Africa’s only nuclear power station's first female chief inspector shares the secrets to her success


“One cannot get to the top by being average,” says Noletu Moti, Koeberg Nuclear Plant’s first female chief inspector.

Moti who is in her mid-30s, hailing from the outskirts of East London, is taking others with her to the top by assisting young Africans who want to be where she is through Bhongoletu Youth Foundation, which she started in 2012 with the slogan ‘Live The South African Dream’.

‘’Youth development has always been a dream. If I was not doing science, I would be in youth development full time, travelling Africa helping young children in literacy & numeracy. A nation without education suffers immensely,” says Moti

The highly fashionable inspector is responsible for the establishment and coordination of Koeberg Nuclear Plant compliance assurance programme and enforcement focusing on monitoring and evaluating performance during normal operations and outages.

“We review plant security, emergency planning, radiation protection, environmental monitoring, periodic testing of plant equipment and systems, fire protection, amongst other areas,” she says.

Moti has always been a lover of science; she took part in regional competitions and won most of them while growing up. Her father wanted her to pursue a career in medicine, she wasn’t interested, and so she chose physics and applied maths at the University of Port Elizabeth instead.

“I had planned to study physics until PhD when my physics professor told me about an opportunity to get sponsorship from South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) in my third year. I went for an interview, got a bursary and they employed me full time upon completion of my honours degree,’’ says Moti.

An honours degree was not enough for Noletu as she was sent by her late mentor to work and study towards a master’s degree in nuclear science and technology at Manchester in the UK.

“I try to not cage myself. It is difficult to get opportunities with a one dimensional CV. That is how I was able to branch from nuclear to long term energy forecasting a few years ago where I was responsible for forecasting long-term energy demand across the entire South African Development Community (SADC) region,” says Moti.

As versatile as her educational experience, so is her personality.

“I love adventure, sandboarding; hiking; crawling in caves; bungee jumping; co-piloting; skydiving; paragliding; shark diving; abseiling I have done it all. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my brother in 2015. I struggled a lot. One cannot train for altitude unfortunately, I was physically fit but altitude almost killed me.  I kept telling myself Letu; you started this you have to finish it,” says Moti.

Through her achievements it’s pretty evident that gender does not define success.

“Look, challenges have been there. You must remember that my industry is mostly white males nearing retirement. Not to say that I have not faced resistance from black males, yes I have but l let my work speak for itself,” says Moti.