Nicholas Haysom was awarded an honorary doctorate in law. He has devoted his life to public service and the vindication of human rights, both in South Africa and internationally, particularly in Africa. He graduated with a BA Hons in 1975 from the University of Natal and an LLB from UCT in 1978.
He was admitted as an attorney in 1981 and joined the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of Witwatersrand – a pioneer institute engaged in academic research and education, but also in bringing precedent-setting cases in human rights. He published important research into the legal rights of farmworkers and the violence employed by the security forces during the states of emergency. He was detained on several occasions and banned.
In 2005 Haysom joined the United Nations to head its Constitutional Support Unit in Iraq, and in 2007 he was appointed political director in the Office of the Secretary-General. He has advised missions on conflict in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and advised on constitutional processes in Tunisia. He continues to lecture and write on issues relating to conflict resolution and constitution making, of which he is now regarded internationally as a leading expert.
Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler were awarded honorary doctorates in literature. UCT honoured Kohler and Jones for their outstanding contribution to contemporary theatre through the medium of puppetry. Both graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at UCT in 1974. In 1981 they established the Handspring Puppet Company (initially with two other Michaelis graduates). It has since become one of the best known and respected puppet companies in the world.
The special genius of their work has been to bring their training at Michaelis and their imagination as artists and sculptors to bear on their interest in theatrical and performative traditions. Their collaboration with artists such as William Kentridge and, more recently, with the Royal National Theatre's Warhorse project, has brought their work to international attention. The accolades they have received reflect the astonishment with which audiences have encountered the powerful assimilation of animated puppet characters, sculpture, puppet mastery, and performance.
Marlene Dumas was awarded an honorary doctorate in fine arts. Widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today, Marlene Dumas has continuously explored the complex range of human emotions, often probing questions of gender, race, sexuality and economic inequality.
Born in Cape Town in 1953, she completed her studies at UCT's Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1975, before attending the Ateliers '63 in Haarlem, Netherlands, for two years. From 1979 to 1980 she studied at the Psychological Institute at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Dumas' distinctive interest in and use of photographic sources in her painting practice has enjoyed sustained critical reception, as has her courage in handling sensitive topics of racial and sexual violence and mortality. Her work consistently explores constructions of identity and the fluid distinctions between the public and the private. Dumas' achievements were capped most recently by her major retrospective exhibition, 'Measuring Your Own Grave', at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her work is featured in collections in many countries.
Jonathan Ellis was awarded an honorary doctorate in science. Ellis is one of the pioneers of research at the interface between particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and quantum gravity.
Born in 1946 in London, Ellis earned his PhD in theoretical particle physics in 1971 from Cambridge University. After postdoctoral positions at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and the California Institute of Technology, he joined the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. He is currently the Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics in King's College, London.
UCT has conferred an honorary doctorate in recognition of Ellis's exceptional and ground-breaking contributions to the understanding of fundamental physics and astrophysics, and for the numerous contributions he has made over the past decade to promote physics in South Africa.
Zakes Mda was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature (DLitt). Mda is a novelist, poet, playwright, painter, composer and filmmaker. He has distinguished himself as a writer, and through his work continues to have a significant impact as a commentator and thought leader.
The many windows to the world that his work offers, the remarkable life journey that he has travelled and the literary benchmarks that he has set, have earned him recognition the world over. This includes being awarded the Commonwealth Book Prize, the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the M-Net Book Prize and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for The Heart of Redness (2003). Most notably The Madonna of Excelsior (2004) was selected one of the top ten South African books published in the decade since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
David Sanders was awarded an honorary doctorate in medical science. Sanders is an iconic figure in the field of public health, nationally, regionally and internationally. He has pioneered thinking on the implementation of the World Health Organisation's model of primary health care, with its emphasis on equity and health as a right.
His work has contributed to advancing understanding of primary health care as a framework for health and development and to improvements in child health through research, teaching and training, and policy advocacy and service development.