Young South Africans: Civil Society

A chapter of the Mail & Guardian‘s 200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch

Eric Richardson
A master’s graduate in education Eric’s early career was spent as a teacher before lecturing at Wits. He played a leading role in a creating a curriculum in the areas of Sociology and Philosophy of Education courses and introduced course on gender and sexuality for teacher training. In 2006 he became Managing Director of the Themba HIV and Aids Organisation.
The NGO does interactive theatre and innovative training in various correctional centres, businesses and community centres and schools. In 2007 they won the Mail & Guardian‘s Investing in the Future Award for most innovative project in South Africa. Eric publishes articles and book chapters and speaks at conferences.

He serves on the board of the Durban Gay and Lesbian Community Centre and the Board of Editors of International Journal of LGBT Youth. He’s currently researching for a book for teachers on how to promote gender and sexual diversity in schools.

Lunch spot: News Café, Civic Theatre, Johannesburg

Andile Mngxitama
An activist and thinker, Andile is a regular media commentator on race issues. He has a loyal following and coterie of critics who follow his every word. Andile works at the European Union Foundation for Human Rights. Previously, he was land rights coordinator for the National Land Committee, where he worked closely with the Landless People’s Movement. In his spare time, Andile writes fiction and says he loves “people-watching”.

Lunch spot: Dijah’s in Pretoria

Prince Mashele
An articulate commentator, Prince is a pundit to watch. He has a broad range of interests and is currently head of the crime, justice and politics programme at the Institute for Security Studies, a leading think-tank. Previously, Prince was a speech-writer in Thabo Mbeki’s Presidency. A political studies graduate of the University of Venda, he also holds a master’s from Rhodes. At both universities, he was a student leader.

Prince is a regular commentator, both locally and abroad; he has advised the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament, among other bodies.

Lunch spot: Bugatti Restaurant, Brooklyn Mall

Rudy Dicks
Rudy is a leading policy-maker at Cosatu. With the union federation in the ascendancy, he is going to be a key mover and shaker.

Rudy is Cosatu’s labour market policy coordinator. In this role, he helps develop the union federation’s labour market, economic and trade policy positions. A regular speaker, he presents on Cosatu’s behalf at the annual labour law conference and in global forums of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation.

Previously, Rudy was head of research at Fair Share, the organisation geared to make economics easy to understand and fair for the poor. His has been a life dedicated to finding policy alternatives better suited to eradicating poverty. Rudy has been a local and national organiser at Cosatu’s affiliates in the paper and transport sectors.

He enjoys gym, running, reading, snorkelling and fishing, especially for crayfish.

Lunch spot: Doppio Zero

Henk Schalekamp
Henk is deputy general secretary of operational management for Solidarity. In 2007 he was also appointed as head of operational services. Prior to this appointment, Henk was head of the union’s multimillion-rand financial company, Fin-Q. Henk, who is always up for an academic challenge, then went on to obtain a master’s in business administration from the University of Potchefstroom. People development is key for him in any business and he believes that this results in overall benefits towards a company’s bottom line, growth and financial rewards. Furthermore, he has played a leading role in transforming Solidarity’s internal systems to the level where it is recognised as one of the leaders in the industry and a truly distinguished company.

Lunch spot: Café 41, Arcadia, Pretoria

Nicole Fritz
A Mail & Guardian Best Student Journalist Award winner, Nicole spent several weeks as an intern at the newspaper’s newsroom where she made a notable impression. She has an LLB (cum laude) from Wits University and, as a Hauser Global Scholar, accomplished an LLM in International Legal Studies from New York University. She went on to teach constitutional, international and human rights law at Wits School of Law and taught at New York’s Fordham School of Law, returning this year as visiting professor. She also worked for Judge Richard Goldstone at South Africa’s Constitutional Court.

Nicole is currently director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, an organisation that works to advance human rights and the rule of law within the Southern Africa region. A published academic in her field, she is also a research associate at the Centre for Human Rights and on the board of Human Rights Professionals.

Lunch spot: Charlotte’s, Braamfontein

Gary Campbell
Gary heads up the FUEL Trust, a newly formed NGO based in Johannesburg, whose vision is to make a positive and permanent contribution to the lives of young South Africans. FUEL has engaged with the government to support them in enhancing the quality of their National School Nutrition Programme, which targets six million primary school children daily.

