News » Home-grown Success Moves into Management at “Entlanzini”

Home-grown Success Moves into Management at “Entlanzini

By Lucky Dlamini – Communications Officer, SAIAB

Daniel Nkosinathi Mazungula, a local resident, born and bred in Makhanda, has recently been promoted to Collections Manager at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), also known to many local residents as Entlanzini – or the fish place. Mazungula moves from his position as Senior Curation Officer at SAIAB, to take on the role as Collections Manager from 1 July 2020. He will be managing SAIAB’s JLB Smith Collection Facility which, as he explains, consists of “1 012 552 fish specimens (stored in 121 801 jars or tanks), 19 493 frog specimens (6 464 jars) and 62 988 tissue samples of fish and frogs.” The specially designed collections storage facility in Somerset Street, also houses 148 large, purpose-built fibre-glass tanks, filled with 1 453 larger fish specimens like sharks and rays, which represent species from southern Africa and surrounding oceans.  This National Fish Collection is the world’s largest collection of southern African fishes, with the oldest specimens having been collected as far back as 1875.

Mazungula said, “I have lived in [Makhanda] all my life, until I went to do my Bachelor of Science (BSc) undergraduate degree at the University of Fort Hare in Alice.” He explained that he was introduced to SAIAB in 2008 when as a student he participated in Professor Okeyo’s aquatic ecology excursion to SAIAB. “I remember it like it was yesterday. When we were doing the tour of the National Fish Collection at SAIAB, I was intrigued that there was a place like this in my home town and that I had to go to university before I got to know about it.”.

After graduating from Fort Hare, Mazungula enrolled at Rhodes University to do his BSc Honours degree in entomology. This saw the start to his career and journey to SAIAB. “It was after my last Honours exam that my supervisor, Professor Martin Villet, introduced me to Dr Ferdy de Moor, from the Department of Freshwater Invertebrates at Albany Museum, who was looking for a graduate to take on the DST/NRF Internship Programme. Three months into the internship programme I was hired by Dr Steve Lowe, then a Postdoctoral Fellow at SAIAB, to sort and identify freshwater invertebrates. I would arrive at SAIAB at six in the morning, work until eight, and then go to the Albany Museum to work from eight until five o’clock, then return to SAIAB and work until seven in the evening. Seven months thereafter, Dr de Moor apprised me of a research assistant post at SAIAB, encouraging me to apply.  I applied and got the position and have never looked back. Now I have been with SAIAB for almost 12 years,” said Mazungula.

Mazungula said he feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for SAIAB and that in just a short space of time, he has grown enormously. He has been second in charge of SAIAB’s Collection Facility, helping to lead a high performance team, whose core mandate is to provide physical and virtual access to the collections for research. At the end of 2019, he graduated at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, where he was registered for the National Research Foundation (NRF) New to Management Programme, a management course which has prepared him for his new role as Collections Manager. He is also due to graduate this year with an MSc degree, which he obtained with distinction from Rhodes University. “This is not the end but the beginning,” he said.  

Mazungula extends his gratitude to the NRF and SAIAB for the opportunities he has gained, which he said have equipped him to be, “a strategic high-performance leader, a role model to my son and everyone who is inspired by my life’s journey.”

Mazungula will manage all operational aspects of the Collections Facility, including staffing, work allocation, supply chain management and occupational health and safety. He succeeds Roger Bills who has managed SAIAB’s Collection Facility for over a decade. “Bills has contributed immeasurably to the development of the collection and in particular opening up the second floor of the collection building," said Angus Paterson, Managing Director of SAIAB. Bills will now take up the position of Senior Curator, undertake more taxonomic research and also lead strategic aspects of the collection along with other members of the Collections Advisory Group.

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