Start main page content

Ensuring optimal service delivery on campus

- Wits University

From bathrooms to buses and public areas on campus, the unsung heroes in the Services Department wage a daily battle against the virus.

The people behind the Services Department, who have played an integral role in the implementation of Covid-19 protocols and preventative measures at the university, are celebrated as Wits Heroes.

Contribution during Covid-19 pandemic

When the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande announced that students were to begin a process of returning to campus and that universities should be ready for their return – Services responded positively. With a clear mandate to train staff on new protocols; source sanitisers; secure PPE and chemicals and disinfect buildings, the Services team sought to prepare campus for the return of students and staff.

Working day and night including weekends, the team distinguished themselves in service delivery under the ‘new normal’.

The Director of Services Israel Mogomotsi says that “despite the risks involved in the cleaning and hygiene sector and waste management, staff continued to deliver on their mandate.”

Israel Mogomotsi, New Services Director at Wits

“They worked hard, regardless of the competing demands coming their way. They teamed up and focused on the job and delivered. Along the way we lost one of the Operations Manager to Covid-19” added Mogomotsi.

Twelve members of the management team and 30 staff members have tests positive since the start of the pandemic. One member, Magnath (Mags) Baijnath, a West Campus Operations Manager: Cleaning and Hygiene, unfortunately succumbed to the virus.

Drivers, cleaners and management

The Services team comprises of multiple members, from the cleaning to the management staff. The entirety of the group numbers 1188 employees from different sectors within the services department.

Mogomotsi says that each member has an equally important functioning to play. 

“The role of cleaning and hygiene became recognised as a critical skill. Cleaning is a thankless job, and it requires continuous motivation of team members.”

Dining hall catering staff continued to prepare and serve meals in the residences, while intercampus bus drivers shuttled students around campus. The Department ensured the functionality of Wits’ campuses, handling the invisible and lack-luster detail that goes with the job.

To stay within the law, staff worked on a rotational timetable, which allowed them to finish work early to arrive at home in time for lockdown curfew. There was a prompt adaptation period to the new methodology of staff rotations with no conflicts or hesitancy within the group. 

For the staff to adapt, it was not an individual task but a team-based and dependent system, explains Mogomotsi about the critical role of team work. The team is driven by the Department's strategic values known as Tads (Building Teams; Accountable; Quality Service Delivery; System integration).

“Services Department management team members displayed higher levels of determination, flexibility and they worked hard. The different units pulled together and worked as a collective to ensure that we achieve the expected service delivery.”

Looking ahead to 2022, Mogomotsi hopes that the virus will be well managed as staff and students return to campus. “We look forward to contributing and supporting the activities towards centenary events celebrations.”

 The managers in the Services Department recognised for outstanding work and leadership are: Leah Mathabe, Veliswa Mbolekwano, Nicholas Matthes, Cristina Tomas, Jeane-Pierre Tollemache, Thapelo Musekwa , Connie Tshimangadzo, Chris Ziyambi, The late Magnath Baijnath, Cameron Watt,  Veronica Mbonani, Rueben Chaibva, Timothy Mudau, Karen Du Plessis, Lebogang Maila, Ricardo Fernandos , Nodumo Buso, Janice De Gouvela and Haqiqat Ismail.

About Wits Covid-19 Heroes

The Wits Heroes Series celebrates staff and students who went beyond the call of duty at the onset of Covid-19 in 2020. Wits Heroes were nominated by members of the Wits community. Discover other Heroes.