Change the world


Under the umbrella of celebrating excellence, Nelson Mandela University recognised its top academic, professional, administrative and service staff in the categories of research, teaching, engagement, creative outputs and institutional support on 28 November.

The event was held together with the student academic achievers’ awards at the Boardwalk Convention Centre.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa, congratulated staff and students for their excellence at the first in-person joint awards function. Staff and students are interdependent on each other, and it was inspiring for both to share their celebrations and reasons for excellence. 

Prof Muthwa encouraged the audience to be passionate and the best at what they do. “Every job is a self-portrait of yourself, autograph your work with excellence”, she said.

In addition, she thanked the support networks of staff and students who were there for them through difficult times, especially the past two years.

Award winners

The Nelson Mandela University Researcher of the Year is Sociology and Anthropology’s Dr Babalwa Magoqwana, who focuses on Maternal Legacies of Knowledge and re-historicising and reconnecting the language and sociology to the matriarchal roots and “woman-centered vernacular theory” of the African continent, beyond the biases around the ‘fathers’ only.

Nelson Mandela University’s Excellent Teacher for 2022 is Education’s Dewald Koen, who believes that through education, every person can contribute to bringing about positive change to address the various challenges, we as a society face. The essence of a good teacher ultimately lies in a holistic approach, always pursuing excellence, fun and creativity in the classroom.  

Nelson Mandela University’s Emerging Researcher for 2022 is Building and Human Settlement’s Emma Ayesu-Koranteng, who is passionate about low-income housing provision and the environment, mass timber construction, construction health and safety, sustainable construction and construction contractor development. Her research reviews how timber can be used in the built environment without leaving carbon footprints in line with sustainable development goals.

The University’s Emerging Excellence Teacher for 2022 is Education’s Dr Ayanda Simayi.  She believes in teaching science with Indigenised Teaching strategies to remove the fear of science in diverse students. For example, to test for oxygen, she uses the traditional practise where an aunt brings a burning log to a container with umqomboti to test for the state of readiness of the fermentation process compared to the Western test for oxygen using a burning splint through a test tube.

DVC Learning and Teaching Professor Cheryl Foxcroft was honoured with a Career Achievement Award. She was praised as a visionary and not only for her career over 40 years but also for the fact that she guided and enabled our students to write their exams in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium during the Fees Must Fall era. She has remained true to her discipline as a psychologist, living the humanising pedagogy of this institution. During the pandemic she also shared weekly letters with staff – acknowledging the hurts and hardships, while also offering practical advice and support.

From left, Dr Babalwa Magoqwana, Dewald Koen, Emma Ayesu-Koranteng, Dr Ayanda Simayi and Prof Cheryl Foxcroft.  

School of ICT’s Prof Bertram Haskins and Chemistry’s Dr Shawn Gouws received the Nelson Mandela University Distinguished Teacher Award.

Prof Haskins is passionate about instilling a sense of transformational learning in his students and believes that the best teachers are those most willing to never stop learning. Challenging an individual student to critically reflect on solutions, will awaken them to be the innovators of tomorrow.

Dr Gouws believes as chemical process operator skills are scarce in South Africa, it is critical to establish in our society, a foundation of knowledge for students who are trained to solve problems. He exposes his students to simulations and practical experiments that enable them to understand the principles of the task.

Research Excellence Awards

Zoology’s Prof Pierre Pistorius is a seasoned researcher and award winner and works on the ecology and conservation of marine predators, such as seabirds, seals and dolphins and the impact of climate change and human activities on marine ecosystems and better ways to manage these systems. He works with researchers from France, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Seychelles and the Falkland Islands.

Education's Prof Anass Bayaga focuses on augmenting information processing (computational cognition) via adaptive technologies to improve developing countries’ students’ cognitive engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Access to and the implementation of computer application technologies toward enhanced human-computer interface (HCI), are increasingly limited in all socioeconomic statuses in Africa.

Prof Bertram HaskinsDr Shawn Gouws, Prof Pierre Pistorius and Prof Anass Bayaga

Faculty Researchers of the Year

Business and Economic Sciences
Economics’ Prof Andrew Phiri‘s research is interdisciplinary in nature and does not prescribe to any specific school of economic thought but allows data to ‘speak for itself’. Analytical tools are identified and applied to draw precise inferences from real world data.

Prof Anass Bayaga

Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology
Construction Management’s Prof John Smallwood.  Construction globally generates a disproportionate number of fatalities, injuries and occupational disease, with a negative impact on participants and their families’ health and well-being, also contributing to the cost of construction and development. Prof Smallwood’s students have contributed to change as practitioners across the construction industry.

Health Sciences
Pharmacy’s Prof Ilse Truter researches the prescribing and usage patterns of medicine to better manage our scarce healthcare resources.  It involves surveys with consumers, patients and healthcare professionals, to working with “Big Data”, analysing millions of health records. Both clinical and cost factors are considered.

Sociology and Anthropology’s Dr Babalwa Magoqwana

Prof Joanna Botha believes in the premise that inter-group hostility is linked to social hierarchies and the power dynamics between marginalised communities and those with ‘in-group’ status. Her research uses a contextually sensitive and people-orientated approach for the development of a regulatory framework for hate crimes and hate speech.

Botany’s Prof Janine Adams’s The research of Botany’s Professor Janine Adams ensures that science assists to conserve coastal habitats like estuaries, but also policies to protect the country's estuaries. Innovative methods for water quality improvement are identified to ensure healthy estuaries, ecological and societal benefits, such as recreation and subsistence use. Her research is aligned with the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

Prof Andrew Phiri, Prof Anass Bayaga, Prof Ilse Truter, Dr Babalwa Magoqwana, Prof Joanna Botha and Prof Janine Adams

Learning and Teaching Excellence Team Award

The Yebo Physics Team has created a unique online support service for students to connect via YouTube using voice call-ins and chat. The YEBO Tutor livestream channel runs daily, offering free education of the highest quality, with learners and viewers from all over the world subscribing.

