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Eagle-minded Rapulane Monageng has several plans up his sleeve for his substantive post, but those will have to wait until he’s completed his task of heading up the City’s interim Joint Operations Committee (JOC), set up to coordinate the fight against Covid-19.

The City’s leadership called for the establishment of a 24-hour disaster management nerve centre to mitigate any unexpected and unfortunate occurrences during the lockdown. Although a short-term structure, there are talks of making it a permanent feature given uncertainties around the unpredictable pandemic.

A passionate firefighter and insightful thinker and planner, Monageng relies on his wits and shrewd outlook on life to steer the JOC in the right direction, thanks to his experience as a certified member of the United Nations’ International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG).

Monageng’s JOC should not be confused with the other JOC, which meets every Thursday at the Metro Centre to listen to presentations and approve all events that happen within the City’s borders.

Although his substantive post is that of Director of Corporate Services and Training Academy, as the City’s Acting Fire Chief, Monageng has been charged with chairing the JOC, which is the epicentre of the municipality’s response to the pandemic. The platform coordinates food donations, community awareness and testing, volunteer management and shelter management for homeless people during the lockdown.

As one of only 120 Emergency Management Service members from Gauteng’s top three metros, as well as the Midvaal, to receive certification from INSARAG in 2017, Monageng brings over 24 years of experience to JOC, where he heads up a team of experts to fight the coronavirus.

INSARAG is a global network of disaster-prone countries dedicated to urban search and rescue missions, working under guidelines endorsed by the UN General Assembly. It coordinates responses to international natural disasters and pandemics and aims to strengthen the effectiveness of urban search and rescue assistance. The network comprises the world’s cream of the crop doctors, engineers, firefighters, and paramedics. 

Originally from Rustenburg, the father of two later moved to Daveyton on the East Rand. His earliest memory of coming to Johannesburg was at the Rand Easter Show while he was in Standard 7 (Grade 5). “I remember seeing simulations by firefighters and thinking this is what I want to do with my life.”

He previously worked at the Airports Company of South Africa in eThekwini before moving to OR Tambo International Airport as a Fire Chief. Besides a Diploma in Paramedics and a B-Tech Degree in Fire Technology, Monageng holds a Certificate in Advanced Life Support, an Executive Management Programme certificate from the University of Cape Town, an Emergency Medical Services Diploma from Wits University and a Management Development Programme qualification form the GIBS Business School. He is currently completing a Master’s of Public Administration and Management degree with Regenesys Business School.

“Every move in my career has been an intentional building block to where I am at the moment,” says Monageng, noting that the Covid-19 pandemic took the world by surprise, but found him ready.

He joined the City in 2009 and explains his tenure in the metro as “an eye opener. I’m with the employer of choice. Nothing is certain and every day is a progression, I wouldn’t hesitate working in Joburg anytime, particularly because of its positioning in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

When he’s not fanning flames, Monageng enjoys camping, hiking, cycling, fishing and running marathons such as the City to City and Two Oceans – something he’s had to put on hold since the global outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown. He would like to establish a Public Safety University in which large scale tutorial sessions in paramedics, fire and rescue services and generic up-skilling courses can be on offer.