Change the world

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 
Category: Technology & Innovation
Celine Meyers: Championing Data Analysis and Community Empowerment
Celine Meyers, 29, is an institutional researcher and BI analyst at the University of the Witwatersrand. She plays a vital role in analyzing data to inform strategic decision-making. Her responsibilities include collecting, processing, interpreting, and managing institutional data. Celine designs and implements surveys, generates reports, and presents key insights to university leadership and stakeholders. Her work supports initiatives aimed at improving student success and institutional effectiveness.
Celine is also passionate about digital migration studies. She is conducting ongoing research into the experiences of African migrant women in South Africa, focusing on how technology can empower these women and provide them with greater support. She earned her PhD in sociology from the University of Johannesburg, where she received the Palgrave Macmillan Book Prize for the best research study during her honours year.
Celine holds a Bachelor of Arts from Nelson Mandela University. Her academic journey is marked by numerous scholarship awards, academic distinctions, and the completion of her PhD at a young age (28) despite various challenges. Throughout her higher education career, she consistently appeared on the dean’s list and graduated cum laude at every level of her postgraduate studies.
One of the highlights of her academic career has been mentoring honours students, many of whom have achieved distinctions under her guidance. She takes great pride in giving back to her community by starting a fund to assist students facing financial hardships and personally funding a relative’s first year of study.
Celine is deeply committed to her community. Her initiative to support students in need reflects her belief in the transformative power of education and her dedication to creating opportunities for others to succeed. Through these experiences, she has learned the importance of resilience, determination, and paying it forward. Her academic achievements have taught her that with dedication and hard work, any obstacle can be overcome.
Several mentors and role models have significantly influenced Celine’s journey, guiding her through various stages of her career and personal development. Her parents, who grew up in a low-income community in Port Elizabeth, were her primary source of inspiration and support. They instilled in her the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of education and giving back to the community.
Throughout her academic journey, lecturers and supervisors at Nelson Mandela University and the University of Johannesburg provided invaluable academic and personal support. Their encouragement and feedback pushed her to excel and believe in the significance of her research. Most importantly, Celine credits her faith in God as a cornerstone of her success. Through resilience, determination, and the principle of paying it forward, she has learned that dedication and hard work can overcome any obstacle. Supporting others in their educational pursuits fosters collective success.

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 

Category: Technology & Innovation

Transforming Education and Society: The Innovations of Reino Erasmus - Georgia Van Rooyen
Meet one of Nelson Mandela University’s own Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South African’s Reino Erasmus. He holds numerous qualifications from Nelson Mandela University as well as a master’s degree in visual arts at Stellenbosch, and currently pursuing a PhD in Information Technology, Nelson Mandela University’s Centre of Community Technologies. 
Erasmus,34, is leaving his mark in aid of contributing to the growth of artificial intelligence and natural language processing with his innovations and creation of developing apps at the 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. 
Erasmus is the co-owner of Ampersand creating customised digital solutions for global companies. Erasmus has made strides in technology, engaging in initiatives like the B-Wise Youth Health Access digital platform and the Innovation Bridge Portal. His work spans local government and departments of basic education and science, using digital solutions to tackle crucial administrative and health issues.
Among others, Erasmus has various achievements such as being honoured with Destiny Man magazine’s Power of 40 award, which celebrates young innovators and trailblazers in South Africa; and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s Top 40 Under 40 award, which recognises young business leaders and achievers in Nelson Mandela. He refers to his current project that is part of extensive research is my extensive research, design and development work on the eReady ICT Readiness Assessment Tool project as an integral component of my ongoing PhD studies. 
This initiative, commissioned by the South African departments of basic education and science and innovation, in association with the Technology Innovation Agency, aims to address the significant disparities in ICT levels among South African schools. 
The mandate is set to deploy in over 5,000 schools nationwide, aiming to promote fair educational opportunities across diverse socioeconomic communities. It offers policymakers and educators a strong method to introduce effective technology-integrated learning experiences throughout South Africa. This initiative's innovative approach has attracted attention internationally, with other African countries seeing its potential to enhance technology-driven educational programs in their own countries. 
Erasmus reflects on and acknowledges those who have helped and are still helping him on his journey. His PhD supervisor, Professor Darelle van Greunen, who has been instrumental in shaping his views on technology design, particularly in understanding how ICT can be harnessed to address fundamental social issues in South Africa. 
As the Director of the Centre for Community Technologies (CCT) at Nelson Mandela University, her guidance has deeply influenced his approach to designing technologies that foster genuine and sustainable change. And he has also learned that that effective and sustainable implementation hinges on sensitivity to the social environment in which it operates. Often, a simple and elegant solution that directly addresses grassroots needs proves more effective than the most technologically advanced artefact. 

