Working with a smile

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.

WORKPLACE: Florina Wagenaar in front of the Mechanical Engineering Building.

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



Taking the long view

Over the past 40 years of working for CPUT Raubie Raubenheimer has taught 5300 students in five different buildings across three campuses.

“They’re all somewhere around here, it’s a small profession,” Raubenheimer reflects on his students as he points out half of the staff working at National Geo-spatial Information (NGI), South Africa’s national mapping organisation, greet him as their own lecturer when he enters the building in Mowbray.

When he started lecturing in September 1977 it was for the Cape College for Advanced Technical Education as it became renamed the Cape Technikon. While he has continued lecturing surveying as a subject ever since, one subject he taught back then which doesn’t exist now is how to interpret aerial photographs.

One of the biggest changes he has seen over the years has been the exponential growth of technology. It isn’t just how computers and the advent of GPS changed his field of study, but how it has changed the structure of the courses. He has seen how the field of teaching surveying merged so that all institutions offering the course eventually worked from the same curriculum and nowadays institutions are starting to diverge and specialise again.

“I enjoyed working with the students,” he smiles broadly as he answers the question of why he stayed at CPUT for four decades.

Though the kind of students who study Geographical Information Sciences have changed over the years (“nowadays kids don’t know how to draw maps”) he thinks lecturers have to change how they approach teaching.

“For me, enthusiasm for your subject is the most important thing,” he said.

Raubenheimer recently picked up a certificate for 40 years of service at the Long Service Awards and plans to retire at the end of the year.

He has always kept up his Geomatics Council membership and plans to become even more involved in the organisation’s Continuous Professional Development committee, which he helped to start in 2013.

The continued membership isn’t just to keep him out of his wife’s hair, Raubenheimer likes the fact that surveying not only gets you outside, but it has afforded him the opportunity to travel, present papers at conferences and render a service to the profession and community.

“I presented a paper in Helsinki, Finland in 1998 on our in-service training and how we monitor it. They had all the flags up outside of the conference centre, it was a relatively small conference but of the about 300 people attending I was the only one from Africa,” he remembered.

Written by Theresa Smith

Service workers brought into the fold

CPUT took advantage of the recent recess to complete a programme of induction for service colleagues.

927 Protection services, cleaning and gardening employees from all the campuses took part in workshops over four days to learn more about what it means to be a permanent staff member at the institution and how we all contribute to the success of CPUT.

“Today is a start of engaging you to build and enhance your contributions in building CPUT,” Shahieda Hendricks, Manager: Staff Development and Training told inductees as she welcomed them to the Sports Hall on the Bellville Campus.

Welcoming the service employees as colleagues Prof Anthony Staak, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, gave them context to the history of the institution and an introduction to the university’s vision-Vision 2020. He also emphasised our CPUT workplace values of integrity and accountability.

“We see ourselves making a contribution to the Western Cape, the nation and the continent so we actively seek partnerships throughout Africa to do that. It is a noble vision and all of us have a role to play.

“You have a critical role to play in ensuring that our environment is conducive to this work, that it is safe, secure and clean. For most of the students, and certainly the staff, this is our home away from home.

“We need to all be pushing in the same direction and we need to support each other because we are all part of one family at CPUT,” said Staak.

The workshops were about explaining the benefits and responsibilities of working at CPUT and while coordinators at the tables did their best to answer questions, further training sessions will be arranged on the various campuses once a training needs analysis has been completed.

Employment Relations Officer Colin Bezuidenhout of the Learning & Development Department (which is part of Human Capital) was on hand to talk about training possibilities and further study opportunities. He pointed out that CPUT has already started talking to SASSETA (Safety and Security Sector Education Training Authority) and the Services Seta to organise funding for learnerships.

Newly appointed Director of Campus Protection Services Gavin Solomons was also on hand to ask security staff how they wanted to be recognised by the rest of the campus and what they considered to be the benchmarks of their work. “You say you want to be the best. What must we put in place to get that right,” Solomons asked the staff who were energised by challenge.

Amanda Glaeser, Acting Head of Human Capital pointed out that the four unions also presented their philosophies to ensure staff members understood the various options available.

“We were happy to provide the session in three languages and the diversity competence of our campus was demonstrated as a rich and valuable way to work,” said Glaeser.

Written by Theresa Smith

INTRODUCTION: The induction workshop for service workers was an interactive affair.

The more things change…

Faculty Officer of Informatics and Design Jenny Penfold is the kind of person that students only get to know if something goes wrong.

“This is the go to office for students,” she says about her office in the Administration Building on the District Six Campus. From here she and the faculty team deal with graduation, student and academic queries from staff, students and the public.

