South African Institute for Computer Scientists and Information Technologists


The SAICSIT Council decided in 2008 to, as an ongoing process, recognize individuals who have played pioneering roles in promoting Computer Science and Information Technology as academic disciplines in South Africa. Recipients of the award are highlighted here.


2022 - Jan Kroeze

His career highlights include more than 20 years’ experience in total in various academic institutions acting as lecturer, research associate and departmental head; supervised and delivered 9 PhD’s and 13 Masters level students to completion, and establishing various research groups. Jan also fulfilled many leadership roles such as being an exco member of the faculty board and examination committee in the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology (NWU VTC); member of the research committee and the research ethics committee of the Vaal Triangle Campus (NWU VTC); VTC's representative for the NWU research output panel; leader of EKaS (Enterprise Knowledge and Systems) (NWU VTC); former chair of department and acting director of the School of Computing at UNISA; manager of the Centre for Software Engineering at Unisa from July 2013 until December 2017; SAICSIT council member, vice‐president and president; as well as member and first president of the Southern African Chapter of the Association for Information Systems (AISSAC) community for which he received the AISSAC President’s award for service' Jan is a NRF-rated researcher as an established researcher in the multi-domain (IS & Humanities ‐ C3; C2 from 2021). Jan authored and co-authored 89 peer‐reviewed research outputs in Computing, including 33 peer‐reviewed journal articles, 50 peer‐reviewed conference papers, 6 book chapters; 5 papers in popular (non-peer-reviewed) magazines; and co‐edited a Springer book and one conference proceedings. Jan was conference chair of SAICSIT 2012; co‐chair of a mini‐track on Transdisciplinary Wisdom in IS in 2012 at AMCIS; a co‐chair of a track on General IS Topics and Breakthrough Ideas at ECIS 2014 and co‐programme chair of SACLA 2019.


2021 - Jean-Paul Van Belle

Jean-Paul Van Belle is a professor in the Department of Information Systems at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Prior to joining UCT, he established the Department of IS at UWC. He also was Director of the Centre for IT and National Development in Africa for the past decade. Born in Belgium, he obtained he Licentiate in Economics from the University in Ghent. He then moved to Cape Town where he obtained an MBA at the University of Stellenbosh and a PhD at UCT. He also holds several industry qualifications in the space of Big Data, AI, Data Science, and Cloud Computing. His research areas are fair work in the platform economy, and the adoption of emerging technologies in developing world contexts including mobile, cloud computing, 4IR, AI, open and big data. His passions are ICT4D – with a focus on emerging technologies as well as data for development (D4D) in an SDG context – and adoption of ICTs by small organisations. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications including 25 chapters in books and more than 40 refereed journal articles. He has been invited to give a number of keynote presentations at international conferences and holds an honorary professorship at Amity University. He currently supervises 4 Masters and 8 PhD students and has graduated twice that many postgrad students. Apart from local research collaborations (UP, NMU, UJ etc.), Jean-Paul has also active research collaborations and co-publishes with researchers in India, UK, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Chile and Ecuador. He has been active in IFIP WG9.4 and IDIA as well as conference organisation, reviewing for numerous journal articles and external examination of local and international thesis. Apart from his normal teaching duties, he runs a Data Science course on the Getsmarter/2U platform and has lectured research methodologies abroad e.g. AAU. Three of his most recent research projects in which he is a Principal Investigator are Open Data in Africa (2016-2018), the Fairwork project that investigates the fair working conditions of gig platform workers in South Africa (2018-2023) and the Future of Work in the Global South (FOWIGS, 2019-2021) collaboration.


