Chemistry Research

Chemistry Research Achievements 2019

Prof Fanyana Mtunzi received funding from Sasol for research on graphene.

Prof Vusi Pakade and Dr Winny Maboya received funding from the NRF for research on adsorption to clean water.

Dr Agnes Neo Pholosi, a lecturer in the Chemistry Department has been awarded her DTech.

Prof MJ Moloto received research excellence award – 3rd place for VUT and 1st place for the Faculty

Ms Mahlogonolo Seloi received an awards from SACI – James Moir

Ms Sibongile Nkabinde received an award recently from the NYRS – 3rd place for the MSc/MTech category

Chemistry Research Achievements 2018

The Chemistry Department hosted the Nanoscience’s Young Researchers symposium(NYRS) 16 November 2018.

Dr. Winny Maboya, a lecturer in the Chemistry Department, has been awarded a PhD at WITS this year.

Ms. Dikelede More, a lecturer and DTech student in the Chemistry Department, has won the best poster prize at the ICPAC 2018 conference held in Mauritius on the 2nd to 6th of July 2018.

Professor Ezekiel Dikio from the Department of Chemistry was a plenary speaker at the Nano Research Group conference at the University of Nigeria. He received an award of excellence for his presentation on Metal Organic Frameworks (MOF) used as adsorbents to clean water.

Chemistry Research Achievements in 2017

Thokozani Xaba, a lecturer in the Chemistry Department, has been awarded a DTech during the September 2017 graduation. She has won the very prestigious first prize for her poster presentation at the 7th Green Chemistry International  IUPAC 2017 conference in Moscow.  Previously she has won the first prize for her poster presentation at the 5th Green Chemistry 2014 Conference in Durban and the first prize for her oral presentation at the 5th Nano-Africa 2014 Conference in the Vaal Triangle-Vanderbijlpark. Thokozani has also received the VUT RATE teacher’s award as well as the first place in the VUT Research Achievement award.

Prof Ofomaja is Chemistry’s NRF rated professor.  He has successfully applied and received funding under the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)/NRF Cooperation for 2018.  He has also received external funding from Sasol for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Dr Pakade has received Y2 NRF rating in 2017. He has also received yearly NRF Thuthuka funding since 2014. He has also been awarded the third place in the VUT Research Achievement award.

Semakaleng Kganyago, a MTech student in the Chemistry Department doing research on the effect of the cobalt oxide nanoparticle’s size and shape on the Fenton catalytic activity. She has won the second prize for her oral presentation on her research at the 7th Annual Nano Sciences Young Researchers Symposium (NYRS) hosted at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)in Pretoria on the 20th of October 2017. Last  year she won the first prize for her oral presentation at the 6th  Annual Nano Sciences Young Researchers Symposium (NYRS).

Obakeng Nchoe received the second price for his oral presentation at the  annual SACI Young Chemistry Symposium hosted at the University of Johannesburg on the 13th of October. Obakeng’s presentation was on his research on cleaning polluted water by adsorption.

Chemistry Research Areas


The focus is the preparation of nano-materials with different sizes and shapes.


Prof Moloto, Dr Xaba, Dr Viljoen, Dr Maboya

Recent publications:

Xaba, T. Green synthesis of ZnS nanoparticles and fabrication of ZnS-chitosan nanocomposites for the removal of Cr(vi) ion from wastewater. (2021) Green Processing and Synthesis  10(1), pp. 374–383

Xaba, T., Shooto, N.D. Influence of annealing temperature on the growth of spin coated mn3o4 thin films from the decomposition of bis(N-cyclohexyl-salicydenaminato)manganese(ii) complex (2021) Digest Journal of Nanomaterials and Biostructures 16(1), pp. 135–142

Al-Shakban, M., Al-Dulaimi, N., Xaba, T., Raheel, A. Hot injection synthesis of orthorhombic sns nanoparticles from bis(O-N-propyldithiocarbonato)diphenyltin(IV) (2021) Journal of Nano Research, 66, pp. 27–34

Mofokeng, T.P., Moloto, M.J., Shumbula, P.M., Tetyana, P. Synthesis, characterization and cytotoxicity of alanine-capped CuS nanoparticles using human cervical carcinoma HeLa cells. (2019) Analytical Biochemistry, 580, pp. 36-41.

Mokubung, K.E., Moloto, M.J., Mubiayi, K.P., Moloto, N.
Synthesis and characterization of cysteine-capped CdSe nanoparticles using an alternative of selenium (2019) Asian Journal of Chemistry, 31 (11), pp. 2457-2460.

