She holds a BTech in Public Relations Management and has more than 17 years experience in the communication field.
Amelia has extensive experience in the areas of internal and external communication, strategy and strategy communication, change communication, branding, project planning, and management and reputation management, gained while working in the Public Relations, Financial Services, and NGO environments. In her free time, she is a keen gardener, enjoys cooking, crafts, reading, hiking and travelling when the opportunity presents itself.
As a Lead Associate Angela oversees a range of research and consulting projects at the Sustainability Institute. Angela has proven experience in the fields of development projects, entrepreneurial education, food systems and sustainability. She is particularly interested in work that focuses on the intersections between entrepreneurial education and sustainability. Angela has a robust understanding of entrepreneurship education, mainly in tertiary education institutions in the African context. Prior to the SI, Angela spent a decade in entrepreneurship development at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (AGOF), a philanthropic initiative that invests deeply in entrepreneurship development in Southern Africa. At AGOF her work ranged from programme management to communications and multimedia data collection for mission-driven development.
As a food systems researcher (and a passionate chef) Angela is particularly interested in the claims made for more sustainable alternatives and in the role that power relations play in the food system. Her Masters, therefore, focused on production claims made for more sustainable chicken production in the Western Cape, including how this impacts on sector development.
Her recent work includes:
- Acting as project director for the Pan African Institute of Water and Energy Sciences’ higher education entrepreneurial development project based in Algeria
- Directing the GIZ-funded Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa project
- Assisting with research for the Southern Africa Food Policy “Stories of Challenge” project
- Acting as co-investigator for the development of Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food-based dietary guidelines for Tanzania
- Contributing to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’s Food and Nutrition Strategy
Angela holds a BA in Value Policy Studies and an MPhil in Sustainable Development from the University of Stellenbosch.
YOUTH & COMMUNITY COORDINATOR
Ashleigh has been involved in community work since 2010. She finds great satisfaction doing this work, and it also gives her newfound appreciation for her own life.
Since joining the Sustainability Institute, her passion for children as well as young people from all walks of life has developed and grew even more. She is currently working towards completing her Honours degree in Social Work. This role is providing her with wonderful experience as she is engaging with people both on an individual as well as community level.
Trained Adult 6 - 9 Environment
Research & Advisory Associate
Candice has been working with the Sustainability Institute in various capacities since she completed her MPhil in Sustainable Development in 2008. Currently, most of her time is dedicated to her role as project manager of the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa. This donor-funded project seeks to develop knowledge hubs in four regions across the African continent, that will collect, validate and disseminate knowledge about ecological organic agriculture to farmers. The first phase of the project runs from November 2019 – October 2021, and phase two until October 2023.
Since 2009, Candice has been appointed as an Extraordinary Lecturer at Stellenbosch University, and teaching and supervising students from the Postgraduate Diploma and Masters’ in Sustainable Development (in the School of Public Leadership). She provides academic coordination of the sustainable food systems modules that aim to introduce students to the key issues related to social justice and ecological resilience in the food system.
FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING
Christelle Jansen is a Facilitator in the baby center (0 – 3 years).
She holds an NQF level 4 certificate in Early Childhood Development as well as Birth to Three Assistants to Infancy course accredited by Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). She is the happiest when she is with children, and sees her work as an opportunity to improve herself daily by obtaining skills to continue the special work that is being done here.
Clayton joined the Sustainability Institute in April 2021. He is a registered professional accountant with SAIPA, and completed his undergraduate studies in Financial Accounting at the University of the Western Cape and postgraduate in Management Accounting at Stellenbosch University. He also holds certificates in Project Management and Carbon Footprinting. He enjoys music, exploring, learning and running or hiking outdoors.
“I am really proud and grateful to be a part of the team at the Sustainability Institute and believe that ‘When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho
COORDINATOR - EARLY LEARNING
Colleen Erasmus is the programme coordinator for the Lynedoch Children’s House.
She has always loved children and believes in the difference that consistent love shown towards them can have and the real change that it can make. Colleen completed a 0-3 Assistants to Infancy Diploma in London at the Prestigious Association Montessori Internationale.
Duran is a Guide assistant in the Montessori adolescent program working with children ages 12 – 15 years. He holds a certificate in Sports Coaching and Administration. He finished his ABET course in 2018 and is currently studying towards his Bachelor of Education degree in the Intermediate Phase at UNISA. He’s a dedicated and self-motivated person. He came through the SI’s Youth Programme at age 14 and is currently a soccer coach for Lynedoch United.
