Thu Jul 27 07:16:00 UTC 2006


South Africa’s premier accolade for achievement by women went to Esther Watson who was named the Shoprite Checkers/ SABC2 Woman of the Year 2006, at a dazzling concert in celebration of the women of South Africa, held in Cape Town on Thursday, 27 July 2006. 

The event, which will be broadcast at 21h00 on SABC2 on National Women’s Day, Wednesday, 9 August 2006, also included the announcement of the winners of the seven categories of the Award. 

Esther Watson, who is also the winner of the sport category of the Award, is the organiser of the first ever half marathon to be organised in South Africa exclusively for persons in wheelchairs, hand cycles and certain cerebral palsy tri-cycles. 

Since inception four years ago the Game Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge has grown in leaps and bounds to become a full marathon event on the international calendar attracting athlete participation from France, USA, Switzerland, Zimbabwe and Scotland. 

Ms Watson, a community occupational therapist with no experience in event management, managed to organize this hugely successful event in the first year with the help of 7 voluntary committee members. 

Judges deliberated for several hours due to the high standard quality work done by the finalists. Judge Lucy Mailula, chair of the panel of judges, said of the winners, finalists and all the nominees that they have again proved that South African women from all walks of life are doing sterling work for the country. 

“It is fantastic that the Shoprite Checkers/SABC2 Woman of the Year Award showcase these unsung heroines as they are truly role models to the young women and girls in South Africa. The achievements of this year’s winners is inspiring and worthy of the nation to celebrate especially on this 50th anniversary of women’s struggle for the liberation of their fellow humans, they are all of a high calibre. 

Winners of the other six categories of the prestigious Award are: 


Khomotso Choma is a social worker by training who used her business acumen to start a building construction company with a current turnover of R44 million. She has also now entered the real estate business by opening the first empowerment franchise of Pam Golding Real Estate in Mpumalanga. Ms Choma was the joint winner the first Apprentice Show in South Africa hosted by Tokyo Sexwale. Her career started as a social worker in the early nineties when she realised most women stay in abusive relationships to have shelter provided. That made Ms Choma determent to enter into business to not only make herself-sufficient but to provide housing to all including women and to employ women as sub-contractors. 

Social Welfare 

Sister Abegail Ntleko, an extraordinary woman who at the age of 72 heads the Clouds of Hope Community project in a deep rural area difficult to reach at the foot of the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal. She established the “Clouds of Hope HIV/Aids Project” dealing with the many problems the disease has inflicted on communities such as what to do with orphans with no family that could be traced, and children abandoned because of the epidemic, counselling communities, and giving guidance how to care for the terminally ill. 


Dianne Powell, a qualified registered nurse who has worked in tertiary health care services for 28 years and recently successfully launched the Community Eye, Primary and District Eye Care projects in the Western Cape, won for the awareness she created around the importance of eye care through organisations and school initiatives. Within 18 months of launching the last project she trained health professionals in 55 community health centres on how to screen eye problems and prevent avoidable blindness and visual impairment. 


Prof Cheryl McCrindle, a pioneer in the field of veterinary health care and education in South Africa, heads the Section of Veterinary Public Health at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort. In a male-dominated field she is one of only two women veterinarians who have been awarded full professorships and one of only a handful who have been promoted to head of their sections at the Faculty of Veterinary Science since inception. She has been a pioneer in creating a new paradigm of thought and action in the veterinary field in which people of previous disadvantaged communities of all ages are in meaningful and productive ways included in animal health and welfare. 

Arts, Culture and Communications 

Rear Admiral (Junior Grade) K Litchfield Tshabalala, the Director Fleet Human Resources in the South African Navy is the first woman appointed to have been appointed to the rank of Admiral (JG) in the 86 years of the South African Navy’s history. The admiral is active in upholding and ensuring that gender equity and equal opportunity (EO) is practiced and executed within the SA Navy. This is being achieved through a well-developed communications plan. She personally facilitates change management seminars for women and men from all ranks thereby reducing the risks of conflict in the work environment both at sea and ashore. 

Science and Technology 

Prof Valerie Mizrahi, an outstanding and internationally recognised scientist, won for undertaking groundbreaking research into the molecular biology of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Prof Mizrahi was the first woman to head a unit of the Medical Research Council when she was appointed director of the Molecular Mycobacteriology Research Unit, a joint project between the National health Laboratory Service, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Medical Research Council. 

An annual major initiative for National Women’s Day, the Shoprite Checkers/SABC2 Woman of the Year Award is now in its eleventh year and continues to focus attention on issues which are of importance to the women of South Africa. 

Issued by Patti Quinton @ (011) 465-5225
On behalf of: Shoprite Checkers / SABC2 Woman of the Year Award 

27 July 2006 

Latest Articles