Alumnus flies the Unisa flag high in Russia

Unisa alumnus, Thokozani Prince Simelane, together with six team members and three coordinators, represented South Africa at the Third International Olympiad on Financial Security, held in October in Sochi, Russia.

Of the 12 500 participants who competed in the qualifiers, Simelane was among 550 successful participants reaching the finals in the economics category. Simelane was part of Team South, Africa, however, members participated as individuals.


Thokozani Simelane with Petr Mikhaylovich Fradkov, economist and CEO of Promsvyazbank (a Russian state-owned bank)

This is the first year in which Russia has hosted the Olympiad, which gives talented university students and high school learners the opportunity to demonstrate their acumen in financial security, among other areas. Other subjects tested during the Olympiad are based on higher education programmes, and include law, economics, international relations, mathematics, computer science and information security.

This year, participants from 19 countries were selected based on a test to participate in the event, with South Africa and Namibia being the only two African countries to take part in Olympiad. Simelane won the individual award for achieving high marks in the individual economics test every student participant wrote.                      

The South African team earned the recognition for its application of Graphus, a fraud investigation system for financial intelligence investigations, in combating money laundering and financial terrorism.

Simelane was born in Soweto, Johannesburg, in 1988, and holds diplomas and higher certificates from various higher institutions of learning. He subsequently registered with Unisa and obtained his BCom in Business information Systems in 2021.

He believes that without his Unisa degree he would not have been able to enter the Olympiad in Russia, since a university degree is a minimum requirement for participation from other countries outside Russia. Russia is currently the only country in the world that hosts an event of this kind.

When asked how he had been received on his return to South Africa since winning the Olympiad, Simelane expressed the view that there was not enough publicity in South Africa about the event. He however hopes, through this achievement, to motivate other students and alumni. He believes that for people to attain important milestone in life, "they need to believe in themselves, do what they love, and love what they do". 

* By Nthabiseng Majeng, Intern, Unisa Foundation and Alumni Relations

Publish date: 2023/12/05

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