Our People

Home » About Us » Our People

AllFacilities & GroundsReception & AdminResearch & AdvisoryNourish: Venues, Visits & CateringYouth & Community ProgrammesCommunication & MarketingLynedoch Children’s HouseLynedoch Community SchoolLiving Soils Community Learning FarmSenior Leadership TeamLearning ExperiencesFinance
COMMUNICATION OFFICER

Amelia Pretorius

LEAD ASSOCIATE

Angela Coetzee

YOUTH & COMMUNITY COORDINATOR

Ashleigh Seals

Trained Adult 6 - 9 Environment

Atiyyah Cariem

Teaching Assistant

Brendine Johnsons

Research & Advisory Associate

Candice Kelly

Trained Adult 9 - 12 environment

Carmen van der Venter

YOUTH PROGRAMME ASSISTANT

Carrie Noble

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Christelle Jansen

FINANCIAL OFFICER

Clayton Sauls

COORDINATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Colleen Erasmus

Teaching Assistant

Duran Byman

Digital & Design Assistant

Fiona Dunbar

GROUNDSMAN

Fumanekile Qhinga

Admin Assistant

Gretchen Matthys

Teaching Assistant

Janine Rozaan Jaftha

CO-DIRECTOR

Jess Schulschenk

Lynedoch Community School Coordinator

Jessica Eley

Admin Assistant

Jo-ann Pieterse

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Julia Jansen

FACILITIES OFFICER

June Stone

DRIVER

Kerneels Claasen

Green Café Supervisor

Khanyiswa Wem

Groundsman

Lawrence

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Lisa Plaatjies

OPERATIONS OFFICER

Litha Magida

Teaching Assistant

Magdalene de Villiers

DRIE GEWELS CARETAKER

Makka Johnson

ASSISTANT - EARLY LEARNING

Mandisa Sakawali

Trained Adult 6 - 9 environment

Mariana van Niekerk

HOUSEKEEPING

Marriam Jacobs (Maya )

Maintenance

Mbuyiseli Maxakatha (Isaac)

RECEPTIONIST

Mckayla Opperman

KITCHEN ASSISTANT

Megan Mavandal

GROUNDSKEEPER

Moses Malan

PROJECT ASSISTANT: LEARNING FARM

Mpumie Cebekhulu

Programme Coordinator: Research & Advisory

Mulweli Nethengwe

Chef

Noma-Afrika Masela

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Phuthuma Mgu

FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATOR

Racheal Sithole

FINANCIAL COORDINATOR

Rene Human-Nefdt

Nourish Programme Coordinator

Rico Wessels

PROJECT MANAGER: LEARNING FARM

Rirhandzu Marivate

COMMUNITY COORDINATOR

Rosaline Van Niekerk

Learning Experience Designer

Samantha Hale

Assistant - Early Learning

Shannen Jassen

Class Assistant

Shannon Daniels

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Sindiswa Mdodana

Green Café Barista

Sinethemba Mayongo

Groundsman

Siviwe (Mavesto) Sodlulashe

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Thandiwe Mtyingizani

CO-DIRECTOR

Vanessa von der Heyde

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Vuyolwethu Zicina

Cook

Yolanda Mhlawuli

PERMACULTURIST

Yoliswa Mahobe

COMMUNICATION OFFICER

Amelia Pretorius

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.

LEAD ASSOCIATE

Angela Coetzee

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 Seals

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

Atiyyah Cariem

Atiyyah joined the Lynedoch Community School in July 2022. She is a qualified 3-6 year old Montessori Directress and a 6-12 year old Montessori Guide. She also holds a BCom degree in Law and Management and a PGCE to teach Business Studies, Economic Management Studies and Life Sciences at a high school level. Atiyyah has nine years teaching experience in environments ranging from toddlers to matric and have taught in both traditional and Montessori environments.

Teaching Assistant

Brendine Johnsons

Brendine is a qualified School Facilitator. He has been involved in schools for eight years giving support to teachers to help children reach their full potential. Currently he is an Assistant Montessori Educator at the Lynedoch Community School. He believes every child has the opportunity to reach his/her full potential when the environment is conducive for learning.

Research & Advisory Associate

Candice Kelly

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.

Trained Adult 9 - 12 environment

Carmen van der Venter

My love for children led me to pursue a qualification in Early Childhood Development. I had to adapt to the level of the scholar as they each comprehend on a
different level and to ensure that learning material is understood which further broadened my love of working with children.

In January 2021, I started as a Montessori Assistant at the Lynedoch Community School. Coming from a CAPS based learning environment, I had to adapt again to the Montessori way of learning. From what I have experienced so far is that there are other ways for children to learn at their own pace and not just traditional classroom-based learning. I enjoy learning with the children in our space.

I am a person that knows my worth and always strives to achieve and do my best in everything that I take on. I am very passionate about education and love working with individuals on all levels. My educational career has helped shape me to continue to strive to understand the aspects of my field better.
Over the next few years, I’m hoping to continue to live out my passion of inspiring, educating, and engaging with others – whether it is with youth or adults.

