Durban University of Technology DUT History 

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Durban University of Technology DUT History 

Durban University of Technology DUT History – See Details Below:

Durban University of Technology DUT


With the heralding of its centenary year in 2007 the Durban University of Technology (DUT) takes its place among the distinguished seats of learning in our country and on our continent.

Spanning a century, the institution’s graduates have left an indelible mark on the history of this country. The concept of producing a publication that celebrates the history of the institution has indeed been a long time coming.

From a chrysalis to a butterfly

The past 100 years have seen a great deal of change. Vice-Chancellors, professors, and students have come and gone; tens of thousands of lives have been enriched by the education received at the Durban University of Technology, and its predecessors. Its dedicated staff, some of whom have been at the institution all of their working lives, have all contributed to the development of a vibrant institution.

As a butterfly develops from a pupa, so have the students at our institution. From the moment they register as freshers, to their capping at the hallowed graduation ceremony, our students undergo an intellectual evolution.

ML Sultan Technikon represents a supreme example of what can be achieved through determination and the community spirit in the face of adversity. Unlike Technikon Natal, the institution with which it officially merged in 2001, ML Sultan Technikon was not a direct beneficiary of the apartheid regime, especially in the early apartheid years. Against a backdrop of racism that underpinned educational policies in South Africa for over a century, ML Sultan Technikon emerged to become a leading tertiary education provider.

The origins of ML Sultan Technikon and the provision of educational opportunities for Indian people in KwaZulu-Natal, go back long before Hajee Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan donated funds for a technical college in Durban in 1941.

The early years

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, laborers came from India to KwaZulu-Natal to work on the sugar plantations. In 1927, the Cape Town Agreement threatened Indian people without educational qualifications, with repatriation. Thus, the need to educate KwaZulu-Natal’s Indian community became pressing. Before long, adult classes started up at St Aidan’s Mission School in Durban, followed soon after by the launch of technical classes in

a range of subjects, including commerce, type-writing, and book-keeping.

The establishment of the Worker’s Congress by Advocate Albert Christopher in 1928 marked the launch of a powerful forum which assisted many Indian people in gaining qualifications, especially in technical and commercial skills. Congress pushed for educational facilities for working Indians. Working alongside Advocate Christopher was Mr. PR Pather, and both men became important leaders in contributing to the advancement of working-class people through education.

Advocate Christopher was elected as the Worker’s Congress first President, heading up an organization that had neither funds nor premises. Many voluntary teachers offered their services to Congress out of a genuine commitment to uplifting people. As a result of the work, the afternoon

100classes commenced in AugustYe1929 at the Carlisle Street Government Indian School and evening classes at the Hindu Tamil Institute in Cross Street. By the end of 1929, over 230 students had enrolled.

Meanwhile, Afrikaner nationalism and separate development were spreading across South Africa and into all sectors of society. In a strategic move, Advocate Christopher invited Dr. BM Narbeth, the

presented the title deed to a site at Curries Fountain. In July 1954, Advocate Christopher turned the first sod, and construction in Centenary Road began. Later that year, the foundation stone was laid by Dr. BM Narbeth, Chairman of the College Council and Principal of the Natal Technical College.

Before the completion of the new building in Centenary Road, the administration of the ML Sultan Technical College took place from a single room on loan from the University of Natal. At times, 250 students were in attendance every evening, and examinations were arranged for around 3 000 candidates. Despite the cramped conditions, a spirit of goodwill prevailed.

In addition to grants from the ML Sultan Charitable and Educational Trust, financial support for the College was obtained from the Durban City Council, the Natal Indian Cane Growers Association, the Catering Industry of Durban, the Indian Building Workers Union, the Natal Indian Master Printers Association, and the Durban Branch of the South African Typographical Union. As a result, an assembly hall and theatre and facilities for home-craft, catering services, and secretarial classes were established.

In the years that followed, there was substantial progress. The number of students grew as the advantages of technical and commercial education were realized, while facilities were extended to Tongaat in the North and Umkomaas in the South.

A new landmark for Durban

On 7 August 1956, the ML Sultan Technical College was officially opened, an impressive three-story building with a frontage of 90 yards standing back from Centenary Road. With 240 full- time students, 4 760 part-time students, and nine branches in full operation, the College Council and all those who had worked towards that moment could congratulate themselves on the creation

of an outstanding institution.

By the late 1950s, the Nationalist government had been in power for over a decade, and apartheid extended its influence in the education sector.

Legislation promotes college status

Following the passing of the Indian Advanced Technical Education Act, the institution became a College of Advanced Technical Education in March 1969. This meant that the College was on par with other colleges in South Africa engaged in tertiary education. However, the ML Sultan Technical College remained unique because it retained several facets of education not offered by other Colleges. In May 1979, the status of the College was changed to that of a Technikon. In 1984, the ML Sultan Technikon became a full tertiary institution consisting of nine schools. Five years later, these schools were restructured into four faculties: Arts, Engineering and the Built Environment, Science and Commerce.

Growth of the ML Sultan Technikon’s facilities continued with a new seven-floor academic block completed in 1987, and the relocation of the Hotel School to new premises in Ritson Road in 1989. By 1991, a new multiple-story administrative and academic block had been erected.

A new era dawns for education

The Technikon Act of 1993 empowered technikons to respond to the challenges of transformation and the pernicious era of apartheid finally began to shut down. The


alone could not address the challenges and changes facing ML Sultan Technikon. The transformation needed to be real and not merely symbolic.The transformation of ML SultanTechnikonwasinitiallycharacterised by the conflict between staff, management, and students. The resignation of the executive management in 1996 paved the way for the establishment of an interim management team comprising Professor CF Cresswell as Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal and Mr. US Purmasir as Executive Administrator. Together with the Broad Transformation Forum, change was more strategically addressed.

Professor BC Goba served as Vice-Chancellor and Principal from 1997 and faced the difficult task of balancing the needs of change, with the imperative of retaining the positive100aspects of ML Sultan Technikon’s culture. Upon Professor Goba’s retirement in April 2001, Professor DJ Ncayiyana took up  History

ears the reins, leading the institution of through its final year as ML Sultan Technikon. It was a challenging year, during which both staff and students sought strong leadership as ML Sultan Technikon moved beyond its historical status as an Indian institution, to one reflecting the demographics of KwaZulu-Natal – poised to respond to national developmental100 needs.



Hajee Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan

Hajee Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan

came from a lineage of deeply religious

men who understood both secular and

spiritual issues, and had great empathy for

the human condition. ML Sultan arrived

in South Africa from Southern India in

1880. He worked as a porter at the Berea

Road Station in Durban, later relocating

to the Transvaal where he worked as a

waiter in a hotel. Three years later, he

returned to Natal, and after a short stint

farming at Bellair, moved to Escombe

where he specialised in the production of

Dr A Soloman

bananas, paw-paws and pineapples, and


established a dairy.

1970 – 1981

In 1905, he married Mariam Bee. The

marriage was blessed with four sons and


six daughters. The tragic loss of his wife

in 1933 came as a deep shock and Sultan

sought refuge in his work, launching a

wholesale and retail business in Durban.

The success of this business saw him

investing in property and establishing a

soft goods industry, called ML Sultan and


An orator in Tamil, he read widely,

broadening his spiritual life; yet never

neglecting the practical aspects of

business. As a Muslim he prayed each day

Mr A Ramsamy

and never altered a decision. “A promise

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