Winners of the 2017/2018 NSTF-South32 Awards

The NSTF-South32 Awards were held at a prestigious Gala Dinner in Gauteng on Thursday, 28 June 2018. This is the 20th anniversary celebration of the flagship project of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF). To celebrate the event, tributes were made to the 204 NSTF Awards recipients (since 1998) and a special anniversary award to Dr Xolani Humphrey Mkhwanazi.


Outstanding contributions to science, engineering and technology (SET) and innovation were awarded and celebrated in the following broad areas under 13 categories:

·         Scientific research

·         Innovation

·         Management and related activities

·         Capacity development in engineering research

·         Environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation

·         Water research and innovation

·         Data management and stewardship

·         Communication

·         Technology transfer, as well as education and training

·         Sustainable energy for all (special annual theme award in recognition of the International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (#SEforAll) declared by the United Nations)


About the NSTF and the awards: The NSTF is the most representative multi-stakeholder non-profit forum in South Africa promoting SET and innovation. The NSTF-South32 Awards showcase the research and development capacity of our nation. The excellent output of the winners supports South Africa’s advancement and the social upliftment of our people.


Why are these awards different? The national NSTF-South32 Awards are the largest SET and innovation awards in South Africa. They are known as the ‘Science Oscars’ and were the first science awards in the country. The focus is on spreading information about SET to the public, which includes the year-long engagement programme with students and learners called ‘Share ‘n Dare’. The NSTF Brilliants Programme recognises the outstanding matric performers in mathematics and physical science, exposing them to the SET network and future opportunities.


Award winners: The awards were presented by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi- Ngubane, who is the event’s patron. She celebrated along with almost 700 guests and over 50 different organisations from the broader community. It is an honour to be nominated, it is an outstanding achievement to reach the finals and an exceptional milestone and celebration of excellence to win one of these awards.


The NSTF and its sponsors congratulate the 2017/2018 NSTF-South32 Award winners.


Dr Xolani Humphrey Mkhwanazi

Director and Chairman: Phathela Investments (Pty) Ltd; Vice-Chairman: Public Investment Corporation; Chancellor: Vaal University of Technology; Chairman: Central Energy Fund; and Non-Executive Director: South32, Gibela, and Murray & Roberts

Ukhozi Award: for an essential contribution to the NSTF and the NSTF Awards (in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the NSTF Awards)


Prof Harald Winkler

Director: Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town

Special Annual Theme Award: Sustainable Energy for All (in recognition of the United Nations ‘International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All’)


Prof Winkler researches sustainable energy for all in the context of a just transition to low carbon economies. Reducing energy poverty at the same time as making a just transition to a low-carbon energy economy are key challenges of the 21st century. Over the last 10 years, Prof Winkler’s research has contributed information needed for this transition and has informed energy and climate policy at national and international level. He has developed and implemented a research agenda demonstrating that the costs of a transition to a low-carbon energy need not be borne by poor households and communities. Prof Winkler has published extensively on sustainable energy for all and, based on his research, advised on environmental and climate perspectives on Integrated Resource Plans for South Africa.


Prof Kevin Wall

Independent Consultant; and Extraordinary Professor: Department (Dept) of Construction Economics, University of Pretoria (UP)

Lifetime Award: (by an individual over 15 years or more)


A registered professional civil engineer with a career spanning 3 decades, Prof Wall has contributed significantly to civil engineering technology, training, and service delivery. Notably, he has contributed to developing the national guidelines on civil engineering infrastructure. He has also contributed to making strategic and practical contributions to service delivery in the field. This is through academia and research on institutional reform necessary to enable service delivery and developing CSIR’s reputation in urban infrastructure and management. Over 12 years, Prof Wall raised awareness of key issues, particularly the importance of operation and maintenance, through the development of vehicles such as the National Infrastructure Maintenance Strategy. He led the team that developed the first National Water Services Infrastructure Asset Management Strategy. He led the research for and co-authored the first South African Institution of Civil Engineering National Infrastructure Report Card for South Africa. This graded a broad range of infrastructure types on their condition. In retirement, he has continued in the same vein. He also focuses on infrastructure implementation, supply chain management, skills development, and methods to create emerging infrastructure maintenance microenterprises thus creating sustainable jobs.


