Dignitas Awards

Home » Alumni » Dignitas Awards

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Alumni Office recognises the achievements and hard work of alumni who have made significant contributions to UJ in their respective field of study, profession, industry, community, region and nations at its Prestigious Annual Dignitas Awards Dinner and Ceremony.

The UJ Alumni Dignitas Awards ceremony celebrates the exceptional achievements of UJ Alumni who have excelled in their professions by honouring recipients with Trophies presented by the Vice Chancellor. The Latin word ‘Dignitas’ refers to the physical aura that surrounds a person once he or she has fulfilled an important task. This therefore implies the meanings of deserving, merit and worthiness.

Call for Nominations

Dear members of the UJ Alumni

You are invited to submit nominations by using the online form (link below) for the UJ Alumni Dignitas Award. The Alumni Dignitas Award celebrates the achievement of UJ Alumni by honouring those who have excelled in their respective fields.

Kindly submit your nomination by using the online nomination form (which also contains the Charter of the UJ Awards Committee):

‘UJ Alumni’ means all persons who have obtained a state-subsidised (formal) qualification from the University of Johannesburg, the former Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), or the Technikon Witwatersrand (TWR).

The UJ Awards Committee considers submissions for such awards and makes recommendations to Council. In order to confirm the inherent value of the award, a conservative approach is followed in making the awards.

The closing date for nominations is 19 June 2023.

Bettine van Vuuren (Prof)
University of Johannesburg

Nominations are opened each year, please read through the nomination criteria

Alumni Dignitas Nomination Form

Charter for UJ Alumni Dignitas Awards Committee

Charter for UJ Awards Committee

Alumni Dignitas Award Winners:

2005 Recipients

Russel Loubser

  • Qualified Chartered Accountant.
  • Former Chief Executive Officer of JSE Limited and Chair for the Working Committee.

Gary Harwood

  • Director at the brand agency Harwood Kirsten Leigh McCoy (HKLM).

Francois Pienaar

  • Captain of the first South Africa team to win the World Cup.
  • Voted Rugby Personality of the Year by Britain’s Rugby Union Writers’ Club in 1995.

Olga Sema

  • Organiser for Top Entrepreneurs’ competition for EMS learners, and Workshops for EMS Educators.
  • Entrepreneurial Project Manager at Olemera.

Kieka Mynhardt

  • Prof & Mathematician: University of Victoria in Canada.
  • She was graduate advisor of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UVic for 5 years.

2006 Recipients

David Noko

  • Non Executive Director of Astrapak Limited and Managing Director of De Beers Consolidated Mines.
  • Took over as Managing Director of DBCM from Jonathan Oppenheimer in February 2006.

Prof Nick Beukes

  • Rated an A1 scientist by the National Research Foundation of South Africa since 2001 (received the Draper Medal).
  • Authored or co-authored more than 100 full length research papers in International and National Journals.

Frank Kilbourn

  • Investment banker and businessman.
  • Non-Executive Director of City Lodge Hotels Ltd., since 1996.

Bill Venter

  • South African businessman, entrepreneur and industrialist.
  • Top 100 Lifetime Achiever (Sunday Times Business Times) and Trustee of Pres Mandela’s Children’s Trust Fund.

2007 Recipients

Amos Masondo

Pieter du Preez

  • South African quadriplegic Athlete and an actuarial analyst at Deloitte in Johannesburg.

Prof SH (Basie) von Solms

  • Research Professor in the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Johannesburg.
  • Currently Director of the ITU-UJ Centre for Cyber Security of the University of Johannesburg and Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS).

Dr Reena Ramparsad

  • Coordination of Curriculum Implementation of the Gauteng Province: Education.

Prof Desiree Vorster

  • Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Johannesburg.

2008 Recipients

Jansie Niehaus

  • Executive Director of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF).

Prof Herman Alberts

  • Retired with a B-rating from the NRF.
  • Awarded MT Steyn Medal for Scientific and Technical Achievement by South African Academy for Arts and Science in 2007.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk

  • Was appointed Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the South African cabinet.
  • Formerly both Premier of the Western Cape and Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of South Africa (New National Party).

2009 Recipients

Jimmy Manyi

  • President of Progressive Professionals Forum.
  • Former CEO of Government Communications and Information Systems and Cabinet Spokesperson.

Maira Koutsoudakis

  • Established herself as an international multi-award-winning designer.
  • She and her team received ‘Best of the Best in the World’ and ‘Best Hotel in Africa, Middle East and the Indian Ocean Islands’ award.

2010 Recipients

Nicholas Hlobo

  • Rolex Visual Arts Protégé for 2010/11.
  • Winner of the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts 2006, and the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2009.

Tim du Plessis

  • Member of the SA National Editor’s Forum and Chair of the Nieman Fund Trust of Southern Africa.
  • Was Editor of Beeld at Media24 Limited, from being a Journalist since 1976.

