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Witsies in the news


Appointments, awards, achievements and articles, February 2018

Health Sciences

Professor Heather Zar (MBBCh 1985) is the 2018 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Laureate for Africa and the Arab States. The accolade is given annually to five exceptional women researchers worldwide to promote equality between women and men in science. Prof Zar, who is chair of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Cape Town, was honoured for her work in child health, specifically pneumonia, tuberculosis and asthma.

Dr Pradeep Kumar (PhD 2017, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology) and Dr Sumaya Mall (School of Public Health) were both awarded the prestigious Claude Leon Foundation Merit Award for 2018.  

Endocrinologist Dr Sundeep Ruder (MBBCh 2002) explains the rise in diabetes for The Conversation.

Prof Karen Hofman (MBBCh 1978) talks about the tax on sugary drinks.

Prof Peter Cooper (PhD 1999) follows the story of community health pioneer Dr Trudy Thomas (MBBCh 1958) in The Conversation


SciBraai wrote about the work of radio astronomer Dr Bernie Fanaroff (BSc 1968, BSc Hons 1970).

Dr Julien Benoit explains in The Conversation why Africa’s fossil heritage deserves our attention.

Prof Marissa Rollnick (BSc 1972, PDE 1972, PhD 1988) has received the 2018 NARST Distinguished Contribution to Science Education through Research Award.  

Engineering & Built Environment

Clement Mokoenene (BSc Eng 2001, GDE 2005) was the winner of the South African round of the international Chivas Venture competition for entrepreneurs. He has an internationally patented vehicle energy harvesting system which combines cheaper renewable energy with community empowerment.

Savage + Dodd Architects was an award finalist at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin (November 2017) for work on the Sol Plaatje University C002 Building. Heather Dodd (BArch 1992) is a partner in the practice. 

Business, economy and law

Mary Vilakazi (BCom 1999, CTA 2000) has been appointed group chief operating officer of FirstRand Group, effective 1 July 2018.

Anastasia Dobson-du Toit (BPharm 2004, MBA 2012) and Michelle Dateling (MBA 2012), owners of AnaStellar Brands, were featured in Entrepreneur magazine.

Nomatemba “Tembi” Tambo (LLB 2003) is the new South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. She is the eldest daughter of Adelaide and Oliver Tambo and was previously the SA Ambassador to Italy.

Benjamin McGraw (BCom 2016, BESci Hons 2017) won the postgraduate category of the annual Nedbank Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition. 


Dr Same Mdluli (MA 2010, PhD 2016) has been appointed manager of Standard Bank Gallery.

The Centre Pompidou in Paris is staging a retrospective exhibition of the work of photographer David Goldblatt (honorary DLitt 2008).

Usha Seejaram (MA FA 2008) won the Cape Town Art Fair’s Tomorrows/Today Prize.

Wits Choir conductor Dalene Hoogenhout talks about the choir’s 55th anniversary.

Witsies in the dramatic arts have been flourishing:

  • Thuso Mbedu (BADA 2014) was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role as Winnie in Is’Thunzi

  • Atandwa Kani (BADA 2009) played the young T’Chaka in Black Panther

  • Ndiziphiwe Ncoyini (BADA 2018) aka Niza Jay played Kwanda in the film The Wound/Inxeba

  • Didintle Khunou (BADA 2016) played Celie in the musical The Color Purple

  • Bongile Lecoge-Zulu (BMus 2010, MA 2016) played Tshepo in the play Six Inches

  • Leseli Job (BADA 2008) directed When the Swallows Cry

  • Nondumiso Msimanga (BA Hons 2010, MA 2011) is the new artistic director of the Olive Tree Theatre in Alexandra


Welcome Lishivha (BA 2013, BA Hons 2014) revisited his student neighbourhood, Braamfontein, for Getaway magazine.

The work of Henk Rossouw (BA Hons 2005) is featured in a box set of African poetry.

Manosa Nthunya talks about Prof Achille Mbembe’s book Critique of Black Reason, published by Wits University Press, in The Conversation.