Prof Etheresia (Resia) Pretorius

Head: Dept of Physiological Sciences; Director: Applied Morphology Research Centre, Dept of Physiology, Stellenbosch University (SU)

TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher through research and its outputs (by an individual up to 15 years as a researcher predominantly in South Africa)


The overarching contribution of Prof Pretorius’ research is to add novel knowledge regarding the origin and pathophysiology of inflammation and abnormal clotting. Her contribution includes the conclusion that all non-communicable diseases have a possible bacterial origin. Prof Pretorius recently discovered the causality between inflammation and non-infection diseases, like type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. She showed that tiny amounts of bacterial cell wall molecules, which are shed by (dormant) bacteria in blood entering the body through for example a leaky gut, can cause blood to form pathological clots. This contributes to chronic inflammation that is part of many supposedly non-infectious diseases. These bacterial inflammagens are one of the main causes of pathological clot formation in inflammatory conditions. She also discovered a molecule that can mop up these inflammagens. Her research has resulted in 5 patents for various treatments.


Mrs Wendy Collinson

Project Executant: Wildlife and Roads Project, Endangered Wildlife Trust

TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher through research and its outputs (by an individual up to 6 years in research predominantly in South Africa)


The EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project is working to reduce the negative impacts of transport infrastructure on wildlife. It will ultimately improve driver safety through reducing wildlife and vehicle collisions. Mrs Collinson currently leads this project. She coordinates numerous research projects that examine the impacts of roads in South Africa, ultimately finding solutions to reduce roadkill. Many of her projects involve collaborations with relevant stakeholders in the transport sector, as well as academia. This body of knowledge will inform the development and planning decisions of future road design, lessening the impact of roads on South African fauna and flora.


Dr Musa Manzi

Senior Researcher and Director: Seismic Research Centre, School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher through research and its outputs (by an individual up to 6 years in research predominantly in South Africa)


Dr Manzi’s innovative 3D seismic technologies are used in deep mineral exploration in South Africa. His fundamental, innovative, and outstanding contributions to science are concerned with developing and applying sophisticated mathematical and geophysical techniques to gain a deeper understanding of earth processes. There is a particular focus in exploring for mineral deposits and for oil and gas reservoirs in South African basins. His work benefits South Africa in various ways: applying reflection seismology to African basins helps exploration for minerals (finding gold and platinum) and energy resources (finding oil and gas). Studies of phenomena, such as methane explosions, earthquakes, and rock bursts, help practitioners and government develop mitigation strategies (protecting miners).


Prof Stephen Tollman

Research Professor and Head: Division of Health and Population, Faculty of Health Sciences; Director: South African Medical Research Council/Wits Rural Health and Health Transitions Research Unit, Wits; Principal Scientist: International Network for the Demographic Evaluation of Populations and their Health, Ghana

Management Award: contribution through management and related SET and innovation activities (by an individual over the last 5 to 10 years)


Prof Tollman has been at the forefront of harnessing inter-disciplinary science to guide policy towards sustainable health and development in a challenging environment in rural Mpumalanga. Tackling health and development effectively is critical to the livelihoods of rural South Africans. They carry the greatest burden of illness, which undermines their personal development and economic and social productivity. The ‘grand challenge’ is bridging the profound evidence gap to inform policy development and innovation, and allowing true assessment of the impact of policy and interventions. Prof Tollman’s work has removed this fundamental roadblock by introducing and then sustaining a research infrastructure that can generate the necessary data. This captures change over time, providing a platform to evaluate interventions targeting human development and supporting the policy and programme assessments necessary to guide scale-up and national investments in a specific environment in Mpumalanga.