YOUTH PROGRAMME ASSISTANT

Carrie Noble

Carrie is the Youth Programme Assistant, and she is a resilient woman who is passionate about individuality, youth development and standing up for what she believes in. She is a team player and encourages unity.

She completed her undergraduate diploma in Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University, exploring things such as social entrepreneurship, complex and design thinking, mentorship and facilitation. She has always seen herself as an activist for positive change. “Being able to walk a path with the youth is a gift I will always cherish.”

In her free time she enjoys dancing (she is a classical dancer, and danced at a ballet studio for 12 years) and trying out new creative things.

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Christelle Jansen

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.

FINANCIAL OFFICER

Clayton Sauls

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

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.

Teaching Assistant

Duran Byman

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.

Digital & Design Assistant

Fiona Dunbar

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.

GROUNDSMAN

Fumanekile Qhinga

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.

Admin Assistant

Gretchen Matthys

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.

Teaching Assistant

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.

CO-DIRECTOR

Jess Schulschenk

Jess is the Co-Director of the Sustainability Institute. She is an extraordinary lecturer with the School of Public Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch, coordinating the Corporate Governance and Sustainable Enterprise module for the PGD and MPhil programmes. Jess is also Research Director for the Embedding Project, a global public-benefit research project that helps companies embed sustainability across their operations and decision-making.

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

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.

Admin Assistant

Jo-ann Pieterse

Jo-ann started working for the Lynedoch Community School in 2021 as a cleaner. Her duties has grown and she is now also assisting with various administrative duties. Prior to joining the school, she worked for six years as a pre-school teacher in a traditional learning space. “Since I started working at LCS I learned so much more about the Montessori way of learning and it so different. I have done computer training and I also enrolled into a higher institute to do a course on administration. I’m vey passionate about the work I’m doing and always try my best at everything that I’m doing.”

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Julia Jansen

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.

FACILITIES OFFICER

June Stone

June is the Facilities Officer for the building and facilities team. She obtained a BA degree and Higher Diploma in Education from the University of the Western Cape and been a firm member of the team since 2005.

Her motto in life is to “get things done!” She spends her free time in nature with her family.

DRIVER

Kerneels Claasen

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 Wem

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.

Groundsman

Lawrence

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.

FACILITATOR - EARLY LEARNING

Lisa Plaatjies

Lisa is a Facilitator in Lynedoch Early Learning (3-6 years).

She recently completed 0-3 Assistants to Infancy skills programme. First starting as a casual in the creche, she became familiar with the work material of the early childhood course being taught in the crèche, after which she got the opportunity to enrol as a student. She loves the idea that she is continually learning so much, something she never thought she would have the to do again having lived in the Lynedoch valley for many years.

OPERATIONS OFFICER

Litha Magida

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.

Teaching Assistant

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 Johnson

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 Sakawali

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.

Trained Adult 6 - 9 environment

Mariana van Niekerk

Mariana van Niekerk has worked as a Montessori directress for more than 25 years. She also spent eight years as a mainstream educator in Lutzville. She holds a BA Hon degree in journalism and worked as a journalist for eight years before Montessori changed her life. Her first Montessori qualification was obtained from the then London Montessori Centre and she is currently completing an Association Montessori International diploma for the six to twelve age group. She believes that education should be an aid to life and that all children should have the freedom to become the best human beings they can possibly be. Working in the Lynedoch Valley at the Lynedoch Community School is a dream come true.

HOUSEKEEPING

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.

Maintenance

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!

RECEPTIONIST

Mckayla Opperman

Mckayla joined us as a youth-in-transition intern in 2020, and was appointed permanently as the SI receptionist at the beginning of 2021. She welcomes visitors, assists with general administration duties and also assists with duties for the Eco-Village Home Owners Association. Prior to joining the SI, she gained experience as an Administration and HR Clerk at Spier while she was a Yes for Youth participant. Mckayla enjoys working with other people, and growing her professional skills. In her free time she enjoys listening to music.

KITCHEN ASSISTANT

Megan Mavandal

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.

GROUNDSKEEPER

Moses Malan

As the Groundskeeper at the Sustainability Institute, Moses is one of the reasons why the SI grounds look so beautiful.

His greatest passion lies in seeing what he can achieve through the work of his hands. In the future, Moses hopes to travel more and look forward to discovering new places with his family.

PROJECT ASSISTANT: LEARNING FARM

Mpumie Cebekhulu

Mpumie joined us in 2019 as a project assistant for the Living Soils Community Learning Farm.

She obtained a National Diploma in Management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2012, specialising in management and financial management. Mpumie is a friendly individual, who enjoys working with diverse people. She always looks for opportunities to learn and expand her knowledge. “I am honored to join the SI as I am granted the opportunity to learn and expand my footprint at a personal level and in my career as a whole.”