Esther is our friendly receptionist. Her journey with the SI started in the Lynedoch Community School, after which she was part of the SI Youth Programme where she stepped into many leadership roles and became an inspiration for the other young adults. She interned as a reception assistant in the beginning of 2023, showing great potential. She is now our full-time receptionist and a great asset to the SI.
Digital & Design Assistant
Fiona rejoined the Sustainability Institute in 2019, bringing her energy, enthusiasm, and can do attitude to all creative aspects within the SI.
Fiona studied Marketing at the University of Stellenbosch, after which she had a brief stint in the corporate world. She then took some time off to travel, where she had the opportunity to work in various programmes focused on youth development. At the end of her travels, Fiona came back to the SI to assist with a range of creative projects for our various spaces. Currently she assists with the digital and design elements for the SI.
Fumanekile is silent force of nature in the Woodland, tending to the growing needs of a family of indigenous trees and shrubs which require tending to survive and flourish the rigours of our seasonal wet-land and the Stellenbosch summer.
He also is the curator of the gardens surrounding our buildings. The Lynedoch Gardens and Grounds offered his first employment. He lives in Eersterivier and speaks Xhosa, Afrikaans and English. He is nearly as strong as one of Eric’s oxen.
Gretchen Matthys graduated from the Lynedoch Youth Programme in 2012. She came back to the SI in 2020 as an intern, when she worked at the Lynedoch Community School as a cleaner. She showed great potential, and soon she was appointed as the administration assistant at the Lynedoch Community School.
Janine Rozaan Jaftha
Janine is an Assistant Teacher in the 6 – 9 environment. She is overjoyed to be part of such an amazing school, the Lynedoch Community School, as well as working alongside a passionate team.
She believes every child is unique and deserves a caring, inspiring and engaging atmosphere in which to grow emotionally, intellectually and socially. As an Assistant Teacher she helps students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing a safe, risk-taking and collaborative environment. She wants students to develop positive character and leadership traits which are essential in becoming a productive citizen. She looks forward to giving back to the community that she is also a product of.
Janine is gentle, passionate, intuitive, caring and an introvert. Her hobbies include singing, playing guitar, drawing and walks on the beach.
Jess is the Co-Director of the Sustainability Institute, overseeing the trust programmes. Jess is also Partnerships Director for Africa and the Middle East for the Embedding Project, a global public-benefit research project that helps companies embed sustainability across their operations and decision-making. She further lectures for a number of business schools and higher education institutions.
Jess holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration with the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, holds an MPhil in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University and a BSc in Ocean and Environmental Sciences from UCT.
Previously, she has led teaching and consulting programmes in corporate governance, sustainability and community development for the public and private sectors. When not getting lost in the oceans and mountains, Jess can be found with her hands in the soil, helping things grow.
Lynedoch Community School Coordinator
Jessica Eley is a qualified teacher, specialising in learner support and special educational needs.
She has worked in this field since 2013, working in the private school sector, abroad in France and Vietnam, and locally as well. She holds two diplomas from UNISA in Tourism and Event Management and a Post Graduate in Education. Her passion is working with children and providing them with individualised support catering to their specific needs. Originally from and living in the area, Jessica is driven and motivated to provide the children in the Lynedoch Valley and surrounds, with the support, guidance and love to the best of her ability to create a better future for them.
FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING
Julia Jansen is a Facilitator in Lynedoch Early Learning (3-6 years).
She holds a NQF level 4 and 5 Diploma in Early Childhood Development. Her previous work with street children, was the beginning of her interest in a career working with youth. Her gave her first observation that children can work hard and show independence and spirit, not just play as is commonly thought. Julia finds that she continues to learn more about herself in this process, every day.
Kerneels is the driver at the Sustainability Institute.
He has been a member of the Lynedoch community his entire life. He worked at the Rosarium for 25 years, during which time he was a supervisor for 15 years. When he’s not behind the steering wheel he plays dominoes, watches the local children playing soccer outside or the rugby and cricket on TV.
Green Café Supervisor
Khanyiswa is the Green Café supervisor.
Prior to coming to the Institute, Khanyiswa worked as a chef de parte at Spier Wine Farm and she has a national certificate in Hospitality and Professional Cookery. She enjoys cooking and creating new healthy recipes that accommodate most diets. Cooking is her passion and it gives her great pleasure seeing customers enjoy the meals she prepares.
During her spare time she is involved in youth development activities, motivational talks, reading, playing games with her family and listening to music.