Prof Mmantsae Diale

Associate Professor: Dept of Physics, UP

Engineering Research Capacity Development Award: (by an individual over the last 5 to 10 years)

Sponsored by Eskom since 2003


Prof Diale’s researches materials development for applications in semiconductor devices used in light harvesting processes (particularly collecting and storing solar energy). She is driven by the United Nations Millennium Goal – that all people on the planet should have access to electricity. Prof Diale sees reaching this goal through energy technologies that are accessible at low cost and that operate without disruptions. She believes that South Africa offers solar irradiation to all. Technologies are needed to collect and store this valuable cheap resource. Prof Diale has directed her research and that of her students to this end. She has a motto: “Photovoltaics combined with artificial photosynthesis is a process that will be valuable for developing communities to produce electricity at low cost and be able to provide for its storage.” She has attracted a large number of postgraduate students from numerous universities in South Africa. As a late starter in research, she has still achieved a significant output of higher degree graduates.

Prof Ian Jandrell

Personal Professor: School of Electrical and Information Engineering; Executive Dean: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment; Joint leader: High Voltage and the Lightning/Electromagnetic Compatibility Research Group, Wits

Engineering Research Capacity Development Award: (by an individual over the last 5 to 10 years)

Sponsored by Eskom since 2003


Prof Ian Jandrell has produced high-level skills in the very specialised research field of high voltage engineering and lightning. He and his students have made significant contributions to the unique needs of South African industry. Their work has focused on the damaging effects of lightning. This includes the two most recently-identified injury mechanisms and an international article (2012) on the pioneering work around a sixth mechanism. There was also an overview paper on lightning injury in the South African Medical Journal (2012). Their work resulted in an article on Metal Oxide Varistor degradation. This was significantly opposite to the expectations of manufacturers and collaborators. He and his students’ work has also led to the optimal design of air terminations on lightning attraction and attachment. Trans-disciplinary work has been published on the influence on behaviour during thunderstorms – of lightning myths in Southern Africa.


Prof Malik Maaza

Senior Scientist: National Research Foundation Nanosciences LABS, College of Graduate Studies, University of South Africa; Chair: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Africa (UNESCO)

NSTF-GreenMatter Award: towards biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability and a greener economy (by an individual or an organisation over the last 5 to 10 years)

Sponsored by GreenMatter since 2015


Over a period of 25 years in research and development, Prof Maaza has contributed towards developing technological innovation aimed at, among other things, enhancing decarbonisation of the energy system, environmental protection, and in

nanoscience and nanotechnology. He is considered a pioneer in this field nationally and continentally. He has further contributed to cementing South Africa’s global visibility in the field of nanoscience. From a scientific perspective, he has made significant contributions from wave-matter quantum neutron optics to ultra-fast tunable nanoplasmonics. Recently, he has been pioneering green nanochemistry, demonstrating the effectiveness of natural extracts from indigenous plants as powerful chelating agents, and broadening the green nanochemistry topic especially for multi-functional nano-scaled oxides.


Prof Leslie Petrik

Professor: Dept of Chemistry, University of the Western Cape

NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award: towards achieving sustainable water management, knowledge generation and solutions with demonstrated leadership and impact (by an individual or an organisation over the last 5 to 10 years)

Sponsored by the WRC since 2017


Prof Petrik has contributed significantly in skills development and innovation in the field of environmental remediation, water treatment, and waste reuse in South Africa. She is a leading expert in the field of environmental remediation, water treatment, and beneficiation of industrial wastes. South Africa is a water-scarce country and relies heavily on mining activities. If not properly managed, the generated waste poses significant environmental challenges and hazard to human health. For the last 10 years, her research (through the group she created at UWC) has focused on water chemistry and effluent remediation. This includes treating and removing organics and inorganics from: industrial brine, acid mine drainage, and textile waste water. Another outstanding contribution is the development of processes for industrial waste reuse. This includes producing geopolymers, mine backfill materials, adsorbents from waste coal fly ash, and nanofibres from other waste materials.