2020 - Matthew Adigun

Matthew O Adigun is currently a Senior Professor of Computer Science at the University of Zululand. He obtained his doctorate degree in 1989 from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; having previously received both Masters in Computer Science (1984) and a Combined Honours degree in Computer Science and Economics (1979) from the same University (when it was known as University of Ife, Nigeria).He was recruited in 1998 as a full Professor to establish Computer Science as an academic discipline at the University of Zululand, with the first undergraduate enrolments taking place in 1999.During 1999 to 2003, Matthew Adigun used his Programming and Software Engineering expertise to establish an enduring Bachelor, Honours and postgraduate programmes in Computer Science at Unizulu. The programmes were of such high quality that a Telkom Centre of Excellence, CoE was attracted to the University.A very active researcher in Software Engineering of the Wireless Internet, he has published widely in the specialized areas of reusability, software product lines, and the engineering of on-demand grid computing-based applications in Mobile Computing, Mobile Internet and ad hoc Mobile Clouds. Recently, his interest in the Wireless Internet has extended to Wireless Mesh Networking resources and node placements issues, as well as Software Defined Networking issues which covered performance and scalability aspects arising from Software Defined Data Centres and Cloud/Fog/Edge Computing milieu.Since 2004, he has been the Project Leader and Principal researcher attracting millions of Rands in research grants from South African NRF starting from HBU-specific Niche Areas (2006-2010) and THRIP programmes (2004-2016). His contribution was immediately acknowledged by inviting him to receive the 2004 THRIP Excellence award for raising the flag of Research Excellence in historically disadvantaged institution. In 2008 he was also a nominee of the DTI THRIP Innovation Award.Through Matthew Adigun’s postgraduate supervision efforts, he has helped improve the numbers of Black Computer Science academics in South Africa. His former Masters and Doctoral students (in excess of sixty in number) are currently employed at UniZulu as well as at other academic institutions such as the University of KwaZulu Natal, the University of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangosuthu University of Technology and Walter Sisulu University to name a few. Many former postgraduate students are also employed as researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).Matthew Adigun’s sustained and impressive University development impact led to his being invited from retirement to continue in his current Senior Professorship position (on contract) from September 2020.


2020 - Irwin Brown

Irwin Brown is Head of Department and Professor of Information Systems (IS) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He was Director of the UCT Centre for IT and National Development in Africa (CITANDA) from 2008 to 2012 and has been Convener of the highly successful UCT IS PhD programme. He obtained a BScEngHons (Electrical) degree from University of Zimbabwe (1985-1988), a MInfSys (1994-1995) degree from Curtin University of Technology, Australia, and a PhD from UCT (2001-2005). Irwin began his IS academic career as a Sessional Academic at Curtin University (1995-1998), before taking up a position as Lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia (1999-2000). In July 2000 he joined UCT as a Lecturer, becoming a full Professor as from 2011.

Having been born in Zimbabwe, and having lived in Southern Africa for the most part (apart from a 6-year period in Australia), Irwin has developed a strong interest in IS in the African context. He maintains a broad interest in all areas of IS research, but with a specific focus on understanding and theorising IS phenomena in the contextual conditions of Africa.

Irwin has contributed to over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, and more than 70 peer-reviewed conference papers, some of these being highly cited publications (> 3,400 citations, h-index = 28 in Google Scholar as at 2020). Notable outlets include the European Journal of Information Systems, and leading Association for Information Systems (AIS) conferences such as the International Conference on Information Systems and the European Conference on Information Systems. To date Irwin has supervised to graduation 14 PhD candidates (11 as main supervisor) and 18 Masters candidates.

Irwin has been active in promoting Computing research in South Africa, mainly as a member of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT) Council from 2007 to 2018. This included stints as SAICSIT President from 2010 to 2012, then as SAICSIT Vice-President from 2016 to 2018. He served as IFIP TC8 (IS) South African representative from 2008 to 2016, and in this role was instrumental in organising the first IFIP WG 8.11/11.13 Workshop on Information Systems Security held in 2009 in Cape Town - aptly named the Dewald Roode Workshop on IS Security. Professor Roode was responsible for championing the idea.

