Former President Thabo Mbeki has presented a number of influential figures with the Chancellor Calabash awards on Friday night.

The awards, by the University of South Africa (UNISA) where Mbeki is Chancellor, aim to honour South Africans who have achieved great strides in social transformation and the promotion of democracy.

Among them is former president Kgalema Motlanthe, who was honoured with the Robben Island Alumnus award for his role in the liberation struggle.

In Motlanthe’s absence, the award was accepted by the Chairperson of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation, Dr Firoz Cachalia.

Former Constitutional Court Judge Justice Edwin Cameron was presented with the Public Servants award for his contribution to justice and his human rights activism.

Businessman Sizwe Nxasana was honoured with the Outstanding Alumnus award.

The university’s Health Studies Professor Azwi-Hangwisi Mavhandu Mudzusi was honoured with the Outstanding Educators award for her role in academic, research and community outreach.

Mbeki highlighted the importance of education in the country.