UP researcher awarded honorary doctorate in Community Psychology

Posted on February 05, 2021

The University of Zululand recently recognised Dr Mmatshilo Motsei with an honorary doctorate for her integrative work with women and men.

Dr Mmatshilo Motsei, who is currently completing her PhD in Sociology at UP, was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in Community Psychology by the University of Zululand for her integrative work with women and men.

This is not the first award she has received for Community Psychology – among her many accolades is an award from the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago (Illinois). In 1994 she founded Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training (ADAPT), an organisation that employs Dr Motsei’s Community Empowerment Model that responds to gender-based violence not as a woman-specific issue but as a community's concern. For Dr Motsei, community psychology is about “creating an environment in which people understand the mental effects of inequality and power imbalances in society, and by so doing, craft their own answers and solutions to development problems they face”.

Despite the numerous awards she has received for involving men in solving the challenge of violence against women, this honorary doctorate means the most to her because she is being honoured in South Africa.

Dr Motsei has made immense contributions to her academic field and played a major role in key communities in South Africa. Her work on the Indigenous Healing Justice Framework, which recognises that the criminal justice system cannot heal the fractured nature of society, is one of many examples of how she is making a difference to communities across South Africa. She believes “the ideal of creating authentic African institutions of learning will always seem unreachable if knowledge and wisdom from indigenous communities is not incorporated”.

Her desire to redress the injustices of our nation inspired her to co-found the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Clinic for Abused Women in Johannesburg and to work for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Soul City Institute for Social Justice, UN Women and Hivos in Zimbabwe.

Dr Motsei’s stellar list of academic achievements includes authoring several books such as Hearing Visions, Seeing Voices, the Kanga and the Kangaroo Court: Reflections on the Rape Trial of Jacob ZumaSesesedi Whirlwind (a collection of poetry in Setswana and English); and Find Your Star and Live Your Purpose. She also teaches the Psychology of Writing module for Rhodes University’s MA (Creative Writing) course.

Currently, Dr Motsei is completing her PhD in sociology at UP. Her research focuses on another form of violence against women that is not spoken about – obstetric violence (violence subjected to women giving birth). Her next project, Marumo Fatshe, will be launched very soon and is aimed at healing the intergenerational and multigenerational wounds of sexual violence in South Africa.


- Author Heather Thuynsma

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