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.

 

MUT research contributes to finding vaccine against Coronavirus

Dr Devashan Naidoo

Mangosuthu University of Technology researchers published a peer-reviewed research paper on the feasibility of potential drugs against Coronavirus. Dr Devashan Naidoo, Dr Taurai Mutanda, and Professor Akash Anandraj, all from the Department of Nature Conservation’s Centre for Algal Biotechnology (CAB), collaborated with their counterpart at the University of North Bengal in India to conduct a three months’ computational study on COVID-19.

Dr Naidoo who is the principal investigator, said: “We wanted to determine the feasibility of cyanobacterial metabolites as potential drugs against the virus. For a drug to be effective, it is required that it binds to the virus at functional sites.”

“We found that several compounds were able to bind to the proteins with relative potency. However, for a drug to be effective it needs to also be safe and non-toxic,” said Dr Naidoo. The research team evaluated the toxicity of each of the compounds and found that one in particular, deoxycylindrospermopsin, was the safest. The safety and stability that the compound displayed are the hallmarks of a potential drug.

In terms of how South Africans will benefit from the research, Dr Naidoo said the compounds evaluated in the study are proposed as candidate lead drugs that require further evaluation in vitro and in vivo. “Since we predicted that these compounds have the ability to bind to functional components of the viral genome, they could potentially inhibit the processes that lead to viral replication,” said Dr Naidoo. He added that it would give the host the ability to effectively control the spread of the virus within them. He said this research could pave the way for the development of effective therapeutics in the fight against COVID-19 in South Africa as well as globally.

However, Dr Naidoo admits that researchers were still far from developing an effective treatment or vaccine for the virus although great strides have been made in this regard. There are some 145 vaccines that are currently undergoing clinical trials globally and several drugs that are currently being evaluated. “However, the processes are complex and require a lot of time and effort. For instance, the compounds that we propose require further evaluation under laboratory conditions as well as clinical trials prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This process could take months,” he said.

Dr Naidoo said the research was done over a period of three months during South Africa’s Lockdown. The title of the paper is Cyanobacterial metabolites as promising drug leads against the Mpro and PLpro of SARS-CoV-2: an in silico analysis.

MUT staff and students rejoice as classes resume

Some S3 Civil Engineering students. Nozibusiso Zulu is second from right

‘So far so good’. That is the sentiment from all the Faculty Deans. All classes are running smoothly and the Deans feel they are all on track. “Printing of material is a challenge and that is being attended to. The idea is to ensure that those students without the gadgets are able to receive learning material as well,” said the deans.

The resumption of classes is a product of long-term planning and all MUT stakeholders have partnered to deliver a safe and effective environment where students can continue to learn while observing safety precautions.

The students themselves have responded in their numbers to an invitation by the University to come back to campus and complete the academic year. As they enter the gate in the morning, and while on campus, students are seen observing all the necessary protocols; they wear masks, and sanitise their hands. Stations are all the place. Also, students observe the social distance as they catch up with their friends.  The new normal is sinking in.

Nozibusiso Zulu, an S3 Civil Engineering student, said they were still finding it a bit odd that they could not interact with their friends as they used to, and that they can no longer have study groups. However, she said, “having smaller groups gives us a chance to concentrate in class. We are requesting that the lecture be an hour at least; 40 minutes is not enough as we attend one module a week, and that we now attend fewer days,’ said Nozibusiso.

Lecturers have also been proactive. Where social distancing seemed hard to implement, the lecturers have begun to use some of the venues not yet in use to create more space.

Biomedical Sciences students adapt to the new ‘normal’ in labs

Phelelani Khomo

To ensure that all the government protocols were adhered to, the Department of Biomedical Sciences is leading by example in preparing its labs in line with guidelines to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. The department has also segmented its students into small manageable groups.

Phelelani Khomo, Control Technician at the Department, said they identified risk areas and took the necessary steps in line with the COVID-19 safety requirements. “One of the steps we took was to use bigger lecture venues so that there will be enough space between the students,” said Phelelani.

Students continue to take the threat of the virus seriously and have adapted to the new situation. Being close to their friends or sharing utensils has become a thing of the past.