Lawrence is the SI’s groundsman who is responsible for beautifying the SI gardens. He loves working in the gardens and is good with landscaping. He joined the SI in 2019. He is also quite skilled and is able to do plumbing and other things.
Litha is the Operations Officer and has a Masters Degree in Sustainable Development Planning and Management from Stellenbosch University.
Since 2009 he has been involved in research and curriculum development including the Sustainable Communities Support Program funded by the National Department of Human Settlements. He had also managed and provided capacity building on various community development projects such as Intsika Yethu Youth Project, the iShack Project and the Organisational Development Programme. In these programmes he spearheaded stakeholder liaison, mobilisation and recruitment, facilitated community participation, and capacity building training. He gets his inspiration through reading books and stories which put people at the centre of development.
Magdalene de Villiers
In 2020 she started at the Lynedoch Community School as a Teaching Assistant. She is now responsible for the 9-12 year old children at Lynedoch Community School. She is very passionate in what she does and always strives to do everything to the best of her ability. Previously Magdalene worked for SPARK school from 2017- 2019 as a Supervisor taking care of children, ensuring that they were safe and happy.
Every day she is granted is a learning experience for her to gain more knowledge about what she is passionate about. Working with children provides her with an opportunity to improve herself on a daily basis. She loves reading and doing nature walks within the Lynedoch Community. For Magdalene being in an environment that provides access to all of the tools and inspiration, brings pure joy to her heart and soul.
DRIE GEWELS CARETAKER
Makka is our friendly caretaker in the Drie Gewels building.
She has been with the SI since the beginning and is always ready with a friendly smile and welcoming words to assist guests and visitors at Drie Gewels, and make them feel truly welcome.
ASSISTANT - EARLY LEARNING
Mandisa takes care of the 3-6 year olds at the crèche of Lyendoch Early Learning.
She has worked as an assistant at Kids.com and has had experience as an Au pair. Mandisa also completed a 0-3 Assistants to Infancy Diploma. With God as her inspiration, she wants to see these children grow up in a healthy and safe environment.
Marriam Jacobs (Maya )
Maya keeps the SI looking spotless, which is no small feat considering the number of leaves that blow in through windows we love to keep open.
From time to time she also controls flocks of postgraduate students as they dust and sweep alongside her morning work. Maya has completed hospitality training at the Bergzicht Training Centre. In her free time Maya likes to cook, bake, garden as well as needlework.
Mbuyiseli Maxakatha (Isaac)
Mbuyiseli Maxakatha (Isaac) is responsible for the maintenance of all the SI buildings. Isaac gets things done! He is super passionate about his work and execute everything that he has been tasked to do, only to his best abilities. There is almost nothing to big or too small that he can’t fix, and he does so with a friendly smile and can do attitude!
Megan is a Kitchen Assistant at the Sustainability Institute where she is responsible for preparing meals for the SI’s children as well as keeping thekitchen looking spotless.
Megan is a people’s person and prior to coming to the SI she worked in various shops assisting people. Megan is passionate about food; she is also an avid reader and especially enjoys fairy tales and love stories.
PROJECT ASSISTANT: LEARNING FARM
Mpumie joined us in 2019 as a project assistant for the Living Soils Community Learning Farm.
Programme Coordinator: Research & Advisory
Noma started as a cleaner in a small four star restaurant. She was inspired to see what the talented chefs created, and she had a burning desire to become a chef herself. She started to help the chefs more around the kitchen, and they quickly saw her potential and valued her hard work. She was asked to become a trainee chef, and her career just went forward from there on. She loves to put a smile on people’s faces with her food!
LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER
She is originally from Engcobo, Eastern Cape, but moved to Cape Town as a teenager where she completed her schooling. She is a dynamic individual who started her own business as a hairstylist in 2005. She conducted her business for 15 years, but decided to further her education when she discovered the AgroEcology Academy where she completed her studies. Phuthuma was happy to be one of the twenty people chosen among the three hundred applications.
She went on to complete an internship with the Living Soils Community Learning Farm at the Sustainability Institute. She is now a Junior Farm Manager for Living Soils overseeing the coordination and management of farm activities under regenerative farming practices, and her main responsibility is overseeing plant production, from planting to harvesting. She is excited as it is the first time she feels like she is a proud working woman, and she is happy to be part of the SI, where disadvantaged youth are groomed to be independent. It is Phuthuma’s hope to learn more about what she has been studying, and that someday she will own her own farm and help others like her who are willing to grow their own organic food gardens.
