Six long-serving employees of the Durban International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) who thrive on professionalism and excellence in service delivery, ensure daily that Africa’s leading meetings and conference venue continues to attract visitors from across the globe.
Having all served at the Centre for more than 21 years from 1997, these stalwarts are saluted for their unwavering dedication and commitment to the hospitality industry.
The group includes the following team members:
- John Moatshe – Executive Chef
- Johannes Basi – Operations Manager
- Jabu Madikizela – Functions Manager
- Mbuso Shandu – Duty Manager
- Bongekile Tabete – Chef de Partie
- Mandla Cele – Supply Chain Management Administrator
Although the official opening of the Durban ICC was held on 8 August 1997, each of these loyal devotees can trace their first day at work back to well before that date, serving as part of the Centre’s opening team.
Durban ICC CEO, Lindiwe Rakharebe commented, “We owe a debt of sincere gratitude to these dedicated team members. We would not be where we are today without them. Their institutional knowledge is priceless and their commitment to sharing this knowledge and developing other people in the team is an example to us all.”
As a catalyst for regional economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal the Durban ICC has played host to some of the world most important and influential events over the past two decades. These team members all have personal memories of some of their favourite events over this time.
Among the high profile events in which they were involved were the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in 1998; The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1999 and the XIII International AIDS Conference in 2000. They were also the first operations team to host a banquet dinner for 4 000 people in honour of LIV Village, which cares for orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa.
When approached for comment, Jabu Madikzela, Functions Manager, noted that “Long-term success is only a result of passion, and commitment for the industry and deep desire to exceed client’s expectations.” She believes that her enthusiasm, attention to detail and sheer dedication has been a result of running successful events at the Durban ICC. According to Madikizela, work-life balance is also crucial and she commends her two lovely daughters and three grandsons for the great support they have shown throughout her journey at the Durban ICC.
Operations Manager, Johannes Basi’s entry into the hospitality industry was by chance. His early days of working at various hotels presented a rare opportunity for him to work as a supervisor at the Durban ICC at a time when no other convention centre existed in the country.
In shouldering the responsibilities of a fast-paced industry, the father of three finds strength in his ability to remain focused and calm. He believes his many years of hospitality experience have helped to guide clients towards a successful outcome.
Mbuso Shandu, Duty Manager said, “Each event has its own demands and in my line of work, the ability to think on your feet is imperative. I thrive on learning from others and pride myself in excellent service delivery which produces measurable results and a satisfied client.”
Executive Chef, John Moatshe was recruited by the Durban ICC as a Sous Chef in 1997 and was thereafter promoted to Senior Executive Sous Chef before the appointment to his current position.
Some of the culinary awards scooped by the Durban ICC during his tenure include the longest baked banana bread in 2000 which was 1198 metres in length and was placed around the Durban ICC complex. The culinary feat was accomplished with the help of students from various local hotel schools and even made history in the Guinness World Records.
Chef John was awarded the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Brass Plaque/Blazon for maintaining an outstanding level of cuisine, hospitality and service in accordance with the requirements of the association. In 2012 the Centre became ISO 22000 certified which aspires to the highest international level of food safety.
“Developing young talent in the hospitality industry and giving back to the community are my greatest passions. I am rewarded when the graduates who I train are either retained or offered job opportunities overseas owing to the growth they have demonstrated,” he said.
Moatshe has cooked diverse cuisines for a myriad personalities including former SA Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, Queen Elizabeth II, President Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana, Sir Elton John, King Goodwill Zwelithini and Grammy-award winning musician, Hugh Masekela. At the launch of the Durban ICC, the opening vegetarian dish was a classic beans bunny chow – a reflection of true Durban hospitality.