Cooperative Education hosts webinar to explore Project-based Learning as alternative to WIL

Dr Fundiswa Nofemela

Challenging times often give birth to innovative ideas! This is what has been observed at MUT as a result of the limitations imposed by the government to deal with the spread of Coronavirus. The Department of Cooperative Education (Coop) at MUT is being innovative, given that the students and work integrated learning (WIL) coordinators are not able to work directly with prospective employers.

The Cooperative Education Department hosted a Webinar on Project-based Learning on 22 July 2020. During the webinar, Project-based Learning was presented as an alternative for students who could not be placed due limited WIL opportunities as a result of COVID-19. Dr Fundiswa Nofemela, Director of the department, indicated that they were preparing for the worse. “The impact of COVID-19 on WIL is likely to be manifested even beyond 2021. Institutions globally are exploring ways in which this impact can be mitigated,” said Dr Nofemela. She further stated that Covid-19 was likely to result in companies being unable to accommodate students in 2021 and probably a few years beyond that. Dr Nofemela said they believed that Project-based Learning, as a modality of WIL would assist in ensuring that the students complete their WIL component even if WIL placement opportunities were scarce.  Through Project-based Learning, the department will re-negotiate its partnerships with industry to embark on collaborative projects with them. This will ensure that the students acquire the required experience.  “This may mean that students are not at the workplaces daily but may spend a lot of time in training centres such as the Coastal TVET Tooling Centre of Excellence, Resolution Circle and Athol Munday Training Centre,” said Dr Nofemela. She added that   Project-based Learning was going to necessitate that WIL co-ordinators be given the necessary training so they would be able to deal with the new reality. This novel way of giving students work experience would have a positive impact upon the University’s graduation rate.

Through Project-based Learning placements both at the Tooling Centre of Excellence in Durban and Resolution Circle in Gauteng between 2017 and 2019, over 50 students have managed to complete their qualifications. One of these students is Bonga Dlamini, now working as a Process Engineering Intern at Widney Manufacturing.

Industry seems to have warmed up to the idea of Project-based Learning. Dr Nofemela said that Sibusiso Shange, an Executive at Resolution Circle has welcomed the idea of working with MUT on projects related to Project-based Learning. Sibusiso said that was in line with the reasons why Resolution Circle had been established.  Resolution Circle has hosted over 40 MUT students in the past few years.

Bittersweet season for the Ntuli family

Dr Mthoko Ntuli, left, and his late father

Dr Mthoko Ntuli is one the staff members that heeded the call by MarComms to promote virtual graduation. The Student Development Officer gladly joined the photo shoot donning his red academic gown. He had just graduated with a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This is what every family looks forward to. Sadly, today we report that Dr Ntuli has lost his father. The 81-year old Mr Ntuli senior passed away on 22 July 2020. While Mthoko Ntuli, Student Development Officer in the Student Affairs department lost his 81-year-old dad on Wednesday, he reminisced on his dad’s last words in June. “Now that we have a red gown in the family, I have done my part. I have seen it all”. Little did it occur to Mthoko who was raised by this giant of a man who instilled priceless values on him and his nine siblings that he would be spending just a few weeks with his dad as a PhD holder.

The University wishes strength to Dr Ntuli during this difficult time and may Mr Ntuli senior Rest in Peace.

Watch this space!

For now, you see red earth. But come June 2021, you will see the brand new Faculty of Engineering labs and offices. This structure will add to the changing landscape of the University.

The artist’s impression of the finished structure
The site from which the building is being built

 

MUT students comply with COVID-19 regulations in residences

New sanitizers in ablusion facilities

As 33% of the student population gear up to resume their lectures next week, MUT is wrapping up installations of all safety equipment to keep the students safe in line with the University’s plan to Save lives and Save the academic year.

This week, the University has been finalising its implementation of measures/equipment to keep the students safe as they resume their lectures 20 July.

Over and above making masks and sanitizers available to students, the university has also been installing hygiene equipment across both campuses and residences. “We have prioritised hygiene equipment in ablutions within the teaching areas to prepare for students,” said Malindi Xaba, Director: Infrastructure Services. Soap dispensers have been installed in all ablution facilities within teaching areas.”

Malindi also explained that similar hygiene facilities are being installed across residences starting with on campus residences. These dispensers have already been installed in A, B, C and D residences; while E, F, G and the new residences will have theirs installed by end of the weekend.

