Jul 21, 2004


South Africa’s premier accolade for achievement by women was awarded to nine outstanding winners of the 2004 Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year Award, at a dazzling concert in celebration of the women of South Africa, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday 29 July 2004. 

For the first time in its history the Award celebrates nine winners in nine categories who share the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year title. The event will be broadcast at 21h00 on SABC 2 on National Women’s Day, Monday 9 August 2004, and rebroadcast at 12h00 on Tuesday 10 August 2004. 

An annual major initiative for National Women’s Day, the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year Award is now in its ninth year and continues to focus attention on issues which are of importance to the women of South Africa. The winners are: 

Arts and Culture 

Masingita Masunga has given physically disabled people throughout South Africa an opportunity to make valuable contributions to society through projects created by her Tinyungubyiseni Talent Promotions company. As the company’s Managing Director and a champion of the disabled from an early age, Ms Masunga has overcome her own disability of cerebral palsy to establish an organisation that motivates men, women and the youth. 

Tinyungubyiseni staged the country’s first beauty pageant for the disabled, the Miss Confidence SA competition, and promotes Nyeleti – Star Beyond Limits, a music competition for people with disabilities. 

A culmination of initiatives undertaken by people with disabilities for people with disabilities, the organisation embarks on initiatives countrywide. These include workshops and training, a soccer tournament, motivational talks and schools tours, all of which aim to raise public awareness about people with physical disabilities, and serve to reinforce the fact that disability does not mean inability. 

Business Entrepreneurs 

Sabina Khoza, one of South Africa’s top poultry farmers, is taking her business knowledge to the community via the Fair Deal Education and Production Training Centre, which she has initiated on her Fair Deal Poultry Farm at Zuurbekom near Soweto. The first group of trainees completed their course in November 2003, and close on 100 farmers, the majority of whom are women, have graduated from the centre prior to starting their own small businesses. 

Ms Khoza entered the business world in 1988 with just 10 chickens and very little knowledge of farming. Now producing 150 000 birds annually, she has been the recipient of numerous farming-related awards, including Female Farmer of the Year. 

She is currently serving her second term as President of the Gauteng Provincial Farmers Union and is also secretary-general of the National African Farmers’ Union. Ms Khoza’s successful farming venture incorporates the latest technology and farming methods, and additional community projects include vegetable and maize production, as well as a guesthouse, which accommodates trainee farmers. 

Community Affairs 

Nomthunzi Joyce Mali is a faith healer by calling, who has embarked upon her own extraordinary quest to reach out to people. A true community builder who has assisted with a number of projects in the impoverished Zigodlo Village near Debe Nek in the Eastern Cape, she has given hope to orphans and street children, promoted spiritual healing and focused on the reduction of crime through a number of youth development projects. 

Acknowledging the importance of feeding the body, the mind and the soul, her projects have been instrumental in offering hope and a more positive outlook to community members through the developing and furnishing of schools as well as churches in her area. She Ms Mali has also founded two successful gospel groups and facilitated the building of a gym. 


Professor Letticia Moja, the first black woman to head a South African medical faculty, is a brilliant academic and leader who firmly believes in the great need for training of Health professionals, particularly from disadvantaged communities. 

Professor Moja stepped into her new role as Dean of the Faculty of Health Science at the University of the Free State in December 2003, after fulfilling the role of Vice-Dean of the faculty from 2002. Prior to this she headed the Gynaecologic Oncology Unit at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital in Pretoria from 1997 to 2002. 

Professor Moja is widely acknowledged for her leadership, dedication and compassion, and as someone who continually focuses on improving the circumstances of others, she inspires all that come into contact with her. 

She is passionate about unity and harmony while maintaining cultural differences, and is held in high regard by a broad cross-section of colleagues both young and old. A competent leader, she also serves on the Medical and Dental Board and is the Vice-President of the Health Professions Council. 


Dr Shereen Usdin, a medical doctor and public health specialist, is the co-founder of Soul City, a locally and internationally acclaimed multi-media health initiative that uses popular media to promote health and development. 

Soul City reaches over 82% of the South African population and educates the public about national health and development priorities such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, maternal and child health, substance abuse and gender violence. 

The multi-award winning initiative is one of the largest health education projects of its kind, growing into one of the country’s largest NGOs and employing over 50 people. It has shifted social norms, attitudes and behaviours related to ill health, and is responsible for assisting people in taking action to protect their health. 

