Giyani mayor denies she conferred PhD to Limpopo entertainer at high school event

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Basani Shibambu. (Photo:
Basani Shibambu. (Photo:
  • The mayor of the Greater Giyani municipality was seen "conferring a doctorate" at a matric graduation. 
  • She said she was simply trying to encourage pupils. 
  • The school said the event was aimed at motivating a disabled man who did not have the opportunity to go to school. 


Many people who saw pictures of the the mayor of Greater Giyani municipality allegedly "conferring an honorary doctorate" to a Limpopo entertainer at a high school are probably now saying "Yena aya kwini" - a mocking phrase which, when loosely translated, means "serves you right, where were you going" after it was revealed that she has now come under heavy criticism for that.

Basani Shibambu allegedly conferred the honorary doctorate to July Mabunda, a Limpopo man with dwarfism who became an overnight sensation after he was caught on camera using the phrase in a conversation. He became an entertainer who started booking gigs after the video clip went viral on social media. 

Over the weekend, pictures of Mabunda in a red gown went viral again after it was alleged that Shibambu honoured him with a doctorate at a matric farewell ceremony at a Limpopo school. 

ALSO READ | 'I couldn't believe it' - University of Pretoria student submits master's thesis, gets PhD instead

However, Shibambu and the school that organised the event had since poured cold water on the allegations, saying the event was aimed at encouraging pupils to do well at school and also to bring some joy to the area. 

Despite what Basani and the school were saying, Limpopo Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs Cooperative Governance MEC, Basikopo Makamu, wants answers. 

Allegations are that Makamu called Shibambu wanting answers on the event and they were due to have a meeting.

Shibambu, on the other hand, said she was merely encouraging Mabunda.

The conferring of the so-called doctorate, she said, had nothing to do with her as she was merely at the school event of the Nkwangulatilo Education Centre to encourage students. 

"I was only invited to go and encourage students. I did not know what they are going to do at the event," Shibambu told News24. 

A video of the event shows the mayor in a red gown, handing a certificate to the man and dubbing him doctor. 

"He is a man with a disability. He drinks and tells jokes. The people love him. It was just to say that he must be encouraged and he must behave," Shibambu said. 

ALSO READ | Young, gifted and going places: these 3 young South Africans are blazing a trail of brilliance

A representative of the Nkwangulatilo Education Centre, Moses Thembe, told News24 that the school did not confer a PhD to anyone as purported, but was simply trying to encourage pupils. 

"That man, July Mabunda, he did not go to school. He never had classmates. He used to work on a farm and he used to go to the mines to entertain people. It was about encouraging him and others," Thembe said. 

He said that South Africa was "an angry nation" and "sometimes we must just have fun". 

The mayor insisted she was maintaining good relations with the school who appreciated the work of the municipality in providing it with water during water cuts and tending to the main road it is situated on. 

"The unfortunate part was, the honorary doctorate... I was just trying to encourage him," she said. 

She dismissed assertions that she was making light of academic success. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Facebook is facing a fresh crisis after a former employee turned whistle-blower leaked internal company research. Do you still use Facebook?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, the benefits outweigh the risk for me
32% - 1879 votes
No, I have deleted it
38% - 2214 votes
Yes, but I am considering deleting it
30% - 1744 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.