In terms of sanitizers, the university is busy finalising installing sanitizer dispensers in lecture venues.  Malindi explained that the university had almost completed installing 239 sanitizers and their dispensers around the main campus, Natural Sciences and the on-campus residence block.

As lectures are about to resume, social distancing in lecture venues will be key. The university is installing unit barriers in lecture venues to ensure that venues can accommodate more students while complying with the regulation and keeping them safe from the risk of getting infected by the coronavirus.

Masks and sanitizers to keep students safe

Masks and sanitizers the new normal

This week, final-year students returned to MUT to complete their year. MUT has been hard at work preparing the university for the return of students in line with government regulations to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

As senior students returned to their beloved university, they were greeted by the new normal. At the gate, only those students who are wearing masks were being allowed to enter the university.  In the past, students could hug and embrace each other as they wait their turn to enter the university, they now have to observe the 1.5 metre social distance that has been marked on the floor.

MUT has been anticipating this safe return of students and making the necessary arrangements. Lizwi Masondo, MUT COVID-19 Compliance Officer said that MUT purchased masks and sanitizers to make them available for students to keep them safe as they resume their lectures. These masks and sanitizers were distributed to students who are in residences through their wardens. Those who are not in residences have been collecting their masks and sanitizers from Protection Services.

In line with this new normal of prioritizing hygiene, the university has also made sanitizers available across the university. “Sanitizers are installed in strategic locations across the university,” said Lizwi.

Although lectures for the 33% will commence next week, it is already clear that the students are taking COVID-19 seriously. The few that have been entering campus have been doing so wearing a mask and have been going through the screening by security personnel.

MUT students comply with COVID-19 regulations in residences

Tumelo-Moalosi
Leading by example

As more students return to MUT through the phased approach, the challenge is ensuring that all students comply with the COVID-19 regulations to keep themselves and others safe. Ensuring compliance is particularly important in residences where students have gotten used to socialising without restrictions in terms of how close they could be to their fellow students.

SRC president, Tumelo Moalosi has been observing how fellow students have been complying with the regulations in residences.  Tumelo, who was amongst the first group of students to return to the university, said that the students have been taking the threat of the Coronavirus seriously in residences.

“Even if you are to enter a residence, you have to observe social distancing before you enter. You cannot just enter,” said Tumelo.

Furthermore, specifications of how many people are allowed in lifts have been specified in residences that have lifts.

Tumelo has also observed that students were more cautious not to get infected by the Coronavirus. He explained that there has not been any case of students attempting to host a social event in their rooms, which is exceptional. “We are hoping that this attitude from final-year students will rub-off on first and second year students as and when they come,” said Tumelo.

He has also explained that some of the residences were structured in a manner that discouraged socialising in close proximity to each other. These are residences with small common areas, which Tumelo believes is valuable indication to students that they need to spend their time in their rooms in isolation.  “It is something that if you understand COVID-19, you would immediately know that you should not even go into the common area,” said Tumelo.

MUT alumna nominated for Sebenza Women Awards

Nana Mzila

MUT alumna, Nana Mzila has been nominated for the Woman in Construction Award at this year’s Sebenza Women Awards. Nana, who is Managing Director of ISU Engineering, graduated with a National Diploma in Construction Management & Quantity Surveying from MUT in 2007.

Nana said: “getting recognized for all the hard work motivates me to work even harder, I’m so grateful”.

The Sebenza Women Awards were, according to their website, created “to honour women who possess innovation, entrepreneurial drive, selfless leadership, individuality and tenacity with the ultimate goal being to present role models, for other women and the society at large”.

Vote for Nana, SMS “NANA” to 44344.

Campus readiness kicks-off

Professor Marcus Ramogale

Prof. Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor has taken it upon himself to ensure that the University is safe and ready for the next cohort of students returning to campus. Convening a special EMC, the acting VC was at pains to express the urgency for the campus to be protective of staff and students from getting the Coronavirus. “The return of the 33% of exit level students is no child’s play. We need to be ahead of the virus and do what is right. Our messaging of social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands must be the new normal. I am happy that when this large group returns, we would have procured two sets of masks for them and hand sanitizers”, said Prof Ramogale. In his communique to parents, staff and students, he said: “We expect the exit or final year students to start arriving at residences from 13 July. That period will be used to orientate them and train them on health protocols. We would like all our students and staff to be on the same page on how we could circumvent being infected with COVID-19. Classes are scheduled to commence on 20 July 2020.”

