limited spaces. Such an undertaking is expected to help fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development goals number 1,2,3 and 11, that deal directly with issues of food security.

Former MUT Council member passes away

Comfort Ngidi

It is with great sadness that the University hears of the untimely passing of Mr Comfort Ngidi who served on the MUT Council between 2009 and 2013. Mr Ngidi also served on the Building Committee of the University.  Mr Ngidi was committed to student and staff matters, always ensuring that they were looked after by the University. Coming from the legal profession, he always ensured that the rights of people were not infringed upon.  Fearing that the 2020 academic year would be lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he demanded that teaching and learning resumes at all universities in KwaZulu Natal. Mr Ngidi was passionate about the importance of education and assisted many financially needy students. Comfort, as he was known, will be sorely missed in the legal and education professions.

Sincere condolences to his family and friends. May the Almighty grant the family and friends strength and fortitude during this difficult period.  May his soul rest in peace.

 

MUT distributes learning material to second-year students

Dr Manyane Makua

MUT will start distributing learning material to second-year students next week as first-year students return to campus to make 66% of students allowed back in campus as per the Lockdown Level 2 guidelines.

Second-year students are the only group of students that has not been allowed to return back to campus. Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Dr Manyane Makua said that these students were invited to collect their learning material from Bozzoli and Seme Halls from 3 to 8 September 2020. Each Faculty has been allocated a day to collect learning material to avoid creating congestion and to allow for social distance to be observed.  Natural Sciences students will collect on 3 September, Management Sciences students will collect on 4 and 5 September, while Engineering students are scheduled to collect theirs on 7 and 8 September.

“The University will courier learning materials to all students who are unable to collect these on the stipulated dates,” said Dr Makua.

 Academic staff go the extra mile for students

Ntombi Mthembu

The spread of the Coronavirus has disrupted teaching and learning at a global level.  The current disruptions caused by the pandemic have presented higher education institutions with all kinds of challenges and opportunities. Higher education institutions have had to make adjustments to their daily operations in line with the health guidelines. One of these adjustments has been to conduct lectures online as face-to-face contact lectures were discouraged.

Academic staff at MUT have accepted this challenge and opportunity. The University’s TLDC has been training academics on conducting online lectures from the time the University went on early recess before the Lockdown. This has resulted in a special breed of lecturers who have excelled in this new way of teaching. A few of these lecturers who go beyond the call of duty immediately come to mind. It is mainly because of these staff members that students will have a positive learning experience, whether online or in physical contact. Ntombi Mthembu, a Human Resource lecturer, is one of the lecturers who show passion and dedication in ensuring the smooth and productive online learning for their students. Academics such as Ntombi ensure that lives and the academic year at MUT are saved.

From the time the national Lockdown was introduced to the country, Ntombi has been using several teaching methods to ensure that her students are not disadvantaged because of the pandemic. She has been sending audio clips to her students, and hosting Zoom and Teams classes every week.  Ntombi has also availed herself every Monday and Tuesday to assist students who have challenges and prefer face-to-face consultations.

Advanced Diploma in Human Resources Management student Gugu Mkhize, said that listening to audio clips has helped her grasp the information quickly. “It is more like attending physical lectures; I have fallen in love with the idea. One can learn in their own pace because you can always refer to the audio clips if you need clarity on a particular topic.”

Another lecturer who is excelling in this new way of learning is Nkululeko Fuyane. Nkululeko, a lecturer in the Department of Marketing, has also been busy, ensuring that his students are not left behind. “It is unfortunate that this pandemic found us at a time when we were not ready; we were still working on adopting technology for teaching and learning,” said Nkululeko.

Like Ntombi, Nkululeko also goes an extra mile for his students. “The positives are that we have managed to stay in touch with students, both socially and academically, using online platforms made specifically to host a large number of people at a time. We also bear in mind that not all students have internet access and smart gadgets, that is why we still conduct face-to-face lectures with small groups on a rotational schedule on a weekly basis,” said Nkululeko.

MUT continues with COVID-19 training for returning students

Bongiwe Sithole

It is safety first as MUT welcomes another 33% of students. This time around, it is first-year students who come back to campus next week. Although South Africa’s Lockdown Levels continue to be relaxed, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is still real and MUT is not taking any chances.

