College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

Unisa scientist receives South Africa's highest honour from the Presidency

Prof Vhahangwele Masindi

A second-to-none Unisa scientist, Professor Vhahangwele Masindi, was recently bestowed the Award of the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze by the President of South Africa, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, for his exceptional contribution to the field of environmental sciences focusing on water issues in South Africa and globally. Masindi, a Research Associate at Unisa's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, is ranked among the top 2% of scientists in the world according to Scientific Reports, and he is the Subject Editor for Water SA Journal.

This award is named after the Mapungubwe ancient African nation that existed a thousand years ago in the northern part of the Limpopo Province. It is bestowed to notable South Africans for achievements that confidently impact the local and global communities. The late former President and Unisa alumnus, Dr Nelson Mandela, was the first recipient of the order in platinum class. Masindi says about his research work that secured this award: "It seeks to find much-needed solutions towards the challenges of water scarcity in South Africa and further afield."

Masindi acknowledges that it is rare to receive awards from the president; therefore, he remarks that he is ecstatic to be among a few recipients of this prestigious and highest award for scientists in South Africa. He notes: "As a researcher, I am motivated and humbled that my work and impact is recognised at a presidential level." He adds: "Researchers do not work for awards, but to uplift and make a difference in societies through scientific interventions."

According to Masindi, the award also indicates the standard and quality of researchers and research that is conducted at Unisa. "Also," he continues, "this confirms that Unisa is the best university in Africa and abroad. Results and outputs are attesting to that."

President Cyril Ramaphosa (left) congratulating Prof Vhahangwele Masindi on his Award of the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze

Masindi's research interests are water security, ecological sustainability, water resource management, waste (water) valorisation and beneficiation, environmental management, and circular economy in water and wastewater treatment. His recent research focuses on developing water treatment solutions for marginalised communities in South Africa. His topical projects include mapping and profiling emerging contaminants in rivers, dams and drinking water, and their eco-toxicity determination, and the development of point-of-use drinking water treatment systems for schools and marginalised communities. Among others, the projects also include recovering valuable minerals from municipal wastewater and acid mine drainage using innovative and benign technologies, and modelling the chlorine decay and demand in water supply systems in South Africa.

Congratulating Unisa on its 150-year milestone, Masindi affirmed that Unisa is an internationally renowned institution. He notes: "Graduates and researchers, and their enormous contribution towards agendas of this country and other communities, for example, are testament to this notable milestone." As a university committed to shaping futures through quality teaching, learning, and research, Masindi remarks that Unisa has been at the forefront of forging research agendas and setting research trends. He concludes by urging the university to continue reinforcing its contribution towards addressing societal problems through teaching and learning, community engagement projects and research that has scientifically informed solutions for developing and uplifting societies.

By Nancy Legodi, Acting Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

** Photos supplied

Publish date: 2023/05/10

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