Business Continuity Plans all in order

Zimasa Gwarube of the Risk & Audit division

It might have been a tedious project last year when the Risk & Audit team collected data from office to office in order to prepare for the Business Continuity Strategic Plan, Crisis Communications Policy and Emergency Response Plan. Today, these draft documents are the blueprint guide of what the University can do to meet this unexpected season of uncertainty. Though COVID-19 is disrupting the work environment, these documents are a sign of proactive leadership. Big-ups to Dr. Jerome Mabaso Acting DVC Resources and Planning and his team for the tireless work in the development of these documents. A feather in the cap for Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Enoch Duma Malaza who kept on conscientising EMC about how MUT would cope in the eventuality of a crisis. On 25 March 2020, EMC members approved arrangements and expectations during the lockdown from support departments. The University business will continue as usual

Not a ghost town yet

First, it was an early recess for the University staff and students from 15 March 2020 to 18 April 2020, following recommendations by Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of the Department of Higher Education, Science & Technology; and finally the most feared pronouncement “Lockdown SA” by President Cyril Ramaphosa so as to prevent South Africa from having thousands of COVID-19 cases, from 26 March to 16 April. The MUT unsung soldiers continued to come to work because the University has to be protected; salaries have to be prepared; online communications and support still need to be functional; procurement has to finalized to prevent bottlenecks when staff and students return on 17 April and all HR&D functions still need to stay on point.

MUT today is ready for a lockdown but some departments are still keeping the University active. Life is still going on. MUT is no ghost town. There is no despair or frustration that staff members carrying out this duty are still on campus. It is business as usual and despite being a kind of ghost town, there is the inspiration which Kanye West in his song, Ghost town, sings:

“Some day we gon’ set it off
Some day we gon’ get this off.
You might think they wrote you off
They gon’ have to rope me off
Some day the drama’ll be gone
And they’ll pray, it’s not enough…”

We pray as MUT for all this protection and we give grace to the unsung soldiers that kept the ship running. We thank the leadership of Dr. Enoch Duma Malaza who was present on campus during all this time; inspiring his executive to lead from the front; as well.

From left, Phumlani Ngobese, Sherwin Mudaly, and Vusi Dlamini, all of IT&N still at work on the last day before the start of lockdown  

MUT turns to technology to bolster communication during the lockdown

Jay Roopsunker

After a Senate decision to bring the recess period forward and a government decision to lockdown the country from midnight on 26 March to 16 April, MUT is now scheduled to re-open on 17 April 2020. Certain university services will continue despite the lockdown.

MUT has made the necessary preparation for staff to continue to render services during the lockdown. Last week, the University introduced the Virtual Campus platform, a one-stop-shop for staff to access essential University services online. This week, MUT added the MUT StayOnComms WhatsApp group, which is the University’s official WhatsApp group where updates and information from university management will be distributed.

Jay Roopsunker, Webmaster at the Department of Marketing and Communications (MarComms) said “We have taken some measures to ensure that staff are able to continue with their work during the lockdown. The MUT StayOnComms WhatsApp group is another way to simplify communication between the University and the staff. We have already started sending out messages on this platform and we urge staff to follow instructions sent through an SMS to get added to the group,” said Roopsunker.

The WhatsApp group will add to the Outlook for mobile, Zoom and other resources available on the Virtual Campus page (www.mut.ac.za/virtualcampus).

EMC moves to Microsoft Teams to beef up its online collaboration

IT&N’s Clint John showing Dr Bheka Ntshangase, Acting Dean: Faculty of Management Sciences, how Microsoft Teams works

The Lockdown of the Republic of South Africa has brought new creative ways to ensure that the country is not at a standstill. On Wednesday, just a day before the Lockdown, at a Special EMC meeting, Dr. Jerome Mabaso led a presentation for EMC on how leadership could continue collaborating and working smart during the Lockdown using Microsoft Teams. Presenting the application, Phumlani Ngobese, from IT&N pointed out that Microsoft Teams is a Cloud Solution that enables departments or divisions to collaborate and share progress remotely. He presented how this communication and collaboration platform could enable EMC to convene virtual meetings, video chats, file sharing, and storage. The main feature of the platform was how it could save time and mitigate against managing risks in the event of load shedding or any other unforeseen calamities. During the presentation, some key relief lessons for EMC were the ‘dictate button’ that one could use instead of drafting messages or conceptual documents. The working smart approach is immediately noticed and appreciated. EMC was also shown the benefits of online collaborations as they had to work together on a document which they could simultaneously edit.