MUT has scheduled COVID-19 workshops for returning students from Monday, 31 August until Friday, 4 September 2020. “As part of the safe return of students to campus, the Student Health Services will be conducting COVID-19 training workshops to educate students on how to protect themselves from the Coronavirus and to orientate them on protocols to follow should they test positive for COVID-19,” said Bongiwe Sithole, Health Promoter at the MUT Health Campus Services.

The workshops will be run on Microsoft Teams and face-to-face for students who are unable to attend the virtual sessions. The virtual sessions are meant to accommodate more students without having to be physically present. The face-to-face sessions will be held at the Learning Lab, ALLU in three daily sessions (10h00 – 11h00; 12h00 – 13h00; and 14h00 – 15h00) for the week.

These workshops are part of the greater MUT campaign to Save Lives and Save the Academic Year. The University will also provide masks and sanitizers to returning students as they resume their academic journey under the new ‘normal’.

MUT staff to take on the Jerusalem Challenge

The Jerusalem Challenge

As the Jerusalem Challenge continues to spread across the world, MUT has decided to embrace the challenge and use it to foster staff unity as 66% return to campus. The challenge has been popular on Social Media as various groups use it to raise morale in the face of the pandemic.

Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Marketing and Communications said the Jerusalem Challenge was an opportunity for MUT staff to come together and stand united. “The unintended consequence of working from home during Lockdown is that it is easy for staff to lose sight of our united identity as MUT staff even in the face of this pandemic,” said Mbali. “The Jerusalem Challenge provides a unique opportunity to literally stand together and participate as a team.”

The Challenge will take place on Friday, 4 September 2020 at the Seme Sports Grounds at 11h00. Mbali explained that the sports grounds were chosen because they allow for the two metre social distance to be observed. The University will also provide masks to participants before the challenge starts.

“Being united as MUT staff also means internalising and living out our core values; which are Accountability, Integrity, Respect and Excellence. The COVID-19 pandemic has called on all of us to be compassionate and caring towards each other. We need staff to remember these values so that we can fight the stigma of COVID-19.

MUT puts up new fence to prevent unauthorised access to campus

New fence being put up

MUT is putting up a new fence at the Seme Hall vicinity to secure the campus from unauthorised entry. The project will be completed in two months. Lindo Mzolo, MUT Infrastructure Project Co-Ordinator, said the new fence is meant to improve security at the University. “We had problems like land invasion and the stealing of building material. We wanted to put a stop to this,” said Lindo.  The Natural Sciences Campus is also set to get a new fence.

 

University staff releases a debut single

Pinky Khoza

Music has been in her life longer than she can remember and those who have had the privilege to see her perform would agree that the release of her debut single is long overdue.  Pinky Khoza, Senior Committee Officer in Secretariat released her single titled Izizwe on 14 August 2020.  The single is now available for download in online music stores and YouTube.

“The single is a prayer song, and a call-to-action, it will bring hope to the lives of the people during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Pinky. She said this single is a representation of her musical philosophy. She believes music brings hope to everyone. As it is said that God’s timing is perfect, same could be said about the release of the single.  The time of Coronavirus calls for everyone to seek protection and Pinky used her musical talent to seek God’s guidance, grace and protection during these hard times.

Although Pinky only decided to pursue music professionally in 2020, she has been entertaining the University staff with her exquisite musical voice in the past few years.  Even though the University would have to pay her for future performances, management, colleagues and friends are all very proud of Pinky’s new journey and have promised to support her all the way.

Agriculture graduate now offers services to his WIL provider

Sanele Ngcobo

A Class of 2016 Agriculture graduate, Sanele Ngcobo is now providing services to big commercial farmers, one of which used to be his employer when he was doing his work integrated learning (WIL). Sanele’s knowledge and skills acquired through his Diploma in Agriculture: Plant Production will benefit not only the big farms but the local community as well.

“Through my company, Gemini Stars (Pty) LTD, I have provided services to a wide range of commercial farmers. Some of these are KwaCele Farming, Gansen’s Agricare Farm, and Mayfield Farm. All these farms are at KwaMaphumulo, near KwaDukuza, in the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.” Sanele did his WIL at Mayfield Farm. “Now Mayfield Farm and I are talking as business partners about service provision; no longer as employer and employee, as it used to happen,” said Sanele.

Gemini Stars Pty LTD provides the following services to farms: plant pruning, training and mentorship, and assisting Engonyameni farming co-operatives with technical skills and information.  Sanele’s company also does weed control (herbicide application), fertilizer application, brush cutting, tree felling and removal of alien plants, land preparation, plantation and harvesting, farm operations, livestock treatment, and training and sustaining productive farmers.

