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It’s a double celebration for husband and wife, Siyamthemba Ncanywa and Khwezikazi Maceba as they graduate together during tonight’s ceremony for the Faculty of Informatics and Design.

And what makes their story more incredible is that the occasion marks the second time the couple are graduating together during the same ceremony.

In 2022 Siyamthemba was awarded an Advanced Diploma in Information Communication Technology in Multimedia Application while Khwezikazi was awarded a BTech in Information and Technology Management from CPUT.

Tonight they will both be awarded a postgraduate diploma in Information and Communication Technology.

“It is a wonderful feeling to graduate together because we push each other to succeed in whatever we do. This is another milestone and we will see you again on our master’s graduation,” said Khwezikazi.
They both hail from the Eastern Cape, Khwezikazi is from Engcobo and Siymthemba from Middledrift (Xesi).

“I come from a rural area where schools didn't have computers, but I was always fascinated when I saw actors hacking systems in movies,” quipped Siyamthemba.

Khwezikazi said her interest in IT started in high school.

“In high school I used to spend my lunches in a computer lab. My Computer Application Technology teacher used to see and would talk to me about IT and I was clueless as I wasn't exposed to anyone with an IT degree. I started doing my own research about IT. I fell in love with IT.”

She said their daughter was six months old when the couple graduated in 2022. “This year we are graduating again and we had our second-born on the 29th of February.”

Siyamthemba works for the City of Cape Town as a Problem Management Technical Lead while Khwezikazi works for Pepkor Payments and Lending as an IT Quality Test Analyst.

Coming from a family which is deeply ingrained in the values of unity, shared experiences, and collective resilience has shaped the academic success and personal growth of Melody Mukandi, a recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prestigious Achievers Award , who graduated with her Doctor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering this afternoon.

The elated Zimbabwean-born graduate said: “Every family harbours a unique essence that propels its members through life’s daily demands. For me, it was a maternal figure, having endured the loss of her mother at a tender age, my mother took it upon herself to display unwavering support to her children without restrictions, instilling in me an intrinsic drive, free from the need for external validation, and nurtured by unwavering support.”

Mukandi enrolled for a Diploma in Biotechnology in CPUT in 2011. Graduating in 2014, she furthered her studies with a BTech in Biomedical Technology, followed by a Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering, passing both cum laude. She embarked on a Doctor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering, publishing several manuscripts in Q1/Q2 scientific journals. Her journey to where she is today required resilience against financial and social challenges, coupled with “unwavering support from my supervisors, Prof Karabo Ntwampe and Prof Mushe Basitere, as well as from my family and friends”.

“My mother serves as my primary inspiration and role model, always prioritising my well-being and having my interests at heart, hence, her contributions are loudly noticeable.” She also acknowledges that her journey has been a roller coaster ride. “Covid-19 posed significant challenges, delaying my project due to equipment delivery issues. Financial and social struggles also threatened my academic journey at times to the point that I almost walked away from everything.

“Nonetheless, being one of the first recipients of the Mwalimu Nyerere African Union Scholarship grant at CPUT and also receiving the CPUT’s Vice-Chancellor Prestigious Achiever’s award were notable highlights.”

Currently, Mukandi is seeking employment or a fellowship. “The Vice-Chancellor Prestigious Achievers Award provided critical financial relief during a challenging period, enabling me to persevere and complete my studies. I am forever grateful to the Vice-Chancellor and his team.”

She adds that life has its challenges in general and towards the end of her studies when she was overwhelmed and contemplated giving up, the award was instrumental in overcoming the challenges, providing accommodation and financial support that allowed her to focus on completing her research.

Mukandi also acknlowdges the support from CPUT staff , stating that “their guidance and technical assistance was invaluable, particularly Mrs Hannelene Small, Mr Alwyn Bester, and the Biotechnology team. “This includes the supervisors who patiently guided me through the doctoral study. The Bioresource Engineering Research group at CPUT, became a home, and a nourishing environment to conduct high level research, thus instrumental in my academic success.” The academic, who considers herself as proactive finds solace in nature and enjoy going for walks during her free time. The hardworking individual who is driven by results, believes that if she can achieve her goals, anyone can. “To aspiring students, particularly young women, I encourage you not to be confined by societal norms; you are capable of achieving greatness.

