Women's Month

Women's Month: August 2017

In August, the North-West University celebrated Women's Month by profiling some of the women who serve as the foundation and the pillars upon which the NWU's continuous success is build. This was done to highlight female staff members as well as students who are leaders within the NWU, leaders in their academic fields and leaders within their communities. The profiles as well as featured articles focused on staff members, students and alumni. The North-West University employs 3 413 women to 2 801 men whilst of the 70 000 students enrolled at the NWU, more than 46 000 are female and about 24 000 are male. Although these figures paint a promising picture, the NWU would like to reaffirm that although progress has been made, ours is not an equal society yet and that abuse against women and children, both violent and sexual, is still unacceptably high. The NWU will continue to do all it can in building a society where those that are so dear to us are treated equal. A society in which they can feel safe. We are proud of all the mothers and daughters, sisters and colleagues, friends and leaders who, through their unwavering commitment, are ensuring a better future for all.  Read our featured Women's Month articles here or view the profiles below:


Prof Loraine Boitumelo Mzini

Prof Loraine Boitumelo Mzini

Professor Loraine Boitumelo Mzini is an achiever of note. This expert in the field of development and management, who is registered a both SACE and SAAPAM, was an employee of the Gauteng Department of Education prior to 2008. Her research focuses on poverty alleviation and public finance. Poverty alleviation looks at sustainable livelihoods, food security and small and medium enterprises. In terms of public financial management, the focus is on the institutional arrangement and publicly funded organisations. She has served on the NWU Council and also filled the position of acting dean: Faculty of Humanities from 2016 to 2017.

Dr Elmien Truter

Dr Elmien Truter's passion for the rights of children does not stop at research and lecturing. Although she is a full-time lecturer, she still finds time to assist child protection services by managing statutory cases. Elmien, a social work lecturer at the North-West University, obtained her doctorate in 2014. Her research interests are resilience in child protection social workers, prevention of child sexual abuse, enhancing child protection systems in South Africa, and developing resilience-promoting intervention programmes for child protection social work supervisors.

Prof Liezl van Dyk 

Professor Liezl van Dyk is one of the very few industrial engineers in South Africa whose qualifications are recognised in 18 different countries. The award-winning academic is rated as an established researcher by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). She is the director of the North-West University's School of Industrial Engineering and is the research director for the Faculty of Engineering and an associate professor at the NWU.

Caster Semenya

This current NWU student needs no introduction. Since making the High Performance Institute her home, Caster Semenya has been racking up the accolades. She is the 800 m 2016 Olympic gold medalist, a national record holder, a World Champion, and perhaps most importantly, an inspiration to up-and-coming athletes across the country. In 2016 Caster was named the country's Sports Woman of the Year, an award she has won at the NWU as well. When she hangs up her running spikes, she will be remembered as one of this country's all-time greats.

Abigail Warne

Abigail Warne has worked for the North-West University for the past six years, all the while proving that hard work and dedication truly pays off. Initially Abigail worked as a secretary for the Centre of Child Youth and Family studies (CCYF).  After a year, she took on the role of financial officer for the CCYF. She is also furthering her studies and is currently in the process of attaining a financial accounting diploma.

Prof Susan Coetzee van Rooy

Professor Susan Coetzee van Rooy is an expert in the field of multilingualism, language repertoires as well as language policy and planning, to name but a few. Susan started working at the NWU in 2003 and has held various positions at the NWU. From 2003 to 2008 she was the Director of Academic Support Services at the Potchefstroom Campus and the Institutional Director of Academic Development and Support. She joined the Vanderbijlpark Campus in 2009 in the capacity of Director Research Development in the Faculty of Humanities. She is the Director of UPSET, a research focus area on the understanding and processing of languages in complex settings, the editor of the DoE accredited journal, Journal for Language Teaching and a member of the NRF panel for Linguistics, Languages and Literature (LLL) that facilitate the rating process (2014-2017).

