Pretoria – “The award is bigger than me, it’s coupled with a calling I received from the ancestors to do good by my community.”
This was the humble and selfless acceptance phrase by Dr Ephrahim Mabena after he bagged the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Award at the National Science and Technology Forum on Thursday night (NSTF-South32 Awards)
Previously the awards were made at a glittering gala dinner. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 awards took place online.
Mabena was always a firm favourite and was disguised by being the only traditional doctors among professors.
He said the award was reassuring for the community of Mamelodi and frowned upon traditional healers who contributed a lot in the well being of people.
“It’s bigger than me, it’s bigger than us. It’s Godly and we have to carry on doing what we were intended to do. We all have a role, however small of big, you would be surprised at the ripple effects your role has,” he said.
Mabena is the founder of Mothong African Heritage Trust and he is being acknowledged for his stellar contribution in this regard.
“For me, it is important to know that what you do makes a difference, I would like to thank the organisation for the recognition of my contribution,” he said.
It is situated above Section H and is part of the Magaliesberg biosphere, which has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
This once smelly dump where murderers dumped bodies is now the pride of Mamelodi.
“I am overwhelmed by the acknowledgement. I still can’t believe it. To think when I started I found a dead body right here and now it has turned into a place of learning for indigenous knowledge systems,” said Mabena, a traditional doctor and former operative of the ANC’s armed wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe.
All the other winners:
• Prof Michèle Ramsay – Professor: Human Genetics; Director: Sidney Brenner Institute of Molecular Bioscience; and Chair: Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) / National Research Foundation (NRF) South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI): Bioinformatics and Genomics of African Populations, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) For her pioneering genomic medicine approaches in Africa and leading the transcontinental study on factors that contribute to African diseases.
TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Researcher
• Prof Christine Lochner – Co-Director: South African Medical Research Council Unit on Risk and Resilience in Mental Disorders, Department (Dept) of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University (SU)
For her research into neuropsychiatric disorders, including obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, which fosters a multi-disciplinary approach, incorporating a biopsychosocial focus.
TW Kambule-NSTF Award: Emerging Researcher
Prize sponsor: proSET (Professionals in SET), a sector of the NSTF representing professional bodies and learned societies
Dr Vhahangwele Masindi – Research Scientist: Magalies Water; and Principal Researcher: Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); and Research Fellow: University of South Africa; and Part-time Lecturer: University of Venda For his specialization in the valorization and beneficiation of wastewater through drinking water reclamation and minerals synthesis.
Prof Richard Walls – Associate Professor: Fire Engineering Research Unit, SU For conducting research and education to improve informal settlement fire safety as well as structural fire design – both crucial to ensuring safety in our communities.
• Professor Judith Kinnaird – Associate Professor and Director: Economic Geology Research Unit; and Co-Director: DSI Centre of Excellence for the Study of Mineral and Energy Deposits, School of Geosciences, Wits For directing economic geology research studies on metals for everyday needs now and for the future.
Engineering Research Capacity Development Awards
Sponsor: Eskom since 2003
Prof Josua P Meyer – Professor and Head: Dept of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering; and Chair: School of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology, University of Pretoria For developing large numbers of engineering research graduates of the highest quality.
Dr Abimbola Olukemi Windapo – Associate Professor: Dept of Construction Economics and Management, University of Cape Town For her research of construction business and management that confronts the problems of poor project and organisation performance from a practice perspective.
NSTF-Lewis Foundation Green Economy Award
Sponsor: The Lewis Foundation since 2019
• Sharksafe (Pty) Ltd – CEO and Co-Inventor: Prof Conrad Matthee, Dept of Botany and Zoology, SU For developing the SharkSafe BarrierTM that is the first shark specific barrier which is eco-friendly and can protect swimmers and surfers without harming the marine life.
NSTF-Water Research Commission (WRC) Award
Sponsor: WRC since 2017
• Prof Faizal Bux – Director and Professor: Institute for Water and Wastewater Technology; and Chair: DSI/NRF SARChI: Wastewater Treatment, Durban University of Technology For researching wastewater as a resource and not a burden to society.
Data for Research Award
• South African Population Research Infrastructure
Network (SAPRIN) – Co-Directors: Prof Mark Collinson and Dr Kobus Herbst, Wits Rural Campus, Mpumalanga For collectively conceiving, developing and implementing SAPRIN, which produces up-to-date information on health and socio- economic wellbeing, representative of South Africa’s (SA) population, for scientific analysis, embedding research projects and policy evaluation.
Innovation Award: Corporate Organisation
• The Smart Spectrum Sharing Team – Team Leader and Chief Research Scientist: Dr Fisseha Mekuria, CSIR For developing the Smart Spectrum Sharing Technology (S3T) for a Smarter ICT Infrastructure and Digital Inclusion.
Innovation Award: Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise
Sponsor: National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) since 2019
• Memeza Shout (Pty) Ltd – Director: Ms Thulile Mthethwa For reducing crime, improving the South African Police Service (SAPS) service levels and creating jobs through innovative communication technology and a private/public partnership business model.
• Prof Jeanine Marnewick – Research Chair: Biotechnology and Director: Applied Microbial and Health Biotechnology Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology For leading a team that promotes rooibos tea, to be included in a personal daily regime as a health promoting option, supported by science.
Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Award
• Mothong African Heritage – Founder Member, Executive Director and Overseer: Traditional Doctor Ephraim C Mabena For uniting scientists, government and the community through the Mothong African Heritage in nature conservation, technology innovation for socio-economic development using indigenous knowledge systems and modern sciences.
Special Annual Theme Award: Plant Health
• Prof Michael Wingfield – Professor: Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute; and Adviser to the Executive, University of Pretoria For being globally recognised as a SA plant pathologist for a lifetime of contributions to the identification and management of plant diseases, as well as the education and mentorship of large numbers of plant pathologists and entomologists globally.