Mayor offers unemployed PhD graduate a job

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By Naledi Mohono | Cape Argus |

Cape Town – Dr Lukhanyo Mekuto will be starting his first day at work on Thursday and it’s all thanks to Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille who offered him an internship.

Dr Lukhanyo Mekuto has been offered a job with the City of Cape Town by Mayor Patricia De Lille. (Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA Pictures)
Dr Lukhanyo Mekuto has been offered a job with the City of Cape Town by Mayor Patricia De Lille. (Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA Pictures)

On Wednesday, the Cape reported that while Dr Mekuto celebrated his achievement, he’s been frustrated by the lack of opportunities after submitting his thesis in February.

“I was moved when I saw the newspaper in the morning on my way to work,” De Lille said.

De Lille said that she was curious to know which areas of study Mekuto was interested in and where she could offer a helping hand.

The mayor met Dr Mekuto in her office on Wednesday and offered him a job.

“I think you are in the right place at the right time, you can start with us as an intern tomorrow while we look for available positions for you. You can also job shadow people in the water industry in the City,” De Lille said.

The only child of a domestic worker, Dr Mekuto is the first in his family to get a degree.

His thesis focused on how micro-organisms could be used to break up a poisonous chemical into its component elements after cyanide in a drinking water supply was found to be behind the deaths of cattle in KwaZulu-Natal.

With Cape Town in the grips of a water crisis, Dr Mekuto’s expertise in water security could serve the City of Cape Town well.

“We are looking right now at wastewater because we cannot rely on rainwater alone to fill our dams anymore. So we have to look at how we can clean up our wastewater to an extent where it is almost sterile and we can pump it out into our dams and when it comes out have it cleaned further,” De Lille said.

The Commissioner for Transport and Urban Development for Cape Town, Melissa Whitehead said bringing Dr Mekuto on board would help the City as he could advise and suggest solutions and approaches for the wastewater department to take in.

“There are groundwater issues and we would like for you to help advise us on that, because of your expertise, you can tell us what approach to take,” Whitehead told Dr Mekuto.

Mekuto said that after receiving an award from the National Research Foundation, he felt inspired to carry on with academia. But, he felt is young age was a hindrance.

“Preferably, I would like to be in academia but people use my age to stifle me, I am always told to go do my Post Doc overseas,” he said.

But, the young man from Brown’s Farm, Philippi, Cape Town, said putting food on the table was a priority.

With his new position at the City of Cape Town, De Lille said she would ensure Dr Mekuto could do both.

“We will allow you the time to further your goal to contribute to society,” De Lille said.

Mekuto said that he was grateful for the opportunity given to him by the mayor.

“Wow this was unexpected, thank you very much for the opportunity,” Mekuto said.