South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS)

Coordinator: Mr Benjamin Roberts, Human Sciences Research Council

Data for Research Award: for advancing the availability, management and use of data for research (by an individual or an organisation)


Data from the annually-repeated SASAS, conducted by the HSRC, can be accessed and used to explore and explain the interaction between South Africa’s changing institutions, its political and economic structures, and the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour patterns of its diverse populations. SASAS is a nationally representative survey series conducted since 2003. It measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of the country’s diverse population. It thus provides a unique account of changes in public values and the country’s social fabric. The survey infrastructure produces rigorous data which is available free of charge for policy, academic, and general science communication purposes. Compared to other national survey series, SASAS has a broader scope, is conducted more regularly, allows for international comparison in some areas, and benefits from the HSRC’s survey design, data management and curation expertise.


Prof Keolebogile Motaung

Founder: Global Health Biotech (Pty) Ltd; and Assistant Dean: Postgraduate Studies, Research, Innovation and Engagement, Faculty of Science, Tshwane University of Technology

Innovation Award: Corporate Organisation for innovations and their research and/or development (by a team or an individual over the last 5 to 10 years) Sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry


Prof Motaung’s research shows a future of tissue engineering of bone and cartilage that depends on medicinal plants. Repair of bone and cartilage continues to be a challenging clinical problem. Autologous and allografts are the gold standard for the treatment of bone and cartilage. (Autologous means obtaining from the same person. Allograft means a graft from the same species but genetically different.) Autologous and allograft treatment of bone and cartilage have several limitations. For example, autologous treatment needs an invasive, open surgical procedure where tissue is harvested from an alternative site within the patient. Her research group is now manufacturing a cream, La-Africa Soother, and plant-derived morphogenetic factor implants. These are natural products from medicinal plants, without the disadvantages of autografts and allografts. These products offer novel and alternative treatment opportunities for tissue engineering of bone and cartilage.


SUN Magnetics (Pty) Ltd

Director: Prof Coenraad Fourie; and Professor: Electrical and Electronic Engineering, SU

Innovation Award: Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) for innovations and their research and/or development (by a team or an individual over the last 5 to 10 years)


Prof Fourie’s contribution is a set of engineering methods and software tools that enable the design and verification of very large scale integrated superconducting circuits and quantum computing systems. Such circuits are used in energy-efficient supercomputers, quantum computing systems, and quantum sensors. The software tools are used by physicists and engineers around the world. They reduce the development time of beyond-CMOS systems while increasing the fabrication success rate.


University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC)

Director: Prof Christiaan (Tiaan) de Jager; Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences; and Professor: Environmental Health, School of Health Systems and Public Health, UP

Communication Award: for outreach and creating awareness (by a team or individual over the last 5 years)


Focusing on malaria elimination, the output of the UP ISMC has been research, innovation, education, and science communication. Malaria is a complex, often fatal, vector-borne disease. To move from control of malaria to elimination means novel control measures and strategies. The UP ISMC contributes to eliminating malaria through high quality trans-disciplinary research, new innovation, and education. It promotes malaria awareness and prevention by communicating scientifically-correct information through formal, informal and more innovative methods, including social media. It has become an avenue for translating high impact scientific research, from laboratory to community, thus improving the health of rural communities and visitors to malaria areas.


The Platinum Incubator

Chief Executive Officer: Ms Sibongile Purity Shongwe

Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Award: including technology transfer, and education and training activities (over the last 5 to 10 years)


The Platinum Incubator (TPI) creates small jewellery businesses focused on platinum. TPI is a business incubator that trains and assists young and predominantly black entrepreneurs to start jewellery making businesses focusing on platinum group metals (PGMs). TPI provides and facilitates tooling, communal workspaces, platinum metal loans, routes to market, business development advice, and mentorship to semi-skilled and skilled jewellers and artisans. Soon they will be broadening their focus to include other industrial uses of PGMs.



The winners were awarded with state-of-the-art trophies, manufactured through additive manufacturing (industrial 3D laser printing) with advanced materials (titanium), a first in SA and possibly the world.


Ms Jansie Niehaus

Executive Director and Spokesperson


NSTF, the non-profit stakeholder body for all SET and innovation organisations in South Africa


Spokesperson contact details: Ms Jansie Niehaus, Executive Director and Spokesperson | Tel: +27 12 841-3987 (NSTF office) | Cell: +27 82 863-1504 | Fax: +27 12 841-3025 | E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Website: | Awards:


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