“If I address the younger me I would tell her that it is okay to be unique and not to try to fit in. Embrace your uniqueness and strive for excellence. Our African context presents unique challenges, but with passion and determination, you can redefine your narrative and make a meaningful impact. Navigating through life is demanding, take it one step at a time, the point is to survive not to be consumed.”

Mukandi also extends “my heartfelt gratitude to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo, and the awards committee for their invaluable financial support during challenging times”. “I hope that future initiatives will consider integrating award recipients into the workforce to maximise the socio-economic contributions of young talents. Additionally, a structured support system for students pursuing a thesis by publication would be beneficial, enhancing the University's publication profile.”

Jana Basson ended her Diploma Studies in Jewellery Design and Manufacture on a high note – winning the prestigious 2023 PlatAfrica jewellery design and manufacturing competition’s Student/Apprentice category.

On Monday she was amongst the proud graduates of the Faculty of Informatics and Design who walked the stage during the second ceremony of CPUT’s Autumn graduation series.

She said winning the competition last year with her multipurpose “Unity” neckpiece/bracelet has been her biggest achievement.

Hosted annually by Anglo American Platinum, Metal Concentrators and Platinum Guild International (PGI) India, the awards contribute to showcasing local jewellery manufacturing and design flair, and to building a pipeline of talent in the South African platinum jewellery design and manufacturing industry by providing skills development among local jewellers, artisans and students. 

Jana won a cash prize, media exposure, and the opportunity to participate in an all-expenses paid design workshop at PGI India to learn more about manufacturing and the designing of platinum jewellery. 

It was the second time she had entered the competition.

In 2022 Jana and  her classmate Thembani Gobingca managed to place in the top 10 of the competition.

“Then in 2023 we tried again and the results were outstanding. Seven out of 10 finalists were from CPUT and an eighth was a special mention. We were all ecstatic and celebrated together.”

Jana said she decided on her field of study after visiting CPUT Open Day in 2019.

She said she was drawn to the display for Jewellery Design and Manufacture.

“I looked at the drawings on the wall and the jewellery pieces on display and thought that this is what I want to do. I can create and design and make what I draw. I remember people were actually worried about this being my field because it was unknown to them, however they have become a great support.” 

Jana, who hails from Oudsthoorn, is now working full-time completing a two-year internship.

“After the internship I will take the trades test and I'll have to wait and see where life takes me.”

She thanked her classmates for the “memories” and “support”, her friends in her student residence and the campus cats at CPUT “who always managed to brighten up my day”.

“I thank my lecturers for pushing us to work harder and to believe more in our skills. And last but not least my family who made all this possible. I've grown to be the person I am today because of their love for me. They believed in me when I wanted to study Jewellery Design and Manufacture and took notice of my hard work while I was far away from home. All in all I've learnt from the best and met so many more wonderful people than I ever thought possible.”

The Faculty of Informatics and Design is celebrating the success of two academics today, both of whom were awarded their doctorates during Monday afternoon’s ceremony.

Nicholas Pinfold, from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, was awarded a Doctor of Applied Arts in Design. His thesis is titled Testing middle ground: Facilitating community transition to sustainable land governance.

His supervisor was Prof Masilonyane Mokhele.

Veronica Barnes from the Department of Applied Design was awarded a DTech Design. The title of her thesis is: Empathy in practice: A grounded theory in Industrial Design.

Her supervisors were Prof LJ Theo and Dr Vikki Eriksson.

Pinfold said doing his doctorate had been thrilling and demanding “with deep reflection and unwavering dedication”.

“I believe finishing my doctorate is a significant way to wrap things up considering I will be retiring next year.”