Gary returned to South Africa in January 2007 after having spent nine years working in the United Kingdom. He was commercial director of Nando’s UK for five years, where he was responsible for procurement, logistics, safety, menu development and maintenance of the UK group, which managed 150 corporate-owned restaurants. Prior to that Gary worked as an investment manager for Capricorn, a private equity business that operated in the leisure and financial services sectors both in South Africa and the UK. Before leaving for the UK in 1998, Gary worked for four years as group financial manager for Cullinan Holdings Ltd, having completed his articles and qualified as a chartered accountant at Deloitte & Touche in Johannesburg in 1994. Gary is married to Alison and they have two young daughters. He is passionate about sport and the outdoors.

Lunch spot: The Saxon, Johannesburg

Jaco Kleynhans
Jaco was appointed as the head of communication of Solidarity at the age of 23. He is also editor of the union’s member magazine, of which 100 000 copies are distributed every second month. As spokesperson, Jaco led Solidarity to become a leading source of information on labour-related and union issues in the South African media. Solidarity was mentioned more than 10 000 times in the country’s media in 2007.

Lunch spot: BOERgeoisie, Menlopark, Pretoria

Zoë Lees
Zoë has her own business operating as a strategic adviser in the area of sustainable development (environment, climate and energy strategy) and corporate social investment (CSI). She has recently launched a sustainable architecture business, Sustainable Integrated Solutions, with her architect sister Joanne Lees, specialising in energy-efficient housing developments and integrated town planning, as well as other elements making up sustainable lifestyles. She is an inaugural member of the renowned African Leadership Initiative in association with the Aspen Institute.

From 2004 to 2006 Zoë was director of the Goodwill Exchange, a CSR and cause-related marketing company, where she was a strategic adviser in the area of sustainable development and corporate social investment. From 1999 to mid-2003 she was the executive director of the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD:SA), a regional partner of the prominent World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The BCSD: SA’s purpose, supported by the top 50 companies in South Africa, was to promote the business case for sustainable development through improved social and environmental performance and disclosure, as well as proactive participation in policy-making processes within South Africa. Zoë was extensively involved with the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, which was hosted in Johannesburg in 2002, and was the founder of the JSE’s Socially Responsible Index launched in May 2003.

From 1995 Zoë was acting director in the newly formed Gauteng Directorate of Environment and was a principal figure in the building of that department, as well as running the sub-directorates of environmental impact assessments, waste management, and cleaner technology. She has a BSc honours degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) and a Higher Diploma in Microbiology from Technikon Natal. Her doctorate, which focused on the clean up of oil-contaminated soil using biological methods (bioremediation), was completed with Shell SA at the University of KZN (Pietermaritzburg) in 1995.

Zoë is the author of a number of articles and papers and, as one of the foremost experts on policy issues, business and sustainability in the country, is regularly asked to lecture at conferences and seminars around the world. She maintains a large network and serves on a range of advisory boards and panels.

Lunch spot: The restaurant formerly known as Deluxe at 44 Stanley Road, Milpark. Everything there is organic, it’s in a cool location and it’s comfortable, warm and friendly

Dirk Hermann
Dirk is the deputy general secretary of Solidarity and is regarded as one of South Africa’s experts on the subject of affirmative action. His second book, Die Keiser is Kaal (The Naked Emperor), was released in 2007. He is a regular guest speaker at local and international conferences on the topic of affirmative action and other labour-related issues. Dirk is also the director of the Solidarity Helping Hand Fund, which spends millions every year to combat poverty and help young people to build careers.

Lunch spot: Die Werf, Pretoria

Judith February
Judith is the head of the Political Information and Monitoring Service at Idasa. She studied law at the University of Cape Town, where she obtained her BA (Law) and her LlB degrees in 1991 and 1993 respectively. She was then admitted as an attorney in 1996 and practised law in Cape Town until 2000.

In 2000 she obtained her LlM in Commercial Law from the University of Cape Town. Judith has been working at Idasa since June 2000 and has worked extensively on issues of good governance, transparency and accountability within the South African context. Her focus at Idasa includes corruption and its impact on governance, parliamentary oversight, constitutional law monitoring, institutional design and general political analysis.