Excellent Teachers of the Year

Dewald Koen

Public Management and Leadership’s
Dr Amina Jakoet-Salie. With learning and teaching spaces changing over the past two and a half years, she was determined to ensure that all her students were going to swim and not sink. She aims to produce critical thinkers and graduates who can contribute to improving society and become change agents in their communities, inculcating values of respect for diversity and excellence.

Dr Marc Welgemoed. Clinical Legal Education (CLE) combines a sound theoretical basis with practical training. He believes that with this approach his students are better prepared for the working world that they will enter after graduation. Students need to be made aware of the importance of theory, as well as putting such theory in motion by applying it to practical scenarios, he says.

Chemistry’s Dr Richard Betz believes “Modern Teaching" has to deal with a global society that sees its knowledge doubling in ever shorter intervals. As a result, we need to step back, slow down, pause and allow to time to ponder. Identifying patterns and focusing on concepts and rules, are what shrinks thousands of pages of information into several lines of manageable take-home messages.

Dewald Koen, Dr Amina Jakoet-Salie, Dr Marc Welgemoed and Dr Richard Betz

Emerging Researchers of the Year

Business and Economic Sciences
Business Management’s Dr Ayanda Deliwe

Obakeng Kagola. Involving men in the learning and teaching of young children to contribute towards a caring form of masculinity is the core of his research. Foundation phase teaching is largely socially constructed as a career suitable for women and he works with School Governing Bodies (SGBs) as leaders and community members to change this perception.

Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology
Building and Human Settlement’s
Emma Ayesu-Koranteng

Applied Languages’ Dr Fouzia Munir

Prof Amanda Spies questions law and social change and how strategic litigation can be used to change the law to benefit women. She studies seemingly procedural aspects of litigation and adjudication, how arguments are framed, how facts and experiences are presented to courts and how they are perceived and weighed in judicial deliberation.

Natural Resource Management’s
Dr Anina Coetzee

Dr Ayanda Deliwe, Obakeng Kagola, Emma Ayesu-Koranteng, Dr Fouzia Munir, Prof Amanda Spies, Andrea Govender and Dr Ayanda Simayi

Emerging Teachers of the Year

Business and Economic Sciences: Applied Accounting’s Andrea Govender


Education: Dr Ayanda Simayi

Innovation Awards

Innovation Excellence Award

Prof Russell Phillips and the Lab E7 Team (Renewable Energy Research Group and Mandela Autonomous Operations group)

An aircraft/drone that can take off from a confined area, travel a reasonable distance in a short time and land in a confined area, is currently a worldwide “grand challenge”.Their research group has taken up the challenge and brain-stormed concepts to address this. Their Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft leverages the advantages of two different types of motors and uses them in a unique manner, which has been patented.

Innovation Excellence Project Award

Prof Percy Hlangothi and the Centre for Rubber Science and Technology team

The Centre for Rubber Science and Technology (CRST) team regularly provides scientific support to start-up and small companies. These include assistance with an energy-saving geyser sleeve invention, a polymer-based mouth gum guard for sport and various automotive solutions.

Emerging Innovation Excellence Award

Prof Andre du Plessis and the Digital Suitcase team

Emerging Innovation Excellence Award winners the Digital Suitcase team from Education has created a Raspberry Pi, low-cost, credit-card-sized mini-computer with a WiFi hotspot, to deliver educational, digital content to any WiFi-enabled device within range. It would provide access within a disconnected classroom with no data costs and no internet access at school.

Creative and Performing Arts Output Awards

Upasna Maharaj - Visual Autobiography and Storytelling

Tarryn Rennie - Community Engagement and Illustration Design

Jessica Staple - Materiality of Art and Diversities of Printmaking

Ulagh Williams - Musical Direction, Conducting and Performance

Upasna Maharaj, Tarryn Rennie, Jessica Staple, Ulagh Williams

PASS Excellence awards

The PASS team award went to the Occupational Health and Wellness Team

The COVID-19 pandemic brought positive changes within the Occupational Health and Wellness team, such as an increase in staff members and a demand for more services to other campuses including Missionvale, Second Avenue and George.


Peromnes level 5-7 - Lee-Anne Groener (Legal Services)

Disciplinary case hearings, litigation and legal advisory, all form part of Legal Advisor Lee-Anne Groener’s responsibility. With online academic assessments, hearings increased by more than 60% and she had to find innovative solutions for adapted processes. Lee-Anne also had to lead the way to create systems to deal with POPIA university-wide.

Peromnes level 8-9 - Dalene Harris (Finance) and Dr Kina Muller (Human Physiology)

Performing her responsibilities and tasks consistently at a very high level, Dalene represents the values of Mandela University. She also took on the extra responsibility of typing and editing the University’s Consolidated Annual Financial Statements under timeline pressures, being updated with required changes en route through the University governance processes until final Council approval.

Dr Muller’s work in organic chemistry focuses on the maintenance of instrumentation valued in the multi-million Rand range, crucial for teaching students as well as research. She provides technical support and in-depth training of its correct use to students as well as external stakeholders.

Peromnes level 10-12 – Megan Fensham (Human Physiology) & Nozuko Rhayi (Education)

Lee-Anne Groener, Dalene Harris, Dr Kina Muller, Megan Fensham and Nozuko Rhayi

Read more about each winner in our Awards booklet

View the full photo gallery from the event

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160