A Harvard graduate, Dr Usdin consults internationally on health, gender and human rights issues. She is a co-founder of ACESS, the Alliance for Children’s Entitlement to Social Security and is also a member of the Steering Committee of the SA Gender Based Violence and Health Initiative to raise awareness on the health impacts of gender violence. She helped establish the Stop Women Abuse Helpline and is the author of “The No Nonsense Guide to HIV/Aids”. 

Media and Communications 

Ferial Haffajee became the first woman editor of a major South African newspaper when, aged only 36, she took over the editorship of Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian in January 2004. 

In the year South Africa celebrates ten years of democracy and its third non-racial elections, Ferial’s Ms Haffajee’s appointment to this investigative campaigning paper born during the height of the anti-apartheid struggle, is a triumph for gender equality in South Africa. 

An advocate of quiet and calm leadership, Ms Haffajee Ferial now reports a two-thirds female contingency in the M&G newsroom and aims to nurture more investigate journalism in the M&G on delicate gender issues, such as the rate of rape and sexual violence in South Africa. 

Writer of The Little Black Book, a directory of South Africa’s top black business people, while still at the Financial Mail, Ms Haffajee is currently compiling a women’s version, to be released in October of this year. 

Science and Technology 

Professor Tebello Nyokong is researching a ground-breaking new cancer diagnosis and treatment alternative to chemotherapy, using a red laser light and the same dye used in blue denims, harmless by itself and activated with exposure to light. 

She is currently collaborating with Russian researchers to acquire a licence to commence clinical trials in South Africa for the Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), which has been approved in some countries abroad and does not destroy hair or healthy cells and does not make the person sick. The project will be a first for South Africa and the Continent. 

Professor Nyokong’s outstanding achievements come as a result of changing her studies in the eleventh grade when she abandoned the arts for science, and in spite of her early childhood as a shepherd in the Free State when her family fled the Sharpeville massacre. She attributes this tremendous success in the sciences to her father’s strong leadership. 

While she finds being a female researcher lonely and often feels excluded from the primarily male fraternity, from her base at Rhodes University in Grahamstown Professor Nyokong continues to train highly skilled chemists – particularly women – with appropriate skills to move South Africa to the front lines of scientific development. 

Social Services 

Cookie Edwards pioneered and co-ordinates the KwaZulu-Natal Network of Violence against Women, which played a major role in the New Domestic Violence Act of 1999, the setting up of the Durban Family Court and numerous public safety outreach programmes aimed at improving the fate of abused women in South Africa. 

Breaking the shackles of her own marital abuse, Cookie’s Ms Edwards’ catalyst came in the form of abuse counselling when, rather late in life, the difference between love and abuse was explained to her for the first time. 

Since that day in 1989, Cookie Ms Edwards has been a compassionate ear for her community in Durban, and a voice and haven for abused women in KwaZulu-Natal. She campaigns progressively with Government and NGOs, and plays a major role in the securing of national and international funding to offer hope to abused women throughout the country. 

Not only has the past 16 years seen her arrange marches and training workshops provincially, nationally and abroad against woman abuse, but her own home has served as a haven for abused women. Alongside her own three children, three previously disadvantaged girls (two foster, one adopted) have become proud young women in her home care. 


Modi Marishane-Nyaka, newly elected President of the South African Handball Federation and former Vice-President of the former South African Netball Association, is using her own experience of this once-forgotten sport in South Africa to revive it to one of the top sporting codes amongst the youth. 

Currently providing national guidance to project implementers in rural and previously disadvantaged communities for the United Nations Office on Drug Control (UNODC), she firmly believes in the uplifting role played by sport in the development of South Africa’s youth. 

Ms Marishane-Nyaka conducts training programmes and workshops on all-round sports involvement in rural schools nationwide to promote drug prevention therapy amongst the youth. 

Under the umbrella of Rainbow Interaction SA (RISA), she has taken learners to Moscow for team-building exercises through applied sport and non-verbal communication through body language skills. RISA hosted an international Rainbow event in Cape Town in 2000. 

An annual major initiative for National Women’s Day, the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Women of the Year Award is now in its ninth year and continues to focus attention on issues which are of importance to the women of South Africa. 

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