Prof. Thandabantu Nhlapo

In an academic career spanning over three decades, Thandabantu Nhlapo recently retired as senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town.  From 2004 to 2007, he was the Chair the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims (“the Nhlapo Commission”), and before then the Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington D.C.

Thandabantu was a full-time Commissioner on the South African Law Reform Commission from 1996-2000 and he was instrumental in the development of significant legislation in family law, including the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, passed by Parliament in 1998.  He was Professor and Head of the Department of Private Law at UCT and was an expert advisor to the Constitutional Assembly on matters relating to customary law and to traditional authorities.  His academic research interests include African customary law and gender, women’s human rights in family law, traditional values and modern constitutions, and cultural diversity under the South African Constitution. 

Thandabantu holds degrees of BA (Law) from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, an LL.B (Hons.) from the University of Glasgow, and a DPhil in Family Laws from Oxford University, and an honorary doctorate from Glasgow University. He is a senior research associate at LARC, and also the Chair of the LARC Board.

Prof. Rashida Manjoo

Rashida Manjoo is a Professor and convenor of the Human Rights Program in the Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town, South Africa. She is also a Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University, London.

Until July 2015, she held the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, a post she was appointed to in 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council. Her UN work over six years has  included monitoring and reporting on States' compliance in responding  to and preventing violence against women, its causes and consequences, both generally and in different country contexts. Her research and teaching has focused on the intersectional nature of discrimination, including on the basis of sex, gender, race, class, location, (dis)ability, socio-economic conditions, and historical and cultural contexts. She has particularly highlighted the interaction of interpersonal, communal, institutional and structural factors that negatively impact the interdependence and indivisibility of the human rights of women.

Prof Manjoo is the former Parliamentary Commissioner of the Commission on Gender Equality, an institution created by the Constitution of South Africa, with a mandate to oversee the promotion and protection of gender equality and women's rights. She has also been involved in social context training for judges and lawyers, where she has designed both content and methodology.

Prof Manjoo has over four decades of experience in social justice and human rights work both in South Africa and abroad. Her research interests include human rights broadly with a particular focus on women’s human rights. She has authored a number of journal articles, book chapters and reports on women’s human rights, violence against women, transitional justice, and state responsibility to act with due diligence in the quest to promote and protect the human rights of women. Her book  publications include 'Women's Charters and Declarations -Building  Another World'; 'Due Diligence in Addressing Violence Against Women in Sub-Saharan Africa'; and the recent co-edited book 'The Legal Protection of women from violence - normative gaps in international law'. 

Dr. Russell Ally

Russell Ally is responsible for the formulation, implementation and monitoring of all strategic and operational activities regarding UCT's development and fundraising endeavours. These include strengthening donor and alumni relations, developing fundraising and capital campaigns and bequest programmes and tapping into philanthropic and corporate social investment goals of foundations and corporate in Africa and abroad. DAD is tasked with ensuring that fundraising strategies yield adequate resources to achieve the university's mission at a time when higher education funding streams face significant risks.

Before joining UCT in August 2013, Dr Ally worked at the Ford Foundation as the Programme Officer for Southern Africa, managing their governance and civil society work in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. He has also held the position of Country Representative and Executive Director of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in South Africa and worked for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Dr Ally served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Human Rights Violation Committee, chaired by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

A UCT alumnus, Dr Ally started his career as a history teacher at the John Bisseker Senior Secondary School in East London. He obtained his Masters at Rhodes University and a Doctorate from Cambridge University, both in History. He then worked as a senior history researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand where he served on the Senate and Council. He was also the founding chairperson of the Academic Staff Association.

Mandisa Shandu

Mandisa is a Co-Director and Attorney at Ndifuna Ukwazi (“NU”). NU is a non-profit activist organisation and Law Centre that combines litigation, research and community organising in campaigns aimed at advancing urban land justice in Cape Town. The organisation’s primary mission is to expand and protect access to affordable housing and to build a more equal and spatially just City.

Mandisa is responsible for leading the organisation’s Law Centre which she founded in 2015.  NU’s Law Centre offers legal support and representation to individuals, client communities and social movements. Mandisa’s areas of practice support the organisation’s work of advancing urban land justice, including constitutional, property and housing law, and access to basic services. Prior to working at Ndifuna Ukwazi, Mandisa worked as a commercial law attorney at ENSAfrica.

She is a University of Cape Town graduate holding a B.Soc.Sci degree in political science and an LLB degree. She is currently pursuing her LLM in Constitutional and Administrative Law at the same institution. Mandisa was announced as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans in 2016.