MUT moves autumn recess forward and encourages use of technology

Cebo Nyondo

While it is true that early Autumn break as a result of the CODIV-19 will disrupt the academic programme, this has also become an opportunity for academics, and administrative staff to show their mettle. On 18 March 2020, the MUT management resolved to push the Autumn break forward. Now the University will re-open on 15 April 2020, having closed on 18 March 2020. In the meantime, academics have been requested to use technology to communicate with the students to reduce the loss of contact time.

Addressing the media on 18 March 2020, after the University Management meeting, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said the institution was going to use technology to ensure that teaching and learning continued. “To reduce the heavy reliance on the contact mode of teaching, the University will strengthen the use of Blackboard, which is an online tool/software to enhance teaching and learning,” said Dr Malaza.

At the coalface of this new way of teaching and learning is the Teaching, Learning and Development Centre (TLDC) headed by Dr Manyane Makua, who is the Senior Director. The TLDC has crafted a plan that will be used by academics. Cebo Nyondo, E-learning and Educational Technology Specialist at the TLDC, said the plan was to capitalise on the current expertise available at the University. These include staff members that are already familiar with Blackboard, one of the technologies that has been used as a tool for teaching and learning for a while at MUT.  “Furthermore, the focus is on how the teaching and learning activities will be moved to an online environment, thereby implementing a distant learning approach. The TLDC is proposing a structure that will be followed for all courses and by way of implementation will provide training to all who require it during the recess period and will extend this initiative even after contact sessions resume,” said Nyondo. Nyondo said the proposed structure adopts “constructive alignment” devised by Professor John B. Biggs. “The use of such an alignment will help in developing courses that will mimic the nature of contact session and thereby creating an interactive learning environment,” he concluded.

MUT academics will be trained on the development of online courses. The training will be a practical hands-on training, focusing on the minimum structure. Furthermore, the TLDC will have structured two workshop sessions in a week accommodating 10-15 academics per day. The plan was presented to the Senate this week.

Momentous approach towards COVID-19 could save MUT

Dr Malaza, third from right, addressing the media on the Senate’s decision regarding CODIV-19

The way countries deal with COVID-19 could save their citizens from infections. This is a shout out to President Cyril Ramaphosa following the declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster on 15 March 2020 and the directive to institutions in the South African Post-school System by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande issued on 17 March 2020.

At MUT this is a shout out to Dr Enoch Duma Malaza who started cautioning EMC about COVID-19 as far back as the end of January. “Setting up a COVID-19 Task Team was a good decision as there have been awareness campaigns on COVID-19. I am happy that our Task Team comprises of the Clinic Services, the Resources & Planning division; academics in the health sciences and Marketing and Communications who have all joined hands to collaborate on preventing COVID-19 from entering MUT. The Task Team is attending webinars and addresses so as to find ways of keeping COVID-19 out of MUT, Umlazi Township and the country,” said Dr Malaza.

“This week, Senate took a hard decision to pronounce an early recess for staff and students. MUT and the country have never confronted a threat at this level. We urge all members of the University to commit to the struggle against this pandemic irrespective of where they are in the University hierarchy. MUT staff and students will return on 18 April and this is an attempt to slow down the pandemic,” as Dr Malaza wrote to staff and students.

KZN MEC for Health meets some members of the MUT Task Team on COVID-19

Sister Mkhwanazi

In order to sustain the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is positioning itself to remain current in the discourse around COVID-19. Sister Nomsa Mkhwanazi & Dr Thobile Poswa, members of the MUT Task Team on COVID-19 represented the University at a special stakeholder meeting with the management of universities in KZN held in Pietermaritzburg. This meeting had been convened by the KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu in order to discuss the department’s plans and solicit contribution from higher learning institutions.

Sr Mkhwanazi said some of the meeting’s highlights focused on “Sustainable engagement in the area of establishing and having the Department of Health minimum standards for Campus Health Clinics facilities within the institutions with active student engagements. We also discussed how the Department of Health could support Campus Health clinics with medical supplies over and above treatment for STIs and contraceptives to relieve the overburdened state facilities from treating minor ailments. The health department will provide artwork for universities to reproduce fliers and the like. The University Vice-Chancellors were also urged to avail accommodation facilities dedicated to quarantine and isolation of COVID-19 cases.”

The discussions also focused on how universities could see this period as a way of building entrepreneurial skills within universities. MUT’s Technology Station was encouraged to develop sanitizers and other products that would help in the University’s third stream income.

