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6 September 2019
UWC August Graduation 2019: Students To Secure The Soul Of South Africa

(Published - 6 September 2019)

“No one can dispute that as a country we are in trouble. The world seems to be in a state of flux and the global economy is in turmoil. It is into this cynical and tired world that you will be stepping, and I am urging you today, to do more than what my generation has done.”

That was the message delivered by Professor Tyrone Pretorius, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, speaking at UWC’s August Graduation 2019 to a Main Hall packed with graduands, along with their family, friends and loved ones.

Over two ceremonies, UWC honoured almost 500 graduates, awarding 45 Doctorates, 95 Master’s degrees, 48 Honours and 206 undergraduate degrees, as well as 70 diplomas and 5 certificates.

Prof Pretorius took the opportunity to congratulate the soon-to-be-graduates for their hard work and achievement - and to urge them to complete the hard work of building a better society.

“We thought that the end of apartheid signalled the end of doing, of being present and engaged. With the arrival of democracy, we idealistically believed that justice, integrity and moral purpose would be the order of the day. How wrong we were.”

Listing the issues that had come to plague South Africa - issues of unemployment, corruption and wastefulness, of arrogance and selfishness and gender-based violence - Prof Pretorius expressed his hopes for the future.

“So today, I want to urge you graduands to do better than us. Believe that each generation owes a debt to the ones who will follow them and fight to secure the soul of South Africa. Be active and present citizens who will not turn a blind eye to our societal ills - be it gender-based violence or kleptocracy.”

“This will require much of you,” he said. “But I am confident that, as graduates of UWC, you have the perseverance and resilience to give it your best.”

Azania Tyhali, President of UWC’s Student Representative Council for 2018/2019, echoed that call to action.

“Mine is to congratulate you, but also to remind you of what your education means to you; what it means to our continent, and to our country,” she said. “The spirit of Ubuntu teaches us that it takes a village to raise a child, and to educate a child. UWC is that village that has educated many of you - and I pray that you will become graduates who will contribute to the development of this continent, and of humanity.”

UWC August Graduation 2019: Celebrating Student Success

This graduation was extra special for Prof Pretorius, as he celebrated his own daughter’s graduation as well - as did Institutional Planner Larry Pokpas, and previous Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Brian O’Connell. All three men are UWC alumni themselves.

“This is one of my favourite times of the academic year,” Prof Pretorius noted. “As I look across the hall I understand, all over again, the power of education. How can I not, when I see the pride, joy and excitement on your faces on a journey that has ended in success? We are very proud of your achievements and know that you will be noteworthy ambassadors of UWC.”

Some of these noteworthy UWC ambassadors include:


Claim To Fame

Valmont Layne

As a boy, Valmont Layne and his friends played cowboys in deserted buildings in District Six, making their own music. Now the former District Six Museum Director has earned a PhD for his work exploring the history of Goema music in Cape Town.

Zaib Toyer

The 2016 Rio Olympics were a special time. Wayde van Niekerk broke a world record, the hashtag #ColouredExcellence started trending, and UWC Master’s researcher Zaib Toyer was inspired to complete a thesis examining representations of coloured identity.

Patience Emefa Dzandza

As a young lady raising a family with two children, Patience Emefa Dzandza had to combine her PhD work in Library and Information Science at the University of the Western Cape with family life and work at the University of Ghana. But it was all worth it.

Laetitia Carmen Piers

“Nothing worth having is easy - so never let your circumstances determine your future.” That motto guided Laetitia Carmen Piers while she pursued her two passions - studying ecology and nature conservation, and building a successful small business.

Siyabulela Hamnca

With his thesis tackling nanochemical diagnostic devices to detect antibiotics in water bodies, Siyabulela Hamnca has become the first PhD graduate from Nduli, Ceres. He’s also an avid footballer – and he hopes to inspire youth with both his passions.

Marcel Gerber

Working in the financial services industry while studying towards a Master of Laws degree was a rewarding experience for candidate attorney Marcel Gerber - and it helped him develop a deeper understanding of the intricacies of Mercantile and Labour Law.

Jodene Foster

Growing up in Kraaifontein, Jodene Foster had few scientific role models to follow, so she became one instead. She has just earned her MSc cum laude from UWC for groundbreaking research on bacteria in Steinkopf in the Northern Cape.

Know of any more UWC graduates who are making a difference in the world? Well, sharing is caring - so just let us know at!