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 

Category: Legal Services

Ziyanda Sibeko: A Legal Luminary in Dispute Resolution at Webber Wentzel
Ziyanda Sibeko, a dynamic 30-year-old partner in the dispute resolution department at Webber Wentzel, stands out in the legal profession for his extensive experience in general commercial litigation. He handles cases across a range of highly regulated industries, including mining, petroleum, gas, oil, medical schemes, insurance, financial services, construction, and public procurement. Ziyanda’s expertise also spans commercial arbitrations, environmental law, forensic investigations, public and administrative law, and general contract disputes. His litigation experience includes appearances in the High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court.
Ziyanda considers his promotion to partner at Webber Wentzel, South Africa’s premier law firm, as his most significant professional achievement. He takes immense pride in working alongside some of the country's most talented legal minds. Passionate about nurturing the next generation of lawyers, Ziyanda has trained approximately 20 candidate attorneys, many of whom have been retained as junior associates and others who have achieved notable success abroad.
His commitment to excellence, integrity, and compassion has been a guiding principle throughout his career. Frequently invited as a guest speaker at university law and career programs, Ziyanda actively promotes the transformation of the legal profession by collaborating with black female junior counsel on many of his cases.
Ziyanda is dedicated to giving back to his community. He offers pro bono services to various organizations, including the South African AIDS Council and its trust, as well as other non-profits. He also participates in outreach programs through his church. A community leader in Daveyton, Ziyanda addresses local issues and strives to make a positive impact on the residents’ lives.
Ziyanda holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from Nelson Mandela University. His master's dissertation focused on the development and application of the precautionary principle in South African environmental law, highlighting his deep engagement with environmental issues.
He attributes much of his success to his mentor, Mr. SJ Thema, a senior partner at Lawtons Africa. He met Mr Thema at a Black Lawyers Association conference while serving as a student leader of the BLA student chapter. With his guidance, Ziyanda secured articles of clerkship at Routledge Modise Attorneys, which later became Hogan Lovells (South Africa).
Ziyanda has written and published numerous articles on commercial disputes and environmental law, further contributing to the body of legal knowledge and showcasing his expertise in these fields.

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 

Category: Civil Society

Simamkele Siyamvuyela Gcaza: Empowering Communities and Youth
At 24, Simamkele Siyamvuyela Gcaza balances her role as an office administrator at Iincinga Investments with her passion for community development as the founder and director of the Future Foundation. This NGO was inspired by her work at the Rising Sun Foundation in Gqeberha and her involvement with the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, where she discovered her purpose in community service.
Simamkele markets the foundation’s key objectives, collaborates with board members, and oversees budgets, resources, and procedures to ensure sustainability. Despite funding challenges, her determination and networking efforts have kept the foundation thriving. She believes in the potential of young people to drive economic growth, create jobs, and address issues like unemployment and poverty.
Simamkele holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Psychology and Public Administration from Nelson Mandela University. This education has equipped her with the skills to navigate the complexities of running an NGO.
Starting the Future Foundation from scratch is her proudest achievement. She has learned the importance of perseverance and building a dedicated team. Funding has been a significant challenge, but her ability to network and secure financial support has been crucial.
Lumka Cube, her mentor, introduced her to the NGO sector by electing her as chairperson of the Rising Sun Foundation. This experience motivated Simamkele to start her own NGO and make a difference in her community.
Simamkele is excited about the future and the contributions of young people. Through the Future Foundation, she continues to inspire and uplift her community, demonstrating that passion and perseverance can create lasting change.

