Change the world

Mandela University alumni celebrated at 10th annual awards

An environmentally aware legal eagle, a socially conscious leadership development promoter and a renowned automotives exporter were among the group of Nelson Mandela University graduates lauded at the 10th annual Alumni Awards on Friday, 08 November 2019.

(Back, from left) Alumni Relations Director Paul Geswindt, award recipients Litha Soyizwapi, Robin West, Quinton Uren, Mzukisi Kota and Alumni Association president Khwezi Blose. (Front row, from left) Recipient Dr Thakane Ntholi, Vice-Chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa and Alumni Association vice-president Michelle Mbaco.

The prestigious awards, which are a flagship event on the Alumni Association calendar, celebrate the local and international success stories of graduates who have not just climbed the ladder in their respective fields but have become inspiring leaders and change agents across various parts of the world. 
Jendamark Automation founder and managing director Quinton Uren and Seabourn luxury cruise liner vice-president Robin West were each recognised with an Achiever Award; while Mandela Rhodes Foundation chief executive Judy Sikuza, lawyer Mzukisi Kota, Geologist Dr Nthakane Ntholi, and self-taught software app developer Litha Soyizwapi were awarded in the Rising Star category.
In an emotional acceptance speech, Kota recalled a recent encounter with one of his old lecturers, Prof Patrick Vrancken, who asked him about what he believed had set him up for success while at University.
“I come from a very humble Eastern Cape background, as a (former) Ciskeian, and I attribute my success first and foremost to God’s grace. I didn’t attend good schools, nor did I have the benefit of good family connections,” he said.
“I was very fortunate to be in a small [faculty], where I was encouraged to find my voice. I got opportunities where I went on my first overseas trip as part of University choir and I had access to my lecturers that my peers at other universities did not have. I was therefore nurtured in my time here and am thankful.”
Kota is a Partner at Johannesburg-based Webber Wentzel, one of the top law firms in the country, and the most recent recipient of the coveted African Law Firm of the Year at the 2019 African Legal Awards.
Involved in legislating towards a more sustainable environment, Kota specialises in energy and infrastructure projects, matters of public law, and the regulation of particular industries or sectors.
In the energy sector, he advised the South African Department of Energy in the development and implementation of its highly-acclaimed Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme and drafted amendments to legislation and government policy documents in the energy space.
(From left) Rising Star Litha Soyizwapi, Achiever Robin West, Rising Star Dr Thakane Ntholi, Achiever Quinton Uren, and Rising Star Mzukisi Kota. Judy Sikuza accepted the award in absentia.
Dr Ntholi reminisced about how, leaving home to attend university, her mother gifted her with a gold necklace and a message about commitment.
“She said commitment is all about what you set yourself out to do and that if you are committed, your actions should speak than the words you claim to be committed to. These words stuck with me forever… [and] I’ve lived by them,” she said.
She is passionate about applied geology and its contribution to the sustainable management of natural resources. She is also zealous about demystifying science, especially and making it more accessible to students and communities.
Dr Ntholi obtained her PhD in Geology and Earth Stewardship Science in 2017, with her research focusing on using leading-edge technology to treat acid mine water in the deep gold mines of South Africa, managing and reversing its damaging environmental impact.
Sikuza, who was recently appointed to the helm of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (MRF), is also an alumna of the Foundation, where she secured a scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies in 2007.
Delivering her acceptance speech via a video message, Sikuza said the award was a humbling recognition of how far she come in her career.
“It is also a reminder of how the university really helped shape my view of society. It was at university were I met people from all walks of life… and understanding some of the broader societal challenges,” she said.
The MRF provides postgraduate scholarships and leadership training opportunities to Africans who show leadership potential, in line with its overarching mission to build exceptional leadership in Africa.
Sikuza joined MRF in 2014 and has held several managerial and director positions as head of the Foundation’s flagship Scholarships and Leadership Development Programme.
She was one of the instrumental players in the successful execution of the 2013 to 2018 strategy to double the number of Mandela Rhodes Scholars in Residence and has also led key strategic projects for the Foundation, such as its 15-year impact study and the 100 Scholars for Madiba’s 100th celebrations.
Soyizwapi expressed gratitude to the Butterworth public library, which he cited as the reason he gained access to the university.
“I never studied art in high school. I applied to this institution based on a book I received from the Butterworth public library, so I’m here today because of [that library]. I’m quite overwhelmed,” he said.
Soyizwapi is the founder and Creative Director of Glyfik4 Branding and Design and Lightos Digital, serving a range of top clients including Jabu Stone Natural Hair Care, Nedbank, and South African Tourism.
He is also the designer and developer of GauRider, a mobile app that helps people track bus and train times for the rail network service Gautrain. The app reached number one in the travel category of the iPhone, in the South African AppStore.
Alumni Relations Director, Paul Geswindt, says the awards were introduced by the Alumni Association ten years ago to acknowledge the achievements of graduates nationally and internationally.
“These achievements have not only been in their various disciplines but often also in other disciplines and areas of life that positively impacts on society,” he says.
“So you can have a Health Sciences graduate doing some exciting things in the tourism industry or a graphic designer who develops award-winning apps.”
Since inception in 2009, 32 Rising Star, 38 Achiever and 15 Special awards have been conferred on graduates of Mandela University. These include the three founding institutions – University of Port Elizabeth, Vista University and Port Elizabeth Technikon – that merged into one institution years ago.
Previous recipients include leaders of global, national and local organisations, as well as individuals who have excelled in their various academic disciplines to bring the arts and sciences to life.
“We appreciate the sustained interest of our alumni in the achievements of our university. We trust that this interconnectivity extends the value of their qualifications beyond specific fields and projects positively on the graduate attributes associated with this great university,” said Vice-Chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa, addressing guests.