From Brand Police to Change Agents

From left, Thabisile Ngudle, Melody Kuboni, and Nonto Nzama, some of the Change Agents

With the University taking an early recess, it was essential that the University becomes more empathetic to students. The Brand Police rocked up to assume a more meaningful role as Change Agents. They moved throughout the University’s 41 outsourced residences, putting up the posters about the early recess. Accompanied by Mr Mtshali, Warden at Bock H, known as Mfundisi, the Change Agents engaged students. “Most students mentioned their challenges and the key message from the University was that their health matters the most”, said Gugu Mkhize. We also ensured that each residence has its sanitizers and most students welcomed this gesture.

MUT celebrates Water Week, and highlights the COVID-19 pandemic

Some of the school learners at the TSC lab

When celebrating the International Water Week, as part of its attempts to cultivate and strengthen relations with immediate communities, the University decided to partner with Umlazi Township schools. Addressing learners from Velabahleke, Menzi, Vukuzakhe and Sishosonke; Thulisile Mtshengu, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health at MUT, highlighted the importance of water by quoting the decision taken by the United Nations on 28 July 2010, saying the human right to water and sanitation (HRWS) was recognised as a Human right by the United Nations General Assembly.

“The Department of Water Affairs in the country said we needed to have the whole week. In South Africa we focus on water pollution. We look at how we can use greywater as water is regarded as a scarce commodity that needs to be conserved. We ask these questions: How can we prevent water pollution? How is the water sampled? When the water has been tested, is it fit for human consumption? How can we change greywater to freshwater? We also look at water analysis,” said Mtshengu. The learners from the different schools were taken to the University’s Technology Station in Chemicals (TSC) where they were given a lecture on how the station deals with water from river streams.

The department also saw the meeting as an opportunity to talk about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 that has been declared a National Disaster. Dr Thobile Poswa, the Head of the Department of Environmental Health at MUT, appealed to learners to be change agents, and take all possible measures to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus. He asked learners to use masks, and gloves and sanitizers as often as possible. “Wash your hands with soap, throw away used masks. Be careful. We touch many surfaces, which might be contaminated. This is now our daily challenge.  You need to be champions of this disease,” said Dr. Poswa. The students were also given certificates to encourage them to become ambassadors of COVID-19 and water conservationists in their areas.

MUT convocation visits Founder and former premier to solicit assistance for the University

Prince Buthelezi, second from left, with the Convocation leadership, checking the big prize!

The MUT Convocation has kept the promise it made after it was elected on 7 December 2019. The Convocation Executive, led by its President, Sandile Dlamini, visited two high profile leaders in the province. On 10 March 2020, the team, together with the leadership of the department of Marketing and Communications, and the Registrar, visited the Founder of the University, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi at his offices in Ulundi, in the north of the province. They informed the Prince of their desires to assist the University to deal with a number of challenges, some of which are the huge student debt, the unavailability of the funding for the post-graduate students, the inadequate resources, and the possibility of acquiring some adjacent land for the necessary expansion.

Prince Buthelezi, who welcomed the MUT delegation with a smile, said the visit was “historic, and impressive”. The Convocation leadership requested the Prince to communicate with his networks, and see if they could assist in improving the situation at the University. “I am humbled by your message, Mr Dlamini,” said Prince Buthelezi, a leader that built 6000 schools in the province. Prince Buthelezi gave a long, clear history of the events that resulted in the founding of the Institution. His point was that he has always been aware of the plight of the black people, and that education was going to provide the real improvement in their lives. Even before the meeting was over, he had tried calling someone he thought could help. He relished the opportunity of once again, helping MUT so it could continue to produce more graduates. The University has produced more than 40 000 graduates.

As a sign of great respect, and a clear indication that they would like the relationship with the Prince to continue, the Convocation leadership brought with them a cow for Prince Buthelezi while the University presented the Prince with a framed collage of pictures of the students that have graduated at MUT over the last few years. The Prince was more than elated. He spent time looking at the frame, which is a reflection of his desire to improve the lives of the people through education. He also appreciated the cow gift very much, and said he might return the favour, in one way or the other. Sandile said they were very happy with the Prince’s reaction, and requested him to continue helping the University to grow further. Asibambisane, he said.

On the following day, the Convocation leadership visited Mr Willies Mchunu, the former Premier of the province. Mr Mchunu was also more than happy to welcome the Convocation leadership. He commended them for the new tactics they were employing in dealing with the problematic issues that have bedevilled the South African universities. “I really commend you, young people for employing different tactics in dealing with the challenges. Although I am officially retired from government, I am still an active cadre of the ANC, and the general community. On that basis, I am going to consider your request for me to help,” said the former Premier. Like Prince Buthelezi, the former Premier tried connecting them with an individual whom he described as someone that would take the lead in the facilitating what was going to happen in terms on the Convocation leadership’s request.

