Jul 26, 2007


South Africa’s premier accolade for achievement by women went to Ms Linda Olga Nghatsane, who was named the Shoprite Checkers/ SABC2 Woman of the Year for 2007, at a dazzling concert in celebration of the women of South Africa, held in Cape Town on Thursday, 26 July 2007.

The event, which will be broadcast at 21h00 on SABC2 on Wednesday, 8 August 2007 and at 09h30 on Thursday, 9 August 2007 - National Women’s Day - also included the announcement of the winners of the seven categories of the Award. 

Ms Linda Olga Nghatsane, a public health practitioner from Mpumalanga, turned farmer three years ago to answer financially desperate women who challenged her while she taught good nutritional practices. 

These women said although they acquired useful nutritional knowledge they remained challenged by poverty and unemployment. That is when Ms Nghatsane bought the 10 hectare farm De Hoop in the Crocodile River Mountain conservancy near Nelspruit. 

The land was overgrown with Lowveld vegetation and most of the bush clearing had to be done by hand. There was no infrastructure on the farm, i.e., no house, electricity or water and not even a road leading to the piece of land which she has since turned into a flourishing farm. 

Today she is rearing broiler chickens, an operation with a capacity of 25,000 chickens; and producing oyster mushrooms, strawberries and a variety of vegetables. The farm’s turnover per year is about R2 million. Ms Nghatsane bought the farm without Government assistance in a commercial transaction. 

Her successful farming also includes involvement in community development where she is conducting training on planting vegetables in bags, poultry and oyster mushroom production as well as the care and support of orphans and vulnerable children. 

She is a self-driven person who does not believe in hand-outs but in hard work. Ms Nghatsane uses the example of how she has turned an open land in the middle of nowhere into an oasis to create jobs as well as feeding her community. 

Accepting the Award Ms Nghatsane, who won in the business category before taking the overall title, said that winning the Award will afford her business publicity as well as opportunities for growth and networking with other business women and easier access to market opportunities. 

“It will widen my horizons to reach more people as well as access more resources for community development. I am now so motivated to further excel in what I am doing and I am in a better position to collaborate in Public/Private Partnership initiatives,” she concluded. 

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 and are all of a high calibre. 

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

Social Welfare
Ms Esther Carmickle-Ramusi is a community worker who has relentlessly worked to transform communities in which she lived and worked in South Africa. Her endeavours through the years have included turning dry rural communities into areas of greenery and flowers and providing light for a disadvantaged community by helping them in the development of schools. Her work included mentoring hundreds of youths and helping them to get bursaries and believe in themselves to make a positive choice through education, not only changing the economic circumstances of those living with HIV/AIDS but instilling in them the belief that the illness is not the end for them and their families. With a firm belief that the mind is a terrible thing to waste, Ms Carmickle-Ramusi considers herself an agent for change and speaks as a motivational speaker to get people involved in service. Her students are still coming from the dusty roads but she builds confidence and believes in them when many people do not. 

Dr. Angela Mathee has been instrumental in the development of leading research in South Africa. Findings from her research studies supported the reduction of lead in petrol and recently influenced the Department of Health to place a ban on lead in paint in South Africa. Lead poisoning has been associated with a lowered IQ, learning difficulties, behaviour problems (such as hyperactivity and shortened concentration spans) and the emergence of aggressive or violent behaviour. As Director of the Environment and Health Research Unit of the Medical Research Council of South Africa (MRC) Dr Mathee has been involved in a series of studies that have highlighted the extent of lead poisoning in South African children, and the relationship between poverty and lead poisoning. Her work has supported or catalyzed the development of new policies to reduce lead pollution of the environment. She has documented how the phasing-out of leaded petrol has started to bear fruit in terms of lower levels of exposure to lead amongst South African children and has since also highlighted other sources of lead such as paint used on children’s toys and the use of lead in “backyard industries”. Dr Mathee serves on a number of expert advisory panels including an international expert working group on lead poisoning, and serves as the Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Urban Health. She has made a tremendous contribution not only to science but to translating scientific findings into policy. This has had measurable impacts on improving the health of South African children. 