Level of awareness on fighting COVID-19 increases

Alternative remedies a favourite amongst staff

The ‘woke’ MUT community must be commended on its stride to protect one another during the pandemic. Staff members and students are sharing positive ways of fighting the virus. ‘Drinking lemon with hot water, mixing turmeric powder with hot water seem to be the favourites’, read and share messages of encouragement on  the Virtual Campus WhatsApp platform. Keep sharing MUT-Save Lives. Save the academic year.

HR&D hosts COVID-19 workshop to raise awareness

 

Human resource specialist, Peter Morris

They say prevention is better than cure. This is more so for COVID-19 given the unavailability of a vaccine or a cure for it. MUT has been hosting training and workshops for various stakeholder groups on COVID-19 to raise awareness on how  the university community can protect themselves, their colleagues and families from the pandemic. The latest to offer such training is the Department of Human Resources and Development (HR&D).

The workshop was conducted virtually on Thursday, 9 July in line with the social distancing regulations. It was facilitated by seasoned human resource specialist, Peter Morris, who delivered an interactive multimedia session. Peter reminded participants that safety was of highest importance during this time of the pandemic and that it was important for staff to understand how they can keep themselves safe. The bulk of the session was dedicated to the six Cs; which are Commit (to protect yourself and other), Clean (your hands and surfaces), Avoid Contact (and crowds), Cut Out (touching your face and others), Cover (your sneezes and coughs) and Compassion (for others). Peter explained that there is a lot of information about COVID-19 that we hear on a daily basis that could make individuals feel helpless and want to give up, but it was important for everyone to continue to commit to the fight against COVID-19.

In attendance were representatives from Financial Aid Office; Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement; Library Services; Department of Marketing and Communications; Student Affairs; Quality Management Directorate; Academic Administration; Finance Department; and Technology Stations in Chemicals.

HR&D’s Bathabile Wella encouraged staff to be compassionate towards colleagues and to believe those who reported to them. “Let us have a relationship of trust and be understanding and assist,” she said. Both Peter and Wella reiterated the importance of caring, being accommodating and not stigmatising those that have been exposed to the virus upon their return to the workplace.

Decontamination to pave way for the return of staff

A job well done

With positive cases of COVID-19 on the rise in South Africa, one of the major concerns is preventing transmission through common facility. It was for this reason that MUT cordoned off the facilities at the West Wing Building until it was decontaminated after a positive case was discovered at MUT.

According to MUT Works Manager, Kenyata Makhoba, the disinfection entailed “decontamination (similar to fogging), wiping down of all surfaces then deep cleaning and sanitizing”.

The emphasis has been on making the building safe and suitable for habitation by staff without fear of transmission. Staff and student safety was the main motivation for the decontamination of a section of the West Wing Building.

Zakhele Khumalo, from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, was on campus when the decontamination took place. He encouraged anyone who is not well to stay at home to avoid having the building getting decontaminated as the chemical fumes linger on and becomes an inconvenience for occupants of other sections of the same building.

MUT alumna secures employment during lockdown

Lungelwa Faith Mnyandu

Class of 2016 MUT alumna, Lungelwa Faith Mnyandu, has returned to MUT for another qualification and secured employment during the national Lockdown.

“Being an MUT student feels like home. The diversity of culture and the familiarity of the environment makes everything seems comfortable,” said Lungelwa. “I am from Umlazi, so for me Mangosuthu University of Technology is just home away from home.”

Lungelwa graduated with a Diploma in Community Extension. She completed her qualification in the prescribed minimum time and credits her success to “the structure and good quality of lecturing”.

She started yet another journey with her alma mater.  She began reading for an Advanced Diploma in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development in the beginning of the year, before the COVID-19 national Lockdown.

She is one of a few individuals who managed to secure employment at this difficult time for all South Africans.  “During the Lockdown I started my new Job at Liv Village under National Route Agri-Tech Solution doing Agribusiness Management, assisting farmers with buying and selling of farm inputs.”