Dr Shanaaz Hoosain

Doing research that is relevant to the current needs of South Africa and increasing the number of black postgraduate students are the two work-related goals that Dr Shanaaz Hoosain is most passionate about. She is a senior lecturer at the North West University's (NWU) Centre of Child Youth and Family studies (CCYF) based at the University's Wellington office. Shanaaz has a PhD in social work, with the focus on intergenerational legacies of trauma.

Honourable Bess Nkabinde-Mmono

With a career that spans over 28 years, NWU alumna Honourable Bess Nkabinde-Mmono has proven that she is a woman with unshakable principals. Over the years she has also demonstrated that she is dedicated to uplifting South African women. Bess started her career as an advocate in 1988 and has since progressed through the judicial ranks. In 2006 she was appointed as the Justice of the Constitutional Court till 2016, where she was promoted to Acting Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa.

Prof Mirna Nel

Professor Mirna Nel is an expert in inclusive education at the NWU's Faculty of Humanities. Her research career started in 2002 with her PhD which focused on the barriers to learning English, especially second language learners in the intermediate phase experience and how they can be supported. As from 2006 she is focused on inclusive education. In 2010 she got involved as the South African project leader in a comparative international project on the role of the teacher in inclusive education. The project started off with only South Africa, Finland and China involved and has since expanded to include universities from England, Slovenia and Lithuania. Prof Mirna Nel is the sub-programme leader of Optentia's: Holistic Learner Development in Diverse Context.

Dr Tanya Robinson

NWU alumna Dr Tanya Robinson is a phenomenal researcher who obtained three doctorates in social work before the age of 36. She has shown an intense passion for contributing to society and for proving through research that a difference can be made. She runs research centres for children's rights and aims to give a voice to abused children. She has authored six books and various journal articles on a variety of topics including divorce, sex, mental health and false allegations of child abuse in divorce proceedings.

Louise van Wyk

The NWU helped Louise van Wyk reach her goals in building a career with a prosperous future. In 2012 Van Wyk started working as a general assistant for the NWU's Centre of Child Youth and Family studies (CCYF). She has since worked her way up the ladder and is currently working as the CCYF's administrative assistant. Van Wyk knows that education is the key to success and is currently studying towards an advanced office management qualification.

Sunette Viljoen

The names Sunette Viljoen and NWU have become synonymous with excellence and extraordinary achievement on the athletics track. Sunette holds a BCom in Sport and Recreational Management from the NWU and through her exceptional performances she has proved to be the best woman javelin thrower that South Africa, Africa and the Commonwealth have produced. In 2016 she took part in the Olympic Games and walked away with a silver medal.

Prof Elize van Eeden

Prof Van Eeden started a career in Higher Education in 1986 with a focus on regional history and has since filled leading positions in history related societies, amongst others the presidency of the American Studies Association of South Africa from 1994 to 1998. She a member of the South African Society for History Teaching and a member of the Advisory Board of the International Society for History Didactics; the International Water History Association; The South African Historical Society; the South African Historical Association; The South African Society for Cultural History and Economic History Society for Southern Africa. In 2008, Elize was selected as the NWU Vaal Triangle Researcher of the Year and in 2009 she ranked among the top ten researchers of the NWU.  Since then she has been honoured on a regular basis as a top performer at the NWU.

Judge Yvonne Mokgoro

Judge Yvonne Mokgoro, an NWU alumna, stepped down from the bench as Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 2009. She served in this capacity since the Constitutional Court's inception until the end of her 15-year term. She initially started off her career as a nursing assistant and succeeded through sheer will and determination to reach the highest echelons of her profession. The award winning judge has been the recipient of the Human Rights Award of the Black Lawyers Association and the Legal Profession's Woman Achiever Award.

Prof Heléne Combrinck

North West University's (NWU) associate professor, Heléne Combrinck, is not only doing an outstanding job on disability law within South Africa but also internationally. She has been assisting Namibia with their disability laws and legislation. Helene has five qualifications under her belt, three of which she obtained cum laude.

