Mamokgethi Phakeng

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Mamokgethi Phakeng
Mamokgethi Phakeng at a photo shoot
Born (1966-11-01) 1 November 1966 (age 51)
Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa
Nationality South African
Occupation Vice Chancellor University of Cape Town
Children Tsholofelo Setati
Academic background
Alma mater University of North-West
University of the Witwatersrand
Academic work

Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng GCOB (née Mmutlana, born 1 November 1966[1]) is a South African[2] mathematician & researcher who is currently Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town (UCT),[3] as of 1 July 2018.[4] Until her move to UCT in 2017, she was the Vice Principal, Research and Innovation, at the University of South Africa .[5] She also acted as Executive Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology [1] at UNISA. In 2002 she became the first black female South African to obtain a PhD in Mathematics Education.[6] [7]

Early life[edit]

Mmutlana was born in Eastwood, Pretoria to Frank Mmutlana and Wendy Mmutlana (née Thipe). Her mother started as a domestic worker and factory worker who went back to school after giving birth to all her three children to complete Form 3 (Grade 9) which allowed her to study for her Primary Teachers Certificate and practice as a teacher. Her father, Frank Mmutlana, was one of the first black radio announcers at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

She started school in 1972 at Ikageleng Primary in Marapyane village and Ikageng Primary in Ga-Rankuwa.She then attended the following schools; Tsela-tshweu higher primary; Tswelelang Higher Primary; Thuto-Thebe Middle School; Odi High School and Hebron.

She completed her matric with University Exemption in 1983(Grade 12) in the rural village of Hebron at the College of Education which also used to teach high school classes.

Higher education[edit]

She achieved a BSc in Pure Mathematics at the University of North-West,[1] and a MSc in Mathematics Education at the University of the Witwatersrand[1] followed by a PhD in Mathematics Education at the same institution.[2]

Career accomplishments[edit]

Throughout her life, Kgethi- as she is affectionately known- has won many awards for excellence in service. These honors include:

  • The Order of the Baobab (Silver) for her excellent contribution in the field of science and representing South Africa on the international stage through her outstanding research work. The award was presented her by H.E Dr Jacob G Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa. (April 2016)
  • CEO Magazine award for being the most influential woman in education and training in South Africa (August 2013):
  • NSTF award for being the most outstanding Senior Black Female Researcher over the last 5 to 10 years in recognition of her innovative, quality research on teaching

and learning mathematics in multilingual classrooms. (May 2011)

  • Golden key International Society Honorary life membership (May 2009)
  • Association of Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) Honorary life membership (July 2009)
  • Recognised as one of top three NRF Top Women in Research for 2006
  • Amstel Salute to Success finalist (2005)
  • Dr. T. W. Khambule Research Award for being the most outstanding young female black researcher for 2003: Conferred by the NSTF (May 2004)
  • Outstanding Service Award (Education category). Conferred by the Sunday Sun and Christ Centred Church (2004).
  • SA Woman of the Year (one of the three finalists) for the Science and Technology Category (2003).
  • Prestige National Award South Africa’s Inspirational Women Achievers Award -Conferred by RCP Media, (June 2003).
  • NRF Thuthuka Award (2003–2008).
  • National Research Foundation/National Science Foundation USA/SA fellowship (2001; 2003)
  • Mellon Award (1998 – 2000)
  • SAB Women in Rural Areas Award (1997).[8]

Positions held[edit]

Personal life[edit]

She was married to Richard Setati for 19 years (1988–2007) and they had one son,[16] Tsholofelo who was born in 1990. In 2012, she got married to Madimetja Lucky Phakeng, thereby adding the appendage "Phakeng" to her surname. Lucky Phakeng is an advocate currently heading the Takeover Regulation Panel.[17] During the UCT Vice Chancellor selection process she apparently took anti-anxiety pills everyday which she now apparently carries around in her bag.[18]

Social responsibility[edit]


In 2004, Kgethi founded Adopt-A-Learner, a Non-profit Organisation with the aim of recognizing, promoting, and encouraging learner excellence in mathematics and science in black schools. According to her website, the purpose of the organization is to:

  • To recognise, promote and encourage learner excellence in mathematics and science in black schools.
  • To provide financial assistance to outstanding but financially underprivileged learners between Grades 7 and 12 by means of annual scholarships.
  • To recruit individuals who are sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the project to support and mentor learners.

At the beginning of every year, her organization awards laptops at various schools to learners who perform well in mathematics and science.

Thusanani Foundation[edit]

Thusanani Foundation is a youth-led non-profit organisation that aims to bridge the educational information gap between rural high school learners and their urban counterparts through a multi-pronged holistic approach to learner development. Founded in 2011 by Morris Masutha and NtandoKabawo James, the Foundation was officially launched by the president of the Republic of South Africa, JacobZuma at the University of the Witwatersrand, on November 10, 2014. Kgethi, sits on the advisory board of the foundation.

Personal influence[edit]

In addition to the formal programmes she runs, Kgethi often uses her influence and social capital to empower and connect young people with their peers, or sponsors who can help them get ahead in life.[19] Some of the young people who have benefited from her initiatives and mentoring include, among others Maanda Luxious Ndlovu and Madimetja "Brizo" Manyediwane


  1. ^ a b c d e "Mamokgethi (Kgethi) Setati". Who's Who SA. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, PhD". South African PhD Project. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  3. ^ "Vice-chancellor| University of Cape Town". Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  4. ^ Pityana, Sipho (17 March 2018). "Appointment of New Vice-Chancellor" (Press release). Cape Town: University of Cape Town. Retrieved 2018-04-22. 
  5. ^ "Unisa Online - Executive management". University of South Africa. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "convocation". Wits University. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng appointed new UCT vice-chancellor". New24. Retrieved 17 March 2018. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Prof Mamokgethi Setati – Executive Dean: College of Science, Engineering and Technology". Unisa Online. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "Ass.Prof Mamokgethi Setati". University of the Witwatersrand. Wits Marketing. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  11. ^ "Prof Mamokgethi Setati". International Commission on Mathematics Instruction. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  12. ^ "200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch: Education & Science". Mail & Guardian Online. 14 June 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  13. ^ "Profile of Trustees". FirstRand Foundation. Retrieved 1 September 2010. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch: Science". Mail & Guardian Online. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  15. ^ Karolia, Sameerah (19 August 2010). "The problem solver". Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Setati, Mamokgethi". The Little Black Book. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Mnguni, Lukhona. "Did UCT kill Bongani Mayosi?". The M&G Online. Retrieved 2018-08-06. 
  19. ^
Academic offices
Preceded by
Max Price
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town
July 2018 – present