Loving community member scoops award

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Maria Visagie is a humble, caring and loving woman whose humility was noted when she was announced as the overall winner at this year's Sowetan, Old Mutual and SABC Community Builder of the Year Awards.

Visagie stuck to a simple message of gratitude when she was announced as the senior category winner and as the overall winner in Johannesburg on Friday night and again when the sponsors, organisers and awards coordinators of the provincial social development departments held an evaluation meeting on Saturday.

Visagie, who runs the Oasis skills development project in Upington, Northern Cape, said: "Thank you all for having showed immense confidence in me, my colleagues at Oasis and all the lovely, special children we work with daily. These awards have put Upington, popularly known as the hottest place in South Africa, on the world map as a place where people care for other people."

The runners-up in the senior category were Winnie Mabaso of the Zenzele counselling project in Finetown informal settlement, Lenasia, Gauteng, and Melita Violet Masemola of Re A Kgona Mankweng community programme in Mankweng, Limpopo.

The winner in the adult category was Zalisile "Sweet Mama" Marwanqana of Sweet African Cultural Development Group, East London, Eastern Cape. Marwanqana broke into song before his acceptance speech.

Marwanqana's liveliness was reciprocated by entertainers Abigail Kubeka, Malaika, the Dimpie Tshabalala Trio, choreographer Somizi Mhlongo and his dancers, and comedian David Kau.

Adding glamour to the award ceremony were comperes Carol Bouwer and Hlomla Dandala and celebrity project leaders Patrick Shai, Carol Jacobs, Dingaan Mokebe and Mapaseka Makoti.

Jacobeth Lepedi of the Bosele papermaking project, North West, and Sipho Ndlovu of How A Farm Can Be Transformed Educational Project, KwaZulu-Natal were the runners-up in the adult category.

The youth category winner was Daniel Mashimbye of the Ndlandlamuka Institute for Sustainable Development, Limpopo. The runners-up were Christelle Broodryk of Destiny's Child Arts and Culture Group, Virginia, Free State, and Sasha Dube of the Siyanda Theatre Laboratory, Upington, Northern Cape.

The group category winner was Jacobus Pansegrouw of Group of Hope community project, Western Cape. The runners-up were Sophie Boshielo of Thuthukani project, Walkraal, Mpumalanga, and Thembeka Mnqwazi of Orange Grove vegetable project, Eastern Cape.

The corporate category winner was the Phalaborwa Mining Company's Phelang BaPhalaborwa HIV-Aids programme.

Thabo Leshilo, Sowetan and Sunday World editor- in-chief, spoke of "our commitment to continue touching our people's lives beyond the confines of day-to-day journalism".

Dali Mpofu, SABC chief executive, said that community upliftment was an integral part of the broadcaster's social responsibility.

Marshall Rapiya, Old Mutual Group chief executive, said: "The sustainable development of our communities provides the nation with light and hope."