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Who we are

Dr. Aninka Claassens

Aninka Claassens is the Director of LARC. She is also the land project-leader for the moment. In 2009 she brought RWAR into the Law Race and Gender Unit (LRG) at UCT.  Soon after that Sindiso Mnisi joined RWAR and they worked together on the Traditional Courts Bill.  Aninka coordinated the research for the legal challenge against the Communal Land Rights Bill, which was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2010. She worked closely with the Community Agency for Social Inquiry in designing a survey of three thousand women to ascertain rates of change in relation to unmarried women accessing residential sites in ‘communal’ areas and has published a number of articles that pertain to changing marriage rates and land rights.   She co-edited a book entitled Land, Power and Custom about the controversies generated by the Communal Land Act with Ben Cousins, and another book entitled Marriage, Land and Custom about law and social change with Dee Smythe.  

Aninka has a PhD in Development Studies from Roskilde University in Denmark.  Her overarching research focus is on the nature and content of customary law in the South African constitutional dispensation. In particular she focuses on the tensions between the jurisprudence of open-ended ‘living’ customary law emanating from the Constitutional Court, and the bounded and autocratic version of custom contained in traditional leadership laws that have been enacted since 2003.

Monica de Souza Louw
Governance Lead Researcher

As Governance Lead Researcher at LARC, Monica heads activities within the Traditional Governance stream of LARC’s research and is a member of LARC’s Management Committee. She is also responsible for examining legislation and policy documents dealing with the role and recognition of traditional institutions in South Africa’s constitutional democracy, and providing legal analysis for the purposes of public interest litigation.  Since joining the Centre in 2010 (when it was still the Rural Women’s Action Research Programme), she has researched the law relating to the registration of customary marriages, the status of traditional councils, processes for recognising traditional leaders and resolving leadership disputes, and participation requirements for the making of legislation on customary law. Prior to her current research interests she also studied the law relating to sexual offences and published chapters in the Sexual Offences Commentary: Act 32 of 2007 (Juta). Monica has an LLB and LLM (Human Rights Law) from the University of Cape Town.

Brendan Boyle
Senior Researcher

As a senior researcher at LARC, Brendan Boyle’s role is to monitor and analyse the business and financial relationships between mining companies operating in South Africa’s former homelands and the communities that host them. He also provides support to LARC’s multi-media outreach programme. Since joining LARC in 2014 he has worked closely with the Bapo Ba Mogale community of Brits in North West Province to support them in relations with Lonmin plc and its unlisted Marikana mines. This resulted in the launch in 2015 of a High Court application for a review of the transaction in which the Bapo traded rights including a royalty on production from their land for shares in the failing London-listed company.Brendan has also convened and participated in a number of workshops with mine-hosting communities and with other civic organisations that work with these communities. Brendan joined LARC after more than 40 years in media in South Africa, Britain and Europe. ​ 

Thiyane Duda
​Researcher (Governance)

Thiyane Duda is a Researcher at LARC. Since joining in February 2015 his focus area of research has been traditional governance, especially in relation to living customary law. Thiyane has also worked as a Junior Researcher at the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) in the HIV/AIDS, STI & TB (HAST) unit. At HRSC Thiyane was involved in research on HIV and alcohol, HIV and men that have sex with men (MSM), HIV and gender-based violence. Thiyane has a BsocSci (Hons) in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town. 

Ayesha Motala

Ayesha joined LARC in April 2017 as a Researcher. Prior to joining LARC, she served articles of community service at the Centre for Environmental Rights where she worked in the Centre’s mining programme which seeks to promote environmental justice in the mining industry through research, litigation and advocacy. She grew up in Durban and graduated with her LLB degree and Masters in Environmental Law from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Ayesha is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa and is committed to the empowerment of rural communities that are affected by mining and land issues.


Nokwanda Sihlali

Nokwanda has recently joined LARC as a full-time Research Officer. Previously she worked for an NPO that created an app to assist low income communities to effectively communicate with one another about communal news. Nokwanda engaged directly with the early adopters of the app - helping to spread use of the tool and channel feedback to the development team. Her main academic and professional interests are gender, social research and community development.

Mahlatse Muroa

Mahlatse Muroa joined LARC as a Researcher in April 2017. Before joining LARC, he worked as a Community Development Practitioner / Fieldworker for Limpopo Provincial Department of Social Development and Department of Trade and Industry based in the rural areas of Capricorn and Sekhukhune Districts of Limpopo Province. His main professional interests are in sustainable rural livelihoods, community participation / public participation strategies and community based research and planning. He is in possession of BA Social Dynamics and BCom Honours in Public and Development Management from Stellenbosch University.



Ramabina Mahapa



Ramabina joined LARC as a researcher in 2018. He holds a B. Social Science degree majoring in Psychology and Philosophy and has completed the requirements for a BSocSc (Hons) in African Studies to be conferred in April 2018. Ramabina was previously the Project Officer at RX Radio based at Red Cross Children's Hospital and prior to that completed a one year Fellowship with Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in 2016. At LARC, Ramabina largely focuses on issues around land.

Zenande Booi



Zenande Booi joined LARC as a Researcher in February 2018. Prior to joining LARC, she was the Crowley Fellow in International Human Rights at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at the Fordham School of Law in New York City, where she conducted research focusing on security of tenure in South Africa’s former homelands in the context of legislation governing traditional leadership and mining. She graduated with an LLB from the University of Cape Town and completed her Masters in International Human Rights at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, DC. At LARC, she forms part of the Land Research Team and focusses on security of tenure rights of traditional communities.

Nyasha Karimakwenda
Research Assistant

Nyasha joined LARC in April 2016 as a research assistant. In this role she primarily works with the Traditional Governance stream performing legal and factual research, and providing organizational support, mainly in relation to processes around the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill. Nyasha is a feminist researcher and consultant on gender and women's rights, and has worked in the US, the Caribbean and Southern Africa. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on contextualising lesser understood forms of gender-based violence against women in South Africa. She is currently a PhD candidate in Public Law at UCT, and holds a BA from Wellesley College, a JD from Northeastern University, and an MA in African Studies from Yale University.


Amilinda Wilkinson
Administrative Officer

Amilinda joined LARC in May 2015 as the LARC Administrative Officer, responsible for the day to day administration of the Centre, as well as providing support to the Director, staff and projects of LARC. Amilinda has extensive administration and coordination experience in the NGO and research sectors, with a specific focus in training, workshop organisation, social media and publications. She obtained her M.A. degree from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.​

Lisl George
Finance Administrative Officer

Lisl George  joined LARC in July 2016  as the Finance Administrative Officer.  Lisl has worked in research administration at UCT for 14 years and her expertise are in financial administration, grants and fund management.  She has a business administration qualification from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.