Lungelwa is no stranger to the world of work. Between 2018 and January 2019, she worked for Wildlands Conservation Trust as an Extension Officer and Plant Nursery Maintenance before her contract terminated in January 2020. However, this is the first time that she has to juggle the pressures of work along with the challenges of being a student.

“The only way I am able to survive is to stick to my work and school timetables.  During the week I go to work for 8 hours.  When I get home I put one hour away for my studies so I do not fall behind. On weekends I sacrifice one day to catch up,” said Lungelwa.

Virtual graduation breaks the MUT website

Virtual graduation microsite

MUT’s virtual graduation started exactly at 10h00 on Saturday, 27 June. In less than a minute, www.mut.ac.za was in distress. It had never seen such an influx at the same time. Students and graduandi took it to social media to complain, but in the end they were able to view. As with online activities; there would always be mixed feelings. However; from the MUT web analytics; the University won. On 27 June, the website had 424626 web hits with 7635 visits. The following day, the web hits were 151966 with 10,676 visits. Jay Roopsunker, the Webmaster said, “In the first 5 minutes of opening the graduation for public viewing, traffic was unusually heavy on the virtual graduation microsite that the server interpreted these requests as attempted intrusions and shut down temporarily. The server turned itself on again but slowed down the website because of the continuous significant demand.” The University officially joined a few elite universities, globally, which have hosted online graduation ceremonies.

How millennials and post millennials made the Virtual Graduation a go to event on Saturday, 27 June

Virtual graduation online event

As the virtual graduation was an online event, it was important to gauge the number of people who were interested in the event by having a virtual RSVP on Facebook where attendees would express their interest in the event. This was also a way of further promoting the virtual graduation and having Facebook users reminded of the event each time they go on the platform. A total of 2800 fans expressed their interest through the Facebook event/RSVP. However; on 27 June 2020, a total of 14,378 Facebook users were recorded as active at 10am. Many of these users received a Facebook notification reminding them to tune-in to the MUT virtual graduation at 10h00 that morning. Facebook also played an essential role of providing the necessary feedback on how users were interacting with the virtual graduation videos. On Twitter, there were 4,500 impressions within two days. “Our students are really engaging online and what has been great about this online event is that we have been able to respond to them in real time while at the same time escalating their queries to departments concerned”, said Mbali Mkhize, senior director, MarComms.

Giving graduates a dignified send-off

Isolezwe edition that carried MUT graduation roll

Graduation is the happiest moment in any student’s life. It marks the successful completion of one’s journey through university. Last week, MUT hosted its virtual graduation for the Class of 2020 which could not graduate in a face-to-face ceremony. To mark this first for MUT, MarComms organised for the graduation roll to be published on Isolezwe the day after graduation.

“Many of our students cannot afford the data to watch the virtual graduation, while others live in areas where internet access is an issue,” said Mbali Mkhize, senior director, MarComms. “We decided to publish the graduation roll on Isolezwe Newspaper to increase access for our graduates and their families.”

Although graduates and their parents could not physically be on campus, having names on newspapers meant that the family could again purchase the paper and look for names together, just as they did when the class of 2020 matriculated.

“Many of our students are first generation graduates in their families and having that copy of a newspaper for the rest of the family to see makes our graduation that special,” said Mbali. “It is an opportunity to sit with family and go through the names as a collective and celebrate together, which is what our graduation is about.”

Having the names of graduates on a newspaper was an acknowledgement of the diverse backgrounds that our students come from and that the institution will always strive to open access to students from all walks of life.

MUT’s three-point plan as it fights COVID-19

Raising awareness on COVID-19

This week HR&D trained the EMC on COVID-19 in the workplace. This is a part of the implementation of a safe work practice to limit exposure to COVID-19 at MUT.  HR&D rolled out its training and as the facilitator, Mr Peter Morris summarised, “The entire value chain needs to adapt to the three points to fight CIVID-19. And these are: masks, social distancing and washing of hands and/use of sanitizers.” These are essentials and most of MUT’s messages on raising awareness centre around these.