Sanele says the fact that his diploma has a marketing element in it helped him a lot in marketing his business activities, which include conducting presentations to big business players like local government departments.  Sanele, who has four years’ experience as a farm manager, lives in Engonyameni, just outside Umlazi Township’s western border.

University radio station 80% complete

Sibusiso Mamba, right, and one of the partners

From a distance, it looks like just another cubicle in what used to be an office in the Department of Marketing and Communications. But to fully appreciate the work that has been done in it, you have to step inside and close the door shut. The silence inside it is deafening, in a manner befitting a radio station.

This is the future home of the upcoming MUT Online Radio Station. Sibusiso Mamba, who is a quantity surveyor and MUT graduate, said the preparation of the studio was 80% complete. “We now have to do the flooring, and the electrification,” he said. The studio is being built by Myavae Holdings, a company owned by Vuyo Teti, also an MUT graduate.

Happy recovery to our Founder

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Congratulations to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MUT Founder on the speedy recovery. Our prayers have always been with our founding father since the news of him testing positive for Covid-19. His deep religious roots, positive outlook and a positive attitude sped up his recovery.

Shenge, keep those spirits high and celebrate every small step towards recovery!

Give praise to Him always.

Nature Conservation mangrove trees research contribute knowledge on Climate Change

Dr Kuben Naidoo, standing, calibrating the LiCor 6800 IRGA. With him is Trevor Govender

Scientists from the Department of Nature Conservation, through their research, have made a stunning discovery, that the mangrove trees are able to mitigate the effects of CO2 on the ozone layer. Trevor Govender of the department said that the research he and his colleagues, Professor Akash Anandraj and Dr Kuben Naidoo are conducting around the mouths of some of the Durban rivers has shown that mangrove trees act as effective urban carbon sinks (UCS). These trees are important as they capture the highest amount of CO2 from the atmosphere to reduce global warming. “The trees are capable of reducing or even balancing the CO2 emissions generated by the province and the carbon assimilation by the trees,” said Trevor.

Mangrove trees are in Durban’s estuaries. Trevor said that the results and recommendations from their findings indicate that the estuaries need to be populated with mangroves to counteract the effects of climate change. “This is of paramount importance to conservation managers with regards to new strategies for the protection and management of estuaries, and the introduction of new efforts in propagating mangroves in South Africa,” said Trevor.

The research is ongoing and the Nature Conservation research team will publish a paper, titled: “The role of mangrove forests as urban carbon sinks: A case study from the uMgeni estuary, Durban, KZN” on the international journal, Current Climate Change reports (Springer) in October 2020.

Professor Bakare appointed as new Acting Dean of Engineering faculty

Professor Bakare

Babatunde Bakare, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, has been appointed as the new Acting Dean of the Faculty of Engineering with effect from 1 August. Apart from serving the Faculty as chairperson of its research committee, Professor Bakare also led the Environmental Pollution Research Group. This research group has produced over 20 journal articles and numerous conference proceedings. It hosted and supervised Postdoctoral fellows, PhD students, Master’s students and BTech students. Last year, Professor Bakare received a Y2 research rating by the National Research Foundation.

MUT turns to MS Teams to enhance multimodal learning

Cebo Nyondo

In an initiative to enhance the quality of multimodal teaching and learning at MUT, TLDC and IT&N are rolling out training for academic staff to use Microsoft Teams to deliver their lectures. MS Teams, which is already a staple for virtual meetings at MUT, would add the much-needed interactive dimension to remote learning. The training of staff was being rolled out by Cebo Nyondo of the TLDC, Nkosana Jijimba and Phumlani Ngobese both from the IT&N department.

“We have been using MS Teams extensively at MUT since the Lockdown started and we know that it is great for virtual interaction,” said Nkosana. “It also has an option for recording the sessions which will be of great benefit to our online academic programme as students can always go back and access the recorded lectures.”

MUT Wardens and RAs get COVID-19 training

Sister Bongiwe Sithole of the MUT Clinic, left, and Oziel Mdletshe on stage, and  the wardens, RAs, and peer helpers during training

In preparation for the return of more students, the MUT Clinic organized training for peer educators, wardens and residence assistants (RAs). Sister Bongiwe Sithole of the Clinic said the training was about familiarizing the three groups with the essentials of the COVID-19. “We requested Higher Health to assist us with the training. Our colleagues and peer educators were taught the basics and protocols of the Covid-19,” said Sister Sithole.

