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Change the world


Seven Nelson Mandela University alumni have recently been announced as being among the 2024 Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans.



Reino Erasmus - Founder and technology designer and PhD candidate

Education is changing drastically due to new technologies such as artificial intelligence and natural language processing.

Reino Erasmus, 34, is at the forefront of this revolution in learning, developing apps at Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for Community Technologies such as the eReady ICT Readiness Assessment Tool, a mechanism that can help implement technology-integrated learning experiences and foster equitable educational opportunities across African communities.

Read more about Reino

Simamkele Siyamvuyela Gcaza - Founder and director - Category Civil Society

Simamkele Siyamvuyela Gcaza, 24, works as an office administrator at Iincinga Investments, but she is also the founder and director of Future Foundation, a nongovernmental organisation she started after working with her friend at the Rising Sun Foundation in Gqeberha.

Simamkele holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Industrial Psychology and Public Administration from Mandela University.

She says through the community work Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, she realised her purpose and desire to do more for her own community. As director of the foundation, she markets the foundation’s key objective and works with board members to ensure the smooth running of the foundation.

She also has to evaluate the foundation’s short-term objectives and long-term goals, while monitoring budgets, resources and procedures by working with cross-functional teams.

Some significant challenges she faced while running the foundation are the shortages of funding or financial support, but she has through many efforts ensured the foundation’s sustainability.

Simamkele says she looks forward to what the future holds and is excited about what young people can bring to the table: they can start businesses, create jobs and drive eco-nomic growth, helping address problems such as unemployment and poverty.

Curwyn Mapaling - Clinical psychologist and senior lecturer - Category Education

Curwyn Mapaling, 31, is a senior lecturer and clinical psychologist at the University of Johannesburg where he integrates psychological principles into higher education and beyond to promote well-being in the Global South.

He holds a PhD in education and a Bachelor of Psychology (Counselling), from Mandela University and a master of arts in clinical psychology and community counselling from Stellenbosch University.

Through teaching, research and clinical work, he has strived to create trans-formative and humanising educational experiences that prioritise mental health and holistic development. He has worked to collaborate across disciplines to inform policies and practices that foster resilience, adaptability and lifelong learning.

Some of his notable achievements include being awarded an East and South African-German Centre of Excellence for Educational Research Methodologies and Management, the University of California-Los Angeles Tirisano Training Project Scholarship and the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship.

He is committed to advancing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals three (good health and well-being) and four (quality education).

Celine Meyers - Institutional researcher and BI analyst - Category Technology and Innovation

Celine Meyers, 29, is an institutional researcher and BI analyst at the University of the Witwatersrand, responsible for analysing data to inform strategic decision-making.

She holds a PhD, MA and BA Honours in Sociology (cum laude) from the University of Johannesburg, and a BA from Mandela University.

Her job involves collecting, processing, interpreting and managing institutional data.

As part of her profession, she designs and implements surveys, generates reports and presents important insights to the university leadership and relevant stakeholders.

Her work supports initiatives aimed at improving student success and institutional effectiveness. Continuing her passion for digital migration studies, Celine is doing ongoing research that examines the experiences of African migrant women in South Africa.

This research seeks to explore how technology can be leveraged to provide women with greater agency and support. Celine completed her PhD in sociology from the University of Johannesburg.

During her honours year, she received the Palgrave Macmillan Book Prize for producing the best research study.

Celine gives back to her community by starting a fund to support other students facing financial hardships. She plans to expand her fund, continue mentoring scholars and influence policy and practice through her research.

Sinazo Nqeketo - Postdoctoral fellow - Category Technology and Innovation

Sinazo Nqeketo, 27, has just joined the CSIR after being a postdoctoral research fellow at Nelson Mandela University. She has developed sustainable methods to make two breakthrough drugs in the war against HIV.

One is called Dolutegravir, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation as a first-line treatment of HIV initiating antiretroviral therapy globally, and the other is Cabotegravir, the first HIV prevention injection approved in South Africa in 2022.

Sinazo holds a PhD in Chemistry from Mandela University, and a BSc (Honours) in Chemistry, Cum Laude and a BSc Chemical Science, Summa Cum Laude from the University of the Western Cape.

She feels that her work has contributed to the African Union’s goal of Africa manufacturing 60% of its own vaccines by 2040. In her work Sinazo makes use of a new technology called continuous flow technology, which uses better methods for making chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and her role at the university is to devise ways of doing so in a cost-effective and green manner.

She’s learnt that her work in the laboratory is often slow and time-consuming and has developed the patience and resilience that it demands. Using flow chemistry for conducting research and for production is a new field in South Africa, and Sinazo is excited about the job and skills opportunities it potentially offers.

Lynn Daphne Rudolph - Sound Artist - Category Arts and Entertainment

Trained as a classical musician since the age of four, viola player Lynn Daphne Rudolph, 28, has spent many years both drawing on this Eurocentric background and developing it in her own way to find her own voice.

Daphne holds a Master of Music (Solo Viola; Classical Studies) from Mandela University and a Bachelor of Music (Viola Performance; Classical Studies) from Stellenbosch University.

She is drawn to sound as a means of protest, to transmute the injustices of colonialism and apartheid into healing. One of the ways she does this is through improvisation, which goes beyond the limitations of conditioned beliefs; another is through exploring softness as resistance.

On her debut solo project Homegrown Immigrant, she was responsible for all aspects of production, from music direction to marketing the final product. The 2022 project was an exploration of what sound means to her on a personal level, and tells her story as a queer, coloured South African woman.

This year she will be doing a residency at the Festival d’Aix en Provence and will be principal viola for the Mzansi Philharmonic Orchestra at its Carnegie Hall debut in New York.

Daphne is excited about what she believes is a significant shift in younger musicians exploring and developing their own voices as artists in the classical industry and believes that “the South African voice” is beginning to distinctly establish itself in this sector.  

Ziyanda Sibeko - Partner at Webber Wentzel - Category Legal Services

Ziyanda Sibeko, 30, is a partner in the dispute resolution department at Webber Wentzel.

Ziyanda holds an LLM in Specialising in Environmental Law and Postgraduate Certificates in Advanced Administrative Law, Advanced Company Law I and II and Prospecting and Mining Law from the University of the Witwatersrand and an LLB from Mandela Metropolitan University.

He has a diverse general commercial litigation practice and experience often involving highly regulated industries such as mining, petroleum, gas, and oil industries including medical schemes industries, insurance, financial services, construction and public procurement.

His work extends to commercial arbitrations, environmental law, forensic investigations, public and administrative law and general contracts disputes. Ziyanda has experience in high court, supreme court of appeal and constitutional court litiga-tion.

His says his biggest achievement is becoming a partner at Webber Wentzel and takes pride in working alongside the best legal brains and talent in the country. He is also proud of having trained about 20 candidate attorneys, most of whom have been retained as junior associates and some who have gone on to achieve greater things abroad.

He says his family and the people he meets at and through his work have inspired him to excel. Ziyanda does pro bono work in Daveyton, where he lives, and for organisations such as the South African Aids Council and trust. He is also involved in outreach programmes through his church.

Read more about these and the other recipients

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