COVID-19 requires different leadership – MUT alumnus

Dr Pat Sifiso Mazibuko’s recent book

Health experts have warned that COVID-19 would continue to alter human behaviour and change business practices even long after it is no longer with us. MUT alumnus and Telkom Group Executive, Dr Pat Sifiso Mazibuko, believes that the pandemic requires different kind of leadership to the one before it.

“As a corporate leader, you cannot lead in the same way you did before COVID-19,” said Dr Mazibuko, who graduated from MUT in 1991 with a Diploma in Electrical Engineering. “With COVID-19 there are things that you need to learn, unlearn and re-learn.”

He explained that because of the Coronavirus pandemic; the context had changed, the environment had changed and the people had also changed. Many employees will continue to work from home, where their line managers will not be able to see them. “There is a dire need for currency between you and your boss. That currency is trust, it needs to be there,” said Dr Mazibuko.

Dr Mazibuko further explained that in this era of COVID-19, line managers have to now demonstrate to the people who report to them that they are caring. “You need to be a caring boss, and when you care people will do anything for you,” said Dr Mazibuko.

Dr Mazibuko has recently published a book titled, Conversations with the best: Life Changing Conversations. The book covers a vast array of topics (or facts of life, as he puts it) and every chapter has a story behind it. “It is something that forces you to think and cause-correct. I am provocative, blunt and forcing people to think,” he said.

The book features provocative chapters such as: The dog’s second bite; Never say goodbye to the devil; Bad Influencer; Walk away, my friend; and Ignoring the sign.

Readers can expect Series 2 of the book in January. However, Dr Mazibuko is almost done with another book, The leadership game, which will be published in December.

All set for MUT’s virtual graduation

MUT graduation will be virtual this year

Uncharted waters. New territory. Unparalled. Uncommon. Unrivalled.

Yes, this will be graduation extraordinaire for MUT which will be hosted online tomorrow so as to follow the Lockdown regulations of protecting South African citizens against COVID-19. “It is not a situation we would have loved to celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2020. Graduations always come with all pomp and ceremony; but this time, the University took a directive from the highest office in the Country. Without their qualifications being conferred by the Chancellor; the graduates cannot be issued their certificates. This is the best we can do under the circumstances. We wish our graduandi well during this time and we hope that the virtual graduation will give them confidence on the qualifications they have attained”, said Prof Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor.

The virtual graduation will commence at exactly 10h00 and can be accessed through the MUT website,  on www.mut.ac.za/virtualgraduation or YouTube on https://www.youtube.com/MangosuthuUniversityofTechnology  or on www.facebook.com/MUTUmlazi

Two times VC award winner walks the graduation walk on campus

Gugu Mkhize

Gugu Mkhize received the VC award last year when she graduated with a Diploma in Office Technology. At the time, her hardworking mother and her aunt were there to cheer her up. This year, Gugu; who is receiving a VC award once more is all alone. She cannot even share this amazing moment with her mother who is in Eshowe and they cannot meet under Lockdown. However; as one of the Change Agents at MarComms, she has heeded the call to celebrate by walking with her best friend, Nontokozo, with whom she graduated last year and would have graduated together. Big ups to Gugu.

MUT scientist joins world experts on BBC to discuss Covid-19 pandemic

Dr Jordaan

June 23, 2020! This day will go down in history as a day that one of the University staff members made history! Dr Maryam Jordaan, NRF Administrator, joined scientists from around the world on BBC to explore and inspire innovation worldwide to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.  “During the meeting we had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions directly with an expert panel of four world-class engineers involved in COVID-19 response.  BBC presenter Kevin Fong hosted this exciting global conversation to explore and inspire innovation worldwide,” said Dr Jordaan. Dr Jordaan was part of the audience from six continents.

Dr Jordaan believes a world effort is required to deal with Covid-19. “In order to combat the Coronavirus, a combined global effort is needed; the BBC World Service and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 created a special online forum which took place on 23 June 2020,” said Dr Jordaan.

