Mamokgethi Phakeng

Rosina Mamokgethi Phakeng GCOB (née Mmutlana, born 1 November 1966[1]) is a South African[2] professor of mathematics education who in 2018 became a vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT),[3][4] She has been the vice principal of research and innovation, at the University of South Africa[5] and acting executive dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at UNISA. In 2018 she was an invited speaker at the International Congresses of Mathematicians.

Mamokgethi Phakeng
Mamokgethi Phakeng
Born (1966-11-01) 1 November 1966
NationalitySouth African
OccupationVice Chancellor University of Cape Town
ChildrenTsholofelo Setati
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of North-West
University of the Witwatersrand
Academic work

Early life

Mmutlana was born in Eastwood, Pretoria, to Frank and Wendy Mmutlana (née Thipe). Her mother went back to school after having her three children to complete Form 3 as entry to gaining a Primary Teachers Certificate to practice as a teacher. Her father was one of the first black radio announcers at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Mmutlana started school in 1972 at Ikageleng Primary in 1972 in Marapyane village and then Ikageng Primary in Ga-Rankuwa. She attended Tsela-tshweu higher primary; Tswelelang Higher Primary; Thuto-Thebe Middle School; Odi High School and Hebron. She completed her matric with University Exemption in 1983 (Grade 12) in the village of Hebron's College of Education.

Higher education

She achieved a BSc in pure mathematics at the University of North-West,[1] and a MSc in mathematics education at the University of the Witwatersrand.[1] In 2002 she became the first black female South African to obtain a PhD in mathematics education.[6][7]

Career accomplishments

Mmutlana has won awards for excellence in service. These honors include:

  • Doctor of Science,honoris causa, University of Bristol
  • The Order of the Baobab (Silver) for her excellent contribution in the field of science and representing South Africa on the international stage through her outstanding research work presented to her by former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma. (April 2016)
  • CEO Magazine award for being the most influential woman in education and training in South Africa (August 2013):
  • NSTF award for being the most outstanding Senior Black Female Researcher over the last 5 to 10 years in recognition of her innovative, quality research on teaching and learning mathematics in multilingual classrooms. (May 2011)
  • Golden key International Society Honorary life membership (May 2009)
  • Association of Mathematics Education of South Africa (AMESA) Honorary life membership (July 2009)
  • Amstel Salute to Success finalist (2005)
  • Dr. T. W. Khambule Research Award for being the most outstanding young female black researcher for 2003: Conferred by the NSTF (May 2004)
  • Outstanding Service Award (Education category). Conferred by the Sunday Sun and Christ Centred Church (2004).
  • Finalist for SA Woman of the Year in the Science and Technology Category (2003).
  • Prestige National Award South Africa’s Inspirational Women Achievers Award -Conferred by RCP Media, (June 2003).
  • NRF Thuthuka Award (2003–2008).
  • National Research Foundation/National Science Foundation USA/SA fellowship (2001; 2003)
  • Mellon Award (1998 – 2000)
  • SAB Women in Rural Areas Award (1997).[8]

Positions held

Personal life

She was married to Richard Setati for 19 years (1988–2007) and they had one son,[16] Tsholofelo who was born in 1990. In 2012, she married Madimetja Lucky Phakeng, thereby adding the appendage "Phakeng" to her surname. Lucky Phakeng is an advocate currently heading the Takeover Regulation Panel.

Social responsibility


In 2004, Kgethi founded the non-profit organization Adopt-A-Learner. It was created for the purpose of providing deserving lower-income learners with financial support.


  1. "Mamokgethi (Kgethi) Setati". Who's Who SA. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  2. "Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, PhD". South African PhD Project. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  3. "Vice-chancellor| University of Cape Town". Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  4. Pityana, Sipho (17 March 2018). "Appointment of New Vice-Chancellor" (Press release). Cape Town: University of Cape Town. Retrieved 22 April 2018.
  5. "Unisa Online - Executive management". University of South Africa. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
  6. "convocation". Wits University. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
  7. "Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng appointed new UCT vice-chancellor". New24. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  9. "Prof Mamokgethi Setati – Executive Dean: College of Science, Engineering and Technology". Unisa Online. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  10. "Ass.Prof Mamokgethi Setati". University of the Witwatersrand. Wits Marketing. Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  11. "Prof Mamokgethi Setati". International Commission on Mathematics Instruction. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  12. "200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch: Education & Science". Mail & Guardian Online. 14 June 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  13. "Profile of Trustees". FirstRand Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  14. "200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch: Science". Mail & Guardian Online. 26 June 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  15. Karolia, Sameerah (19 August 2010). "The problem solver". Mail & Guardian Online. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  16. "Setati, Mamokgethi". The Little Black Book. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Max Price
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town
July 2018 present
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