MUT commences an aggressive fight against Coronavirus

Dr Malaza

MUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza’s efforts on raising awareness on the Coronavirus are commendable. This week, two presentations were arranged for EMC and Senate. Presenting at EMC and Senate, Head of the Health Services, Sister Nomsa Mkhwanazi, said: “Students and staff will continue to be serviced by the Clinic. Clients with Flu-like symptoms will be screened for Coronavirus infection by checking the temperature, history of contact with a person confirmed to be infected with Coronavirus and understand the suspected case identification protocol, follow the suspect case referral protocol and treat contact/s as per Coronavirus contact management protocol.”

Operations Senior Director, Muzi Khumalo’s quick turn-around time with finding ways to  assist the University to contain the Coronavirus are recognised. Every office at this stage has been provided with hand sanitizers and cleaning of every space is sanitized and new detergents that are more effective are now being used. The sanitizers are also easily accessible to students. Globally, the big thing is ensuring that the hands are washed at least every 15 minutes.

TSC helps SMMES with funding and other ideas

Charles Jiyane, squatting, left, with DUT and MIT-Africa staff, and SMME business people

On 12 March 2020, 17 SMME business people had a Business Development Workshop at the Technology Station in Chemicals’ premises. Together with the Durban University of Technology(DUT), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-Africa), and AcSeed, the TSC gave the SMMEs a broad understanding of the business they were in. The Acting Head of the TSC, Charles Jiyane, said they shared with the SMMEs ways of ensuring that their businesses were sustainable. “We informed the SMMEs of the funding instruments that were available from the private sector as well as how to make their sustainable, and venture management services. This is part of the regional collaboration with DUT, AcSeed, and MIT-Africa,” said Charles. Most of the SMMEs produce detergents and cosmetics, with the help of MUT, where their products are tested against the SABS specifications. MUT also helps them with manufacturing training. Msizi Zama, owner of Zukule Essential Oils, said the collaboration has helped them greatly. “Now I am going to merge my company with four more from the south coast to form one big company. This will help us to secure funding, especially for the steam distiller,” said Msizi. Msizi employs seven people and has agreements with local government and local traditional leadership to use their resources for his business.

MUT takes the Black Thursday against GBV campaign to the streets of Umlazi

Taking the message to the streets! Silent protesters at the Megacity intersection

After weeks of campaigning against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) as part of the Black Thursday against GBV, MUT took the campaign to the streets of Umlazi Township to amplify the University’s stand against GBV and to raise awareness. This week saw students embark on silent protest at the traffic lights in Umlazi’s V-Section and Mega City intersections.

The Black Thursday Campaign, which aims to raise awareness against GBV and encourage victims to report abuse, combines the MUT Senate’s stand against GBV and the University’s Anchor Strategy which tasks the University with the revitalisation of Umlazi Township.
“Gender-Based Violence is not just an MUT problem but it is also a problem for the rest of South Africa; we extended our campaign to the Umlazi community because we want them to join forces with us as we fight against this scourge,” said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Marketing and Communications at MUT.

The University is also preparing for its annual Rainbow Parade which highlights the plight of LGBTQI.

Circle of Excellence (CoE) Awards

On 13 March MUT hosted the 8th edition of the Circle of Excellence (CoE) Awards at the Hilton Hotel, Durban. The CoE Awards are a way the University shows appreciation of the hard work done by Umlazi Township schools, particularly in grade 12. The focus is on performance in Mathematics, Physics, English and Accounting. The schools that are awarded are those that obtain 100% pass rate, and excellent pass rate in the said subjects. Next year MUT will also recognise sports excellence in these schools. Sponsors play a big role in the success of the CoE. The guest speaker was Umalusi’s Dr Mafu Rakometsi.

Poetic justice for Thabani Mzolo

Jubilant MUT students after the trial

The Cambridge Dictionary defines poetic justice as: “an occasion when something bad happens to a person who seems to deserve it, usually because of bad things that person has done.”

On 5 March 2020 at around 15h30, a police van leaving the Durban High Court drove past a group of MUT GBV activists singing and shouting victory, celebrating the outcome of a trial of Thabani Mzolo. Thabani was given a life sentence for killing Zolile Khumalo on 1 May 2018 at the University’s Lonsdale Residence in the Durban city centre. The screaming police van was transporting Thabani to a place where he will spend the rest of his life – prison. Thabani would have been part of the students as a postgraduate or BTech student. Thabani was also given 25 years for possessing a firearm without the licence, and three years for being in possession of three rounds of ammunition.

The University’s Teaching and Learning Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Marcus Ramogale, has always warned that “The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine”, which resonated with this case. It has taken almost two years for justice to prevail. In the end it was poetic justice for Thabani, Zolile’s former boyfriend who was no longer a student when he entered her room after being signed-in under the pretence of visiting his male friend. There he shot Zolile, the court heard.