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 

Category: Technology & Innovation
Pioneering HIV Treatment: Sinazo Nqeketo's Groundbreaking Work at Nelson Mandela University
In the world of technological advancements and innovative breakthroughs, Sinazo Nqeketo shines as a beacon of hope and progress. At just 27, this postdoctoral research fellow at Nelson Mandela University is not only making waves in the scientific community but also significantly impacting global health, particularly in the fight against HIV.
Sinazo’s journey began at Nelson Mandela University, where she earned her PhD in Chemistry in 2023. Her academic pursuits have always been fuelled by a deep-seated passion for finding sustainable and effective solutions to some of the world's most pressing health challenges. This dedication has led her to focus on developing ground-breaking drugs aimed at combating HIV, a virus that continues to affect millions worldwide.
One of Sinazo’s most notable achievements is the development of a sustainable method to manufacture Dolutegravir. Recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a first-line treatment for initiating antiretroviral therapy globally, Dolutegravir represents a significant advancement in HIV treatment. Sinazo’s innovative methodology potentially enables this crucial drug to be produced efficiently, in high yield, and cost-effectively, marking a monumental step towards the local manufacturing of AIDS drugs in South Africa.
Adding to her impressive portfolio, Sinazo has also developed a method for manufacturing Cabotegravir, the first HIV prevention injection approved in South Africa in December 2022. This ground-breaking work was presented at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada, where over 12,000 attendees witnessed the profound impact of her research on the global fight against HIV.
Central to Sinazo’s work is the use of continuous flow technology, a cutting-edge approach to chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing. This technology not only enhances the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of drug production but also aligns with the principles of green chemistry, making the process more environmentally friendly. Sinazo’s role at Nelson Mandela University involves devising methods to leverage this technology, positioning her research at the forefront of innovation in South Africa.
Sinazo’s work extends beyond scientific achievement; it is a pivotal contribution to the African Union’s ambitious goal of manufacturing 60% of its own vaccines by 2040. By pioneering local production methods for essential drugs, she is playing a crucial role in strengthening the continent’s pharmaceutical industry and ensuring sustainable access to life-saving medications.
Throughout her journey, Sinazo has drawn inspiration from various mentors and role models. Among them, the late Professor Bongani Mayosi stands out as a significant influence. Although she never met him personally, his dedication to providing affordable healthcare solutions for Africans deeply resonated with her mission. His legacy continues to inspire Sinazo as she strives to make impactful contributions to both the academic world and public health.
As Sinazo looks to the future, she is excited about the potential job and skills opportunities that flow chemistry and her research can offer in South Africa. Her work exemplifies the intersection of technology, innovation, and social impact, demonstrating that scientific advancements can drive meaningful change in society.
Sinazo Nqeketo is a visionary scientist whose work not only advances the field of chemistry but also embodies the spirit of innovation and resilience. Her contributions are paving the way for a healthier, more self-reliant Africa, and her story is a powerful example of the transformative power of dedication and ingenuity in the face of global challenges.

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Finding Her Voice: Lynn Rudolph's Journey as a Classical Violist
Since the age of four, Lynn Daphne Rudolph has been immersed in the world of classical music, dedicating years to perfecting her craft and finding her unique voice. With a Master’s degree in Performing Arts from Nelson Mandela University, Rudolph has utilized sound as a form of protest, transforming the injustices of colonialism and apartheid into a means of healing. Her debut solo project, Homegrown Immigrant, showcases her artistic vision and dedication to pushing the boundaries of traditional classical music.
Homegrown Immigrant is a deeply personal and introspective journey through sound, reflecting Rudolph’s experiences and emotions as a queer, coloured South African woman. Defying the constraints of conventional classical music, Rudolph oversees every aspect of production, from music direction to marketing, embodying her artistic values in every detail.
Driven by a desire to break away from her Eurocentric training, Rudolph champions improvisation and softness as powerful tools for resistance and healing. Her collaboration with composer Neo Muyanga at the Centre for the Less Good Idea has significantly influenced her artistic vision and musical approach.
In 2022, Rudolph is set to undertake a residency at the Festival d'Aix en Provence and will serve as the principal violist for the Mzansi Philharmonic Orchestra during its Carnegie Hall debut in New York. These upcoming performances highlight her artistic growth and commitment to sharing her unique voice with the world.
Rudolph advises young musicians to focus on gradual, steady growth rather than rushing to present a "finished" project or comparing themselves to others. She believes that true growth stems from staying true to one’s artistic vision and developing a personal voice.
Lynn Daphne Rudolph is a classically trained violist from Nelson Mandela University, holding a Master’s degree in Performing Arts. She is renowned for her debut solo project, Homegrown Immigrant, which delves into her personal relationship with sound and narrates her story as a queer, coloured South African woman.

