Jul 29, 2005


South Africa’s premier accolade for achievement by women went to Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, who was named the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Woman of the Year 2005, at a dazzling concert in celebration of the women of South Africa, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday, 28 July 2005. 

Professor Chinsamy-Turan is also the winner of the Science and Technology category of the Award. 

The 2005 Award is the 10th anniversary of the Award, and this milestone event will be broadcast at 21h00 on SABC 2 on Tuesday, 9 August 2005 – National Women’s Day - and re-broadcast on Saturday, 13 August 2005 at 10h30. 

Professor Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan is an outstanding scientist who has earned international acclaim as a professor of palaeobiology. Her innovative research on the microstructure of fossil bone has led to a significant advancement in the field, and to a better understanding of the biology of a variety of extinct animals – from the world renowned mammal-like reptiles of South Africa through to dinosaurs and early birds. Professor Chinsamy-Turan’s work has been recognised locally and internationally, and in a field where there are very few women she has achieved several awards in recognition of research excellence. 

Professor Chinsamy-Turan’s work uses the biological signals recorded in the bone microstructure of modern animals to interpret the microscopic structure of bones of extinct animals, leading to a better appreciation of their growth and biology. Her pioneering work of using bone microstructure to develop growth curves and interpretation of biological signals of extinct animals such as lifestyle adaptations, age and longevity, has formed the basis of much of the current research of many palaeobiologists in this field. In June 2005 she published the first book devoted entirely to fossil bone microstructure entitled The Microstructure of Dinosaur Bone – Interpreting Biology through Fine Scale Techniques (John Hopkins University Press). 

Professor Chinsamy-Turan is highly committed to promoting science in South Africa and she plays a pivotal role in stimulating interest in science among the general public and particularly among previously disadvantaged communities, women and girls. Her role within high-ranking bodies in science – NRF (National Research Foundation), SAASTA, Academy of Science of South Africa, and SAWISE - has assisted her in raising the profile of women in science and contributed significantly towards development of research capacity in South Africa. 

Judges deliberated over the winner of the Award for several hours due to the high standard of finalists and Judge Lucy Mailula says they chose Professor Chinsamy-Turan because “she is an international star. She has put South Africa on the global map with her outstanding level of work, and as someone who has made a valuable difference in the field of Science and Technology, she is an inspiration to the young women of our country.” 

She adds: “As a published palaeobiologist, Professor Chinsamy-Turan is making a huge contribution in a subject that is important to the development of our country by taking science to the people.” 

The winners of the other six categories of this prestigious Award are: 

Arts, Culture and Communications 

Julia Moloi, founder of We Are Capable, has overcome her own disability to become the first editor of a magazine for people with disabilities. Aiming to promote and highlight the plight, struggles and triumphs of people with disabilities, Johannesburg-based We Are Capable offers a voice and platform whereby those with disabilities can be heard. The company’s magazine, event management and sports departments also aim to change people’s attitudes and perceptions concerning disability. 

A regular contributor to television and radio programmes, Ms Moloi launched her publication in 2003 and has grown its readership to almost 10 000. We Are Capable challenges those with disabilities to focus on improving their lives themselves and Ms Moloi intends increasing the magazine’s distribution so that there are offices in each of the nine provinces within the next year. She has already received recognition for her work at government level. The publication targets all age groups of those living with disabilities, and in addition to offering contributors to the publication an opportunity to express themselves, it also offers readers information about the rights of the disabled. 

In 2004 Ms Moloi’s event management division organised a 10 year democracy Fun Run that focused on raising awareness of the disabled among those who are able-bodied, and in 2005 she enlisted the support of artists such as Hugh Masekela and Mzekezeke for a music festival to promote disabled musicians. 

Business Entrepreneurs 

Thamsanqa Zimu, from Umzinto in KwaZulu-Natal, boldly challenges the male-dominated farming fraternity by successfully supplying her agricultural products to the highly competitive sugar and timber industries, whilst always maintaining high levels of farm worker skills on her farms where over 50 per cent of her employees are women.

Prior to sugar cane farming, multi-skilled Ms Zimu was a tutor at Edendale Hospital, a top achiever as a Sanlam financial advisor and a KFC franchisee. With a degree in nursing administration and a Masters Degree in Community Development from the University of Natal, Ms Zimu has grown her business by investing heavily in her community though local farm worker training in various farming and safety skills. 