2011 Recipients

Raenette Taljaard

  • Elected as Member of Parliament in 1999.
  • Nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2005.

Magatho Anthony Mello

  • Founder and managing partner of two businesses namely Intoto Solutions (Pty) Ltd and Maraswi Consulting Services (Pty) Ltd.

2012 Recipients

Gideon Sam

  • SASCOC President.
  • Former Headmaster and President of Swimming South Africa.

Herman Bosman

  • Was CEO of Deutsche Bank since November 2006.
  • Responsible for Deutsche Bank’s South African strategic operations direction and for the leadership of its corporate finance platform.

Pietie Coetzee

  • Represented South Africa in 2 Commonwealth Games, 3 World Cups and at the 2000, 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
  • Top goal scorer at the 2002 Women’s Hockey World Cup held in Perth, Western Australia.

Clifford Ross

  • Appointed Chief Executive of City Lodge Hotels Group in 2002.
  • Awarded the Tourism Business Leadership Award in 2011.

2014 Recipients

Mary Sibanda

  • Graduated with a National Diploma in Fine Arts from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in 2004, followed by a B-Tech in Fine Art in 2007.
  • Explores themes of gender, class and race through the sculptural representation of her alter ego, Sophie, who is dressed in altered domestic worker uniforms​.

The Late Judge Ronnie Bosiele

  • Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
  • Reached the highest judicial office in South Africa (SA) of all UJ Law graduates and was recommended by the JSC to the President for appointment to the Constitutional Court, although he was not appointed.

2015 Recipients

Alex Harris

  • Athlete, speaker and passionate advocate for living purpose-filled lives.
  • Became the youngest person ever to lead an expedition to Mount Everest at age 25 in 1996.

Simphiwe Dana

  • ​​Appointed as the first global African ambassador for Amnesty international.
  • She Toured Europe with her previous two albums, and claimed the number 1 spot with her Kulture Noir on the German World Music Charts and the number 3 spot on the European Music Charts.

2016 Recipients

Judge Boissie Henry Mbha

  • Reached the highest judicial office of Judge of Appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Arthur Gillis

  • CEO of Platinum Hospitality Holdings.
  • Non-Executive Chairman, Africa Development, for Marriott International.
  • Motivational speaker.

Lerato Shadi

  • Significant contributor to social cohesion, promoting advocacy and development of the Pan-African society through her art.

2017 Recipients

No award presented

2018 Recipient

Prof Chris Brink

  • Served as Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.
  • He was a National Research Foundation (NRF) A-rated researcher and President of the South African Mathematical Society.

2019 recipients

Prof William Harris

  • He made important contributions to the development of methods of quantifying the optical character of eyes and to defining reference axes for eyes with applications in vision science and eye surgery.
  • He made a major contribution to the establishment of research in the Department of Optometry at RAU/UJ and, in South Africa.

Mr Steve Phiri

  • Steve Phiri is an admitted attorney to the High Court of South Africa and an accomplished business leader in the mining sector.
  • He served as Vice-President of the Mineral Council of South Africa.

2020 Recipients

Ms Funeka Zukiswa Montjane

  • Ms Funeka Zukiswaa Montjane is the Chief Executive, Personal and Business Banking of the Standard Bank Group.
  • Ms Funeka has been recognised as Business Woman of the Year in the Corporate Category by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (2016) and earned the Private Sector CEO of the Year Award by the African Woman Chartered Accountants.

Mr Len Wolman

  • Mr Len Wolman serves as the founder, Chairman and CEO of Waterford Group and created a powerhouse company developing and operating hotels, gaming and venue properties totalling more than $3 billion throughout the USA.
  • Mr Len Wolman currently serves as Chairman of The Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality Advisory Board, is a member of New York University’s School of Professional Studies Dean’s Advisory Council and serves on the Board of the Trustees for the Connecticut Science Center.

2021 Recipients

Ms Shamla Chetty

  • Ms Chetty has been the Chief Executive Officer of Duke Corporate Education (Duke CE), South Africa since 2019. Prior to her appointment as CEO Ms Chetty served as President of Global Markets across four continents: North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, and oversaw and drove strategic alignment of organisational operations and regional practices for about 80 countries globally.

  • Ms Chetty was recognised for her contribution to leadership development through academic and entrepreneurial excellence.

Dr Leila Fourie

  • She was appointed CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in October 2019. Prior to this role, she held the role of CEO of the Australian Payments Network and served as Executive responsible for Consumer Finance at Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and served as New South Wales (NSW) Vice President of the Economic Society of Australia and on the Board Audit Committee of Lifeline Australia.

  • Dr Fourie was recognised for her contribution to the finance and banking sector.

Ms Usha Seejarim

  • Ms Seejarim has completed numerous iconic public commissions, including the public portrait for Nelson Mandela’s funeral in Qunu in 2013; Figures Representing Articles From The Freedom Charter in Soweto in 2008, and artwork for the facade of the South African Chancery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2008, among others.