Dr Jordaan and her colleagues at the University, Dr Oluwakemi Ebenezer, Dr Nkululeko Damoyi and Dr Michael Shapi have already written a paper on Covid-19. The paper: Virtual screening, physicochemical properties and molecular docking study of FDA approved compounds similar to ARV efavirenz, targeting COVID-19 was accepted by Heliyon, an open access journal. The team has furthermore submitted another paper for review. The preprint for this paper is available at https://www.researchsquare.com/home

Dr Jordaan is one of the University’s annual Research Award winners. The participation of Dr Jordaan in the discussion was highly applauded by the Research Directorate, under which Dr Jordaan works. “Everybody in the Research Office is filled with excitement.  We cannot be more proud of Dr Jordaan,” said Dr Anette Mienie, Director, Research.

Student Development Officer graduates with a PhD

Dr Ntuli

He has come full circle! Mthokozisi Emmanuel Ntuli, Student Development Officer in the Department of Student Affairs recently graduated with a PhD in Higher Education. This is the fulfilment of a dream whose implementation began at MUT in 1992 when Dr Ntuli enrolled for National Diploma in Personnel Management at a tender age of 18. Now he holds a PhD in a very specialised area of student activism and university governance and leadership development. His title was “Implications of Student Activism on University Governance: A Multi-Case Study in South Africa. Dr Ntuli read for his degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“I chose this title as it was most appropriate for my area of work. For me student governance and leadership development is not just a job that one needs to do from 8am to 4pm. It is a profession that needs to be taken seriously. We all need to have a deeper understating of what it is like to be a student nowadays, and the kind of challenges that students face, given the historical account of higher education in South Africa. The dynamics of higher education have changed such that it has become essential to think deeper about student governance and leadership development, and the place of a student at a University,” said Dr Ntuli.

Dr Ntuli is also an alumni of the Durban University of Technology and the University of Durham, UK, where he read for his Master’s. In 2018, he was awarded Erasmus Mundus plus Scholarship to study at the University of Tampere, Finland, on a Doctoral Students Exchange Programme. While at the University of Tampere, Dr Ntuli attended a doctoral course, which was taught by Professors from the US, UK, Europe, and South America, Africa, Australia and China. Dr Ntuli said this provided Dr Ntuli with new insight on university governance and leadership development, and leadership, student activism, governance and leadership development. Dr Ntuli said that he would like to empower others with the skills and knowledge that he has acquired and would like to utilise his newly acquired insights and perspectives for the development of the institution. “This is a very specialised area. I would like to see the number of people that enrol to study this area growing. This will have a direct positive influence upon the management of the higher education sector as the role of the students and student leadership is fast becoming more prominent,” said Dr Ntuli. Dr Ntuli added that his immediate goal was to entrench the love and understanding of student issues upon the higher education sector. “I will do this by engaging with colleagues in the sector through writing papers, and sharing information in various ways,” he said. Dr Ntuli has already published papers on student leadership and governance.

Dr Ntuli has been working at the University for 24 years. He worked for seven years in IT&N as a Technician focusing on access control system management, three years as Bursaries, Loans and Awards Officer, three years as Senior Officer: Bursaries, Loans, Awards and Scholarships, 11 years as student Development Officer. His love for interacting with all matters that have to do with students drew him towards the Department of Student Affairs, which he joined in 2009.

Fulton Trust donates R50 000 for E-Learning

At the beginning of the Lockdown, Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications, submitted proposals for e-learning support to various organisations. While many organisations had already rerouted their funding support to organisations fighting COVID-19; the Fulton Trust has today donated a sum of R50,000 so as to help those students who are unable to access e-learning services. This sum will be used for the students e-learning devices. Mbali said this donation will need to be allocated to the Teaching & Learning portfolio. Reacting to the news, Dr Manyane Makua, Acting DVC: Teaching and Learning, said that donation was “good news and is commendable. As MUT we are obviously grateful for this gesture as it will go a long way in assisting our students.” Dr Makua further said that given the large volume of the students’ needs, and that there are students that are not supported by NSFAS, the funds could be used to buy gadgets to access eLearning platforms. The Fulton Trust has been sponsoring the University through student bursaries for more than two decades.

In solidarity with those graduating tomorrow at virtual graduation

Be inspired!  Some of the University’s alumni

The spirit of celebration has gripped MUT as the time for the MUT virtual graduation draws nearer. As a form of support and paying tribute to our students who could not graduate in person, and their lecturers, today we show our readers some of our staff members and interns that have graduated from MUT. Some of these colleagues would have graduated this year if it was not for the Covid-19 restrictions.