Xaba, T., Moloto, M.J., Moloto, N. Bis(2-hydroxy-1-naphthaldehydato)zinc(II) as a precursor for the preparation of ZnO thin films through aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition (2019) Thin Solid Films, 670, pp. 99-104.

Nyamukamba, P., Moloto, M.J., Tavengwa, N., Ejidike, I.P. Evaluating physicochemical parameters, heavy metals, and antibiotics in the influents and final effluents of South African wastewater treatment plants (2019) Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 28 (3), pp. 1305-1312.

Mokubung, K.E., Moloto, M.J., Moloto, N. Low temperature synthesis of L-cysteine capped Cu2Se quantum dots (2018) Chalcogenide Letters, 15 (11), pp. 529-533.

Machogo, L.F.E., Tetyana, P., Sithole, R., Gqoba, S.S., Phao, N., Airo, M., Shumbula, P.M., Moloto, M.J., Moloto, N.5Unravelling the structural properties of mixed-valence α- and β-AuSe nanostructures using XRD, TEM and XPS (2018) Applied Surface Science, 456, pp. 973-979.

Sibiya, P.N., Moloto, M.J.Green synthesis of Ag2S nanoparticles: Effect of pH and capping agent on size and shape of NPs and their antibacterial activity (2018) Digest Journal of Nanomaterials and Biostructures, 13 (2), pp. 411-418.

Mubiayi, K.P., Moloto, N., Moloto, M.J. Effect of diphenylphosphinic acid on cesium lead iodide perovskite stability (2018) CrystEngComm, 20 (35), pp. 5275-5280.

Xaba, T., Moloto, M.J., Moloto, N. Synthesis of hexadecylamine capped ZnO nanoparticles using bis(2-Hydroxy-1-Naphthaldehydato)zinc(II) as a single source precursor (2018) Digest Journal of Nanomaterials and Biostructures, 13 (1), pp. 49-55.

Sithole, R.K., MacHogo, L.F.E., Airo, M.A., Gqoba, S.S., Moloto, M.J., Shumbula, P., Van Wyk, J., Moloto, N. Synthesis and characterization of Cu3N nanoparticles using pyrrole-2-carbaldpropyliminato Cu(II) complex and Cu(NO3)as single-source precursors: The search for an ideal precursor
(2018) New Journal of Chemistry, 42 (4), pp. 3042-3049.

Mofokeng, T.P., Mabena, G., Moloto, M.J., Shumbula, P.M., Mubiayi, K.P., Nyamukamba, P. Temperature influence on the lactose capped metal sulphide nanoparticles (2017) Chalcogenide Letters, 14 (8), pp. 347-355.

Viljoen, E.L., Moloto, M.J., Thabede, P.M. Impact of acetate ions on the shape of Co3O4 nanoparticles (2017) Digest Journal of Nanomaterials and Biostructures, 12 (2), pp. 571-577.

Xaba, T., Moloto, M.J., Al-Shakban, M., Malik, M.A., O’Brien, P., Moloto, N. The effect of temperature on the growth of Ag2O nanoparticles and thin films from bis(2-hydroxy-1-naphthaldehydato)silver(I) complex by the thermal decomposition of spin–coated films (2017) Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing, 71, pp. 109-115.

Xaba, T., Moloto, M.J., Nchoe, O.B., Nate, Z., Moloto, N. Synthesis of silver sulfide nanoparticles through homogeneous precipitation route and the preparation of the Ag2S-chitosan nanocomposites for the removal of iron(II) ion from wastewater (2017) Chalcogenide Letters, 14 (8), pp. 337-346.


The focus is on the removal of organic and inorganic pollutants from water through adsorption.


Prof Ofomaja, Prof Pakade, Prof Naidoo, Ms Pholosi, Dr Klink, Dr Shooto, Prof Mtunzi

Recent publications:

Thabede, P.M., Shooto, N.D., Xaba, T., Naidoo, E.B. Magnetite Functionalized Nigella Sativa Seeds for the Uptake of Chromium(VI) and Lead(II) Ions from Synthetic Wastewater. (2021) Adsorption Science and Technology 2021, 6655227

Leudjo Taka, A., Klink, M.J., Yangkou Mbianda, X., Naidoo, E.B. Chitosan nanocomposites for water treatment by fixed-bed continuous flow column adsorption: A review Carbohydrate Polymers, 2021, 255, 117398

