Holding back tears is never an easy thing to do, more so when bidding farewell to a colleague you got accustomed to seeing daily. This was the case for members of the Department of Civil Engineering on 28 February 2022. It was a bittersweet day as they said their goodbyes to their outgoing Head of Department (HoD), Jan Adriaan van der Westhuizen.
Van der Westhuizen joined the University in 1997. His right hand woman, Nomkhosi Ngcobo, battled to hold back tears as she told a full Senate Chamber of her professional relationship with Van der Westhuizen. She said they discussed issues, and even prayed together.
Van der Westhuizen, in his response, said he learnt a lot from his colleagues. You have developed me, he said.
Van der Westhuizen told of the pain he was feeling as he was saying goodbye to his colleagues. “It’s hard to say goodbye to my family. MUT gave me an opportunity like no other,” Van der Westhuizen said.
He said one of the major challenges he had to deal with was preparing for ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa).
“It was a challenge that we met as a team. We achieved five accreditations over the specified period,” Van der Westhuizen said.