Gauteng hat trick for University of Pretoria as top matrics #ChooseUP

Posted on January 29, 2024

“South Africa needs doctors and if I can make a difference it would be an honour for me to give back to my country,” says Gauteng’s top matric student, Sheliza de Wet who was head girl at Hoërskool Menlopark in Pretoria. She will be studying medicine and surgery at the University of Pretoria (UP) from February this year.

“I’m very excited, I was a bit overwhelmed as I didn’t expect to be first but I am very thankful and very happy that I got into UP as it has a fantastic medical campus and I can’t wait to experience student life.”

Top matrics joining the University of Pretoria Sheliza de Wet and Wian van Rooyen

Sheliza de Wet from Hoërskool Menlopark (left) and Wian van Rooyen from Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (right)

With 9 distinctions, she is in good company as Gauteng’s second and third top matric students have also chosen to study at UP, all with and 96%+ averages.

Wian van Rooyen from Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool in Pretoria achieved 8 distinctions, he was second in Gauteng and will also be studying medicine and surgery at UP. “It was an easy choice for me,” he says. “The new era of medicine is an exciting field with rapidly evolving technologies that assist doctors and surgeons in their work and expand the reach of medical professionals to people everywhere.”

They are both keen to meet Stevie the telemedicine robot in UP’s Faculty of Health Sciences at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Stevie is a mobile robot who assists in the treatment of patients through live discussions between intensive-care unit teams in Germany and South Africa.

“UP positions itself on being a future-oriented university in all the programmes it offers,” says UP’s interim Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Themba Mosia. “We are ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide in 10 fields and incredibly proud of our brand, reputation and educational quality. This is confirmed year on year by the escalating number of top matric achievers choosing to study at UP.”

Competition for admission in 2023 proved hugely competitive in a range of courses, including medicine, engineering, veterinary, law and actuarial science, with many of the top students being admitted to UP achieving 95%+ and 7+ distinctions.

Second in South Africa for mathematics, first in Gauteng for mathematics and third overall for all subjects in Gauteng is Jéan Goodey from Hoërskool Oos-Moot who achieved 7 distinctions and who will be studying actuarial and financial mathematics at UP.

Top matriculants joining the University of Pretoria Zonke Thwala and Jéan Goodey

Zonke Thwala from Siphesihle Secondary School and Jéan Goodey from Hoërskool Oos-Moot

“I focused on consistency every day so that I didn’t fall behind and I always do the best that I can, says Goodey. “I chose actuarial and financial maths because I have a natural feeling for numbers. Maths is one of my favourite subjects and actuarial science fits well with it. I think I got the ability from my parents because they are both chartered accountants.”

Another top matriculant with a gift for numbers is Zonke Thwala from Siphesihle Secondary School in Waterloo, KwaZulu-Natal, who came third in South Africa in the Quintile 3 schools. She achieved 7 distinctions and is pursuing accounting sciences at UP.

She says a lack of electricity “made studying for matric very hard”. “The transformer in my area blew and I had to use a candle and torch to study. I persevered and I am so proud of myself. It’s really unbelievable and I am grateful to God, my family and teachers. Matric was the longest year of my life!”

One of the top private school matriculants, Carine Pretorius, from Helpmekaar College in Johannesburg who achieved 10 distinctions will be studying industrial engineering at UP. “I attended the engineering faculty’s career week last week and industrial engineering appealed to me because it’s all about processes, systems and productivity. During the week we also experienced the virtual mine – it’s as if we were standing in a real mine. I hadn’t seen anything like that, and the technological advancements that are happening now are amazing.” Pretorius also plays the recorder and did her UNISA Grade 8 exam in 2023 and will be doing her licentiate this year. 

Welcome Day at UP is on 10 Feb and orientation starts on 12 February. “I’m a little bit nervous and excited,” says Takura Kufakunesu from Pretoria Boys High who got 10 distinctions and will be pursuing computer engineering at UP.

Takura Kufakunesu from Pretoria Boys High

Takura Kufakunesu from Pretoria Boys High 

He chose UP because he says “it offers one of the best engineering facilities and courses in the whole of Africa, and computer engineering offers a vast career path. Another reason that it is an obvious choice for me is because my whole family is there. My father is a mathematics professor, my mother is doing her PhD in electronics engineering and my sister has just graduated with a BSc in mathematical statistics.”

UP’s Virtual Reality Centre greatly appeals to Kufakunesu who says: “I’m fascinated with the world of technology, AI, augmented reality (AR) and robotics. I want to use technology to build things that make a difference to the world and improve people’s lives.” Regarding his 10 distinctions, he says: “My technique for success is ‘bug your teachers as much as you can’. For Afrikaans, for example, I needed a lot of intervention to get it to an A."

Featured on the front page of the Beeld on 19 January 2024 is Auerello Pillay who will be studying for his LLB at UP. He matriculated with 8 distinctions from Redham House Waterfall Estate in Midrand. “UP has the top Faculty of Law in Africa and I already know students studying law there through debating and public speaking who can advise me.”

He says that from a young age he has been concerned with legal justice: “I feel the justice system with regards to gender-based violence and LGBTQIA2S+ is very flawed as it doesn’t offer people the protection that people are supposed to experience in terms of South African law. We need young minds going into those spaces to actually carry out justice.”

Elani van Rooyen from Randburg Hoërskool got 8 distinctions and will be studying veterinary science. “I experienced the UP campus as a Grade 11 when they invited us for the day there, and I really liked the atmosphere, the buzz and the students were really nice.” She has always wanted to be a vet: “Animals can’t speak for themselves and vets are detectives who need to find out what is wrong with them when they are sick and how to heal them,” says van Rooyen who has three beagles at home in Randburg.

Elani van Rooyen from Randburg Hoërskool

Elani van Rooyen from Randburg Hoërskool

Nina Kriel from Hoërskool Eldoraigne got 9 distinctions and will be studying actuarial science at UP. “I love maths, it’s my passion and it’s exciting to use maths and statistics to solve problems and to analyse and forecast risks and future scenarios.”

She is looking forward to making new friends on campus “and to make the best of student life. I want to use my years at UP to prepare myself for the rest of my life, to make the most of every opportunity and create memories that I will never forget.”

VC Prof Mosia extends his heartfelt congratulations to each of the students who will be joining UP. “Your unwavering commitment, hard work, and exceptional accomplishments have truly earned you your place,” he says. “A special note of appreciation goes to all family members and teachers whose support and encouragement played a vital role in the matric learners’ success.

“More than a quarter of a million alumni have passed through our doors, and many are now leaders in their fields, locally and internationally. UP turns 116 in February this year, and we welcome you to our diverse, dynamic community.”

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