Emotional time as students graduate

by Zainul Dawood

Durban - Emotions ran high for the parents and students at the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence graduation on Thursday.

Two-hundred-and-eighty-two students graduated in Durban , at the third annual ceremony.

Among the success stories was Lynton Theozen, of Berea, who had worked at the Suncoast Casino briefly before enrolling at the school. He graduated as a freight handling cargo operator.

Freight handling involves despatching, receiving and warehouse operations.

The former Sparks Estate Secondary pupil said they were in practical training.

Thoezen said he strongly believed he had the skills to make it around the world.

The father of three children aged 8, 6 and 7 months, said they trained between 7am and 4pm, with mentors watching over them.

Toni White, 22, of Assegai in Wentworth, graduated as a freight handler operating lifting equipment.

White had a strong message for teenage girls and women in general, not only from Wentworth.

She had wanted to be a civil engineer in school. White said although it was a male-dominated industry, she was making great strides.

“The opportunity presented itself to me and I took it. Girls, set your goals and directions. Stop thinking negative, falling pregnant in school and relying on government grants. Look at the bigger picture,” White said.

Trainees lived in the student accommodation facility on the Bluff and were allowed to go home on the weekends.

Ayanda Mthembu, 29, of Glenwood, graduated as a chief marine engineering officer. He said his ambition was to work in the marine engineering field, and he had now achieved this.

After school he took on additional courses in the field at DUT. He then studied for nine months at the Transnet school of engineering.

He then went out to sea for 15 months, where he visited many countries. On the ships, he worked alongside people and sailors of different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.

He started working for Transnet two years ago.

“The language barrier was my only difficulty. I concluded the course with an oral exam in front of the board of engineers at Transnet, where I received my certificate of competency as an engineer officer of the watch in June 2016.

“My message to other students is to be patient. Allow yourself to change in thought when you meet different people. Respect your seniors, because it is from them that you will learn your skills,” he said.

His mother, Pretty Mthembu, a mother of six, aged 16 to 32, was emotional. She was proud of Ayanda’s achievements.

The KZN department of labour clerk said her husband, Bongani Mthembu, a self-employed auditor, worked hard to raise the children in between casual jobs. She said parents would understand their difficulties in managing their children and work.

“We instilled in them the idea that education was important. We guided them towards their dreams and ambitions,” Mthembu said.

Herschel Maasdorp, head of the school, said the graduates would be absorbed into Transnet operations throughout the country.

In 2013 he said 90% of the students were absorbed into Transnet in the different ports. He said students were deployed as per operational requirements.

“Other countries, local and international companies also benefit. The advantage was that students do not only have to work for Transnet. They can be employed at ports around the world,” he said.