Nchoe, O.B., Ntuli, T.D., Klink, M.J., Mtunzi, F.M., Pakade, V.E. A comparative study of acid-treated, base-treated, and Fenton-like reagent-treated biomass for Cr(VI) sequestration from aqueous solutions Water Environment Research, 2021, 93(3), pp. 370–383

Jakavula, S., Biata, N.R., Dimpe, K.M., Pakade, V.E., Nomngongo, P.N. Multi-ion imprinted polymers (MIIPs) for simultaneous extraction and preconcentration of Sb(III), Te(IV), Pb(II) and Cd(II) ions from drinking water sources Journal of Hazardous Materials, 2021, 416, 126175

Qhubu, M.C., Mgidlana, L.G., Madikizela, L.M., Pakade, V.E. Preparation, characterization and application of activated clay biochar composite for removal of Cr(VI) in water: Isotherms, kinetics and thermodynamics Materials Chemistry and Physics, 2021, 260, 124165

Lesaoana, M., Pakade, V.E., Chimuka, L. Crosslinker-less surface-imprinted Macadamia derived activated carbons for trace Cr(III) removal
from aqueous solution (2019) Environmental Technology and Innovation, 14, art. no. 100336.

Shooto, N.D., Naidoo, E.B., Maubane, M. Sorption studies of toxic cations on ginger root adsorbent (2019) Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 76, pp. 133-140.

Shooto, N.D., Naidoo, E.B. Detoxification of Wastewater by Paw–Paw (Carica papaya L.) Seeds Adsorbents (2019) Asian Journal of Chemistry, 31 (10), pp. 2249-2256.

Lesaoana, M., Mlaba, R.P.V., Mtunzi, F.M., Klink, M.J., Edijike, P., Pakade, V.E.  Influence of inorganic acid modification on Cr(VI) adsorption performance and the physicochemical properties of activated carbon (2019) South African Journal of Chemical Engineering, 28, pp. 8-18.

Tsolele, R., Mtunzi, F.M., Klink, M.J., Pakade, V.E.  An alternative low-cost adsorbent for gold recovery from cyanide-leached liquors: Adsorption isotherm and kinetic studies (2019) Adsorption Science and Technology, 37 (1-2), pp. 3-23.

Mohubedu, R.P., Diagboya, P.N.E., Abasi, C.Y., Dikio, E.D., Mtunzi, F. Magnetic valorization of biomass and biochar of a typical plant nuisance for toxic metals contaminated water treatment (2019) Journal of Cleaner Production, 209, pp. 1016-1024.

Thabede, P.M., Shooto, N.D., Abasi, C., Mtunzi, F.M., Nyamukamba, P., Dikio, E.D.  Adsorption study of lead ions on nickel-metal organic framework (2019) Asian Journal of Chemistry, 31 (5), pp. 1153-1157.

Pholosi, A., Naidoo, E.B., Ofomaja, A.E. Sequestration of As(III) pollutant from water using chemically activated pine cone biomass: evaluation of interaction and mechanism (2019) International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, (article in press)

Okoli, C.P., Ofomaja, A.E.  Development of sustainable magnetic polyurethane polymer nanocomposite for abatement of tetracycline antibiotics aqueous pollution: Response surface methodology and adsorption dynamics (2019) Journal of Cleaner Production, 217, pp. 42-55.

Igberase, E., Ofomaja, A., Osifo, P.O.  Enhanced heavy metal ions adsorption by 4‑aminobenzoic acid grafted on chitosan/epichlorohydrin composite: Kinetics, isotherms, thermodynamics and desorption studies (2019) International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 123, pp. 664-676.

Omorogie, M.O., Ofomaja, A.E.  MCM-41 templating of semiconductors onto microwave-induced KOH-modified biomass-activated carbon for photo-mineralization of tetracycline: response surface methodology (2019) International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 16 (1), pp. 495-505.

Pholosi, A., Naidoo, E.B., Ofomaja, A.E.  Enhanced Arsenic (III) adsorption from aqueous solution by magnetic pine cone biomass (2019) Materials Chemistry and Physics, 222, pp. 20-30.

Maremeni, L.C., Modise, S.J., Mtunzi, F.M., Klink, M.J., Pakade, V.E. Adsorptive Removal of Hexavalent Chromium by Diphenylcarbazide-Grafted Macadamia Nutshell Powder (2018) Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications, 2018, art. no. 6171906.

