The rise and rise of Mojaki

The rise and rise of Mojaki

MASERU – IN high school Malehlohonolo Mojaki always gravitated towards natural sciences.
Geography was her favourite subject and she was good at it.
In 2006 her poem on the environment won a competition run by the Department of Environment.
She recalls the prize of a weekend at the Tšehlanyane National Park as one of the most memorable moments in high school.
It was because of her passion for geography that she applied to study Geology at the University of the Free State (UFS).

But a few days before classes started Mojaki succumbed to peer pressure and switched to Information Technology. She would regret that decision for the next 12 months.
“I hated the whole of first year doing IT,” she recalls.
“I then decided to go back to geology in second year but because it was a selection course it meant that I had to go back to first year.”
She then opted for Environmental Management.
“I enjoyed every second of the course and was more often than not, top of my class.”
That decision set her on her path to greater things.

Today Mojaki is the sustainability manager at Storm Mountain Diamond (SMD), the company that runs Kao Mine.
But to get to that position she had to start from the bottom.
The journey began in 2013 when she applied for an internship at SMD. She would spend her school holidays working as the Environmental Management intern in the Safety, Health and Environmental Department.

That internship gave her a head-start because in December 2013, a month after university, she was offered a job as an Environmental Control Officer.
She was only 22 but she had begun working her way up the corporate ladder.
By 2014 she was the Environmental Officer. Her big break came in 2016 when she was appointed the Sustainability Manager.
At 25, she was the youngest manager at the mine.
Yet it was not a natural transition from being an Environmental Officer. This was a new department with a wider mandate and responsibilities. Apart from managing the environment in the mine she had to look after the welfare and empowerment of surrounding communities.
“It was both exciting and scary at the same time. Working in the mining environment is very challenging and requires you to be on your toes at all times,” she says.
Mojaki was raised by a single mother who she says “did her utmost to ensure she provided the best she could for my little brother and I”.
“We are a small family of just 3. That made it easy to make ends meet for her hence she ensured we get the best education the country had to offer at the time.”

But there were times when times got tough. She recalls how her mother struggled to pay her tuition during her first year at university.
“That was heavy for her. When I went to second year I had an opportunity for a bursary but I was rejected.”
“At the time my mum was hospitalised and had an operation. I remember she discharged herself early just so she could go and ensure I got the bursary.”

As Sustainability Manager her role is to interact with different stakeholders, ranging from communities to government representatives to the media.
She says what she likes most about her job is that it allows her to contribute to the well-being or improvement of people’s lives.
The mission, she says, is to improve the lives of the communities surrounding Kao Mine.
Mojaki says she always encourages people, especially girls, to join the mining industry.
“If I could do it then anyone can do it. All you need is hard work and determination.”

Over the past few years she has tutored and mentored a couple of young girls. She firmly believes that “imparting knowledge does not make you any less knowledgeable.” Most of those girls have joined the mining industry and are excelling.
Mojaki says it takes both education and determination to make it in the mining industry.
“You can have education but without determination you will not have the will to work hard and overcome challenges .You can also have determination but without an education not many people will be willing to give you a chance to prove yourself.”
“When you have both (education and determination) it’s a recipe for success as you will have the potential to achieve more.”
Mojaki is currently studying for a Master’s in Science with UFS.

Staff Reporter


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