Winner of the Department of Agriculture’s Female Farmer of the Year Award in 2004, Ms Zimu is passionate about agriculture and is planning to embark on a programme with other national female farmers to promote food security and contribute towards a nutritionally healthy society. She has also expanded into farming English cucumbers and currently supplies the Durban bluff market. From her early days as a nurse, Ms Zimu now cares for her community by empowering them to create their own sustainable farms and giving women the incentive and the skills to enter the farming industry. 


Violet Madingoane’s contribution to the field of information technology has had a far-reaching and deeply significant impact on South Africa’s education system. Not only has she been strategic in implementing computer training courses and centres at many schools, but the Department of Education also credits Ms Madingoane with being responsible for the original design of Gauteng on Line, an Information Communication Technology project included in the current Gauteng schools curriculum. 

Originally from Ventersdorp, Ms Madingoane recently retired as a program co-ordinator for a community HIV/Aids project under the School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thirty four years ago Wits employed Ms Madingoane as an uneducated cleaner; today she holds numerous qualifications from South African tertiary education institutions and is widely regarded as an inspiration to educators and students alike. 


Fiona MacDonald’s dedication to nursing care has made a difference in 108 villages in the Limpopo province. Her approach to health care is completely committed to making a difference in the area of HIV/Aids. Ms MacDonald’s forward thinking is based on the ripple effect: how the impact of training one person can reach so many others within the rural communities of Limpopo. One of her main challenges is to keep her 240 volunteers trained and motivated to operate in all of the villages. Ms MacDonald has always displayed a passion for developmental work with her focus on women in impoverished rural areas. 

After being retrenched in 1997, together with two colleagues she started an NGO called Choice Comprehensive Health Care, which originally focused on health training on farms, but has grown into a dynamic and progressive NGO that employs 10 full-time employees as well as running a home-based care project that attends to no less than 5 000 impoverished rural people every month. 

As a nurse she was conscious of how difficult it was for people without access to information to keep themselves and their families healthy. The Choice Home Based Care project has reached many thousands of people while also developing mainly women in impoverished rural communities who may never have had the opportunity for training. From just three full-time caregivers there are now 15 full time staff and over 200 volunteers who offer care to over 5 000 people. Care includes everything from nursing within the home to ensuring communities have food through income-generating projects. 

Social Welfare 

Beka Ntsanwisi has been nominated as a finalist in the Shoprite Checkers / SABC 2 Woman of the Year Award for the second year running. A radio presenter at the Munghana Lonene radio station in Polokwane, despite suffering from advanced colon cancer, Ms Ntsanwisi chooses to make a difference in the lives of thousands of community members, and most people in the area refer to her as Limpopo’s Mother Theresa. 

Ms Ntsanwisi uses her influential role as a radio presenter to canvas support for hundreds of people and worthy projects in the area. She has initiated numerous developments in rural areas to help women in particular to start and create their own jobs, and she recently acquired 21 hectares of farmland in the Makumeke Village area near Tzaneen, which has been utilised by families to plant cotton as well as seasonal vegetables for home use and sale to the public. She has also opened offices in Polokwane for youth development initiatives. 

A woman of courage, determination and spirit, and with an unsurpassed love for people, Ms Ntsanwisi is a role model and community builder and totally dedicated to the upliftment of impoverished people. 


Lesley Copeman and Tania Fourie have used their lifelong passion for women’s golf to create a historic tournament that brought together the world’s biggest names in women’s golf at the inaugural Women’s World Cup of Golf in 2004, while at the same time managing the SAA Champagne Golf clinics and the Acer Girls Golf Programme, projects aimed at developing the sport for women in this country. 

Having both retired from the professional circuit, in 1999 Ms Copeman and Ms Fourie felt the experience they had gained from their golfing careers was an invaluable asset in creating South Africa’s future women golfers. After approaching and successfully gaining ownership of the first women-owned pro-shop at Parkview Golf Course, Ms Copeman and Ms Fourie set out to bring the game of golf to South African women with the highly successful SAA Champagne Golf Clinics. 

Believing in the development of women’s golf in South Africa meant the pair also created the Acer Girls Golf programme, which sees more than 100 young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds trained and groomed to be tomorrow’s golfing stars. Their tireless pursuit for golfing exposure also led the pair to create the Nedbank Women’s Golf Tour in 1999, and the Women’s World Cup of Golf in 2004, placing South African women’s golf tournaments firmly ‘on par’ with the men’s tournaments. 

Their more than 20-year long friendship and love for the game of golf has seen them win numerous business and sporting awards for their achievements both on and off the golf course as well as international recognition for their contribution to the promotion of women’s golf in South Africa.

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

Latest Articles