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In what will undoubtedly be a bittersweet accolade for one of Nelson Mandela University’s game-changing academics, the institution is set to confer an honorary doctorate on acclaimed paediatric cardiologist and former executive dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, the late Professor Lungile Pepeta, tomorrow (29 April 2022).

Prof Pepeta, who succumbed to COVID-19 complications in August 2020, is being recognised by the University he served for three years for his contributions as a paediatric cardiologist, medical researcher, academic and activist, and for being a pioneer of the medical industry in South Africa, particularly in child health care.

His honorary doctorate will be received by his wife, Dr Vuyo Pepeta.

His is the third and final honorary doctoral award this autumn graduation season at Mandela University, following Dr Sindiso Mfenyana and Dr Noxolo Grootboom.

Born in Bizana, Eastern Cape, he matriculated from Bizana Village High School in 1991 and, the following year, enrolled for the MBChB in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the then University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University). He graduated in 1997 and completed his internship at Mthatha General Hospital in 1998.

After qualifying as a paediatrician in 2003, he had a stint as Head of Paediatrics at Frontier Hospital, in Komani. From mid-2004 to the end of 2008, he served as a Specialist Paediatrician, full-time lecturer and Fellow, sub-specialising in Paediatric Cardiology at the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg – through its affiliated academic institution, the University of the Witwatersrand.

He obtained the Certificate in Cardiology (SA) through the College of Paediatricians of South Africa in 2008.

Returning to the Eastern Cape in 2009, Prof Pepeta was appointed as Principal Specialist and later Head of Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, where he established the City’s first paediatric cardiology unit at the Dora Nginza Provincial Hospital.

He served at this Complex until the end of 2015, while also lecturing in Paediatric Cardiology at the Complex and at Walter Sisulu University. During his time here, he introduced non-invasive procedures to cure heart disorders and defects, such as congenital heart disorder faced by children in the Eastern Cape, and mentored and trained many doctors, particularly in the field of paediatrics.

On 01 January 2017, Dr Lungile Pepeta was appointed as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Mandela University, where he served – while also serving on other medical professional bodies – until his untimely passing on 07 August 2020.

He tirelessly drove the establishment of the University’s new medical school. It was his vision that guided Mandela University to develop a curriculum and medical degree that he knew would better serve all South Africans, particularly those who are marginalised and vulnerable, about whom he cared greatly.

At the time of his untimely passing, Vice-Chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa spoke of the huge impact that he had on society at large.

“He changed lives through his academic expertise and his care for people’s well-being and personal situation. He believed in opening the doors of learning as wide as possible. He believed that every student given the right support could succeed." 

Paying homage to Prof Pepeta then, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande described his passing as “a great loss to Nelson Mandela University, the medical and health fraternity, and South Africa in general.”

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777