“We strongly believe that our alumni should play an important part in the realisation of the university’s vision, mission and development trajectory well into the future.”

Staff golfers of the year

The University Shop’s ShenĂ© du Toit is the Orazest Nelson Mandela University Staff Golf Club’s Club Champion for 2019! ICT Services’ Johann Schaefer, was the winner of the Order of Merit competition and the Knock-Out Champion for 2019 and Infrastructure Services and Sustainability’s Graham Gouws, Communication and Stakeholder Liaison’s Pieter Botha, Biochemistry and Microbiology’s Vaughan Oosthuizen and Johann, were named winners of the Dream Team competition for 2019.
The 2019 golfing year for the Club culminated in the traditional November Club Championships weekend on 2 and 3 November at Zwartenbosch Country Estate (Humansdorp) and Wedgewood Golf Club.
Apart from the main competition to determine the Club Champion, three other competitions running throughout the year also concluded with this weekend’s competition.
The staff golf club was formed in 1988, celebrating its 31st birthday this year. About 50 staff members across all academic faculties and administrative departments at the university make up the club.
The golfing year consists of various monthly competitions; as well as three tours, i.e. a mid-year tour in June, a weekend tour in September and the club championships in November each year.

Visit the website: to see all the latest news on the various competitions, how to join and who to contact for more information.


International conference award for Mandela Uni computer scientists

(Left to right) Prof Kelvin Bwalya - Deputy-Dean: Research and Internationalisation College of Business & Economics); University of Johannesburg, Dr George Anderson - Department of Computer Science; University of Botswana, Ms Stella Bvuma - Head of Department: Applied Information Systems; College of Business and Economics; University of Johannesburg, Prof Brenda Scholtz - Associate Professor & HOD Computing Sciences; Nelson Mandela University and Faith Moyo - Master's student; Nelson Mandela University.
Professor Brenda Scholtz and Master’s student in Computer Science, Faith Moyo received the runner-up award for Best Paper at the 4th International Conference on the Internet, Cyber Security and Information Systems (ICICS).
The conference, co-hosted by the University of Johannesburg and the University of Botswana, was held recently in Johannesburg and brings together national and international researchers and practitioners. This year’s theme considered how information and cyber security has been shaped by emerging new trends in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) in the context of African businesses.


