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 23 November.

The event was held virtually. 

In her address to staff, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa hailed colleagues for their excellence.

“Staff have not achieved by fluke or by accident. They have developed an excellence mindset and they have been intentional in striving to do their best, and to be, the best in their respective fields.  It is this mind-set that has enabled them to achieve so exceptionally.”  


Award winners

The Nelson Mandela University Researcher of the Year is Economics’ Prof Andrew Phiri whose research is interdisciplinary and allows the data to ‘speak for itself’.  His research identifies and applies analytical tools, with the mathematical accuracy to draw precise inferences from real world data.  “Hidden facts” on key economic issues are unveiled, competing theories evaluated and new policy framework designs suggested to improve people’s welfare.

Nelson Mandela University’s Excellent Teacher for 2021 is Physics’ Prof Tim Gibbon who says “Physics tells the story of the Universe - everything from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy.  Physics sharpens problem solving and creativity and equips students with tools to innovate, create and improve lives and inspire others.  Definitions and equations lead students to invent technologies to discover and shape new worlds, he says.

School of ICT’s Dr Sue Petratos and Architecture’s Jean-Pierre Basson received the Nelson Mandela University Distinguished Teacher Award.  Computer Literacy is to the youth of today as vital as the ABC. In Sue’s classes, students are not only taught to be book smart, but also to develop their self-confidence, embrace who they are and be passionate about empowering others.

Jean-Pierre shapes his learning and teaching around his student, as social beings in a community. He understands his students’ strengths and limitations and forms critical relationships with the community.

Nelson Mandela University’s Emerging Researcher for 2021 is Mr William Goosen. As scanning electron microscopist at the HRTEM, William collaborates with researchers and students in the sciences, where he images diatoms, to indicate environmental and climate change. Imaging of nanostructures for physics contributes to hydrogen production as a fuel source for environmentally friendly motor vehicles.

Nelson Mandela University’s Emerging Excellence Teachers for 2021 are Pharmacy’ Dr Candyce Clark and ICT’s Mr Timothy Speckmann, whose mottos are “Always keep trying, but most importantly keep doing and keep discovering!” and “A good teacher will impart knowledge, but an excellent teacher will learn how his students consume knowledge.”

Research Excellence Award winner Botany’s Prof Janine Adams investigates coastal habitats and climate change to understand how they are responding to warming and sea level rise, informing global comparisons and input into the management of South Africa’s 300 estuaries.

The other winner Dr Bastien Linol of AEON-ESSRI says “Understanding how Africa separated from the other continents and its evolving landscapes over the last 100 million years predicts natural resources and climatic fluctuations.  

The winner of the Research Excellence Award in the PASS category is Engagement’s Dr Belinda du Plooy who says “Storytelling? is possibly the most unique, and the most common thing that humans do and the most interesting ones are those we don’t even know we are telling.”

Zoology’s Prof Graham Kerley was honoured for his LIfetime Contribution to Research Excellence. His science and teaching vary from exploring how large animals, such as elephants and rhinos to cheetah and lion, operate in their environment and how this can be applied for their conservation and ecosystem restoration. Ideas are tested around using wildlife for society to adapt to and also mitigate global change. Equipping the next generation of scientists to take on these challenges is what a university academic is about, he says.


Faculty Researchers of the Year

Business and Economic Sciences: Economics’ Prof Andrew Phiri

Education’s Prof Sylvan Blignaut focuses on how the school and higher education curricula in South Africa could be transformed emphasising social justice, Africanisation and decolonisation of the curriculum, to build a more humane and caring society.

Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology: Mechatronics’ Prof Khaled Abou-El-Hossein.  Khaled has been researching mechanical metal cutting, optical components engineering and manufacturing, based on using diamond tooling technologies benefiting among others the aerospace industry. 

Health Sciences: Pharmacy’s Prof Ilse Truter. Ilse’s research ensures that medicines are used rationally and cost-effectively, for the patient to obtain the maximum benefit from the treatment.

Humanities: Sociology and Anthropology’s Prof Luvuyo Ntombana. Luvuyo’s research entails cultural anthropology, African Indigenous Knowledge Systems, masculinities, African Spirituality and Religion. 

Law: Prof Joanna Botha’s research focuses on developing a regulatory framework for hate crimes and hate speech, appreciating that inter-group hostility and prejudice is linked to social hierarchies.

Science. Botany’s Prof Janine Adams.


Excellent Teachers of the Year

Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology: Architecture’s Mr John Andrews. John says the design studio engages with society while producing creative research and an authentic learning experience to contribute tangibly to society, reconciling academia, community, and the profession.

Humanities: Media and Communication’s Mr Jude Mathurine guides his students towards critical thought and confronting historical challenges to inform the needs of ‘the media’ for social good and resolve problems that matter to their communities, the region and the nation. 

Law: Prof Andre Mukheibir. Andre’s open-book assessments simulate real life situations where attorneys would research problems.  They are problem-based, covering the entire syllabus.  Students have to know their material and consult sources for accuracy.


Emerging Researchers of the Year

Business and Economic Sciences: Economics’ Mr Luyolo Mahlangabeza and Ms Zintle Sikhunyana

Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology: Electrical Engineering’s Mr Sibulele Mtakati

Education: Dr Margie Childs

Health Sciences: Psychology’s Dr Johan Cronje

Law: Mr Thando Qotoyi

Science: HRTEM’s Mr William Goosen


Emerging Teachers of the Year

Engineering, the Built Environment and Technology: ICT’s Ms Phumezo Ntlatywa

Health Sciences: Pharmacy’s Dr Candyce Clark


Engagement Awards

Engagement Excellence Awards (Humanities): Prof Hennie van As. UNODC E4J Programme – Advancing of Sustainable Development Goal 16. Hennie designed a methodology to reach 300 academics and students in South Africa, Kenya and Mauritius, on integrity and ethics; corruption; organised crime; wildlife, forest and fisheries crime, crime prevention and criminal justice.