Rene is the Finance Coordinator, with 14 years working experience in the corporate office equipment environment and 7 years in the non-profit sector.
She has a bookkeeping certificate up to financial statements, has completed a Non-Profit Management and Facilitative Leadership short course at the University of Stellenbosch and has a Diploma in Facility and Operations Management at CTA and is studying towards a BCom Financial Accounting degree with UNISA. In Oct 2013 she was a finalist in a nation-wide Startup Business Concept competition. Rene’s passion is for innovative IT applications and she has an off-beat sense of humour writings. Her motto is ‘A person starts to live when he can live outside himself’ – Albert Einstein.
Nourish Programme Coordinator
PROJECT MANAGER: LEARNING FARM
Rirhandzu Marivate is a dynamic and enthusiastic individual who is passionate about working to better communities. She has an academic background in Natural Sciences. Her research interests are on multi-stakeholder engagement on environmental and natural resource planning and management within rural and peri-urban communities, and optimisation of livelihood building activities, while protecting the environment in order to build community resilience and economic development.
Previously, she worked as a sustainability and environmental scientist for the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and is a project manager for a programme that provides pro bono environmental services to disadvantaged groups and businesses across South Africa. She has also worked as a researcher with the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) at the University of Cape Town, with research focused on socioecological freshwater systems and how local ecological knowledge held by different stakeholders affects their water management priorities.
At the Sustainability Institute, Rirhandzu is a regenerative food systems coordinator, and she currently oversees the running of the SI Permaculture Food garden and is the project manager of the Living Soils Community Learning Farm project. The project aims to establish a self-sustaining learning farm that produces food using ecologically-regenerative farming methods for the benefit and development of long-term food security, while incorporating training of young and emerging farmers and the community at large.
She is part of the Global Shaper Community Stellenbosch Hub, and volunteers for the Kayamandi Parkrun. She enjoys running, hiking, gardening, traveling and exploring different kinds of food.
Rosaline Van Niekerk
Ross is a registered Assessor and Facilitator in Lynedoch Early Learning. She holds a NQF level 4 and NQF level 5 Diploma in Early Childhood Development.
She is the epitome of someone who practices what she believes within the classroom, due to her practical experience of working with children. Her vision is that every person working with children must have an accredited qualification, because we those are the people who help build a holistic development of the child. Directors and assistants must be proud of the role they play in children’s lives and also have the confidence that they are the best.
Assistant - Early Learning
Shannen Jassen started at the Lynedoch Children’s House in 2018 as a cleaner and quickly became interested in the way we guide children and Montessori method just by daily observation and working in the space. She is currently doing her AMI 3-6 teacher training diploma course and is finding it interesting and feels like she is discovering a whole new world.
Shannon Daniels, a Youth Programme graduate, started as an intern at the SI in May 2020. He works at the Lynedoch Community School, and is a very valuable asset to the organisation and has gained a great amount of experience. He has learned that he has a connection with the children and also what significant role the SI plays in the lives of the children and youth from this community. “My time at the SI has helped me to become more ambitious and I identified a lot of opportunities. I also developed a big love working with children.”
LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER
Sindiswa studied with the Agroecology Academy and completed her internship with Living Soils Community Learning Farm, at the Sustainability Institute. She is now a Junior Farm Manager for Living Soils overseeing the coordination and management of farm activities under regenerative farming practices, and she is the general site manager.
Like many others, Sindi who was born and raised in Ngqeleni, Eastern Cape, moved to Stellenbosch to find better opportunities for herself. She lives in Kayamandi, where she works in her local ward as a youth development councilor. She is incredibly passionate about people, and through her studies and experience in farming has realized that she is also able to support youth through farming. Her dream is to start a farming community centre in Kayamandi and back home in the Eastern Cape.
Green Café Barista
Sinethemba joined the Institute in January 2020 and works as a barista in the Green Café. Sinethemba has more than 7 years’ experience working as a barista and has completed a customer service training certificate through Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and an End User Computer training certificate through Silulo Ulutho Technologies.
Sinethemba enjoys serving customers and building strong and valuable client relationships.
In his free time, he enjoys playing football, spending time with his family and being involved in community service projects and activities in his neighbourhood, helping those who are less fortunate.
Siviwe (Mavesto) Sodlulashe
Siviwe Sodlulashe popularly known as Mavesto is SI’s groundsman. He is passionate about waste management and is doing a great job to separate the waste for recycling. He joined the SI in 2014.