Irwin has taken on conference leadership roles several times, e.g. the 1st IFIP WG 8.11/11.13 Workshop on Information Systems Security 2009 – Co-Organising Chair, 1st International Conference on Information Management and Evaluation (ICIME) 2010 – Program Chair, SAICSIT Conference 2011 – Chair, AIS Conf-IRM 2016 - Co-Chair, African Conference on IS & Technology (ACIST) 2017 – Co-Chair. All of the latter were hosted in Cape Town.

He has served several journals including as Editor for the African Journal of Information Systems (2011 – present), and Information Systems Sub-Editor of the South African Computer Journal (2007 – 2014). He is currently a Guest Editor for the European Journal of Information Systems Special Issue on Advancing the Development of Contextually Relevant ICT4D Theories.


2020 - Ruth de Villiers

Ruth de Villiers started her career as a computer programmer at UNISA. Subsequently, during 12 years home-based, raising a family, she did contract programming and led a venture for teaching BASIC programming to children. She re-joined UNISA as a lecturer in Computer Science and Information Systems, acquired her MEd, MSc, then PhD, and became one of UNISA’s first Research Professors. She innovatively established an early Facebook Forum, where academic topics were initiated by postgraduate distance-learners themselves, simulating conventional class interaction.

Her research focus areas are HCI and e-learning, which she combined by conducting research, design and evaluation of educational technology: interactive tutorials, web-based learning, m-learning, virtual reality, environments for learning programming, e-assessment, and learning across the digital divide. She is experienced in various strategies for user-based and expert-based evaluation, including controlled testing in the School of Computing’s HCI laboratory. Ruth later became a meta-research specialist and presented dynamic seminars at UNISA and external institutions, local and international. She has published 90 peer-reviewed research outputs: journal articles, full conference papers (12 in SAICSIT Proceedings), and book chapters.

She delivered masters and doctoral students, including formerly disempowered candidates and was featured in UNISA’s College (Faculty) of Science as a ‘Best Supervisor’. She has externally examined approximately 60 PhD theses and MSc, MCom, MEd and MTech dissertations from nine South African and three international universities. She received the Chancellor’s Award (UNISA’s most prestigious research and innovation prize) and UNISA’s Women-in-Research: Research Leadership Award. She held research-related leadership roles at UNISA: chairing the School’s Research Committee and serving on research and graduate matters in the College/Faculty of Science. She was temporarily Acting School Director, but her passion remained academia and research. She was co-chair of SAICSIT 2012 Conference. In excellent relationships with youth, she is a committed mentor, fostering growth in scholarship. She led School Mentoring Programme,

External experience: For over 20 years, Ruth collaborated with universities in Finland and visited three times, serving twice as Sole Opponent at PhD Public Oral Defences and presenting seminars to staff and students. She was Expert Referee on the selection panel for appointing HoD (Software Engineering, at a Finnish University. In a delegation of UNISA academics, Ruth visited Ethiopia to represent Computing and give workshops for Ethiopian masters and doctoral students. She consulted for the mining industry on e-training technology and conducted research on use and usability of an HIV/AIDS Awareness system, culminating in an international conference presentation jointly with a practitioner. The software development house also consulted her on simulations as e-training tools.

Her career as Professor Emeritus since retirement (2012), is fulfilling. She completed supervising postgraduate candidates, continues publishing, and remains NRF C2-rated. Ruth has a contract position as Expert Consultant for UNISA’s Research Support Directorate, whereby she assists Computing and Cross-College colleagues in NRF Rating-, Thuthuka-, and other applications and in funding ventures.

As an engaging speaker who enthuses, informs and amuses participants, she presents workshops and seminars at UNISA and other Colleges and Universities on research design and methodologies, design research, rigorous academic writing for postgraduate students, and writing for publication. In 2019, she was joint First Prize winner at the international competition, Teaching of Research Methodology: Excellence Awards, held at the European Conference on Research Methodology.