Dr Eva Manyedi

Dr Eva Manyedi is a member of the Central Drug Authority in the Department of Social Development where she is responsible for planning, coordination and promotion of measures for the prevention and combating of drug abuse in the country. She obtained her PhD in Psychiatric Community Nursing in 2008 after being employed as a lecturer at the NWU in 1999. Her work in her field is a shining example of how one person can aspire to make the lives of those in need better.and achieving it.  

Karen Meiring

Karen Meiring is a television executive with a flair for success. With a career that spans over 32-years she has proven that hard work and dedication are the keys to coming out on top. Karen completed her honours degree in drama at the former Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher education and kicked off her career in 1985. She worked through the ranks and currently serves as the director of the Afrikaans M-Net channels.

Yvonne Mfolo

Yvonne Mfolo's work within the mining industry is making a big difference. She currently works as the executive head for public affairs at Anglo American and that has put her at the forefront of community involvement. Through her endeavours, the Anglo Inyosi Coal Community Trust was established and she also oversees the Community Development Trust. She has received recognition in the form of an award in the sustainability category of the 2012 Nedbank Capital Green Awards and was a runner-up in the same category in 2013.

Prof Adéle Nel

Adéle Nel is a professor in the North-West University's Faculty of Humanities where she teaches Afrikaans and Dutch literature as well as film studies. Her D.Litt was a study to determine the extent to which the canon of Dutch literature determines the poetological nature and idiolect of the poet T.T. Cloete. She publishes regularly on Afrikaans and Dutch literature (poetry and prose), literature and its relation to visual arts, and film in academic journals. Her current research interests include visual culture, the city as a spatial form in literature and film, and relationality.

Prof Seugnet Blignaut

Professor Seugnet Blignaut joined the North-West University in 2015 and is currently the leader of the research niche area Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovative Education and Training in South Africa (TELIT-SA).  She is the holder of a C1 NRF rating and her research currently focuses on the use of eye tracking as part of usability evaluation of games.  She is author and co-author of 69 articles and presented 84 conference papers, mostly at international level.  She delivered 39 Masters and 21 PhD students. Seugnet often reviews articles for national and international journals in addition to acting as external examiner for various universities.

Prof Elain Vlok

Prof Elain Vlok is a woman of many facets. Elain, a NWU alumna, is described as one of South Africa's biggest success stories when it comes to women empowerment and the upliftment of communities. She is the manager of corporate services at Clover and is head of the successful Clover Mama Afrika project, that assists underprivileged communities by empowering women. She holds several degrees and has two PhDs under her belt. She is currently working towards attaining her third PhD.

Kelebogile Nthutang

NWU alumna Kelebogile Nthutang has been making big strides in her career since she obtained her BSc in biology from the university in 2008.  She currently works as an educator in various organisations, including her own educational solutions company, ke Aone Holdings. Kelebogile’s hard work and effort within the education sector has paid off, she was recently featured in the Mail & Guardian's 200 Young South Africans 2017. She also sits on the board of the Makhuduthamaga Home Community-based Care Umbrella that works from Jane Furse Hospital in Mpumalanga.

Dr Serena Lucrezi

Dr Serena Lucrezi, a post-doctoral fellow for Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES), has obtained her postgraduate studies across the world, doing her Honours degree in Zoology in Scotland and her PhD in marine biology in Australia. Her work focuses on the use of ecological indicators, including ghost crabs and coastal dune vegetation, to assess ecological impacts of recreational activities, as well as the study of environmental awareness, knowledge and perceptions in coastal tourism, particularly scuba diving and beach tourism. She joined TREES at the beginning of 2017 and authored 20 scientific papers.

Prof Anél du Plessis

Prof Anél du Plessis of the Faculty of Law at the North-West University is a woman of many talents. She has expertise within environmental law, local government law, constitutional law, environmental rights environmental governance, human rights law and administrative law. She is also the editor of the first comprehensive book that unpacks the environmental law mandate of local government in South Africa.

