Howick’s Environmental Hero

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Last week, Penelope Malinga received a KZN Youth Achievers Award in recognition of her ‘selfless efforts in making a difference in KwaZulu Natal’. Penelope was nominated in the Environmental Category by the Midlands Conservancies Forum (MCF).

Judy Bell, Chair of the MCF, said that MCF was proud of Penelope. “Credit is due to the inspirational people, including Penz, who started the Mpophomeni Conservation Group to motivate others to consider environmental issues. It is right that Penz has been recognised by this Award.”

Penelope describes herself as a self-appointed guardian of wild places, tree and bunny hugger. “One day a friend introduced me to the uMngeni River gorge below the Howick Falls, it was like nothing I had ever seen, heard, or felt before. I knew I was home.” Last year she was part of the Mayday for Rivers team who walked the length of the uMngeni river, inspiring many to take up the cause of protecting our rivers. Penny Rees leader of the expedition comments “Penz’ love for Mother Earth, her enthusiasm, ethics and sense of justice, her ability to work with folks of all ages and from all walks of life, and her sense of fun all contribute to making her an exceptional young woman.”

Penelope particularly enjoys working with the youth, passing on her passion for wetlands and a respect and connection to our precious rivers. Penelope is a positive role model, unafraid to speak up on issues of animal rights, fairness, racism, feminism and environmental causes. This means she is not always understood in her community. Penelope laughs “Ja, people think I am a little weird, but it is my ‘weirdness’ which won me this award!”

At the Award Ceremony, the Environmental category was announced last, “I was getting ready to start clapping for the winner when they said it was me. I have never won anything in my life!” Penelope concludes “I am proud of living in Mpophomeni and want to do all I can to alert people to the fact that we need to look after the small river, uMthinzima that runs through the township and into Midmar dam. Our actions have an impact on the water quality of millions of people. I think this award might be a platform to make an even bigger difference.”

Read more about Penelope and the other exceptional women of the Mpophomeni Conservation Group at: or or like join the ‘Mpophomeni Hills’ group on facebook.


Penz mini sass by Gareth Boothway res