On Friday 12 May 2023, ECSECC said goodbye to one of its longest serving staff members, Nompumelelo Sithole, who was affectionately known as Sis Mpumi to the many colleagues and visitors who encountered her when they first set foot in the door.
Sis Mpumi was described as someone who was always ready to welcome whoever walked through the doors at ECSECC, greeting all with a warm and welcoming smile, the epitome of professionalism and hospitality.
She joined ECSECC in 1996, a year after its establishment. She witnessed first hand the entire evolution of the organisation over the last 27 years, along with the evolution of our society since its earliest formative period. 1996 being the year the country adopted its celebrated Constitution, echoing a new era for the country and the province.
In bidding farewell to her on Friday, the organisation hosted a warm send-off for her at its offices. Paying their respects to her were her colleagues, including ECSECC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Luvuyo Mosana and the Deputy-Chairperson of the ECSECC Board Zolile Tini. In addition, there were also video messages from past staff members who could not attend the session physically. These included messages from former ECSECC CEO Andrew Murray, former Chief Operations Officer Siv Hesjedal, former ECSECC Specialist Russel Grinker – all making a special effort to convey their messages of appreciation for her years of service, commitment, and loyalty – both as a colleague and a friend.
The event began with a reading of Sis Mpumi's favourite scripture from the Bible (Psalm 23: 1 – 6), which was read out by ECSECC's new receptionist Nozuko Nkundla. This was followed by a prayer.
In his message Andrew said: "Hey Mpumi, I am so sorry I couldn't be with you today. I just want to say thank you for all the work you did for ECSECC for many years. You have given so much to the organisation, and I think I speak on behalf of past CEOs when I say you have seen a lot in the walls of ECSECC. You are a real salt of the earth and I think every organisation needs people like you."
Sis Mpumi and some of the colleagues who were gathered to share their reflections of her on the day couldn't hold back their tears as the messages kept on being played.
Sending his message from Rhodes village near Barkely East Russel said: "I am getting in touch to wish you a happy retirement. I remember you as a helpful and friendly colleague in the organisation. One more time, best of luck for the future and I hope you enjoy your retirement."
Speaking from her home in Bergen, Norway. Siv Hesjedal said: "I am sure everyone is going to miss you like I did after I left," adding that she will always remember Sis Mpumi as someone who used to remember her colleagues' birthdays. "I am wishing you all the best and sending you lots of love," Siv said.
Back in the room its was ECSECC's Chief Risk Officer Nozuko Somniso who told Sis Mpumi that as she ventures out into the sunset she wishes God could protect her all the time. "As you leave, may the hand of God be upon you,as he enlarges your tent and stretches your tent, His hand must never leave you," Nozuko said.
ECSECC's Office Manager Natasha August said she would remember Sis Mpumi for her resourcefulness under any situation at work.
ECSECC CEO Luvuyo Mosana said he would remember Sis Mpumi for her humility.
"There is a lot to do, don’t do that thing of taking a gap year because you are still fresh. Let us find something to do in the communities that we are in but also for ourselves particularly for our own continued existence, subsistence and as well as growing within our communities," the CEO said, adding Sis Mpumi should keep her ECSECC networks alive.
In her response an emotional Sis Mpumi who had to catch her breath in between some of the sentences said: "Each and everyone of you gathered here today holds a special place in my heart. I want to thank you for what you have done for me. This is beyond my wishes," she said.
When the speeches were done, Sis Mpumi was bestowed with an award for long service and a certificate of retirement by the Deputy-Chairperson of the ECSECC Board Zolile Tini.
"Congratulations on your retirement, the office won’t be the same without you," the Deputy-Chairperson said reading from Sis Mpumi's certificate.