MUT students march to demand justice for Zolile and raise awareness on GBV

MUT students on their way to court

On 2 March 2020 motorists on Durban’s Anton Lambede and Margaret Mncadi streets in the morning had to give way to MUT students who marched from Lonsdale Residence at the bottom of Dr Pixley ka-Isaka Seme Street, to the Durban High Court to show their support for the slain Engineering student, Zolile Khumalo. This was the first day of judgement for Thabani Mzolo, who killed Zolile on 1 May 2018. The students’ march was also an affirmation of the University’s stance against Gender-Based Violence and xenophobia, an important decision taken by the University’s Senate last year. Thabani was found guilty of murder, possession of a firearm without the licence, and being in possession of rounds of ammunition.

Candle light vigil in memory of Zolile Khumalo

Zolile Khumalo’s parents at the vigil

It was St. John Vianney who once said: “Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself”. It was this bath of love that MUT created in the vigil for Zolile Khumalo, which took place on Sunday, 1 March 2020, in the eve of judgement in Zolile’s murder trial.

Speaking at the vigil, MUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza re-affirmed MUT’s stand against Gender-Based Violence and reminded students that there was no place for GBV in our society. He also called on students to play their part in the fight against GBV and to report cases.

SRC Secretary General, Lerato Luthuli encouraged students to join the fight against GBV and to continue to push for real change in our society so that Zolile’s death is not in vain.

Students came in their numbers to remember one of their own and to give support to the Khumalo family in preparation for learning the fate of the accused in their daughter’s murder. Led by MUT’s Thandeka Ngcobo, students were in high spirit, singing songs of praise and worship as they wait to light the candles at midnight. At midnight, Ngcobo called on the VC and the Khumalo family to light the first batch of candles for Khumalo and other victims of GBV, which students were also lighting theirs. Candles were followed by a prayer to feed souls in preparation for the march and judgement.

Nature Conservation highlights conservation as part of World Wildlife Day

Keynote speakers, from left, Masiko Buthelezi, Jabulani Ngubane, and Joe Phadima

Our animals and plants are in trouble and we all need to take action to save it. This was the message from speakers during presentations at the World Wildlife Day event, which was organised by the Department of Nature Conversation.

The keynote speakers delivered presentations on 3 March 2020, on various threats to wildlife and how some of those threats could be managed, or neutralised.

Joe Phadima, Executive Manager, Conservation Services at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife explained that as a developmental state, South Africa’s biggest challenge was to develop the economy and the people. Phadima further explained that the challenge was to develop in a manner that would not pollute the environment. “Our action will determine the future of our biodiversity,” said Phadima, who further explained that the success of his organisation was due to biodiversity policy taking a central role in their work.

MUT alumnus, Jabulani Ngubane, who is an Executive at the Isimangaliso Wetland Park shared his organisation’s efforts at protecting the wellbeing of rhinos against poachers. Ngubane informed participants that last year 133 rhinos were killed by poachers.

The challenges, according to Ngubane, include dealing with a high profile syndicate of poachers, high financial incentives for poachers, who are constantly changing strategies, lack of information on syndicate from security agencies, low conviction rates for poachers and inadequate funding for the required equipment to be used against poachers.

To solve some of these challenges, Isimangaliso Wetland Park has resorted to dehorning smaller populations of rhinos, the establishment of Intensive Protection Zones, aerial surveillance with night vision goggles capabilities, the establishment of a nerve centre and polygraph for staff, among others.

Another MUT alumnus, Masiko Buthelezi, who is in charge of wildlife export and import at OR Tambo International Airport, took participants through the legislations that govern import and export of wildlife. Buthelezi also showed participants various ways in which criminals smuggle wildlife.

The session ended with a response from Nature Conservation students before a lively question and answer session.

Management Sciences and Rotary donate books to encourage a culture of reading

HR staff, students, and book donors

The Faculty of Management Sciences and Rotary joined forces and handed over a donation of 3500 books to seven local schools in Umlazi Township to encourage reading as part of the Literacy flagship. The book giveaway was part of the faculty’s community engagement efforts.

Professor Logan Naidoo, Head of Department of Human Resource and Management (HR&M), said that donation was a way of encouraging learners to invest in learning.

Thulile Duma, lecturer in HR&M, expressed hope that every department would join hands and work towards the development of future leaders through reading. Charlie Panday, from Rotary, expressed concern regarding the growing culture of burning schools and libraries in communities and the institutions of higher learning. He indicated that the challenge is worthy of addressing if South Africa were to expect a society that is accustomed to perpetual reading and learning.

