14 December 2021 | Story Lunga Luthuli | Photo Supplied
Maureen Khati, Deputy Director: Facilities Planning in University Estates, is getting her MSc in Construction Management at the UFS December graduation ceremonies.

Among the hundreds of graduands receiving qualifications during the December 2021 graduation ceremonies is University of the Free State (UFS) staff member Maureen Khati. Khati, who oversees numerous infrastructural projects at the institution, has been instrumental in the changing landscape of UFS campuses.   

Khati, Deputy Director: Facilities Planning in University Estates, will graduate with an MSc in Construction Management with her thesis, titled An Assessment of Occupational Health and Safety compliance challenges in the Southern African construction building industry.

Describing her academic journey, where she studied but not completed an LLB degree at the former University of Durban-Westville, completed a Journalism degree at the Tshwane University of Technology, and a Project Management course at the Central University of Technology (CUT), Khati says: “It has been difficult, and in construction I now find myself exposed to high-pressure, time-bound type of work. As a single parent, I have been juggling research and the time required for more and more reading.”

About pursuing her master’s degree, Khati says: “The desire has always been there, I just did not have time. Life experiences also caught up with me, but I never stopped studying. If not studying for a degree in my free time, I would be doing short courses.”

Khati says her career has taken a turn and she ‘accidentally’ found herself in construction.

This happened after she found herself being drafted into CUT’s planning committee tasked with ensuring that the institution’s soccer fields met FIFA’s required standard and could be used for training during the prestigious 2010 FIFA World Cup. 

Following the World Cup and the success of the committee, Khati was given more construction responsibilities, as the Department of Higher Education and Training was still working on projects on the CUT campus. 

 “Construction became my life, and as they say – the rest is history.”

In 2012, Khati joined the University of the Free State as Project Manager in University Estates. She believes her journey with the institution has been “interesting and exposed to opportunities”.

Recently, Khati was appointed as President Elect 2021 of the Higher Education Facilities Management Association. HEFMA is a non-profit association representing the interests of the facilities management departments of 27 universities in and outside South Africa.  

Where did it all start?

Born in Windhoek, Namibia, Khati attended high school at Mariasdal Secondary School, a Catholic boarding school just over 100 km from Bloemfontein.

About high school life, she says: “I have always been a reserved person. I spent most of my time playing sports and attending social events. This is because the environment at school was strict, but also fun. The school has always strived for a 100% pass rate.”

After matric, Khati completed a Journalism degree at Tshwane University of Technology. 

What kept Khati going was her daughter Bokamoso, because all she does is “for her well-being and to challenge myself to grow”.

For the completion of  her master’s degree, Khati thanks her supervisor, Prof Kahilu Kajimo-Shakantu, Head of the Department of Quantity Surveying and Construction Management, for the “patience and support she gave me throughout my studies, as well as for sharing her expertise during my studies”.

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