Sandile Bethuel Malinga (Distinguished Old Rhodian Award)

Sandile Bethuel Malinga
Sandile Bethuel Malinga


Dr Sandile Malinga was born in Soweto, obtained his first degree at the University of Swaziland and then enrolled for a two year BSc Honours programme in Physics and Electronics at Rhodes in 1991. He went on to do an MSc in 1995 and obtained his PhD in 2001 focusing on meteor physics. He was the first black South African to obtain a PhD in space science.

 During his time at Rhodes, Sandile participated in many university and community based activities. He was first a sub-warden and then a residence warden for a number years. During that time he mentored many young students, and was seen as a role model for what it was possible to achieve.

 Within the Rhodes and the wider Grahamstown community he founded the “Voice of Glory” society, a group of young people who gathered to celebrate their spirituality and share ideas and thoughts to help them deal with daily pressures. Twenty years later this society is very active at Rhodes and provides much needed togetherness for a new generation of students.

 After leaving Rhodes, he joined the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and very quickly became Dean's Assistant, a position in which he was able to contribute to the lives of many students.  Later he became Managing Director of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory an NRF facility, working with government committees on the development of the Space Agency Act and the idea that Space was vital to future development in Africa. In 2010 he was seconded to be the caretaker of the yet to be established Space Agency.   Under his guidance the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) was born and established as an agency of the Department of Science and Technology. It is projected that the establishment of SANSA and related industries will boost the country's economy and provide a highly significant number of jobs by the end of 2020, which will greatly impact on the countries unemployment figures.

 One of Sandile's most endearing qualities is his humbleness and the attention that he gives to whoever he is talking to.  It is obvious that for him everyone irrespective of position, standing or birth deserves to be heard.

 He is a true leader and a very worthy recipient of the Distinguished Old Rhodian Award as he used his degree from Rhodes to advance his career and to become a leader in his field. He is an excellent role model, community player and as CEO of SANSA is making a significant difference to this country and contribution to society in general.