Judith currently does consultancy work on South Africa for a New York-based group as part of their Stability Index on 25 developing countries around the world. She has been listed in the Financial Mail’s Little Black Book of 300 black professionals for 2007 and was also listed in the MTN/Mail & Guardian The Y’ello Book of South African Women, which was released in August 2006. Judith serves on the board of the Goedgedacht Forum for Social Reflection and is an exco member of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group ( In addition, she serves on an independent ad hoc panel to evaluate the effectiveness of South Africa’s Parliament. Her column Between the Lines appears in the Cape Times newspaper fortnightly.

Lunch spot: Caveau at the Mill, Newlands; Tokara, Stellenbosch; Ricki’s in Cape Town

Elizabeth O’Leary
Elizabeth has a master’s degree in international relations and a passion for the construction sector, which started when she was a child as result of the family business. For the past 12 years she has been using her knowledge to help foster women’s development in an arena that was primarily dominated by men. She is currently executive director of Women for Housing, a company that facilitates opportunities for women in the housing and construction sectors. It also develops programmes and services that support the implementation of the Construction Charter and BEE Codes at all levels. Last year the company received a Govan Mbeki Housing Award in acknowledgement of its contribution. Another milestone planned for 2008 is the organisation’s launch of a Women’s Investment Fund that focuses on the construction and property sectors.

Lunch spot: Gogo’s house, Zone 4, Diepkloof

Lerato Maregele
Lerato has been an activist in Tembisa for more than a decade, focusing on social justice, gender, illegitimate debt, apartheid debt and environmental justice. A member of Jubilee South Africa, she mobilised local communities against the takeover of Absa bank by Barclays Bank. In 2007 Lerato joined Earthlife Africa as the energy outreach officer, tasked with developing community responses to energy issues. This work formed the backbone of a high-profile campaign against the proposed Alcan smelter at Coega. In July 2007 she went to Iceland and helped incite resistance against aluminium smelting. Lerato also serves on the Tembisa Community Media Forum and is a volunteer at Umzabalazo we Jubilee. This year she has been working with community structures, playing a vital role mobilising against tariff increases and for renewable energy.

Lunch spot: Portuguese Fish Market, Melville

Oupa Bodibe
Born in Tembisa, Oupa’s circumstances and those of the people around him propelled him to work towards improving people’s lives and conditions. He decided that the avenue to gain such rights and achieve one’s goals was in the political arena. By the early 1980s the young political activist became involved in politics and the youth movement. This was a defining time for Oupa and the beginning of an established political career. He joined Cosatu in 1997 as a research intern in the parliamentary office and subsequently as a deputy head of the office. In 2000 he was redeployed to the Cosatu head office to head the Cosatu secretary. Since 2005 he has been the executive director of the National Labour and Economic Development Institute (Naledi), Cosatu’s research arm. He is also appointed to serve on the Banking Panel by the Competition Commissioner.

Lunch spot: Tsunami, Rosebank, Johannesburg

Molefi Ndlovu
Molefi started out with a qualification in electrical engineering and then constitutional law and African literature. He is a political and environmental activist and is currently involved in the Energy Project at the Centre For Civil Society. During his earlier days Molefi became a member of the South African Student Congress and was involved with the Anti-Privatisation Forum. In 2002 he joined Research in Education and Development, working on community workshops and building media capacities for various organisations. During this time he was also a research assistant and studied the changes in tertiary education funding since the advent of democratic transition.

In 2005 Molefi was research assistant to a host of interns and students doing research on the community responses to installation of pre-paid water meters. He is also interested in journalism and alternative media and is currently completing a degree in community development, media and comparative literature.

Lunch spot: Manna Restaurant on 40 Marriot Road, Morningside; NSA Gallery in Glenmore

Patrick Patra Sindane
After Patrick completed school he became increasingly concerned about environmental issues and decided to learn more about it. Touched by what it was doing to communities, he became actively involved in environmental and conservation issues. Today he works for the Coalition Against Water Privatisation. Playing a role as an adviser, they recently won a major court case against Johannesburg Water and the City of Johannesburg. He is also an organizer and founder member of the Africa Water Network. Committed to the struggles of the working class, he’s also created another outlet for getting the voices heard. The owner of a recording studio he produced and released a CD compilation called Songs of the Working Class. He believes that activism can be channeled in many different ways and music is a powerful tool to use to encourage change.

Lunch spot: Spur, Southgate Mall, Johannesburg

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