She inadvertently fell into the management of the life of students after herself studying at the then Cape College for Advanced Technical Education in 1977. Penfold did a secretarial course and started working in the Department of Languages & Communication before moving to Fine Arts & Graphic Design as the institute became Cape Technikon.

“The university kept on changing, it keeps on changing,” said Penfold.

“It was like a home away from home,” she says about being promoted to senior administrative officer in the Registration Office. In the late 90s she became the faculty officer for the Design/Language/Education Departments and then watched with interest as the university created its current incarnation of faculties.

Penfold didn’t just stay in the admin building but got back into the classroom, obtaining a diploma in HR Management in 1997.

One thing she thinks that hasn’t changed over the years is the students. While registration numbers have more then trebled since she worked on the Bree Street Campus in the 70s “intrinsically students haven’t changed that much.

“First year students still have the same problems. They are green and dependent on information from us. When they reach second year their approach to us matures, but people remain the same.”

She recently picked up a certificate for 40 years of service at CPUT’s Long Service Awards but isn’t even contemplating retirement, she likes the work.

“I’ve been happy, I’ve enjoyed changes because it’s not a static job. I’ve really like the holidays,” she laughed.

Written by Theresa Smith

Staff and students roll up sleeves for Mandela Day

Students and staff members did their bit for Mandela Day by participating in a clean-up of the former Horticulture Nursery on the Cape Town campus.

“The intention is to pay tribute to the rich heritage of District Six by developing an urban food garden, recreational structures and cultural spaces for the benefit of the community, students and staff”, says Jacqui Scheepers, manager: Service-Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) Units at CPUT

The participants included lecturer Nicholas Pinfold from the Department of Town and Regional Planning as well as students from the Department, Ashaadia Kamalie, Head of Department: Civil Engineering and Surveying and Desmond Jackson, Theresa Burns, Ziyanda Tobani and Jacqui Scheepers from the SLCE Units.

During the clean-up the students assessed the site for future planning. They were able to capture the existing features on the site using geospatial technology (drone and GPS mapping).

“The department is very excited to be part of this very important project for CPUT and the former and current residents of District Six” says Pinfold.

The setting up of a security system at the site will be the next step before the Service-Learning and Civic Engagement projects can be further developed on the site.

Under the leadership of  Prof Anthony Staak, Deputy Vice-Chancellor:Teaching and Learning, the SLCE Units are in the process of collaborating with external stakeholders, university departments and units to develop project plans and funding proposals for the implementation of Service-Learning and Civic Engagement activities on the site.

The Mandela Day campaign encourages South Africans to spend 67 minutes to support a charity or serve in their local community.


Exchange around community engagement fruitful

Social inclusivity was at the centre of the 2017 International Summer Academy on Student Leadership in Community Engagement hosted in China at the Guizhou University of Finance and Economics (GUFE).

This gathering, the third of its kind, came about as a result of a triad partnership between CPUT, GUFE and the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

CPUT students and staffers Na-eem Thebus (Education), Nawaal Carelse (Education), Mfundo Mbali (Management and Project Management), Ziyanda Tobani (Civic Engagement) and Theresa Burns (Service Learning) participated in the academy, while Jacqui Scheepers (Manager: Service Learning and Civic Engagement) and Nicholas Pinfold (Lecturer : Town and Regional Planning) facilitated workshops and co-taught with their international counterparts.

Dr John Volmink (former Acting Vice-Chancellor) visited the academy to confirm CPUT’s commitment to a long-term community engagement partnership with the two other universities.

This year’s academy provided a forum for participants to share interests and problem-solving strategies and encouraged a sense of caring, sustainable development, social entrepreneurship, voluntary activity and the development of citizenship.

“Our [former] Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr Volmink, spoke warmly of Ubuntu and how community engagement can significantly enhance our existing teaching and research practice, as well as providing tangible benefits to communities. The 2017 Summer Academy has provided our students and staff with an opportunity to look outward in our quest for social inclusiveness,” says Pinfold.

The three universities have agreed that the lessons learnt during the three-year academy will now lead to the implementation of a tri-national, multi-platform summit on leadership in community engagement.

The partnership has over the last couple of years had far-reaching benefits for students and lecturers culturally, academically and socially. The academy provides support and guidelines for the development of collaborative community engagement projects for implementation in the three different countries.

The project themes are the development of an application for matchmaking community needs to student volunteers, two education projects to provide learner and teacher support in schools, and an environmental educational awareness project.


Indigenous fruits are good for you


Freely available indigenous fruits are a good resource for boosting your daily antioxidant intake.

This is according to researchers Daniela Kucich and Merrill Wicht, who recently conducted a study to determine if local indigenous fruits could provide an alternative source of antioxidants.