Programme Coordinator: Research & Advisory

Mulweli Nethengwe

Mulweli joined the team in 2019. She oversees the Research & Advisory portfolio of the SI.
She holds a BSc in Environmental and Water Sciences and a PGD in Integrated Water Resources Management. Her experience includes being part of projects focused on water quality and quantity, climate change (facilitating dialogues), stakeholder engagement,  environmental and water education for civil society and schools, project management and logistics.
Mulweli is an outdoor person and loves travelling, exploring beautiful natural geological formations and different types of ecosystems. This passion inspired her to go into the water and the environmental sector as a way of contributing to conserving our beautiful environment and ecosystems.

Chef

Noma-Afrika Masela

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

Phuthuma Mgu

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.

FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATOR

Racheal Sithole

Racheal is the Financial Administrator, managing the day-to-day finance operations, and offering administration support to all projects within the SI.

She holds a Certificate in Business Accounting with the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) and is a part-qualified Chartered Secretary. She sees herself in the boardroom one day as a Director, CEO, or company secretary, formulating and implementing strategies. Outside the office, she turns her life over to yarn, knitting, and crocheting producing beautiful products, some of which are sold in the Green Cafe.

FINANCIAL COORDINATOR

Rene Human-Nefdt

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

Rico Wessels

Rico initially studied Business Communication with Graphic Design, but left that field to pursue another passion: creating spaces where people can come together around food, relax, connect and have fun. His dream was to open or run a restaurant and create this amazing space, and his journey began at Basic Bistro where he spent 15 years helping them become an intimate and cosy bistro with home-style meals, cosy decor and a welcoming atmosphere.
Remaining passionate about people, spaces and connections, his journey took a welcoming turn when he learned about the SI and felt a strong urge to become part of us. “At the SI I felt for the first time in my working career that my true values could be appreciated and lived out in the most practical of ways. Coming from the traditional hard-core hospitality background, I am learning so much in terms of better ways that humans can be respected and cared for in the workplace whilst still getting the job done.”
Rico is the Nourish Programme Coordinator and leads a small team in pursuit of nourishing the bodies and hearts of those in our Children’s Feeding Programme, visitors to our cosy Green Café and those joining us for an event in one of our amazing spaces. He loves cooking with and learning more about Indigenous Plants as a means of also helping our country recover from the harmful ways of large scale commercial farming.
When not at work he loves spending time with his family: his wife and two wild and wonderful boys. They love surfing, drawing, nature and making food together.

PROJECT MANAGER: LEARNING FARM

Rirhandzu Marivate

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.

COMMUNITY COORDINATOR

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.

Learning Experience Designer

Samantha Hale

Shortly after completing her PGDip in Sustainable Development in 2021, Sam joined the SI as Learning Experience Designer. Her role is to explore, conceptualise and design adult learning experiences; this spans the various partnerships we hold with Stellenbosch University and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation for example, immersive learning journeys, workshops and short courses. Sam has a background in natural sciences, marketing, writing and publishing. She has worked in different corners of the world researching climate change interventions, from coral reef restoration to community resilience. Her time working in the publishing industry tied together her love for researching and writing, developing a deep passion for communication and the value of knowledge-sharing in learning. Engaged in the question of transformative learning for sustainability, Sam spends her time considering what makes experiences meaningful to inspire change-makers. Part of this is capturing what philosophies and practice lead to shifts that create these change agents for a more generative future. When not engrossed in this work, Sam can be found in a kitchen trying to make something taste good.

Assistant - Early Learning

Shannen Jassen

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.

Class Assistant

Shannon Daniels

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.”

Shannon has been the class assistant in the 12 – 15 environment since March 2022 this year. It has been an incredible learning opportunity for him as this is the first time for him to hold such a senior role. He has taken it with both hands and commits to making a difference in the lives of the children. He is providing them with valuable life skills and lessons that are enabling the children to live a more confident and enriched life. He supports the lead teacher by supporting all projects and ensuring all children are directed towards their interests. On the sports field he is a motivational person from this community, he is always encouraging and supportive to all the children. His personal and professional growth is inspiring. When you are aligned with the goals and vision of the program you work in, incredible things can happen.

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Sindiswa Mdodana

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 Mayongo

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.

Groundsman

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.

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Thandiwe Mtyingizani

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.

CO-DIRECTOR

Vanessa von der Heyde

Vanessa von der Heyde did her MPhil in Sustainable Development in 2013 and was so inspired by this life-changing journey that she graduated with a burning desire to not only be a changemaker herself but also enable others to be changemakers in working towards a more equitable, inclusive and resilient world.

Upon graduating, Vanessa established a non-profit organization with the aim of continuing the food waste project she had started in Enkanini during her MPhil research. This led her to explore the concept of Social Entrepreneurship and she completed the Social Entrepreneurship Certificate Programme at GIBS in 2014. She is now responsible for the successful execution of the academic programmes on the Institute’s behalf, the co-ordination of all the non-academic elements around the programme, and managing the interdependencies between this programme and other programmes at the Institute. The primary objective is to create a world-class learning experience for students in the various programmes, and maximising the value for all stakeholders of this programme.

LIVING SOILS JUNIOR MANAGER

Vuyolwethu Zicina

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.

Cook

Yolanda Mhlawuli

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.

PERMACULTURIST

Yoliswa Mahobe

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!