Engagement Excellence Award (STEM)

Prof Darelle van Greunen - Harnessing ICT Innovation and Engagement to support the fight against COVID-19.  ICTs have been enabling global efforts to diagnose and treat patients, track and control the spread of the disease and keep communities informed.


Engagement Project Awards

Mr Julien de Klerk - eNtsa COVID-19 Pandemic – Innovative Health support projects.

Prof Jean Greyling – Tanks.-

Dr Glenn Holtzman - Transformation of Music Curriculum Initiatives.

Dr Babalwa Magoqwana - Building a Gender Intellectual “Corridor” that centres African Intellectual Heritage in the Eastern Cape Region.


Engagement Team Awards

Mr Karl du Preez & Prof Russel Phillips - Riemvasmaak Solar Energy Project.

Ms Blondie Nsiko (LIS) - Envisioning Engagement and Outreach.

Emerging Engagement Award

Dr Bruce Damons – Hubs of Convergence.


Creative and Performing Arts Output Awards

Mr David Bester - Musical Performance and Musical Direction.

Dr Erika Bothma - Musical composition, Arrangement, Recording and Performance.

Dr Rudi Bower - Musical composition, Arrangement, Recording and Performance.

Prof Marius Crous - Creative Writing: Afrikaans Poetry.

Ms Tarryn Rennie - Community Engagement: Illustration Design.

Ms Ulagh Williams - Musical Direction, Conducting and Performance.


PASS Excellence awards

PASS team awards went to Communication and Marketing, the COVID-19 decontamination team, the COVID-19 Centre, Institutional Governance and Technical Services and Space Optimisation Management. 

Communication and Marketing has become far more effective in positioning the institution since the pandemic with a new integrated production hub structure and “digital first” approach, using social media platforms and websites. They are: Abongile Beba, Shani Adams, Vuyo Bongela, Pieter Botha, Michelle Bothma, Charmaine Boukes, Leonette Bower, Thembelihle Buthelezi, Jo-Ann Daniels, Elma de Koker, Debbie  Derry, Michelle du Preez, Beverley Erickson, Kelley Felix-Julie, Christelle Grobler, Thomas Hilmer, Amy Howley, Andrew Kock, Brandon Matiwane, Zandile Mbabela, Mseki Mkinase, Nyameko Mlonzi, Mrara, Nosithembele Mrara, Udochukwu Obi, Allison Olivier, Bernard Piater, Milisa Piko, Ryan Pillay, Nicki-Ann Rayepen, Tiffiny Rayners, Lyndall Sa Joe-Derrocks, Louise Solomons, Monica Tshangana, Kanya Williams, Ulagh Williams and Azola Xanti.  

Responsible for the decontamination of COVID-19 positive sites since Lockdown level 4, the loyal COVID-19 decontamination team ensured that campuses met with COVID-19 protocols and performed at any time risking their own and their families’ lives. They are: Phumzile Booi, Ramano Ellie Siyabulela Gwilita, Mzwabantu Masebe, Lazola Ndlela, Msiyanda Pepese, Mzwabantu Pepese, Brendon Rens, Ndwayana Tembani and Mzuvukile Woli.

The COVID-19 Centre team demonstrated disaster management skills in addition to their normal operations. They developed a COVID-19 -task team before the virus entered South Africa, the infrastructure for the COVID-19 Centre and Vaccination hubs as well as a COVID-19 Vaccination team. They are: Angus Agnew, Valencia Benjamin, Sarah Bikani, Noleen Dippenaar, Joan Francis, Kobus Magielies, Fiona Magnus, Zanele Mboniswa, Natalie Meyer, Megan Moodalay, Michaela Moodalay, Nokuthula Moss, Nandipha Ntlangula, Natasha Salbeera, Sharyl Septoo, Zilla Shaw, Mahalia Shiyani and Erica Thennekoon.  

The Institutional Governance team providing back-up support for 36 institutional meetings, functioned without a Deputy Director: Institutional Governance for 11 months spending time after hours to improve on quicker turnaround times on projects. They are: Elhaam Bardien, Carol Browne, Sifundo Bulose, Rene du Preez, Zihle Febana, Charmian Green, Leana Hay, Sameera Patel and Ursula Spies.

The Technical Services staff and Space Optimisation Management team went beyond their duty to ensure that infrastructure, COVID-19 centres and lecture venues were compliant and ready for use. They are: Gordon Abrahams, Philip Bawo, Bongani Centane, Ettienne Windvogel, Christo Joubert, Lindile Sneli, Kikie Ndimba, Chris Sharp and Alfonso Zeelie.

Peromnes level 5-7 - Dr Nomakwezi Mzilikazi, Director of Research Management has exceptional leadership skills and contributes to the strategic objective of research management, academic development programmes and significant international partnerships.

Peromnes level 8-9 - Ms Karen Snyman, the Student Entrepreneurship Specialist in Student Governance, has shown commitment and active involvement in activities of Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education with innovation and creativity. .

Peromnes level 10-12 – Ms Nomathamsanqa Dokwana (Chemistry) & Mr Travis Smit (Zoology)

Peromnes level 13-17 – Mr Luyanda Novas (Support Services: Sport)

View the ceremony

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

Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057