2019 - Carina de Villers

Carina de Villiers is full professor and Head of the Department of Informatics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.  She obtained a BSc (Computer Science and Mathematics), Higher Education Diploma, Diploma in Tertiary Education, MEd (Didactics) cum laude, Honours degree in Computer Science and PhD (Informatics) degree.  She has co-authored 9 books, 35 articles in peer-reviewed international journals and delivered more than 100 international and national conference papers on different topics in IS Education.  She is a member of several international bodies and serves on a number of editorial and advisory boards for journals. She was involved in the SAICSIT community from the early 90s and contributed as council member, as well as organisaing committees of the SAICSIT annual conference. Carina de Villiers was a junior lecturer, lecturer and senior lecturer at the School of Computing, University of South Africa from 1979 until 1995 (17 years). She then joined the Department of Informatics, University of Pretoria as Associate Professor and Professor from 1996 to date (24 years).During 2001 and 2002 she was the project manager responsible for the transfer of the compulsory Computer and Information Literacy courses for first year students at the University of Pretoria from the external provider to the School of IT.  This project involved budgeting, the establishment of computer laboratories that can handle 6000+ students per week, appointment of administrative staff and lecturers, planning the curriculum and ensuring that the necessary technological infrastructure is in place.  The project was completed on time and within the budget and the new courses started on the 1st of February 2003.During 2005 the Computer and Information Literacy courses were re-curriculated under her guidance and the new courses were implemented in 2006. She has again re-curriculated the courses in 2009 and the new courses were implemented in 2010, now serving more than 8000 students per year.Carina started the process to get international accreditation from ABET for BCom (Informatics Information Systems) in 2004.  The accreditation team visited the department in October 2007.  This was the first ABET accredited program in Africa and one of only three outside the USA at the time of the accreditation in 2008.  International accreditation was obtained and was valid until 2013. She again led the accreditation process in 2013 and have obtained unconditional accreditation for another 6 years. The third evaluation was done in November 2019. She is also part of the task team that is busy developing a South African Computing Accreditation Body (SACAB) to do accreditation of computing degrees in South Africa. Currently she is a member of the international taskforce IS 2020 of the ACM and AIS busy developing the new Information Systems curriculum.


2019 - Philip Machanick

Philip has been an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the Rhodes University since 2011. He completed all his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Computer Science at various local universities and obtained his PhD in 1996 from the University of Cape Town. He also completed a Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Queensland and spent a sabbatical in 1990 at the Stanford University.  

As President of SAICSIT in 1998‐2000 he rescued the society from collapse. He also revived SAICSIT’s journal, the South African Computer Journal (SACJ), when he took over as editor‐in‐chief in 2012 at which time the paper pipeline had stalled and reviews were not being  completed.  He introduced the following innovations:

  • switch to open access with a publication charge
  • a bursary for a production editor
  • introduction of DOIs
  • listing in Directory of Open Access Journals
  • special issues in various areas
  • a revitalised editorial board
  • publication of each issue on schedule
  • a change from an unconventional number‐only system to volume and number

In the past seven years he has taken the journal to new heights and successfully drove the process to get it indexed on Scopus as of 2016. Philip also served as programme chair of the annual SAICSIT conferences in 1999 and 2000, as well as proceedings editor in 2013, and he has also been involved in the society as a council member since 2012.


2018 - Jackie Phahlamohlaka

Dr Letlibe Jacob Phahlamohlaka (Jackie) hails from Ga-Phaahla Village in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga Province. He completed a BSc degree at the University of Zululand and an MSc in Computational and Applied Mathematics at Dalhousie University in Canada in 1991. He received his PhD in Informatics from the University of Pretoria in 2003.
Jackie is the Founder Member of the Siyabuswa Educational Improvement and Development Trust (SEIDET) and served as the Chair of its Executive Committee from its inception in 1991/2 until May 2003. Through SEIDET, he played a remarkable role in contributing to the building of an Information Society in South Africa. The work he has done is documented in a book titled Community Driven Projects: “A Case study of science education and Information Technology in South Africa” which he edited in 2008. The book documents research work done within the SEIDET Community by several academics from the University of Pretoria. Jackie is currently the Chairperson of the Board of SEIDET.

