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More than 5000 Nelson Mandela University students are set to cross the graduation stage over the next two weeks at the institution’s Port Elizabeth and George campuses.

One of the most important features on the University calendar, the autumn graduation period kicked off at the George Campus on Friday, 13 April 2018. The Port Elizabeth graduation period begins on 18 April 2018 – a day after the historic inauguration of the institution’s first black African female Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa, and recently elected Chancellor Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

The newly installed university leaders will cap a total of 5080 students, including 56 doctoral and 329 masters and MTech degrees, over 12 sessions taking place during the next week and a half. Three honorary doctorates will be awarded on 18 April to phenomenal women recognised as doyennes in their respective fields and whose work philosophy mirrors that of Nelson Mandela University.

Renowned storyteller and poet, Gcina Mhlophe, will receive an honorary Doctor of Literature (DLitt) degree in recognition of her work to preserve storytelling as a means of keeping history alive and encouraging South African children to read.

Retired medical doctor, Professor Marina Xaba-Mokoena, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree for her incredible advocacy in involving communities in the training of health practitioners that would later serve them and addressing inequalities in our society.

President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Mandisa Maya, will be honoured with a Doctor of Laws degree in acknowledgement of her significant contribution to the development of law in South Africa, the promotion of constitutional democracy and the protection of human rights.

The autumn graduation period will also see the first cohort of students in new programmes, which include Emergency Medical Care, Human Settlements Development and the Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) being capped.

Graduation time is a period not only of celebration of achievement as a result of hard work, but is for many also a time to reflect on the journey towards the walk across the stage – often times a compelling story of triumph over adversity.

Among those graduating this season is mother-of-three Zenobia Olivier, 52, who realises a life-long dream of studying further when she graduates with a national diploma in Internal Auditing. Thobani Mkhananda, who will graduate with a BA in Psychology, endured a gruelling final year, when he suffered a sudden stroke in 2016.

Lubabalo Sapepa and Thabang Sefoloko, who were part of the first cohort of completely blind students since the University’s merger, will graduate with a BTech in Public Management and NDip Public Management respectively on 21 April. Partially sighted student Pheliswa Mkwambi will receive her national diploma in Management on Wednesday, 18 April.

The Port Elizabeth leg of graduation is preceded by the historic inauguration, which is a major event on the University calendar and effectively sets the tone for the next five years. This inauguration is a relatively unique one in that the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor begin their term in the same year.

This year is proving to be a particularly special one for the University, as we usher in a new era, coinciding with the centenary year of the institution’s namesake.

The inauguration and graduation will be streamed live via the Nelson Mandela University website on

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777