He expressed his “sincere appreciation and indebtedness” to Mokhele, “for his unfailing interest and his ever-ready guidance and advice throughout my research”.

Pinfold said he spent the initial twenty-five years of his career, working in both the public and private sectors within the geomatics profession before embarking on a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of the Free State.

He joined CPUT in 2008.

He said given his academic focus on community engagement, the most rewarding aspect of his journey has been contributing to the development of communal settlements in the Western Cape.

“Community engagement stands as one of the three foundational pillars of higher education in South Africa, alongside research and teaching/learning. I have found great satisfaction in integrating these pillars, through my research in community engagement, and conducting service-learning projects within the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.”

Barnes said completing doctoral studies is a test of endurance, and “a testament to your support network who need to carry you often”.

“I am so grateful for the care I received from my family and friends during this studying period.”

She said studying part-time while continuing her duties as an academic brought its challenges.

“When studying part time as an academic with classes of students, those real people easily demand the best of your attention and it's difficult to prioritise your own studies. However, I love discovering new things, and this is what research is all about. My topic related to empathy and design was vague, contentious and troublesome, and wrangling with that intricacy was very satisfying ultimately (even though it often felt awful in the middle).”

She said her supervisors were excellent at asking difficult questions, which she appreciated.

Graduation is always a family affair, but this morning, a mother and daughter couldn't be prouder of one another as the duo walked across the stage, being awarded their Advanced Diplomas in Human Resource Management Department together.

Nomvuyo Nkani, Secretary at the Department of Maritime Studies & Survival Centre and her daughter, Pamela, have always been close. The pair are part of the 2024 CPUT Autumn Graduation series, which is celebrating the success of 6 373 undergraduates and 735 postgraduates during 14 ceremonies, which started this morning and conclude on 26 April.

Nomvuyo raised Pamela alone since her daughter was five years old, so they've shared “a lot together” but never expected to share this milestone. They've been studying hard during their time at CPUT and now they're getting matching Advanced Diplomas, Human Resource Development for Nomvuyo and Human Resource Management for Pamela.

Nomvuyo said she never studied for a university degree then back in the day, but her daughter gave her the inspiration she needed. In 2016, Nomvuyo enrolled for her Diploma in Office Management. “Juggling the responsibilities of being a full-time working single mother of two while also studying was incredibly challenging. I faced various obstacles, including having to repeat some modules, but through perseverance and hard work, I completed my diploma in December 2020 and graduated in April 2021.”

In 2022, she enrolled for the Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Development, despite encountering similar difficulties, Nomvuyo who was born in Qumbu, Eastern Cape managed to complete the programme in 2023.

Meanwhile, Pamela, 21 started her schooling at Athlone North Primary school and completed her matric at Wittebome High school in 2019. In 2020, she enrolled for a Diploma in Human Resource Management and graduated in April 2023 at CPUT. After that she enrolled for the Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management, which she just completed.

“To be where I am today took a lot of discipline, dedication and my respect for my mother, because I know how hard she worked to provide me the life that I have and by me working so hard is a sign of respect to her but also a sign of respect to myself. Knowing that I can stay disciplined for the things that I want for myself, knowing I have the will and the drive to persevere and having so much discipline that peer pressure didn’t affect my outcome in life,” Pamela reflects.

Her mother says: “Reaching my educational milestones has been particularly gratifying, affirming my abilities and fostering a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment. Each of these experiences has imparted valuable lessons and chances for self-exploration, profoundly shaping my journey.”

Asked about studying with her first child, Nomvuyo says, most of the time, their school schedules matched up. “So, we would regularly remind each other about submission deadlines and check in on each other's progress. It often felt like she [Pamela] was the one supporting me the most. She'd barge into my room and catch me napping, making a fuss, and questioning if that's how I envisioned my future. ‘Wake up, there are no free cattle in the bush,’ she'd say. Despite initially feeling annoyed, I appreciated her encouragement and would get back to studying.”