Jackie was also the Chairman of the Board of the KwaNdebele Computer Education Centre (KCEC) as well as VUKUZENZELE Community Organization during the early and late 1990s. A large number of people from the Nkangala Region of Mpumalanga Province were exposed to Computer Education through these Community Projects.
Jackie received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr JS Moroka Municipality in recognition of the contribution he has made to community service in the Municipality and the Mpumalanga Province.

Since 2006 to date, Jackie been the Competency Area Manager at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa; where he leads a department that provide science, engineering and technology support to the Department of Defence and other Government Departments. Upon joining the CSIR in January 2006 and in response to the “CSIR call to basics” and return to its key function of directed research ; Jackie initiated a series of seminars and workshops within the CSIR Defence Peace Safety and Security (DPSS) on how to do good R&D work and how to get published. He requested his PhD supervisor and colleague, Professor Dewald Roode to assist him to facilitate the sessions. This led to a CSIR wide adopted RICS Programme which continues to be run by CSIR internal training division, CiLLA. It also established a high publication culture in Jackie’s Competency Area ever since and it continues to lead the entire CSIR DPSS Unit on publication equivalents per year to date. Jackie also served for six years in the Strategic Research Panel of the CSIR, a body within the CSIR that advice the CSIR Executive on Research Development and Innovation. He is currently serving in the Technology Demonstrator Panel of the CSIR.

From 2009, Jackie has been a CSIR designated member on the Council of the University of Venda, where he also served in the Senate and the Academic Planning Committee of the University. Jackie has since 2015 to date been an Advisory Board member of the Centre for Research in Information and Cyber Security (CRIC), School of ICT at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Apart from his managerial and executive responsibilities, he remains an active researcher. His research interests are in ICT and Socio-Economic Development, Web-based Group Support Systems, and most recently, Broadband access and National Security. In these domains, Jackie is extensively published and continues to give regular talks both nationally and internationally.


2018 - Paula Kotzé

Professor Paula Kotzé obtained her PhD in Computer Science (Human-Computer interaction) in 1997 at York. In 2004, she became the first Director of the School of Computing at Unisa. In August 2009 she became the first female Chief Researcher at the CSIR and the Meraka Institute. She retired from the CSIR in March 2018. During her academic career she was instrumental in establishing the field of HCI as academic discipline in South Africa and internationally. She currently holds two honorary positions: Extraordinary Professor at the Department of Informatics at the University of Pretoria and as Adjunct Professor in the School of ICT at Nelson Mandela University. Paula is the past recipient of many national and international awards. Amongst others, she received the IFIP Silver Core award for her service and contribution to the development of the ICT field in 2007. In 2015 she received the IFIP TC13 Pioneer Award in recognition of active participation in IFIP Technical Committees or related IFIP groups, and outstanding contributions to the educational, theoretical, technical, commercial or professional aspects of analysis, design, construction, evaluation and use of interactive systems. She received a Career Achievement Award from the CSIR in 2016. Paula is an Elected Member of the European Academy of Science. She is a National Research Foundation (NRF) B rated (internationally acclaimed) researcher..


2017 - Jan Eloff

Professor Jan Eloff (PhD Computer Science) is appointed as the Deputy Dean Research & Postgraduate studies: Faculty of Eng., Built Environment and IT (EBIT) and as a full professor in Computer Science at the University of Pretoria. His research interest is in cyber-security and applied aspects of Big Data Science. He is an associate-editor of the Computers & Security journal and an editorial member for the international Computer Fraud & Security bulletin published by Elsevier. He is an internationally recognised researcher and holds a B rating at the NRF.