The paper, authored by Faith Moyo, Brenda Scholtz and co-supervisor Mohammed Alhassen, was titled "A Data-Driven Decision-Making Model for the Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Industry". Their research provides a model for assisting managers with decision-making in the information economy and 4IR. It specifically addresses the challenges faced by the 3PL and supply chain industry.

National Awards for Mandela Uni QS Department 
Staff and students from the Department of Quantity Surveying were acknowledged for their excellent work at The South African Council for the Quantity Surveying Profession (SACQSP) International Research Conference in Johannesburg.
Prof Gerrit Crafford presented a paper, co-authored by Sharon Dent  entitled “Predicting quantity surveying students’ throughput rate: a cohort analysis” -  the paper received the award for the best overall contribution to the Quantity Surveying Profession.
Nangamso Macanda, BSc Honours (Quantity Surveying) graduate presented a paper, co-authored by Johann Slabber and Prof Gerrit Crafford entitled “Maintenance management challenges facing property in South African public sector schools” which received the award for the best youth presentation.
The conference is held annually, hosted by various universities. The 2019 conference hosted by Wits University, was attended by approximately 300 delegates. Proceedings at the conference also attract subsidy.
Mandela University’s Department of Quantity Surveying will host the 2020 conference.

Best paper award for Mandela Uni statiticians
Professor in the Department of Statistics at Mandela University, Prof Igor Litvine, and his PhD student, Farai Mlambo were awarded the Best Paper prize at the recent ESM Conference in Spain.
The ESM (European Simulation and Modelling) conferences are held annually, hosted by different universities and organised by EUROSIS - The European Multidisciplinary Society for Modelling and Simulation Technology.  Proceedings of the conferences always attract subsidy.
This year, staff and students of the Statistics department submitted three papers. 
Co-author of the paper entitled “Wavelot Theory: for Economics and Financial Cycles” Farai, is now working as a lecturer at Wits University. 
The conference attracts strong researchers from Europe and worldwide. All submissions are peer-reviewed with reviewers giving scores to the papers and the paper with highest score is awarded the "Best Paper Prize".  Presentations at the conference are also evaluated by the audience.

Mandela Uni Alumnus part of winning Sprinbok team

Adding some more local flavour to the Springboks Rugby World Cup win, is Mandela University Sports Management Alumnus, Lindsay Weyer – the team’s Technical Assistant.
Weyer, who graduated with a National Diploma in Sport Management in 2012, fine-tuned his highly specialised skills at  the Southern Kings before joining the Springboks.
He comes from a rugby-mad family in East London, where his father, Wayne, played more than 150 matches for Border
“My love for rugby started at school and my father always encouraged me. Like me, he also played flyhalf and fullback,” Weyer said.
“I attended Selborne College, a good rugby school, and played for the first team. Later I came to Port Elizabeth, where I played for Nelson Mandela University and also the EP U19 and U21 sides.
“So I was in the system in Port Elizabeth and when I needed to do an internship for my sport management course, I asked if I could come to EP Rugby and help wherever I was needed.
“One of the EP coaches, David Maidza (former Madibaz Rugby coach), knew my background from Border, so they said I could come and help and film [matches]. That is where it all started,” he added.
Asked about how he operates during a game, Lindsay says “I get the live television feed into the coaches’ box. If something has happened in the game, like when we miss a tackle or there was an opportunity to score a try, I can go back and have a look at it and offer some advice.
He says the difficult part of the job is that it is very time-consuming. “One frustrating thing is that we have to hit the rewind button a lot because my job is attention to detail. I am basically watching a game in slow motion over and over again to analyse us and the opposition to see where we can improve.
“One ambition is to become a head coach. I would like to be at the top and I have coached at U21 and school level and I would like to become a head coach.”
Information adapted from an article on Go! & Express Live – see: