UCT shines on M&G’s list of trailblazers

01 July 2019 | Story Niémah Davids. Photo Michael Hammond. Read time 7 min.
Forty-one UCT staff, students and alumni have made it onto the M&G’s 200 Young South Africans list.
Forty-one UCT staff, students and alumni have made it onto the M&G’s 200 Young South Africans list.

The Mail & Guardian has announced its annual 200 Young South Africans list and the University of Cape Town (UCT) has once again featured prominently, thanks to the 41 members of staff, students and alumni named among the trailblazers and change-makers.

The list features notable South Africans under the age of 35 who have made their mark in several categories including education, health, arts and entertainment, politics and sport.

The following people represent UCT on the 2019 list:

Arts and entertainment

  1. Thesis ZA: The Collective. Ayanda Charlie (24) and Ondela Simakuhle (25) are a Xhosa songwriting and performing duo who have been making music together for seven years. Both hold degrees in media from UCT.
  2. Rorisang Motuba (32) has been working in the film and television industries for the past eight years. She now focuses her attention on telling South African stories locally and abroad. Motuba holds a bachelorʼs degree in drama, political science and film and media studies from UCT.
  3. Lesoko Seabe (33) is a voice-over artist and academic who’s aspiring to become an entertainment lawyer. She studied theatre performance at UCT.

Business and entrepreneurship

  1. Tebogo Mokwena (25), a software engineer and entrepreneur, was part of the team that built the first digital bank in Southeast Asia and he also co-founded a financial technology company, Akiba Digital. Mokwena completed a triple major in biochemistry, computer science and genetics at UCT and the University of California simultaneously.
  2. Bradwin Roper (34) is the chief executive of First National Bank in Lesotho. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from UCT.
  3. James Wilkinson (35) is the head of business optimisation at the Foschini Group. He holds a degree in business science from UCT.
  4. Maanda Tshifularo (33) is head of Dialdirect Insurance. He holds a chemical engineering degree from UCT.
  5. Amanda Potelwa (31) is the managing director of boutique consulting agency Pan-African Unleashed, which focuses primarily on agriculture, a sector she believes is critical to unlocking Africa’s full potential. She is a UCT Commerce graduate who began her career in Investec’s private banking division. She counts among her accolades a leadership fellowship at consulting firm McKinsey between 2014 and 2016.
  6. Lindelwa Skenjana (31) is the head of digital adoption for Old Mutual. She advocates for out-of-the-box thinking and believes that public schools in South Africa should have a direct link with private schools, especially for resource-sharing. Skenjana holds a BSocSci from UCT, majoring in organisational psychology and industrial sociology.
  7. Dr Cherise Dunn (31), co-founder of the Africa makes 3D Printing for Development Initiative, describes herself as a serial entrepreneur. She completed her PhD in medical biochemistry, specialising in cancer research, at UCT. This year, Dunn’s organisation is also part of the Venture-in-Residence programme, designed to provide a supportive ecosystem to help start-ups build viable and scalable innovation-driven companies for local community needs. It is run by the Solution Space at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).
  8. Tim Shier (34) is the founder and chief executive of start-up incubator Burning Bennu. He has spent the past 12 years launching businesses and non-governmental organisations across South Africa. Each venture focuses on a variety of themes that range from increasing social cohesion to saving farmers from sheep theft and predation. He holds a BSc in computer science and psychology from UCT.
  9. Nomalungelo Stofile (29) is an entrepreneur and founder of Bellascene Wines and Sunrise Gems. She is currently completing the Business of Wine short course at UCT’s GSB.
  10. Refilwe Mashale (31) is the group tax manager at multinational conglomerate Reunert Limited, which manages a portfolio of over 40 businesses. The UCT graduate also owns start-up business The Balloon Café, an express helium balloon delivery service, which employs four people.

Civil society

  1. Thato Lufuno Mahosi (26) is a development secretary at Masia Development Agency. He holds a BComm in management studies from UCT.
  2. Richard McLaverty (30) is the advocacy coordinator for the NGO Coordination Committee for Iraq. He holds an honours degree in political communication and Bachelor of Social Science in politics and sociology from UCT.
  3. Noxolo Ntaka (25) is project manager of the Democracy Works Academy at the Democracy Works Foundation. The UCT undergraduate, who also has two master’s degrees, is tasked with implementing and managing the academy, the work of which is centred on increasing youth participation in South Africa’s democracy.


