Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content




  Corporate Profile of Refilwe Buthelezi Pr. Eng.

  President: Engineering Council of South Africa

Professional Reg.






ECSA: President

VUT: Chairperson

FAEO: Chairperson Membership Committee

SAIEE: Senior Member (SMSAIEE)

IoDSA: Member

UTC/ AUTC: Outgoing Board Member


Ms Refilwe Buthelezi is the current President of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Ms Buthelezi has over 5 years working with the Council. Her previous roles with the Council include serving in the Fifth Term Council of ECSA and held the positions of Vice Chairperson of the Central Registration Committee as well as Member of the Audit and Risk Committee. She has also served as an accredited Assessor, Reviewer and Moderator for professional registration.

Ms Buthelezi is a qualified engineer with over 16 years, business leadership experience in diverse management environments within the water, power and energy utility industries. She holds multiple qualifications including a BEng in Electrical and Electronics, MEng in Engineering Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership.

Her numerous accolades include the 2021 Women in Engineering Award from the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE), the Mover and Shaker of the Year 2017 Award under the Rand Water COO portfolio. In 2017, she led a team that won the 2017 Team of the Year Award under the same portfolio. Furthermore, in 2013 she was the recipient of the Keith Plowden Young Engineering Achiever Award, conferred annually by SAIEE. In 2012, Ms Buthelezi was a national finalist in the UJ-Group Five Excellence in Engineering and Technology awards under the category: Most Promising Young Engineer or Built Environment Professional.

Ms Buthelezi is currently serving as the Chairperson of the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) Council, charged with the responsibility of protecting the institutional autonomy and the academic freedom of its employees while upholding public accountability, and deliberates on the nature, roles and participation of all stakeholders.

Ms Buthelezi's leadership as the Vice-President and Acting President of the ECSA Council has significantly impacted achieving its objectives during the financial year 2021/2022.

With regards to the educational mandate of the Council, the Standard for Accreditation of Online Programme was approved and successfully implemented, clearing the backlog of engineering programme accreditation visits due in 2020 because of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, online accreditation has been approved to continue in 2022 and will undoubtedly remain a critical modality of programme accreditation for the future in South Africa. In support of the ECSA accreditation effort, Ms Buthelezi, led by example in taking active part in a couple of virtual accreditation visits as an assessor of electrical engineering programmes.

Ms Buthelezi is a firm believer in Pan-Africanism. She is fervent champion for ECSA to play a critical role in assisting African Engineering Institutes to become signatory members of the International Engineering Alliance (IEA) educational accords, including Washington, Dublin and Sydney. She has been instrumental in finalising and revitalising several memoranda of understanding with SADC countries, including Mauritius, Zambia and Botswana, in 2021 and 2022. This ECSA endeavour is close to her heart and set to continue and be expanded in the near future for the benefit of the African Engineering fraternity.

Under the leadership of Ms Buthelezi, ECSA is steering up the consultation of stakeholders to implement the Identification of the Engineering Work gazette. This critical and long overdue legislation published in March 2021 will become a significant game-changer for Engineer practitioners and educators in South Africa that will restore engineering integrity and foster the economic development of South Africa.

Ms Buthelezi's tenure has also coincided with the successful implementation of the new ECSA CPD framework. Several Voluntary Associations and Higher Educations Institutions have enthusiastically welcomed the framework by becoming licensed bodies and being submitted to ECSA audits in 2022. This is the first in the history of continuing professional development in South Africa to promote quality engineering training courses. ECSA is addressing Candidacy phase and it has certified one company as an Academy. This will address the issue of ensuring that Candidates can be mentored and registered in a more efficient manner.

Finally, Ms Buthelezi's no compromise with regards to governance and the required high standard work at ECSA has provided a conducive environment and leadership directions that have resulted in the successful ISO 9001 certification in 2022. This stamp of quality approval together with the governance overhaul initiative is a testimony of the effective oversight role of the ECSA Council led by Ms Buthelezi in the last two years.​