In the paper “South African indigenous fruits – Underutilized resource for boosting daily antioxidant intake among local indigent populations?” the researchers, who are based in the Department of Chemistry,  argue that a large portion of the population live below the poverty line and are unable to consume the required amount of seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

“Advice on the importance of consuming a healthy, and at the same time affordable diet needs to be provided by suggesting alternatives among indigenous plants that are nutritionally superior to “exotic” fruits,” states the researchers.

As part of their study Kucich and Wicht focused on ten indigenous South African fruits, which included the wild plum, wild olive, colpoon, christmas berry, crossberry, waterberry, tortoise berry, bietou, num-num and the sour fig.  The study saw them evaluate the antioxidant activity of the indigenous fruits and compare it with the popular Northern hemisphere blueberry and cranberry controls.

The study found that by introducing servings of as little as 25 g of wild plum, waterberry, num num or sour fig into the diet, the daily antioxidant intake can be boosted to within an acceptable range to support health.  With wild plum giving the highest Antioxidant Potency Composite index, blueberry and cranberry ranked 4th and 8th, respectively.

The study found that all the indigenous fruits are being used by communities for various purposes, such as treatment of ailments or for the production of beverages. Others,  such as the sour fig which ranked 12th in the study, is sold in open markets as dried figs or used for the production of jam.

“As the results show, freely available indigenous fruits that have been traditionally used by rural peoples in South Africa have relatively high levels of antioxidant capacity and, therefore, constitute an untapped resource that deserves to be promoted more extensively in the community by health educators,” says Kucich and Wicht.

“As affordable, yet nutritionally superior alternatives to the relatively expensive “exotic” fruits, these could help in diversifying monotonous diets.”



Write during recess


The June/July recess may present the perfect opportunity for university experts to share some of their knowledge with a non-academic audience.

Around 50 CPUT staff members have already contributed popular articles to The Conversation Africa (TCA) website and had the benefit of working with the site’s expert panel of editors to create a popular article which is then republished in mainstream media.

CPUT has officially endorsed TCA since 2015 and views the relationship as an essential arm of university research uptake efforts.

A writing workshop for CPUT staff and co-hosted by CPUT’s Research Directorate and Media Liaison will be hosted later this year but academics are urged to register on the site at to start receiving notifications.

TCA is a non-profit, public good agency seeking to mainstream science, increase the engagement between academia, scientists and the wider public. This is done by getting academics, researchers/scientists to write for the general public.

Their team of editors work with the academics to do this, hence their motto – ”academic rigour, journalistic flair”. These analytical pieces are then made available for free and all articles are available for republishing for free, under the Creative Commons licence.


Sewing programme empowers residents

CPUT lecturers have contributed their own time and skills to assist disadvantaged individuals empower themselves with a saleable skill.

The Technology Station Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) along with the City of Cape Town Enterprise Development Unit have been visiting impoverished communities around the Peninsula, informing them about support they could provide.

On one of these visits the TSCT met up with a group of SMME’s (small, medium and micro enterprises) in Mfuleni that required support, says TSCT manager, Shamil Isaacs.

The TSCT developed a six-hour pull-on skirt programme, which enables the SMMEs to gain enough basic skills to develop and sew a basic pull-on skirt which they can make to sell.

The main objective is to transfer knowledge through university resources to empower disadvantaged communities.

This will allow them to create opportunities for themselves and indirectly stimulate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The programme was conducted over two half days.

Deidre Windvogel, the lab technician responsible for product development at the TSCT, provided instructions on how to make a pull-on skirt pattern and using simple techniques create individual designs and make fit adjustments. This was conducted at Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha.

Norma Wagenaar, the lab technician responsible for garment technology in the Clothing and Textile Technology Department, took the participants through the paces of sewing the skirt and ensuring that a high, saleable quality standard was achieved.

A total of 32 participants from Mfuleni received training and a more advanced programme is being planned for the future.

The TSCT is based at the Bellville Campus and provides support to SMMEs in the Clothing and Textile sector


Hip Hip Hooray!

From cutting the cake to singing happy birthday, the CPUT 10th birthday celebrations kicked off with a huge bang.

The official launch of the year-long birthday celebrations was recently held on the front lawn of the Bellville Campus.

The carnival themed celebrations were attended by hundreds of staff members who witnessed the official cutting of the 10th birthday cake by Vice-Chancellor Dr Prins Nevhutalu.

As part of turning 10, the Marketing and Communication Department in collaboration with faculties, units and departments will host a series of events throughout the year.

All celebrations are themed “We Are CPUT” and will proudly focus on some of the unique innovations and trends set by the institution during the past decade.

See more 10th Birthday launch picks on FlickR