  1. Rendani Mbuvha (28) is a lecturer in statistics and actuarial science at the University of the Witwatersrand. He’s an alumnus of UCT who made it onto the Deanʼs Merit List at the institution.
  2. Nondumiso Phenyane (28) is one of the youngest black law lecturers in Stellenbosch University’s law faculty. She holds a Bachelor of Social Science in international relations and organisational psychology and a postgraduate LLB from UCT.
  3. Mochelo Mackson Puleng Lefoka (30) is a lecturer in the Department of Construction Economics and Management at UCT. He holds a BSc (Hons) from the same institution.
  4. Jessica Blom (28) is the programme manager at the Centre for Early Childhood Development. She convenes a fourth-year class in UCT’s social development department.
  5. Carla Watson (30) is the programme officer for the Jakes Gerwel Fellowship at UCT.
  6. Jessica Breakey (26) is a sociologist working as an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand. The UCT undergraduate is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar and holds an MA in Sociology from Wits, and an MPhil from Cambridge University.
  7. Dr Lieketseng Ned (30) is a lecturer at the Centre for Rehabilitation Studies at Stellenbosch University. She earned her master’s in disability studies at UCT in 2013.
  8. Co-founders of the Femme Project Kim Windvogel (28), Loren Loubser (28) and Kelly Eve Koopman (29). The organisation uses interactive methods of running comprehensive gender, sexual and sexual reproductive health and rights education, along with consent motivating workshops with youth in communities throughout the Western Cape. Both Windvogel and Loubser hold degrees from UCT, in music and drama respectively.


  1. Londeka Mahlanza (26) is the environmental project coordinator for Anglo American. She holds a masterʼs degree from UCT.


  1. Dr Palesa Mabatho Monyake (34) is a paediatrician at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg. She obtained her first medical degree from UCT in 2008, going on to obtain a diploma in HIV disease and management, a Fellowship of the College of Paediatricians, and her master’s in medicine.
  2. Warren Lucas (29) is a sports scientist at the South African Medical Research Council. He is pursuing a PhD at UCT examining the impact of personalised exercise plans for patients in rehabilitation centres.
  3. Vera-Genevey Hlayisi (27) is an audiology lecturer and researcher at UCT. She qualified as an audiologist at UCT at age 20 before going on to teach.
  4. Qhayiya Mudau (nee Magaqa) (27) is a DPhil candidate at the University of Oxford. Throughout her undergraduate studies at UCT, Mudau was actively involved in improving access to health rehabilitation services in South Africa’s rural areas.
  5. Dr Itumeleng Ntatamala (31) is an occupational medicine registrar in the Western Cape Department of Health. He studied medicine at UCT and was later the Western Cape representative for the South African Registrars Association. He became the youngest member of the board of Groote Schuur Hospital.
  6. Diantha Pillay (32) is the programme manager at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute. She is reading towards her PhD in public health at UCT, looking at the intersections between environmental health and adolescent sexual development.
  7. Dr Kagisho Thomas (31) is a medical doctor at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. He completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at UCT in 2011.
  8. Thato Mabudusha (28), who along with a team at Life Healthcare helped develop a fully digital primary health-care clinic where patients can access treatment and medication for a total R250. After completing her undergraduate studies at UCT, Mabudusha is now working towards an MA at the Wits Business School.

Justice and law

  1. Livashnee Naidoo (34) is a lawyer in the shipping industry; and a lecturer in commercial, shipping and insurance law at UCT. She is also a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton.

Politics and government

  1. Michael Nassen Smith (30) is the deputy director at the Institute for African Alternatives and holds a masterʼs degree in politics, philosophy and economics from UCT, where he has also taught.
  2. Thando Mthimkulu (27) is a transport practitioner for the South African Cities Network. She is working on completing her master’s degree in transportation studies from UCT.

Science and technology

  1. Dr Sindisiwe Buthelezi (31) is a scientific researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and holds a masterʼs degree from UCT.


  1. Dr Sharief Hendricks (33) is a senior lecturer at UCT and holds a National Research Foundation (NRF) rating of C2.
  2. Mpumelelo Mhlongo (25) is a Paralympian athlete who has competed in the 100m, 200m and 300m long and high jump events. In June he set a new world record for long jump at the Grosseto Grand Prix in Italy. UCT named him Sportsperson of the Year in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Mhlongo is currently completing his PhD in chemical engineering at UCT.

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