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Alumni in the spotlight May 2024

- Wits Alumni Relations

Catch up on Witsie awards, appointments and newsmakers from the past month.


The eight major South African universities each choose their best master’s architectural student to take part in the Corobrik Student Architecture Awards which took place on 16 May 2023. Sabela Rey Vila (BAS Hons 2023) was top student to represent Wits. 

Fourth year engineering student Harry Saner secured South Africa’s first Olympic Games slot in fencing since 2008. 

Taryn AdamsTaryn Adams (BSc 2020, BSc Hons 2021, MA 2023) is Gates Cambridge Scholar elect and will be starting her 2024 MPhil Bioscience Enterprise at Wolfson College. 

Johannesburg-based visual artist and Wits master’s student Lebohang Kganye received the prestigious 2024 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize at The Photographers’ Gallery in London on 16 May 2024. The prize is considered the Turner Prize of the photography world and rewards artists who have made the most significant contribution to international contemporary photography over the past 12 months. 

Professor Peter Sarnak (BSc 1974, BSc Hons 1975, DSc honoris causa 2014) has received the 2024 Shaw Prize for Mathematical Sciences for his development of “the arithmetic theory of thin groups and the affine sieve, by bringing together number theory, analysis, combinatorics, dynamics, geometry and spectral theory”.


Judge David Unterhalter (LLB 1984) has been promoted to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) by the Judicial Service Commission.Judge David Unterhalter (LLB 1984) has been promoted to the Supreme Court of Appeal by the Judicial Service Commission. Regarded as one of South Africa’s leading silks, he has appeared in high-profile cases which have landed up in the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court. 

The University of Cape Town announced that Professor Mosa Moshabela (PhD 2012) will be the institution’s 11th Vice Chancellor. As an esteemed academic and clinician scientist, he is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and will formally take up the position on 1 October 2024.

Angela Simpson (BCom 1995, LLB 1998) has been appointed as partner at law firm Bowmans. She was partner and co-head of M&A at Webber Wentzel, and has 25 years’ experience in both public and private M&A transactions, including private equity and venture capital.

Mahlodi Tau (PDM 2015) has been appointed as chief director: biodiversity information and policy advice at SANBI. He has worked with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the USAI. He has been the director of biodiversity mainstreaming at SANBI for more than six years and has overseen projects focused on advancing the social-ecological understanding of biodiversity conservation and investing in ecological infrastructure.

Keabetswe Mogaladi (MBA 2021) has been appointed chief operating officer at Mantengu. He has more than 13 years’ experience in the industry and has a proven track record in various roles in the mining sector across different commodities. His interests are in business, mining and metallurgy, corporate finance, and strategy.


Chairperson and member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Fasiha Hassan (BCom 2015, LLB 2018) was profiled in the Guardian ahead of the elections. Hassan said she was impatient about the obstacles to more equal representation in South African politics. 

Educational entrepreneur Taddy Blecher (BSc 1989, BSc Hons 1994) offered an opinion on BHP’s takeover of Anglo American and what it could mean for South Africa. 

Tazneem RazakTazneem Razak (BAS 1997, BArch PG 1999) contributed to the “Letters from Tomorrow” series in the Daily Maverick, which looked back to 27 April 1994 and reflected on what lies ahead. 

'threads' the architectural installation by Kate Otten (BArch 1987) Architects that won the 2023 Gauteng Institute for Architects’ Award of excellence and the 2023 Gauteng Institute for Architects’ People’s Choice Award, was on display at the RMB Latitudes Art Fair. It tells a visual story of Johannesburg, the city where our work as architects takes place.  It is a story about how gold came to be here, the mining thereof and the outcomes of this process, narrated by women through different weavings and readings that describe this long history. 

Associate professor in the Department of Media Studies at Wits, Glenda Daniels (BA 1989, BA Hons 1990, MA 2006, PhD 2011), wrote an opinion piece in the Daily Maverick about South Africa’s position in the World Press Freedom Index. The country was positioned 38 out of 180 countries, dropping 13 points to number three in Africa behind Namibia and Mauritania.

CEO of FNB Points of Presence Zibu Nonhlanhla Nqala (MM 2021) chatted to Financial Mail

Xolela Mangcu (BA 1987, MUD 1988), professor of sociology and history at George Washington University, wrote about a leadership “that is not only well educated but also informed about the world of ideas”.