“When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten and the last stream poisoned, will we realise we cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian prophecy



Ndlovu de Villiers Attorneys

Samantha de Villiers, 34, is an attorney at Ndlovu de Villiers Attorneys, a firm she and her partner, Sibonelo Ndlovu, started in 2018 to foster a new generation of environmental lawyers and provide opportunities for women in this field, particularly black females. Samantha specialises in a small niche of environmental law relating to protected areas.

The legislation is complex, but important to give effect to the constitutional right to the protection of the environment for current and future generations. She is a member of the National Stewardship Legal Reference Group and is the only private attorney requested to participate in the technical working group for stewardship in South Africa.

Samantha has also played an integral role in the establishment of the KwaZulu-Natal Protected Areas Declaration task team, which is the first of its kind in South Africa.

It is rolling out a new pilot project in KwaZulu-Natal to create a streamlined process for the declaration of protected areas, thereby directly informing the development of regulations for South Africa in this area of law. Samantha has worked on more than 150 protected areas and has secured the statutory protection of hundreds of thousands of hectares of land.

She nurtures and builds team spirit among her colleagues and encourages participation from all through her collaborative, active and engaging style.

  • BA in environmental science and law, Rhodes University
  • LLB majoring in environmental law, Rhodes University

  • I was awarded the second runner-up in the category of Best in Marine, Shipping and Environmental Law in the 2022 WOZA Awards
  • As a firm, Ndlovu de Villiers Attorneys was awarded the Best Law Firm in SA in the 2022 WOZA Awards.

My parents are nature lovers, so most of my childhood memories were made travelling to unique parts of South Africa. On long drives, my parents would keep us entertained by playing “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” We learned so much about the areas we were visiting and, strangely, I am now working on some of these areas to ensure they are legally protected.

Be your own kind of confident.

I hope to see a genuine change in mindset regarding the value of protected areas in our society and in the political arena. 

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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