Meet our Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 

Category: Education

Curwyn Mapaling -  Transformative Educator and Clinical Psychologist
Curwyn Mapaling, 31, is a senior lecturer and clinical psychologist at the University of Johannesburg. He integrates psychological principles into higher education to promote well-being in the Global South. Holding a Bachelor of Psychology (Counselling) and PhD in Philosophy (Education) where his work emphasizes creating transformative and humanizing educational experiences that prioritize mental health and holistic development.
Curwyn has been recognized for his significant contributions to education and psychology. He has received accolades such as the 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.
In 2023, he was awarded the Nelson Mandela University Alumni Rising Star Award. Completing his PhD was a notable milestone, reflecting his personal journey of resilience amidst numerous challenges.
Curwyn attributes much of his success to his exceptional mentors, who have guided him with wisdom and encouragement. Their influence has shaped his identity as a scholar and lecturer, pushing him to pursue excellence and innovation. Inspired by their example, Curwyn is committed to paying it forward by mentoring others, aiming to create a ripple effect of positive change in his field and community.
He is dedicated to advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and Goal 4 (Quality Education). Through his interdisciplinary collaborations, he strives to inform policies and practices that foster resilience, adaptability, and lifelong learning.
Curwyn Mapaling's journey illustrates how incorporating psychological principles into education enhances resilience and well-being for students and communities in the Global South.

Celebrating Nelson Mandela University Alumni at the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans Awards
Seven Nelson Mandela Alumni were celebrated seven by the annual Mail & Guardian as 200 Young South Africans Awards. The Mail & Guardian, in its 19th year recognises our future leader who are having a positive effect on society. 
We are proud to celebrate:
Lynn Rudolph – Category: Arts & Entertainment
Simamkele Siyamvuyela Gcaza – Category: Civil Society
Curwyn Mapaling – Category: Education 
Ziyanda Sibeko – Category: Legal Services 
Celine Meyers – Category: Technology & Innovation 
Reino Erasmus - Category: Technology & Innovation, and 
Sinazo Nqeketo - Category: Technology & Innovation
A warm congratulations to all our Nelson Mandela University Alumni, changing the world and making a difference wherever you find yourself. 
The youth are South Africa’s key to reaching greatness, and for almost two decades, the Mail and Guardian have continuously recognised the impact the South African Youth make every day with our 200 young South Africans initiative. These young people are actively shaping South Africa and play a pivotal role in building its future.
Post Source: The Mail & Guardian 