Mzolo sentenced to life imprisonment for Zolile Khumalo’s murder

Slain MUT student, Zolile Khumalo

Convicted murderer, Thabani Mzolo, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of slain Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) student, Zolile Khumalo. Judge Nompumelelo Radebe also sentenced Mzolo to 25 years in prison for possession of an unlicensed firearm and three years for possession of live rounds of ammunition.

Sentencing Mzolo, Judge Radebe said violence by man was increasing by proportions and we needed to differentiate between spontaneous crime and premeditated crime.

Speaking outside the court, MUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza said: “We are very pleased by the sentencing. It affirms that the courts too will not tolerate Gender-Based Violence. It gives us strength as a University that there are consequences for criminal behaviour. This is a victory in the fight against Gender-Based Violence and femicide. We hope that this sentence will show many GBV victims that there is justice in South Africa. We have been running a campaign on GBV since the beginning of this year, called Black Thursdays against GBV. The aim is to empower our young men and women on GBV. GBV is on the increase in this country and should not be tolerated. This campaign is in support of our MUT Strategy 2025 where we have a responsibility to undertake an agenda of building this nation. The sentence affirms the stance of USAF, that our universities must not be turned into hunting grounds for murderers and rapists but be transformed into places where knowledge is produced. We pay our tribute to the untiring Khumalo family, the SAPS, witnesses and the State.”

After sentencing, the Khumalo family was welcomed by MUT students who were singing outside the Durban High Court to demonstrate their support for the Khumalo family and to communicate their disdain for Gender-Based Violence.

MUT marches in Durban city centre to demand justice for slain Zolile Khumalo

MUT takes a stand against GBV

Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) will march to the Durban High Court on Monday, 2 March 2020 to demand justice for slain student, Zolile Khumalo, who was allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend. The University will march start from Lonesdale Residence to the Durban High Court in a bid to highlight the scourge of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and to voice the University’s condemnation of GBV.

The march will be preceded by a candle light vigil the night before at Lonesdale Residence where Zolile was slain. The vigil will start from 22h00 – 1h00.

In 2019, the MUT Senate took a stand against GBV and xenophobia and committed the university to doing everything in its power to fight GBV and xenophobia. As a result of that stand, MUT has this year launched a weekly Black Thursday against GBV campaign to raise awareness among staff and students about the scourge, and to encourage the University community to report incidences of abuse.

This week’s instalment of the Black Thursday against GBV event will look at GBV from the perspective of the LGBTQI community. It will run between 12h00 and 13h00 at MUT’s Anniversary Lane on Thursday, 27 February.

MUT Black Thursday against GBV focuses on LGBTQI

Leticia Sishi addressing the students

This week MUT continued its campaign against Gender-based violence (GBV). On Thursday, 27 February 2020, MUT’s Anniversary Lane was full of students dressed in all black, listening to speakers who provided information on the challenges that members of the LGBTQI face.

Azwi Mufamadi, Director: PR and Brand Management at the Department of Marketing and Communications, described the meeting as an “informative, and empowering exercise that is also entertaining”. Leticia Sishi, Miss Gay Durban, and a Durban University of Technology PR student, emphasised the importance of having the correct knowledge about the LGBTQI community. Leticia also highlighted some of the aggressive actions directed at LGBTQI people. “You get killed for who and what you are. GBV has been with us for a long time. But it’s getting worse,” said Leticia. Leticia once had a gun pointed at her because of her sexuality. She is a transgender. Leticia said members of the LGBTQI did not owe anyone an explanation. “All you need from other people is respect,” she said.  Leticia explained the process needed to be followed when changing gender, and said that was when support was needed most.

 

 

Triumvirate formed to lead IT&N

The triumvirate! From left, Terrance Yeni, Sherwin Mudaly, and Neo Tsuari

The Department of Information Technology and Networks (IT&N) has been beefed up by the appointment of two senior staff members who have joined Sherwin Mudaly, and formed a triumvirate that will run the department. Neo Tsuari has joined department as a Project Manager: IT Infrastructure, while Terence Yeni, who has over 20 years’ experience in the IT sector, has been hired as a Project Manager: IT Governance. He joins MUT from DUT. Mudaly has a Masters in IT. The triumvirate’s goal is to bring solutions to a number of challenges. “We would like to increase bandwidth, investigate cloud solutions, and implement proactive monitoring tools. We also would like to develop and implement a skills development plan geared towards empowering staff to delivering service excellence,” said Tsuari. The team would also like to introduce IT best practice methodologies and create an engagement platform with stakeholders.

Tsuari has also been in the IT sector for more than 20 years and brings IT discipline into the environment. “ICT implementation success affects ICT Infrastructure quality and information system quality, in turn ICT Infrastructure quality and information systems quality affect the perceived benefits, thus an ICT project implementation can only be perceived to have succeeded if the perceived benefits are realised. With IT service management deployment experience, and process reengineering capabilities.”

 

MUT gives training to members of the Sports Union

The 2020 Sport Union. Bongile Ganyile is fifth from left

To achieve the smooth running of all the sporting codes at the University, all sporting codes have to elect their executive committees. Such executive committee members then form the Sport Union, which is led by the Sports officer, who is a member of the SRC. Bongile Ganyile said these executive members, who hold the office for 12 months, need to be given induction. “Giving our Sport Union induction ensures that they are well-versed with all the running of sport at the University. The Sport Union represent all the sport codes that we have. Members of the Sport Union are responsible for the day to day running of the sports code and are a link between the sports office and the students. It is therefore important that they understand all about how we run sport at the University so we can achieve the desired results. We see this step as one of the cornerstones of the success of our sport. It forms part of sport management, which is a very essential part of any sport,” said Ganyile. The workshop will be run on 7 March 2020, and will be attended by 50 delegates.

MUT takes a firm grip on internationalisation

International students meet the VC

The international students that enrolled with MUT will always look at the year 2020 with fondness and bit of smile. In a bid to connect international students and to provide support for them to succeed in their studies, MUT hosted a special orientation for international students on Thursday, 20 February 2020.

Students from as far away as Mozambique, Nigeria, eSwatini, Zambia, and Zimbabwe first got a chance to tour Umlazi Township, a trip that included a visit to Ogwini High School as part of the orientation.

However, the highlight of the day for the very excited students was meeting the University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, to demonstrate the significance that international students hold at MUT. Third year Electrical Engineering student, Mfundo Maseko said: “We got a chance to inform the VC about our challenges as international students.” For Namile Dlamini, third year Human Resource Management student, meeting the VC was a special moment. “We consider ourselves lucky to have been recognised. This is the first time this happened at MUT,” she said.

The excited Vice-Chancellor welcomed the students, and impressed upon them the importance of having an international perspective when you are student. “I made lots of friends when I was studying overseas, when I came back home people were thinking I was from West Africa because my friends from there gave me a local attire,” said Dr Malaza. Dr Malaza thanked the students for choosing MUT as a place to further their post-matric education, and the international academics who supported the initiative. To ensure the programme for looking after international students continue, Dr Malaza said a portfolio for international students had to be created within the Student Representative Council (SRC), and that the Department of Marketing and Communications must put together a programme that would see to it that international students were well taken care of.

From a formal meeting with the Vice-Chancellor, faculty deans and other University officials, the students were taken to important places they might need as international students. These places included spots where they could find transport to their respective countries. Their last stop was the Fun company at Pavillion mall in Westville. Students enjoyed hours of fun and games which made them feel really at home.

MUT launches Black Thursday against GBV

Participants at the Black Thursday event

As MUT continues to formalise Thursday as the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) day in campus through the Black Thursday against GBV Campaign, MUT students have embraced the platform and using it to raise day-to-day GBV challenge. This week’s campaign event, which was themed “Walking in her shoes”, saw students fill up the Natural Sciences foyer.

The event was led by MUT event coordinator, Jade Mthiyane, who detailed various incidences of GBV and invited a panel of speakers to comment on cases as a starting point for discussions with and among students. Students and staff were quick to seize the opportunity and talk about the issues they face.

“We are happy that both our staff and students are embracing our efforts to raise awareness against GBV and are participating fully. We want MUT to become an anti-GBV University,” said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: Marketing and Communications. “The University takes its responsibility towards staff and students very seriously. Their safety and wellbeing are our top priority.”

This event is part of the University’s plan to educate staff and students on GBV, encourage students to report perpetrators in order to eliminate acts of GBV. The campaign against GBV comes at a time when the University is still mourning its slain student, Zolile Khumalo, who was allegedly murdered by her then boyfriend. The trial of Khumalo’s alleged murderer resumes in court for the verdict on Monday, 2 March 2020.

“Our University is deeply devastated by the loss of any staff or students, more so when such a life is cut short in such a violent manner. On 2 March, our students and staff will march from Lonsdale Hotel (Residence) on Pixley KaSeme Street to the Durban Magistrate’s Court, through Stalwart Simelane Street, to demand justice for our slain student,” said Mkhize.

