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Four remarkable South Africans whose work resonates with the University’s resolve to be in service to society are among more than 5000 graduands to be capped during Nelson Mandela University’s upcoming autumn graduation.

Cleric and civil servant Reverend Frank Chikane; businesswoman and president of the African Farmers Association of South Africa (Afasa) Dr Vuyo Mahlati; Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund chief executive officer Sibongile Mkhabela and specialist family physician and Independent Practitioners Association (IPA) Foundation chairman Prof Morgan Chetty will be awarded honorary doctorates on 5 April 2019.

The University’s autumn graduation period kicks off on Wednesday, 3 April in George, and will see more than 5000 graduands in George and Port Elizabeth cross the stage and receive their certificates, diplomas and degrees over 16 sessions until 13 April.

This includes more than 700 postgraduate qualifications, including about 60 doctoral degrees.

The University will be recognising Rev Chikane for his contribution as a servant leader to the development and promotion of the African Renaissance and his involvement in conflict resolution processes in Southern Africa during the transition period.

Rev Chikane’s political activism emerged at the start of his tertiary education in the 1970s, when he became involved in the activities of the South African Student Organisation (SASO) at university. This led to his repeated detention, which in turn disrupted his education, forcing him to leave the university in 1974.

The following year, he joined the evangelistic organisation, Christ for all Nations, convinced of God's calling in his life. He went on to serve the country in various ways, including his role in the political transitional talks and serving in the first democratically elected government.

Dr Mahlati, an Eastern Cape-born social entrepreneur and change agent, will be honoured for her work in bringing urgency and intensifying the global call for inclusive economic growth and development, and her scholarship and praxis of entrepreneurship and economic development, particularly in marginal rural economies.

Having grown up in the rural areas, getting her primary education at a farm school her mother taught at and proceeding to a missionary boarding school, Dr Mahlati’s passion for seeking alternatives to the oppressive education system of the time emerged at a young age.

Her life as an activist was enabled by education, starting her career off as a young researcher in disability, children and women issues and later as a business linkage mentor at the Small Business Development Agency (SBDA).

This led to her participation in South Africa’s Constitution-making research process after the release of former President Nelson Mandela from prison. Dr Mahlati was also involved in the first UNICEF Status on Women and Children report in South Africa.

Prof Chetty has been at the helm of Family Medicine for about 40 years, dedicating his life to promoting access to quality healthcare, with a patient-centred approach and particular focus on the poor and disenfranchised.

In 1998, he single-handedly raised funds and gathered doctors to start the first truly democratic doctor organisation, The South African Managed Care organisation. He was elected as the Vice-Chairperson – a position he still holds. The ethos was to bring doctors together to be cost-efficient, to be custodians of the scarce resources and to deliver holistic quality care.

He was also instrumental in the establishment of one of the first Black-owned hospitals post-apartheid in Durban, the Mount Edgecombe Hospital.

The University is proud to confer an honorary doctorate to Prof Chetty for his work in upskilling doctors in South Africa, leading 5000 primary care doctors and the empowerment of patients on their rights.

A social worker by profession, Ms Mkhabela’s career and orientation has been driven by a tireless social activism. She was among the 11 student leaders arrested in connection with the 1976 student uprisings and went on to live a life dedicated to the social justice cause.

At the helm of Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, she focused her efforts on building the organisation as an independent and self-sustaining African organisation, putting the rights and the wellbeing of children first.

The fund now reaches beyond South Africa’s borders as a strong voice for children, with a strategy that advocates for the rights of the child and supports institutions bettering the lives of African children.

Mandela University will honour Ms Mkhabela for her role in championing the establishment of a dedicated children’s hospital in South Africa, with its educative aspect in improving the quality of paediatric care, research and training in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as her work in development issues through the United Nations Education Programme in Southern Africa.

Autumn graduation will also see the first cohort of the new BHSc Medical Laboratory Science and MA IT Governance students.

(Top - Rev Frank Chikane and Sibongile Mkhabela. Bottom - Vuyo Mahlati and Morgan Chetty)

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
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Tel: 0415042777