Nkuli Zuma

Nkuli Zuma plies her trade as a senior laboratory technician at the Centre of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Sciences (PHARMACEN). She completed her undergraduate (Chemistry and Microbiology) at UNISA and is currently working on her PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry under the supervision of Prof David N'Da. As a laboratory technician, she works closely with both students (postgraduate) and researchers. Additionally she works closely with both sales representatives and technical services, in order to ensure efficient running of the department.

Prof Jeanetta du Plessis

The Director of the Centre of Excellence for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Prof Jeanetta du Plessis, is a pharmacist specialising in drug delivery, whilst her research focuses on topical and transdermal drug delivery. She completed her studies at the NWU and obtained her PhD in pharmaceutics in 1992. She was a research fellow for two years at the University of Cardiff, Wales before she became professor at the NWU. She serves on the scientific editorial boards of numerous scientific journals and is a founding member of the honorary editorial board of the Open Access Journal, Research and Reports in Transdermal Drug Delivery.  She holds memberships with the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World and the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Dr Musa Saurombe

At the age of 23 Musawenkosi "Musa" Saurombe is the youngest woman in Africa to receive a PhD.  She obtained her qualification in Industrial Psychology from the NWU earlier this year. Musa is currently working as post-doctoral research fellow at the Mafikeng campus. She was recently awarded the Best International student award at the International Golden Key Summit in Las Vegas and also received the Psychology Student of The Year Award from the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa.

Elmarie de Beer

Elmarie de Beer, Executive Director: Finance and Facilities, is the captain that steers the NWU's financial ship. She hails from the Free State and completed all her studies through Unisa before she wrote her Chartered Accountant exams. Elmarie joined the NWU as Manager of management accounting services in 2001. Her financial prowess saw her rise to the position of executive director. She is a member of SAICA, acting chairman of several financial and budget committees, as well as a member or trustee of several organisations.

Prof Lené Jorgensen

Prof Lené Jorgensen is an associate professor at the School of Human Resource Sciences. She holds a PhD in Industrial Psychology on the topic of work-related well-being intervention. Her career started in the South African Police Service (SAPS) where she was responsible for managing the well-being of police personnel in the North West Province. After 10 years in the police service, she joined the University in 2008 where her subsequent teaching experience included teaching helping theories, applied counselling, psychometric assessment and practical work for intern-psychometrists. Lené serves on the executive committee of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa (SIOPSA) and was section editor of the South African Journal of Industrial Psychology from 2013 to 2015.

Prof Susan Visser

Prof Susan Visser was one of the first female lecturers at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. She was also the director of the School of Accounting Sciences, the Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences as well as the Acting Vice-Rector: Research and Planning. She is again serving out her term as Dean at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. She is a very popular lecturer who has already received seven institutional awards for teaching excellence (ITEAs). A truly remarkable woman.

Prof Marinette Kruger

Prof Martinette Kruger, a research professor at Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES) has established herself as one of the NWU's most productive junior researchers and obtained her Y1 research rating from the NRF in 2013. Her research interests are in the fields of market segmentation in tourism with specific focus on events. During her academic career at the NWU, she has been awarded numerous accolades and successfully completed her PhD studies in 2010 which entailed the critical evaluation of market segmentation at national arts festivals in South Africa. She currently serves on the editorial board of the esteemed international journal, Event Management and acts as subject editor and reviewer for numerous journals.

Prof Wilma Viviers

Prof Wilma Viviers is a professor of International Trade, director of the research focus area TRADE and a NRF-rated researcher at the North-West University. She has an impressive array of publications, and is a leading authority in the fields of export promotion, competitive intelligence (CI) and economic development. Wilma has made great contributions towards the realisation of strategies to improve South Africa's trade performance and competitiveness, most notably the TRADE-DSM (Decision Support Model). She sits on several national and international committees and has received numerous awards in recognition of her groundbreaking research over the years. In 2014 she was honoured with a WTO Chair from the World Trade Organization.