VUT ALUMNA AND FORMER STUDENT MAKES IT TO THE LIST OF MRS SOUTH AFRICA 2023
By: Qhawekazi Memani – 03 March 2023
Mrs Mahlaba and Mrs Nhlapo Mrs SA Semi-finalists
Popular saying “beauty with brains” rings true for the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) alumna, Nelisiwe Nhlapo and former student, Nokwazi Mahlaba. The two, wear different caps at different times – they are mothers, wives, career women, entrepreneurs and most recently added Mrs South Africa 2023 Semi-Finalist to their long title lists.
Unlike popular Miss South Africa, which is open to anyone under the age of 28, Mrs South Africa on the other hand offers married women between the ages of 25 and 55, with or without children, an acclaimed self-discovery programme that aims to celebrate and further develop the skills of strong, talented, and confident female leaders. It also recognises the value of marriage, and the essence of being a “Bonafide” woman.
Born and raised in Sebokeng Zone 10, Nelisiwe started her primary schooling at Jabulani Primary School and later completed her matric at Esokwazi Secondary School. Nelisiwe then joined VUT in 2008 when she enrolled for her undergraduate studies in Industrial Engineering, where she completed both her Diploma and B-Tech. She is currently a professional Engineer with over 10 years’ experience and is currently a practising as a Project Manager at one of South Africa’s major state-owned entities (SOEs). She also runs and co-owns two companies – one that has to do with executive and management coaching, women development and empowerment while the other one is all things health and beauty based in Rivonia, Sandton.
Driven by her passion for women development and empowerment, Nelisiwe runs annual events focusing on leadership, empowerment and advancement of women. “I also host Power Hour sessions on my online platform engaging on topics of interest in the advancement of women and men. I also do community work where I lead, coordinate and partner with cooperation’s and individuals to bring smiles to the lives to kids by donating necessities,” she said.
Asked about Mrs SA journey, she says for her, it is a personal pursuit of self-rediscovery more than anything else. “In it, I wanted to push, challenge and stretch myself outside my comfort zone. Furthermore, the topic of leadership and specifically women development and empowerment has always been close to my heart, and the pageant provides the platform to extend my reach and impact many lives,” she said, adding that ultimately as a girl from the township it is really to inspire the young girl on the street that anything and everything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Proud of her childhood, the thirty-two-year-old self-proclaimed goofy, bubbly with an infatuating personality, says ‘Kasi’ taught her so much and has moulded the woman she has now become. In her spare time, she says she enjoys going to the gym – asked where she gets the time for all these, she just giggles. Her message to the students: “Believe in yourself, your dreams are valid and you are worthy of them all.”
Mrs Nhlapo urges the VUT community to follow her journey on the Mrs South Africa Instagram and Facebook page and also vote for her/ follow her on instagram, @nelisiwee, to like her voting card pinned as the first post on her profile and also follow the Miss South Africa’s Instagram page. Everyone can vote by SMSing her name: Nelisiwe Nhlapo to 47587. SMS cost R3.
Together with Nelisiwe we have: Nokwazi Mahlaba who was born and bred in the historic Boipatong, Tshirela, a township just a stone’s throw from campus, also made it to the list.
Popularly known as “Mama Maloka” in her younghood, Nokwazi went to Makapane Lower Primary School, Tshirela Higher Primary School then the Vaal High School post 1990 when black people were allowed to attend the Model C schools.
Post matric in 1997 she did her first year in Fine Arts and Photography at then Vaal Triangle Technikon “I partially completed my diploma and in 2001, went back to further my studies at the University of Johannesburg where I studied and completed my degree in Interior Design.”
With over 17yrs of experience, Mrs Mahlaba is currently working as an Interior Design Manager and runs a Beauty business. Highly passionate about outdoor life and adventure, she says in her spare time she goes hiking. “Nature keeps me grounded and rejuvenates my soul at the same time,” she said.
Mrs Mahlaba entered the Mrs South Africa competition to inspire, empower and encourage other women to step out of their comfort zone and follow their dreams and be the change they want to see in their communities. “As part of my journey, I hope to use the Mrs South Africa platform as a voice to create positive change, to raise awareness around mental health issues and to unpack what it is – the symptoms and solutions on how to create safe spaces where people feel free to talk about their mental health issues so they can be able to get the help they need. In this way it becomes easier to identify and gives professionals the ability to diagnose and treat the illness accordingly and we, will have less suicide cases” she added.
Her message to the VUT students: Education is vital, it opens doors that can never be shut in your life! Be sure to follow your dreams no matter how long the journey to those dreams may take, stay focused, don’t lose hope – if God wants it for you, he will see it through. Just believe and trust the process!
Lastly, Nokwazi appeals to the VUT community to follow her journey on the Mrs South Africa’s Instagram and Facebook pages and by liking her picture. To vote for her, SMS “Nokwazi Mahlaba” to 47587, SMS cost R3 and you can sms as many times – voting line closes on the 5th of July 2023. Also follow me on Instagram @nokwazi_mahlaba.