Adv. Molly D. Malete is an admitted Advocate of the High Court of South Africa who has brought a lot of awareness in different communities as far as bringing simple understanding of the country’ different Laws, Acts and Legislations to the people in their language and with simplicity. She reaches out to the broader community with workshops, seminars, presentations and motivational talks on various topics such as family law, gender equality and development, violence against women, parenting, and children's rights and development. As a lawyer by profession Adv Malete has been exposed to a lot of people, the majority of whom are women who are deprived of fulfilment as far as their rights are concerned because of the lack of knowledge when it comes to legation in South Africa. She saw a need to bring vital information on these matters closer to the people and to make it accessible to low income groups and the unemployed. Her vision is to empower communities towards self-realisation and actualisation. She is an evangelist and preacher of the Word of God and reaches various congregations across denominational barriers. Her mission is to capacitate the community through education, training, skills development and outreach in all spheres of life. 

Arts, Culture and Communications
Dr. Carol Hofmeyr is an accomplished artist and a medical doctor who has taken both professions to the poorest of the poor in the Eastern Cape to empower them. She established the Keiskamma Art Project to nurture the innate artistic creativity of the community, engender a new sense of pride and hope for the future and to generate a small income for the members. Not only has this community created the monumental Keiskamma Tapestry, a 120 meter embroidery artwork which depicts the history of the Eastern Cape and now hangs in the South African Parliament, but their work is now internationally renowned and displayed. Other than alleviating poverty and promoting self esteem through art, Dr Hofmeyr also brought high quality care to people living with HIV/AIDS by creating a residential HIV treatment centre in the Hamburg area. 

Science and Technology
In 2000 Ms Allyson Lawless was the first woman to be appointed president in the then almost 100 year history of the SA Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE). Since stepping into this position it has been her drive to make a difference from the highest levels in government to communities in need of infrastructure. She worked at addressing imbalances in the civil engineering profession and in 2005 published the book Numbers and Needs which has become a national reference guide on skills development, suggesting a range of solutions almost from cradle to grave! She has actively campaigned to put senior and junior engineers back into local government to improve service delivery. As a civil engineer exposed to the realities of South Africa Ms Lawless has made a real connection between civil engineering and the people that she serves. Allyson works hard to bridge the challenges presented by existing gaps. She was instrumental in launching the Local Government Engineering Empowerment Programme, which was supported by SA Local Government Association (SALGA), Eskom, the Department of Local Government, the Department of Housing, the CSIR, and DACST, to orientate new councillors on the intricacies of infrastructure delivery and guide them on issues to consider when making decisions. She, along with Dawie Botha, executive director of SAICE, was also instrumental in establishing the Africa Engineers Forum (AEF) to share technology and harmonise codes of practice throughout Africa. In the civil engineering profession and industry she is highly regarded and respected and is making an immense difference to the progress of students and graduates and the lives of ordinary people, young and old, through her facilitation and negotiation with influential decision makers. 

Ms Anne Siroky, who at the age of 37 became the number one beach volleyball player in South Africa and travelled all over the world to represent her country, is running The Future Factory. This Western Cape-based sport academy work with more than 150 000 children teaching them all the Olympic sport codes as well as cricket, netball, table tennis and golf. Ms Siroky started The Future Factory six years ago in two schools and is now working in 50 schools. In almost half of these schools she now has PT classes once a week for learners which have for many been a life changing experience. For example, eight students from the Zerilda Park Primary School in Lavender Hill have developed their skills enough to make provincial and national volleyball teams. She has overcome two serious medical conditions. When Ms Siroky was seven years old, she was diagnosed with club feet and after many surgeries doctors told her parents that she would never be able to play sports. She was determined to prove them wrong and played provincial soccer, basketball and volleyball. Last year she was diagnosed with cancer, fought it and won, and has now returned to dancing and teaching. 

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

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