Back when Florina Wagenaar started working at then Pentech in 1976, it was in the kitchen of a hostel that accommodated 200 students.
“I had to stand on a bench just to reach the pots,” she laughs.
She quickly moved to working on the floor, which meant cleaning the communal spaces of the hostel, making sure students were fed and in their own rooms at night.
“We would have to wait for the students to come back from away games or whatever they were doing. We loved working with the students, looking after them. We were close to them.
“We used to be very strict, the house matron did not laugh. It was good times,” said Wagenaar.
As her own family grew during the 80s (she has four children) Wagenaar continued working in the hostel until the early 90s when she moved first to the old Education Building and then the Mechanical Engineering Building where she still works today.
She is the woman with all the keys and as she bustles around everyone greets her with a happy “hello aunty Florine” before they lay their building problems at her feet. They tell her about a broken machine or depleted stores and she knows exactly who to notify to sort it out.
She recently attended the CPUT Long Service Awards at Granger Bay Campus, beaming as she walked up to collect a certificate for 35 years of unbroken service.
Now 62 years old, Wagenaar started working on Pentech Campus because that was the job the then Department of Coloured Affairs assigned to her. While there were many better paying jobs available in local factories she preferred the educational institution.
“I did like the work, especially the holidays. That was the best part,” said Wagenaar who would visit her mother back home in Oudtshoorn every chance she would get.
She likes the fact that service workers on campus are once again directly employed by CPUT as she has once again noticed a warm sense of camaraderie amongst the workers which she remembers from when she first started.
Written by Theresa Smith