Okoli, C.P., Ofomaja, A.E. Degree of time dependency of kinetic coefficient as a function of adsorbate concentration; new insights from adsorption of tetracycline onto monodispersed starch-stabilized magnetic nanocomposite (2018) Journal of Environmental Management, 218, pp. 139-147.

Okoli, C.P., Naidoo, E.B., Ofomaja, A.E. Role of synthesis process variables on magnetic functionality, thermal stability, and tetracycline adsorption by magnetic starch nanocomposite
(2018) Environmental Nanotechnology, Monitoring and Management, 9, pp. 141-153.

Ejidike, I.P., Dikio, C.W., Wankasi, D., Dikio, E.D., Mtunzi, F.M. Sorption of Pb2+ from aqueous solution using polyethylene and polyvinylchloride wastes as adsorbents: a comparative study
(2018) International Journal of Environmental Studies, pp. 1-18. Article in Press.

Diagboya, P.N.E., Dikio, E.D. Silica-based mesoporous materials; emerging designer adsorbents for aqueous pollutants removal and water treatment
(2018) Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 266, pp. 252-267.

Hlungwane, L., Viljoen, E.L., Pakade, V.E.  Macadamia nutshells-derived activated carbon and attapulgite clay combinMacadamia nutshells-derived activated carbon and attapulgite clay combination for synergistic removal of Cr(VI) and Cr(III)ation for synergistic removal of Cr(VI) and Cr(III). (2018) Adsorption Science and Technology 36(1-2), pp. 713-731.

Pakade, V.E., Nchoe, O.B., Hlungwane, L., Tavengwa, N.T. Sequestration of hexavalent chromium from aqueous solutions by activated carbon derived from Macadamia nutshells. (2017) Water Science and Technology, 75 (1), pp. 196-206.

Moyo, M., Pakade, V.E., Modise, S.J. Biosorption of lead(II) by chemically modified Mangifera indica seed shells: Adsorbent preparation, characterization and performance assessment. (2017) Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 111, pp. 40-51.

Unuabonah, E.I., Agunbiade, F.O., Alfred, M.O., Adewumi, T.A., Okoli, C.P., Omorogie, M.O., Akanbi, M.O., Ofomaja, A.E., Taubert, A.
Facile synthesis of new amino-functionalized agrogenic hybrid composite clay adsorbents for phosphate capture and recovery from water (2017) Journal of Cleaner Production, 164, pp. 652-663.

Igberase, E., Osifo, P., Ofomaja, A. Mathematical modelling of Pb2+, Cu2+, Ni2+, Zn2+, Cr6+ and Cd2+ ions adsorption from a synthetic acid mine drainage onto chitosan derivative in a packed bed column. (2017) Environmental Technology (United Kingdom), pp. 1-18. Article in Press.

Ouma, I.L.A., Naidoo, E.B., Ofomaja, A.E. Iron oxide nanoparticles stabilized by lignocellulosic waste as green adsorbent for Cr(VI) removal from wastewater. (2017) EPJ Applied Physics, 79 (3), art. no. 30401.


The focus is on the removal of organic pollutants from water using photocatalytic degradation and

oxidation catalysis.


Prof Ofomaja, Prof Naidoo, Dr Viljoen, Prof Mtunzi, Dr Klink

Recent publications:

Peleyeju, M.G., Viljoen, E.L. WO3-based catalysts for photocatalytic and photoelectrocatalytic removal of organic pollutants from water – A review Journal of Water Process Engineering, 2021, 40, 101930

Sanni, S.O., Viljoen, E.L., Ofomaja, A.E. Tailored synthesis of Ag/AgBr nanostructures coupled activated carbon with intimate interface interaction for enhanced photodegradation of tetracycline Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 2021, 146, pp. 20–34

Peleyeju, M.G., Mgedle, N., Viljoen, E.L., Scurrel, M.S., Ray, S.C. Irradiation of Fe–Mn@SiO2 with microwave energy enhanced its Fenton-like catalytic activity for the degradation of methylene blue Research on Chemical Intermediates, 2021

Sithole, M.P., Mafa, P.J., de Kock, L.A., Viljoen, E., Kuvarega, A.T. Visible light active g-C3N4 sheets/CdS heterojunction photocatalyst for decolourisation of acid blue (AB-25) Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 2021, 23(1), 16

Viljoen, E.L., Kganyago, S.V., Ofomaja, A.E. Size control of cobalt oxide nanoparticles and its effect on the fenton catalytic activity Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, 2021, 30(1), pp. 393–400

Oseghe, E.O., Msagati, T.A.M., Mamba, B.B., Ofomaja, A.E. An efficient and stable narrow bandgap carbon dot-brookite composite over other CD-TiO2 polymorphs in rhodamine B degradation under LED light (2019) Ceramics International, .