Mandela University honours alumni making waves locally and internationally
Nelson Mandela University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sibongile Muthwa, with the alumni award recipients at the Boardwalk Convention Centre last night. [Back L – R] Janita Stroebel, Jeannie Serfontein, Professor Lungile Ntsalaze, Stylianos “Styli” Charalambous, Renskie “Jeanie” Steyn, Judge Avinash Govindjee, Alumni Association president Siphile Hlwathika, Senior Director: Strategic Resource Mobilisation and Advancement Dr Denver Webb, [Front L – R] Caitlin Adair, Tulani Nkuntse, Michelle Phillips, Njiramanda Mbewe-Boatey and Professor Daniel “Danie” Hattingh.
Nelson Mandela University honoured twelve of its alumni who, in their respective professional capacities, are doing their bit to change the world – as the institutional tagline charges –last night (10 June 2024) at the Boardwalk Convention Centre.
Director of Nelson Mandela University’s innovation engagement entity, eNtsa, Professor Daniel “Danie” Hattingh received a Special Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution in the field of engineering.
Esteemed legal academic and Eastern Cape Judge Avinash Govindjee; Daily Maverick co-founder Stylianos “Styli” Charalambous; former Executive Dean of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Lungile Ntsalaze; and Transnet Group Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Phillips, were recognised in the Achiever Award category.
The Rising Star Award category lauded Regional Director at Turner & Townsend Cape Town, Caitlin Adair; Global Business Analyst, Dundrè Maritz; Women in Law 2024 award winner, Njiramanda Mbewe-Boatey; Director of Student Affairs at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Tulani Nkutse; Solutions Engineering Manager at Jendamark Automation, Jeannie Serfontein; Captain of the SA Fast 5 team, Renskie Steyn; and BTKM Quantity Surveyors EC director, Janita Stroebel.
As the University honoured the Alumni Award recipients, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa highlighted the significance of the fields in which the awardees work and have made a tremendous contribution.
“The importance of the media and freedom of expression; the judiciary’s important role as an independent arm of constitutional democracy; the role of state-owned enterprises in stimulating a growing and thriving economy; and the role of academia in shaping the leaders of tomorrow and helping to solve problems facing society today,” said Prof Muthwa.
“The challenges facing our country and our continent, and indeed the planet, require all, including alumni, to play an active role in creating a more socially just and prosperous society.”
Director of Alumni Relations, Paul Geswindt, said: “We celebrate all our Nelson Mandela University alumni, who are spread across the world, for having gone on to make a difference in the world, in the service of society. We are privileged to have been able to recognise more than 120 of them as award recipients over the past 14 years, consecutively.”
Prof Hattingh, who is also a founding member of eNtsa, has shaped eNtsa into a beacon of technological innovation and excellence, earning respect both locally and internationally. His visionary leadership has propelled eNtsa to global acclaim as a hub of technological innovation, also expanding its impact in sectors such as automotive engineering, while maintaining its premier status as a technology innovation station funded by Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).
Prof Hattingh’s pioneering work in friction processing research, notably in friction stir welding (FSW), has earned international recognition and substantial industry funding. His commitment to teaching and curriculum development has enriched engineering education, and his research contributions have pushed boundaries in structural integrity and reliability.
Judge Govindjee was celebrated for his profound impact on both legal education and societal progress. Having served as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at Nelson Mandela University prior to his selection to the Bench, he adeptly steered the Faculty through the complexities of the #FeesMustFall movement, reshaping its operations to ensure continued excellence in legal education. His commitment to leveraging the power of law for positive change extends beyond academia, earning him recognition as a leading researcher and membership in prestigious institutions like the South African Young Academy of Science.
A prominent figure in the modern media landscape, Charalambous was recognised for his visionary leadership, unwavering dedication to journalistic principles, and pioneering efforts in an era of media disruption. As the co-founder and guiding force behind the Daily Maverick, he has steered the publication through South Africa's dynamic political landscape while transforming it into a global powerhouse, reaching millions of readers monthly.
Prof Ntsalaze stands as an exemplary leader in academia and the accounting profession. Recognised for his groundbreaking achievements, including being the first black South African chartered accountant in academia to hold a PhD and a finalist in the SAICA Top 35 under 35, his leadership sets precedents for excellence in the accounting profession. Beyond his professional achievements, Professor Ntsalaze is dedicated to community service, supporting youth from rural areas and leading initiatives such as “Project Phaphamani” to improve livelihoods.
A seasoned leader with over two decades of comprehensive experience in port operations, Phillips ascended as CEO of Transnet, marking a pivotal moment in the organization's trajectory. From her origins as a forensic investigator to her strategic roles within Transnet, she epitomises expertise in container operations and technological advancement. Throughout her tenure, Phillips has held pivotal managerial positions, contributing significantly to the National Ports Authority, Transnet Port Terminals and the Durban container terminal. 

Celebrating our first father and son Alumni Achiever Award recipients
A special moment for our University and the Govindjee family when father and son shared the stage as Nelson Mandela University Alumni Achievers! Alumnus Judge Avinash Govindjee, former Executive Dean of the Law faculty at Nelson Mandela University, was recognised with an Alumni Achiever Award at the recent Mandela University Alumni Award ceremony. 
In 2016 his father Devdas Govindjee (BAHons) was recognised as an Alumni Achiever for his role as an International Cricket Council match referee having officiated at cricket matches in Africa, America, Asia, Europe, West Indies and the United Arab Emirates. He also worked at both the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Caribean Premier League (CPL). 
Devdas could not attend the Award ceremony in 2016, as he was out of country at the time, but we could invite him to join his son on stage at the 2024 Mandela University Alumni Awards ceremony to celebrate this historical moment. 
Congratulations Mr Devdas Govindjee and Judge Avinash Govindjee! A special moment indeed! In the picture Alumni Association President Siphile Hlwatika, Judge Govindjee and his father Mr Devdas Govindjee and VC Prof Sibongile Muthwa.


The Nelson Mandela Choir celebrates 30 years


The Nelson Mandela University Choir recently performed at the University's Alumni Awards ceremony. Choir director Robert Gillmer has chosen three pieces to showcase the vibrant talent of this ever-growing band of young choristers Baba Yetu, composed by Christopher Tin; Horizons, composed by Péter Louis van Dijk and Mangisondele Nkosi Yam (traditional). 
It also reflects a new era of making music honouring the spirit of our iconic namesake, the late Nelson Mandela. This performance was even more special because the choir was established in 1994 as the University of Port Elizabeth Choir under founder conductor Junita van Dijk. Since then this institutional choir of students and alumni has sung its unique blend of western classics and traditional African melodies all over South Africa and abroad. 


Congratulations to the Nelson Mandela University Choir for an excellent performance and on its 30th anniversary! #MandelaUni #MandelaUniChoir #diversity #excellence #ubuntu #MandelaAlumni