NRF rating for chemical engineering senior lecturer

Dr Kaniki Tumba

MUT’s research profile is growing; and along with it is the number of researchers who are getting recognition for their contribution in various areas of specialisation. Senior Lecturer in chemical engineering, Dr Kaniki Tumba, is the latest to join the list of MUT researchers who are rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF). He has been granted a C2 NRF rating, adding another feather to MUT research’s colourful hat.
A very excited Dr Tumba said he regarded the rating as a major step in his academic career. “I am happy and encouraged by this recognition. This means that the work undertaken by MUT researchers is impacting the nation and the world. It also indicates that all the efforts invested by my department, the Research Directorate and MUT Management into turning around the research landscape at MUT are bearing some good fruit,” said Dr Tumba.
Dr Tumba’s research focus spans from Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics to Separation Processes, Bioprocessing and Renewable Energy. “My other achievements include the membership to the editorial board of two reputable journals, which are the South African Journal of Chemical Engineering and The Open Chemistry Journal,” said Dr Tumba. Over the last five years, Dr Tumba has co-authored publications with researchers from various countries, including Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iran, Germany, France, China and Finland. “This represents a good foundation for fruitful and well-structured collaborations that will benefit MUT research and internationalisation agendas,” he said.

New students introduced to MUT in style

Students at the Love your logo event

They say first impressions count, but for MUT it is how those impressions are created that makes all difference. As if to subliminally encourage first-year students to fall in love with their university at its new corporate identity, the orientation was held on Valentine’s Day.

The 2020 cohort of first-year students will remember their introduction to University for the rest of their lives. The new students were welcomed with first the formal part of the orientation, wherein all University officials from different structures informed the students about the services they offer, and invited students to take advantage of these services.

Welcoming the students, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza impressed upon the students the importance of focussing on their studies as this is their primary goal. The VC also told the students they needed to have a bit of fun by getting involved in social events like sports. Senior Director: Operations, Muzi Khumalo, assured the students that they have come at the right place where they will acquire good education under safe and conducive conditions.

As soon as the formal part of the day was over, the students who packed the Dr Seme Hall were ushered to the University football ground where the Love your logo event gave students an opportunity to participate in various activities and were introduced to sporting codes that MUT offers. The event, which was meant to introduce students to the new MUT logo, gave students an opportunity to participate in activities such as tug of war, singing, dance and team challenges, amongst others.

IRDCE hosts academics from São Paulo to discuss technology in teaching and learning

Director: IRDCE Professor Nkonki-Mandleni and visiting scholars from São Paulo (Brazil) with MUT community

The MUT Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement (IRDCE) hosted University of São Paulo (BraziI) Professors Agnaldo Arrorio and Ermelinda Moutinho Pataca in a seminar to discuss the importance of media literacy, knowledge circulation and empowerment. The theme of the seminar was “The use of technology in engaging communities for teaching and learning”.

The emphasis from both scholars was on understanding historical fundamentals of the cultural, scientific, and environmental connections between the first and third world countries. The Brazilian delegation also accentuated prioritizing the use of technology to teach local knowledge and the importance of preserving this knowledge which is anecdotally waning with the older generation. The visit comes at a time when IRDCE aligns the University community engagement activities with MUT’s goals. Professor Busi Nkonki-Mandleni highlighted the importance of embracing technology in the development of study materials while involving communities who are the custodians of local knowledge.

VC delivers SOTU address and launches the ‘diamond’

Dr Malaza addressing staff
Staff listening to the Vice-Chancellor

In a bold State of the University (SOTU) address that he delivered at Bozzoli Hall on 13 February 2020, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of MUT, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza assured staff that lectures will commence on Monday, 17 February as part of university management’s agreement with the SRC. Dr Malaza was giving staff an update on the current state of affairs at the university as the institution begins implementing its Strategic Plan 2025.

The Vice-Chancellor assured staff that University Management was involved in the national effort to resolve the challenge of funding for students wishing to pursue their postgraduate studies. Dr Malaza informed staff that university management had “put in place measures to maintain the integrity of the academic process going forward”.

Dr Malaza made a passionate plea to staff to continue working with management to ensure that all the University processes continued for the University to meet all its primary responsibilities, which are to ensure that students are taught, that research is done, and that community engagement continues.

The VC also assured staff that Management was still committed to achieving the University’s five strategic goals as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2025, or the ‘Diamond’ as it is affectionately known. Paying tribute to the role staff continue to play at the University, Dr Malaza emphasised that such goals would not be met if staff did not get involved. He urged staff to continue to commit to the “service of MUT and its academic mission”.

SOTU would not have been complete without the launch of the ‘diamond’. Heads of departments and directors in respective departments were invited to the stage to receive their copies of the ‘diamond’, which is the university’s blueprint for the next 5 years. The rest of staff received a copy of the abridged version which carries the essence of the ‘diamond’.