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5 July 2018
Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans: Eight UWC Alumni Make The List

(Published - 5 July 2018)

Universities aren’t just places where long-established researchers and academics gather to debate complicated questions and do research into matters far beyond the rest of us. They’re also places where the next generation of leaders learns what they need to make their mark on the world.

The Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list celebrates these world-changing young leaders, wherever they may be - in every field, from television to human rights law to protein-folding research. And this year, no fewer than 8 of the names on that list are products of the University of the Western Cape.

Those amazing students and alumni include:

Lwazi Mtshiyo, Class Of 2008: Youth Will Lead South Africa To Greater Things
Senior political organiser, Ndifuna Ukwazi

Human rights lawyer, researcher and community activist Lwazi Mtshiyo hails from the small village of Corana near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.  Mtshiyo has been active in South Africa’s social justice scene. While he worked for the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, Mtshiyo was involved in several key constitutional cases, including the Dladla case on the right to housing for the evicted. In the Marikana case, Mtshiyo was also one of the legal representatives for the families of the victims of the massacre in civil claims against the state. Today, Mtshiyo is a senior political organiser for Cape Town-based land and housing rights organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi.  And with the recent debates around land expropriation going around, Mtshiyo has his hands full.

Learn more about Lwazi Mtshiyo:

Sentebale Makara, Class Of 2009: The Law Is For Everyone
Senior associate, Dispute Resolution, Webber Wentzel

Sentebale Makara is an impressive young lawyer with a sterling reputation and career. Since graduating with an LLB from the University of the Western Cape (using a diploma in Criminal Law and Justice he earned to compensate for his poor high school subjects) and starting his career at Webber Wentzel, he has advocated landmark cases that have developed South Africa’s jurisprudence for the better. Working tirelessly with nonprofit organisations to promote the democratisation of law in South Africa and fighting internationally for human rights, Makara has also mentored young people at Webber Wentzel and the greater community, and lectures at Wits University. His goals for the future include earning his seat as a partner and ranked lawyer and effecting change across the country.

Learn more about Senetabale Makara:

Reginald Witbooi, Class Of  2009: “Everyone Has A Voice”
Reporter, SABC

When Reginald Witbooi isn’t examining rivers to report on pollution he might be in the Karoo covering the progress of the world-leading SKA (Square Kilometre Array) radio telescope. Witbooi comes from a modest background in George in the Western Cape; his mother was a domestic worker and his father was a cleaner at a high school. He was the only one in his family to go to university. He holds a BA in Communications from the University of the Western Cape. Today, Witbooi is a radio and TV journalist for the SABC, and has won several awards for his reporting. In his spare time, Witbooi does voluntary work for Caritas, a non-governmental organisation that helps abused women and children. “I write stories because I believe everyone has a voice — but we as journalists need to boost those voices,” he says.

Learn more about Reginald Witbooi:

Simphiwe Madlanga, Class of 2010: “People Are Your Success”
Science communicator

Serial student and proponent of continuous learning, Simphiwe Madlanga believes a great education not only trains the mind but helps people make informed decisions. With a BSc(Hons) in Applied Geology and Environmental and Water Sciences from UWC among his many degrees, Madlanga is passionate about outreach, and works with schools, youth and educator workshops for teachers needing support with natural science. Madlanga believes strongly in demystifying the complexities of science, particularly radio astronomy, and provides motivational insights and career guidance to aspiring young scientists. “I remind myself often that ‘people are your success’, and I aspire to live that through my endeavours to help as many people as I can,” says Madlanga.

Learn more about Simphiwe Madlanga

Dr Lusisizwe Kwezi, Class Of  2010: Trial, Error and Tenacity
Senior research scientist, CSIR

As a youngster, Lusisizwe Kwezi was a reclusive child, and that gave him the chance to be inventive and imaginative - and to read a lot of books. While studying biotechnology at UWC, Kwezi had his outstanding honours project upgraded to a PhD without him having to do a master’s degree. At the CSIR, he is involved in making proteins for human health with the aim of developing local manufacturing processes so that they are made more cheaply. He is also involved in work that is exploring using South Africa’s biodiversity to develop products that can be commercialised for human health and biotechnology.  He is excited at how brilliant South Africans are, and the tenacity they exhibit — not just in science, but across many industries.

Learn more about Lusisizwe Kwezi:  

Nkcubeko Mbambisa Director, Class Of 2010: “Giving it my all comes easily)
Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc.

At only 30-years-old, and with an LLB degree from UWC under his belt, Nkcubeko Mbambisa is one of the youngest black Africans to hold the position of director of one of the top law firms Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. His role as director means he is concerned with the continued success and sustenance of the business as a whole: becoming more involved in management decisions, procuring and securing workflow so that the business continues to generate profit. This is in addition to his role as a lawyer, which involves the day-to-day management of client relations and producing quality work. Coming from the Eastern Cape and having a rural upbringing and education, his hard work and dedication have set him apart in the legal field in a very short space of time. He enjoys what he does, and “giving it my all comes easily”.

Learn more about Nkcubeko Mbambisa:

Keaton Harris, Class Of 2016: Overcoming Struggles With Respect And Integrity
MBChB student, Stellenbosch University

For Keaton Harris, life has been a journey fraught with challenges. His mother, a single parent, struggled to make ends meet. When he wasn’t accepted to study medicine, he was devastated. Instead, Harris studied pharmacy at UWC, and earned an incredible 24 distinctions. He was awarded an Abe Bailey Travel Scholarship which saw him representing UWC on an all expenses paid trip to the United Kingdom in 2015 where he interacted with other young leaders from around the world. And when he graduated — summa cum laude — he was named valedictorian, Top Pharmaceutics Student and Top All Rounder. He was also able to pursue his dream: Harris is currently studying medicine at Stellenbosch University, and is one of 21 bright young minds - and the only South Africa - who has been chosen for the Young Sustainable Impact 2018 intake

Learn more about Keaton Harris:

Sagwadi Mabunda, Class of 2015 (and Now): A Journey Anchored In Curiosity
PhD candidate, University of the Western Cape

Sagwadi Mabunda’s life journey has been anchored in curoristy.  A 25-year-old third year PhD candidate at UWC with a master’s in International Criminal Justice (from UWC, at that), she’s currently working hard to build a career around the prevention of cybercrime, and is focusing her efforts on the South African Cybercrimes Bill. She’s published in the Oxford Journal Statute Law Review in 2017, presented and published a paper at the IST-Africa Conference in Namibia, and has another icABCD conference coming up in August 2018. Her goal is to provide African governments with advice and support around effective legislation and policies around cybercrime, starting with cyber money laundering.

Learn more about Sagwadi Mabunda:

Want to know more about the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans 2018? Think you know someone who may be perfect for next year’s list? Find out more here.