Faculty of Humanities researcher awarded an honorary doctorate in community psychology by the University of Zululand

Posted on January 14, 2021

Mmatshilo Motsei was 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, and among her 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). As the name suggests, this organisation responds to violence against women using 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 ‘creating an environment in which people understand the mental effects of inequality and power imbalances in the 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. 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 Zuma, Sesesedi 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 the University of Pretoria. Her research focuses on another form of violence against women that is not spoken about, obstetric violence (violence subjected to women giving birth). She believes that ‘the ideal of creating authentic African institutions of learning will always seem unreachable if knowledge and wisdom from indigenous communities is not incorporated.’ 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.


We wish her all the best with her ongoing work and congratulate her on this well-deserved achievement.

- Author Andrea du Toit

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