  • Ms Seejarim was recognised for her outstanding contribution to the contemporary arts.

2022 Recipients

MS Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

  • Ms Ntshaveni is a UJ alumnus, with three RAU degrees. As a social activist, she has remained resolutely committed to her environment and to her desire to address injustice since she became a young activist in her teen years. In her Ministry portfolios, she has driven innovation and responded to a call for imagining a better South Africa.
  • Ms Ntshaveni has also declared that better and increased connectivity across South Africa is a goal of her department with the intent to improve e-commerce for entrepreneurs as well as access to digital education for poorer households across the country.
  • Ms Ntshaveni was recognised for her continued efforts to elevate society and to address social injustices

Ms Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya

  • Ms Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya became the chief economist at First National Bank at the age of 29, one of the youngest chief economists in South Africa’s history. Her rise from student to macroeconomist to chief economist can be attributed to hard work, long hours, and a potent mix of ambition and motivation. She is currently a member of President Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council.

  • Despite her busy schedule, she is actively involved as a key speaker at the UJ School of Economics events. Her achievement as Chief Economist at a major bank in South Africa will serve as a motivation for future economists.
  • Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya was recognised for her ambition and excellence as one of the youngest chief economists in South Africa’s history


Ms Refilwe Buthelezi

  • Ms Refilwe Buthelezi has demonstrated her passion by being of service to the engineering sector, volunteering her time mentoring and coaching upcoming engineering practitioners, sharing her insights to prepare them for the road ahead, and also equipping them with practical knowledge to enable them to thrive in their assigned roles.

  • A recipient of the Keith Plowden Young Achiever Award 2013 issued by SAIEE and PowerTech Transformers in November 2013, she keeps breaking boundaries with her most recent recognition when she was awarded the responsibility of Vice-President, Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) in 2020, and recently being chosen as the first female President, Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) in 2022.
  • Ms Buthelezi was recognised for her passion and tireless contribution to the engineering fraternity.


2023 Recipients

Ms Lebogang Letsoalo

  • Ms Letsoalo is a UJ alumnus, with three degrees from RAU and TWR. Founder of African Women in Supply Chain (AWISCA) and Director Sincpoint, Ms Letsoalo is a global Supply chain coach & CEO of Sincpoint, which focuses on sustainable supply chain consulting solutions, Trucking & Logistics services, mentorship and coaching in Procurement and Logistics.
  • Ms Letsoalo With 23 years of experience on end-to-end supply chain within the Energy, Chemicals, Construction, Transport and Mining industries she has held various portfolios within several organisations and has held roles as a Procurement Manage, General Manager Supply Chain, Procurement Executive, Executive Project Development Manager for Hydro Projects and lastly Vice President of Supply Chain at Sasol.
  • Some of Ms Letsoalo’s successes and achievement is that she is a multi-award winner with 12 recognitions and awards amongst others profiled one of the 100 Global Most Influential Women (at No 20) in Supply chain, Global 100 Top Women in Supply Chain, Top 100 women in Supply Chain Africa, TOP 150 Global Women In Leadership Awards, Women In Transport Mentor of the Year, launching the TOP 100 women in supply chain in AFRICA and others.

Ms Thabisile Charity Phumo

  • Ms Phumo is an established communication and social performance specialist with over 27 years’ experience in the private and public sectors. She has in her career contributed to the industry and academic development. She is the forme president of the public relations institute of Southern Africa and is currently an executive member of the World Communication Forum Association.

  • Ms Phumo has been involved in various academic programmes including course facilitation and presentations at various public forums. She is on the advisory committee of the Department of Strategic Communication and has collaborated with them on several projects including academic contribution, project on the ‘missing middle’ and recently co-edited a book on strategic communication with two academics at the institution.
  • Ms Phumo has been active in the mining industry for the past two decades and her contribution was recognised in 2022 as one of the Mining Elites in Africa. She has also trained as a coach and has since 2014 been involved in various initiatives to uplift women as part of her role as Convenor of the Inspired Women’s Connect. In that role she has facilitated support for student bursaries and many charitable causes benefiting women.

UJ Faculties

| All Faculties

College of Business and Economics (CBE)

Created from the former Faculties of Management, and Economic and Financial Sciences


Faculty of Art, Design And Architecture

Industry-relevant and competitive professional programmes


Faculty of Education

Education has the power to transform human lives


Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment

First in South Africa offering a full range of professional engineering qualifications


Faculty of Health Sciences

A preferred learner experience and innovative methods


Faculty of Humanities

To the benefit of individuals, the University and the community we serve


Faculty of Law

Traditional, specialised and short course Law programmes


Faculty of Science

Innovatively creating new knowledge and leading scientists


Johannesburg Business School

JBS. The Business of Reimagining Your Future.