Oziel Mdletshe, Provincial Monitoring and Evaluation Co-ordinator, gave details of the Coronavirus and how it works to the three groups.  Oziel emphasised the importance of observing the social distance. He said that even when a person is wearing a mask, they still have to observe social distancing. Oziel told the groups that it was not true that wearing a mask was enough. “There is no protection method that is 100% COVID-19 proof. You need to follow through everything you are told,” said Oziel.

“Nombuso Mlondo, a warden, said she learnt a lot from the exercise. We learnt how we can educate students about the coronavirus pandemic. They need to learn to take the COVID-19 message seriously. And that we need to emphaise to students the need to wear the mask properly. “Not all masks are right to be used. The co-ordinator taught us which masks are correct to use,” said Nombuso.  The wardens and RAs will then teach students in their residences about the protocols of COVID-19, which are aimed at keeping everyone safe.

Iqraa Trust donates masks to MUT

Mariam Sayed, Iqraa Trust’s Administration Officer, showing some of the masks donated by the her organisation

Humanitarian organization and one of MUT partners, Iqraa Trust, has once again come to the University’s aid. This time around, the organization is contributing to efforts by the University to protect staff and students from being infected with COVID-19.

On 13 August 2020, Iqraa Trust donated 100 masks to MUT. Explaining the reasons for donating the masks to the University, Dr Mahmoud Youssef Baker, Chair of Iqraa Trust (Durban) and one of the founders of the organisation, said they decided to provide communities in the townships with personal protection equipment in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. ““We have a relationship with MUT. It is a historically disadvantaged University and this is a call to action to the NPO sector to uplift MUT” said Dr Baker. Dr Baker said they were aware of how communities in the township have been affected by the virus.

MUT intensifies fight against Covid-19

Let us all take care! MUT sends a strong message to the community
Let us all take care! MUT sends a strong message to the community

As the number of people infected by coronavirus continues to rise in South Africa, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) decided to become a centre of information spreading the awareness on coronavirus health protocols to the wider community of Umlazi Township.  This week MUT erected a 9mx9m COVID-19 billboard at its Natural Sciences campus to reach as many people as possible at the university and in Umlazi Township.

The billboard, which is well positioned for two-way traffic on Mangosuthu highway, is meant to amplify the message of taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The billboard adds to the efforts of the University’s Covid-19 Task Team (CTT), which has been hard at work since early March 2020 ensuring that the lives of staff and students are protected as the University pursues its quest to save the academic year.

Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, said that although MUT had limited resources, the billboard was necessary to increase awareness about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. “We decided to not only target our staff, students and those who follow us on social media; but we intentionally used a platform that would send the message to everyone in Umlazi Township, where we are located. This is our way of reminding the people of Umlazi Township that their fate and ours are bound together, and that we have a deep commitment to our community.”

The billboard comes at a time when MUT is in the second week of lectures for final year students (33% of its student population), who returned to campus as part of the phased approach. This period of relaxed Lockdown regulations has also been characterised by the skyrocketing of COVID-19 daily infections, with the country’s metropolitans fast becoming epicentres of the pandemic.

“The University continues to do all that is required of it and more to save lives, first and foremost, and to also save the academic year,” said Mbali. “Each individual needs to also play their part in keeping themselves and their love ones and communities safe against COVID-19.”

MUT has also made masks and sanitizers available to all staff and students who have returned to campus. Social distancing markers have been placed in all key entrance and service locations (including classrooms and residences). Only 33% of staff are allowed into campus in one go. In addition to these measures, staff and students are screened before they are granted access to campus.

MUT collaborates with Deloitte to set up whistle blowing facilities

Zimasa Gwarube
Zimasa Gwarube

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) has appointed Deloitte to intensify its efforts to fight corruption and unethical behaviour within the University. Deloitte, as the appointed service provider have setup a toll-free line and email facilities that MUT staff, students and all stakeholders can use to report allegations of corruption or unethical activities that implicate members of the University community. The unique toll-free line which is 0800 228 999 is one of the options available. Also tip-offs may be sent via email on mut@tip-offs.com or by logging the tip-off on the dedicated website on www.tip-offs.com, all facilities are available 24 hours a day for seven days a week.

