Change the world


From alien ferns and street art, to serial killer Ted Bundy and nanoscience targeting breast cancer cells, Mandela University’s top performing students had a vast array of research topics for their award-winning studies.

The hard work and academic excellence of 24 undergraduate and postgraduate students was recognised at the annual Nelson Mandela University Academic Awards function, held at the Feather Market Centre on Friday night (21 June 2019).

Apart from being honoured with the top faculty awards, four students were awarded the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s top awards as the best diplomate, first degree and postgraduates, as well as two Rupert Gesinstigting Awards.

The Vice-Chancellor’s top award winners were IT in Software Development diplomate Anathi Matshaya, Bachelor of Music graduate Mieke Struwig, Master’s degree in Psychology graduate Melissa Landsberg and Master’s degree in Nature Conservation graduate Emily Jones (pictured below).

The two Rupert Gesinstigting winners, both already studying for their doctorate, and receiving R75 000 were Master’s in Public Law graduate Ntemesha Maseka (pictured below), who is also an academic in the university’s Law Faculty and Emily Jones (above, far right).

Vice-Chancellor Prof Muthwa described the top performing students who were recognised as worthy ambassadors of the university and encouraged them to continuously strive to live up to the values of the university and the essence of Nelson Mandela.

“Excellence is one of the University’s six values, which is core to achieving our vision of Nelson Mandela University as a dynamic African university,” said Prof Muthwa.

The majority of these students have achieved an average 80% or more  for their studies, with 15 receiving undergraduate awards and nine postgraduate. A number of those lauded  are already expressing a desire to pursue their doctoral studies in the near future.

Seventeen of the 24 students were women, including the first woman wool appraiser in the country and a few mothers, who excelled academically in addition to their other responsibilities.   

Some of the other research topics pursued by the students include the use of street art and graffiti in social commentary, eradicating alien ferns and invasive alien plants, reformulating medication and sustainable agriculture to empower subsistence and emerging farmers.

One student is a semi-finalist in an international humanitarian law competition, another an Information Systems champion who also excels at debating and public speaking, a lawyer focussing on banking, a winner of hackathons and a mountaineer who plans to summit a mountain on every continent.

Some of the awardees had to overcome challenges, such as visual impaired, working for 10 years before studying for the first time, working full-time while studying and becoming an intern in a new field after being a manager for many years.  

These students do not only excel academically. Among the group are SA representatives in Artistic Swimming and Equestrian Sport, a provincial water polo player and a cross country runner and one of the Madibaz cheerleaders who won the nationals in 2017.

View the full gallery of photographs of the event.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777