Stella joined us as Office Manager in October 2022. She is responsible for managing general administrative requests, including managing of the Co-directors’ diaries, enrolling students in the short courses, assisting facilitators on courses, managing the health and safety aspects, assisting with book sales and logistics, and assisting IT service providers with all IT requirements.
Prior to joining the SI, she gained experience as an Operations Manager at Indaba Institute. She holds a Legal Secretary diploma from the College of Stellenbosch. Stella enjoys working with other people and growing her professional skills. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, reading and mosaic.
LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER
Thandiwe studied with the Agroecology Academy and completed her internship with the Living Soils Community Learning Farm, at the Sustainability Institute. She is now a Junior Farm Manager for Living Soils overseeing the coordination and management of farm activities under regenerative farming practices, and her focus is soil health and water management on the farm. She is looking forward to applying her knowledge and experience on the farm. Thandiwe also wishes to pass her knowledge to others and hopes to manage her own garden.
She was born in the small town of Tsolo in the Eastern Cape and she, together with her four siblings were raised by their parents until her father passed away. She is married with two wonderful boys. Thandiwe considers herself to be shy, but is always smiling. She loves cooking, listening to music and spending time with her family.
Vanessa von der Heyde
Vanessa is the Co-Director of the Sustainability Institute, and holds an undergraduate degree in business and a postgraduate degree in sustainable development. Alongside the decade of experience in the non-profit and entrepreneurship world this has allowed her to gain unique insights into the intersection of sustainability, business, and social impact. Vanessa’s commitment to positive change is unwavering, and she has dedicated her career to making a difference, from retrofitting homes for energy efficiency to tackling food waste in informal settlements. Her belief in the transformative power of education led her to explore how learning can be used as a tool for transformative systems change through the work of the Sustainability Institute.
With her expertise in organisational strengthening through good governance, regenerative leadership and management practices, sustainable financial models, optimising systems, and impactful marketing, Vanessa has helped lead the Sustainability Institute to thrive and achieve its goals and achieve organisational targets on the path to higher impact and financial sustainability.
Outside of her work at the Sustainability Institute, Vanessa can often be found in nature, advocating for the preservation of South Africa’s wilderness and its wild animals, or walking her dogs at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain. Her leadership style is characterised by her passion for learning and change, fairness and transparency, consistency, and striving for excellence.
LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER
Vuyolwethu is a junior farm manager with the Living Soils Community Learning Farm. She manages the SI Permaculture garden with a team of enthusiastic and dedicated gardeners, and she is also responsible for nursery plant production and grows seedlings for the garden and the farm.
She, together with 20 other students studied with the Agroecology Academy and she also completed her internship on the Living Soils Community Learning Farm at the Sustainability Institute. Growing food has become her passion because she knows that there wouldn’t be life without food and the country’s economy would be affected. She hopes to see the learning farm grow even to other provinces so that it can feed the nation. It is also her hope that she one day owns her own farm together with her colleagues.
Vuyo is from Zwelitsha, a small area in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape, and now resides in Kayamandi in Stellenbosch. She is married with three boys.
Yolanda joined the Institute in September 2017 as a cook, when she moved to Cape Town. She is in charge of all the baked goods served at the Green Café. Yolanda loves cooking and interacting with people. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, listening to music and spending quality time with her children.
Yoliswa is the Permaculture expert at the Sustainability Institute. She loves beauty, nature, food and people. That love has been a journey of discovery and has enabled her to reconnect with Agriculture in a holistic way.
She studied Horticulture, and during her early career she was introduced to Permaculture. Permaculture enables her to do what she loves, which is working with people where everyone shares and learns in ways that are sustaining human lives. She is inspired by being able to work with nature through growing food in a manner that respects the earth, while also co-creating beautiful living spaces in a landscape that humans will enjoy for peace, silence, beauty and learning.
She worked for SEED as an environmental education co-ordinator, facilitating curriculum linked lessons in school while establishing food gardens using Permaculture principles. Yoliswa is part of an organisation called Amava Oluntu, which works with communities in urban and rural cities to build learning journeys. She is also involved with the Muizenberg Community Schools, creating gardens linking into Xhosa lessons.
At the Sustainable Institute she is the training coordinator for the Living Soils Community Learning Farm where she is responsible for capacity building opportunities for the team, and supports community engagement work around food security on Lynedoch. She also facilitates experiential garden lessons with the Lynedoch Small School, Lynedoch Children’s House AND Youth programme by guiding them with garden activities in the SI Permaculture Food Garden and the Living Soils Farm.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, dancing, eating food and travelling. She has two beautiful sons, from whom she learns a lot!