The whistle blowing service is a deliverable of the Risk & Compliance Directorate aimed at detecting and preventing fraud and risk at MUT.  Zimasa Gwarube, Acting Director: Risk & Compliance said: “MUT subscribes to King IV report on Corporate Governance. King IV report requires Council, through management, to govern the ethics of MUT in a way that supports the establishment of an ethical culture. The hotline and other facilities will help us to work towards compliance with standards, laws and regulations.  It is important to raise awareness to all MUT stakeholders about the availability of these whistle-blowing services that went live on 22 July 2020.”

At a virtual presentation to MUT management on Monday, 27 July, Deloitte explained how the reporting facility works and how whistle blowers have an option to remain fully anonymous; partially anonymous or may opt for full disclosure of their identity. Zimasa reiterated the advantages of allowing individuals to not disclose their identity. “Lack of protection of those who blow the whistle has proven to be a fraud deterrent. The hotline reinforces organisational policies, making it clear that unethical conduct is unacceptable, and this will help set a tone of control for MUT,” said Zimasa.

MUT graduate nominated for UK awards  

Bright Hlongwane
Bright Hlongwane

Presidential Youth Working Group nominee and 2020 MUT graduate, Bright Hlongwane has been nominated for the Prestige Awards. His colleagues in the Isimangaliso Group, a consultancy and media marketing communication firm based in the Durban CBD, nominated him in response to an invitation from Cooperate Live Wire, a London based organisation that is organising the Prestige Awards in South Africa and overseas. Bright was nominated for sterling efforts in youth business participation. Cooperate Live Wire saw his profile online.

Cooperate Live Wire wants to use the Prestige Awards to recognise the efforts of young entrepreneurs put in the economic development of their countries. Young Bright fits into this profile. “I feel very excited and proud to know that our strides as young South African entrepreneurs are known and recognised abroad,” said Bright.

Bright said the Cooperate Live Wire came to know about his efforts through online platforms. “Cooperate Live Wire sent us an invitation upon seeing my profile online. They invited us to take part in the nomination,” he said. The event is planned to take place towards the end of the year, or early in 2021 in London, UK, but it will all depend on the coronavirus trajectory.

At MUT, South Africa and beyond, Bright is known as a staunch advocate of entrepreneurship. During Youth Day (June 16) 2020, he was on Ukhozi FM and eTV News, talking about how important it was that the country’s youth got involved in business as job creators, not job seekers. In 2017, Bright attended the Advanced Entrepreneurship Programme at Stanford University in the United States.

A determined MUT graduate uses his marketing skills to make it in business

Njabulo Mabaso
Hard at work! Njabulo Mabaso

On several occasions while addressing the University staff and students, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Marcus Ramogale bemoaned the fact that no graduate should see themselves as job seekers but as work seekers, “there might be no jobs but there is plenty of work, our graduates would succeed if they focus on finding work,” said Prof Ramogale.

Njabulo Mabaso, class of ‘19 is one such graduate who has heeded Professor Ramogale’s call. His impatience while waiting for responses from prospective employers has resulted in him becoming a business man in his province. He started a business of selling wood and coal.

The 26-year-old Njabulo, who had started a number of businesses and failed, spotted a gap and acted on it.  As far as his current business goes, it all started in May this year. “We had wattle woods in the household. I told my siblings I was selling those woods for us to get money to buy bread. Like everybody, we also use the woods for cooking and to keep ourselves warm,” said Njabulo.

The family has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. There was no source of income. Njabulo himself lost his internship because of the virus. The new venture was the step that gave Njabulo a chance to show his mettle.  “I sold almost six wheelbarrows in a week. That was my first success,” said Njabulo. Soon the family needed to make some important adjustments. “We decided to sell the family bakkie to buy a truck so we could sell more wattle woods. Soon I added coal in my stock that I sell in the township.”  Njabulo gets wattle woods from three local farms, and coal from the coal mines around Ermelo.

Taking lessons from his failed business ventures, Njabulo has a plan to ensure that his current initiative does not suffer the same fate as others he had before. “I want to take advantage of digital space to grow my business. I will use Google and social media to promote it. I will also lease stands around Ermelo where my target market will reach my product.  This will also ease my delivery costs,” said Njabulo.

Njabulo said he was planning to sell the wood to some of the big chain stores in the area but was still finalising the branding of his products. He said social media have been instrumental in reaching his target audience.  “I decided to post at least three messages a day on Facebook using humorous status about my product. This helps to engage my customers, and bring awareness about what I sell,” said Njabulo.