They always have a friendly relationship. “My mom had me when she was only 20 years old, so in a way we kind of grew up together, learning things together and growing together. We have to keep in mind that we are all doing this life thing for the first time, we might get it wrong a few times but eventually everything will fall into place.”

Talking about graduating with her mother, Pamela says: “It is an indescribable feeling. Knowing where my mom and I started, this achievement seemed so out of reach. Had you asked me this when I was in my primary/high school journey I would have laughed in your face. But now that we are actually here, and it is happening. It’s a joy that is indescribable, a joy that is warm, a joy that makes you smile at random moment which will have you looking like a crazy person, it’s a joy filled with love, a joy filled with gratitude, a joy filled with admiration and lastly a joy filled with endless possibilities.”

Her modest mother says: “I feel extraordinary, like a woman of great value. Achieving milestones like this is incredibly rare, and not every mother gets the chance to experience such a remarkable and thrilling event. I'm ecstatic beyond words.”

To strengthen the Wellington Campus and CPUT’s presence, image, contribution and impact in Wellington and its immediate environment, the Campus recently formed an Advisory Committee, comprising strategic stakeholders and community leaders.

The purpose of the Wellington Campus Advisory Committee is to receive advice from strategic stakeholders within the community to contribute to the future of the Wellington Campus, increase its footprint and enhance its relevance and sustainability, as well as ensure the safety of the Wellington community at large. The committee is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Chris Nhlapo and members comprise of deans of faculties represented in Wellington (Faculty of Applied Sciences with Department of Agriculture, Faculty of Business and Management Sciences with Tourism and Business Administration departments and Faculty of Education), heads of departments of these faculties, and senior staff members from the campus.

Members from the Wellington community include representation from Wellington schools, museum, the Breytenbach Centre, agriculture sector, safety and security, local government, and local communities.

“This is still a work in progress and we are learning as we go along,” said Assistant Dean: Faculty of Education, Prof Hanli Dippenaar.

Dippenaar said the meetings are held twice annually, in the first and fourth terms of a particular year, on the Wellington Campus. “Particularly interesting at the recent meeting was the official signing of a Service-Learning Agreement with our project partners, Drakenstein Correctional Services. “

“This was an auspicious event and the beginning of further collaboration between CPUT and our correctional Services.”

She said seven years ago (2016), a seed was planted, ironically during the fees must fall campaign.

“Drakenstein Correctional Services (DCS) was approached by Dr Chris Hattingh and Dr Ivan November to offer off campus facilities for Education students to write their exams. From that first collaboration, grew an exciting future partnership, despite the backlash of COVID 19. Currently students are tutoring at the Hawequa Correctional Facility and more projects are in the pipeline with Human Movement Studies and reading programmes.”

The Head of the Centre for Business Innovation and Incubation (BiiC) and Acting Head of the Graduate Centre for Management (GCM), Prof Michael Twum-Darko has been appointed as one of the lead strategic partners for the Africa Tourism Innovation Hub (ATIH).

The Hub is one of the key outcomes of the 2022 Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge, hosted by the Namibian Government under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT).

Pioneered by the Africa Tourism Partners (ATP), the ATIH is a physical and virtual hub established in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Durban University of Technology, Namibia University of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (Namibia) and Cornell University. “As a pan-African initiative, the hub has evolved as a key outcome and implementable project of the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge. This initiative, which commenced in Durban, South Africa, in 2019, has since been hosted in various African nations, including Rwanda, Ghana, and Namibia,” said Twum-Darko. He said the main goal of the ATIH is to further technological innovation among start-ups within Africa's travel and tourism sector, drive youth employability, and stimulate tourism entrepreneurship development.

Twum-Darko who established the BiiC in 2019, said he felt “honoured to have become one of the lead strategic partners and Director of ATIH to contribute to operationalise the hub’s operations as to tangibly mainstream its programmes. He will be presenting the master plan of the Hub to the 2024 Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge in Windhoek, Namibia from 29 May to 1 June 2024.