Sanni, S.O., Viljoen, E.L., Ofomaja, A.E. Accelerated Electron Transport and Improved Photocatalytic Activity of Ag/AgBr Under Visible Light Irradiation Based on Conductive Carbon Derived Biomass (2019) Catalysis Letters, 149 (11), pp. 3027-3040

Kotlhao, K., Mtunzi, F.M., Pakade, V., Laloo, N., Ejidike, I.P., Modise, S.J., Moutloali, R.M., Klink, M.J. Enhancing the photocatalytic degradation of selected chlorophenols using Ag/ZnO nanocomposites (2018) MRS Advances, 3 (36), pp. 2129-2136.

ReddyPrasad, P., Ofomaja, A.E., Bobby Naidoo, E. Retraction notice to “Preparation of CN-dots/F-NiO nanocomposite for enhanced photocatalytic degradation of selected organic pollutants” [Appl. Surf. Sci. (2015) 13–21](S0169433214025070)(10.1016/j.apsusc.2014.11.042) (2018) Applied Surface Science, 441, p. 1089.

Umukoro, E.H., Madyibi, S.S., Peleyeju, M.G., Tshwenya, L., Viljoen, E.H., Ngila, J.C., Arotiba, O.A. Photocatalytic application of Pd-ZnO-exfoliated graphite nanocomposite for the enhanced removal of acid orange 7 dye in water (2017) Solid State Sciences, 74, pp. 118-124.

Reddyprasad, P., Naidoo, E.B.
Ultrasonic synthesis of high fluorescent C-dots and modified with CuWO4 nanocomposite for effective photocatalytic activity. (2015) Journal of Molecular Structure, 1098, pp. 146-152.

Medicinal plants (phytochemicals), organic synthesis and analyses

The focus is the isolation and identification of phytochemicals and the testing of their anti-bacteria



Prof Mtunzi, Prof Pakade, Prof Modise, Dr Klink

Recent publications:

Avoseh, O.N., Mtunzi, F.M., Ogunwande, I.A., Ascrizzi, R., Guido, F. Albizia lebbeck and Albizia zygia volatile oils exhibit anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties in pain models. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2021, 268, 113676

Evans, S.K., Wesley, O.N., Nathan, O., Moloto, M.J. Chemically purified cellulose and its nanocrystals from sugarcane baggase: isolation and
characterization (2019) Heliyon, 5 (10), art. no. e02635,

Mtunzi, F.M., Ejidike, I.P., Ledwaba, I., Ahmed, A., Pakade, V.E., Klink, M.J., Modise, S.J.
Solvent-solvent fractionations of Combretum erythrophyllum (Burch.) leave extract: Studies of their antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and cytotoxicity potentials. (2017) Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, . Article in Press.

Pakade, V.E., Molefe, E.D., Tavengwa, N.T.
Quantitative determination of trace concentrations of quercetin from prickly pear skin complex sample extracts by application of molecularly imprinted polymers. (2017) Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 5 (1),

Matamela, T., Green, I.R., Mtunzi, F.M.
A novel biflavonoid from rhus leptodictya. (2016) Natural Product Communications, 11 (9), pp. 1279-1280.

Muleya, E., Ahmed, A.S., Sipamla, A.M., Mtunzi, F.M., Mutatu, W.
Pharmacological properties of pomaria sandersonii, pentanisia prunelloides and alepidea amatymbica extracts using in vitro assays. (2015) Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, 7 (1), art. no. 5E91750300, 8 p.

Analytical Technique Development

The focus is the detection of pollutants in water and characterisation of real water samples


Prof Mtunzi, Prof Pakade and Dr Klink

Recent publications:

Moundzounga, T.H.G., Peleyeju, M.G., Sanni, S.O., …Viljoen, E., Ofomaja, A.E. A Nanocomposite of Graphitic Carbon Nitride and Carbon Dots as a Platform for Sensitive Voltammetric Determination of 2-chlorophenol in Water International Journal of Electrochemical Science, 2021, 16, pp. 1–12

Phele, M.J., Ejidike, I.P., Mtunzi, F.M. Organochlorine pesticides assessment in sediment samples from vaal river by accelerated solvent extraction technique Rasayan Journal of Chemistry, 2020, 13(4), pp. 2150–2160