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Who we are


Nolundi Luwaya

Nolundi Luwaya is the Director of LARC. As Director her role is to provide leadership and strategic direction to the Centre. Together with the LARC team she stewards relationships with partner organisations and funders. Since joining LARC (at that stage RWAR at CLS) as a researcher in 2012, she has played a central role in co-ordinating and assisting with the Traditional Courts Bill (TCB) campaign and the Restitution Amendment Bill campaign working closely with the Alliance for Rural Democracy. Nolundi has taught extensively on customary land rights, including teaching African Customary Law at UCT.

Nolundi’s research interests include: rural women’s land rights under customary law and methods for understanding and protecting these rights that are informed by the experiences of rural women. She is also interested in questions of legal pluralism and the challenges involved in teaching law in a plural system such as we have in South Africa.

Nolundi has a BA LLB and LLM from the University of Cape Town.

Monica de Souza-Louw
Deputy Director 
Governance Lead Researcher

Monica de Souza Louw is the Deputy Director of the Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC) and heads activities within LARC's Traditional Governance stream. She is responsible for monitoring legislation, policy and practices dealing with the role and recognition of traditional institutions in South Africa, and providing legal analysis for use in advocacy and litigation. Since joining the Centre in 2010 (when it was still the Rural Women’s Action Research Programme), she has researched 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 worked on sexual offences law 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.

Dr. Aninka Claassens
​Chief Researcher (Land)

Aninka Claassens is the former Director of LARC and currently a chief researcher at LARC.  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.  She has been an expert witness in a number of cases related to land rights, customary law and accountability in the Constitutional Court and in various high courts. During 2016 and 2017 she chaired the Land Working Group of the Motlanthe High Level Panel investigation into the impact of post-apartheid laws on poverty and inequality, land reform and social cohesion.

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.

Thiyane Duda
​Research Officer (Governance)

Thiyane Duda is a Researcher at LARC and also a member of LARC’s Management Committee. 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
Research Officer (Governance)

Ayesha joined LARC in 2017 as a Researcher in the Traditional Governance stream. Prior to joining LARC, she served articles of community service and spent time as an attorney at the Centre for Environmental Rights in the Centre’s mining programme. She graduated with her LLB and LLM (Environmental Law) degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Ayesha’s research interests include community development, rural democracy, and power struggles in the former homelands. Ayesha is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa.

Nokwanda Sihlali
Research Officer (Land)

Nokwanda joined LARC as a full-time Research Officer in April 2017. Previously, she worked for an NPO that created an app to assist low income communities to effectively communicate with one another about communal news. Her main academic and professional interests are centred on topics of gender, social research and community development. She is currently part of the land team working specifically on women and land issues, however also researching topics of security of tenure; particularly in the former bantustans.


Ramabina Mahapa
Mining Lead Researcher




Ramabina Mahapa heads activities within LARC’s Mining stream and is a member of LARC’s Management Committee.  Ramabina joined LARC as a researcher in January 2018. He holds a B. Social Science degree majoring in Psychology and Philosophy from UCT as well as a B. Social Science Honours (with distinction) in African Studies from the same institution. 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’s research interests include: consultation, consent, compensation and community trusts insofar as they relate to mining and rural communities.


Zenande Booi
Land Lead Researcher




Zenande Booi heads activities within LARC’s Land stream and is a member of LARC’s Management Committee.  Zenande 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. At LARC, she forms part of the Land Research Team and focusses on security of tenure rights of traditional communities. Her research interests include: land rights under customary law; customary and indigenous tenure systems; and principles related to free, prior, and informed consent as they relate to traditional communities, traditional governance, and mining.

Zenande graduated with an LLB from the University of Cape Town and completed her Masters in International Legal Studies and International Human Rights Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.


Ncedo Mngqibisa
Research Officer (Mining)

Ncedo Mngqibisa is a full-time Research Officer in the Mining team at LARC, having joined in August 2019. Ncedo has substantial ethnographic research experience and is an experienced development facilitator. He has worked on various topics including violence, social cohesion, and local governance. Ncedo has conducted research for research institutions such as African Centre for Cities, Human Sciences Research Council, Medical Research Council, Safety and Violence Initiative and NGOs such as Foundation for Contemporary Research. He holds an Honours degree in Psychology and a master’s in Human Geography.




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. She also serves as a member of LARC's Management Committee. Amilinda has extensive administration and coordination experience in the NGO and research sectors, with a specific focus in fieldwork logistics, training, workshop organisation, social media and publications. She obtained her M.A. degree from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.​

Nwabisa Tom
Finance Administrative Officer

Nwabisa joined LARC in 2020 as the Finance Administrative Officer. She is responsible for the general administration of LARC finances while providing support to the Director and staff at LARC in budgeting and reporting on funds. Nwabisa is a UCT graduate with a Bachelor of Business Science (Finance) and joins LARC after having been with J-PAL AFRICA (SALDRU) at UCT. She previously worked in the donor sector supporting USAID funded projects at Chemonics International and Education programs at Elma Philanthropies Services (SA).

Remote Research Staff


Sithembiso Gumbi

Sithembiso Gumbi has more than 22 years combined experience of working in both government and a non-governmental organisation. After 1994, he was involved in the early policy development process at t the National Department of Land Affairs (DLA) after having been appointed to a specialiast team of land reform experts (Tenure Reform Core Group) by the then Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs, Mr. Derek Hanekom, to formulate land tenure reform policies and legislation. In 1997 Sithembiso joined the same department on a permanent basis and worked in their provincial office in Pietermaritzburg, KZN. In 2002, he moved to Pretoria to work in the Director-General’s office as a Policy Specialist and which culminated in him being appointed as the Registrar for Communal Property Associations (CPAs) in 2006. Between 1992 and 1997, he was working for the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), a non-governmental organisation based in Pietermaritzburg which assisted communities who were earmarked for forced removeals from their land and on farms. As a senior research associate at LARC, Sithembiso’s work mainly focuses on the operation of the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal and its impact on underlying land rights and customary law consultation requirements.

Janet Bellamy

Janet Bellamy holds a BA LL.B from the University of the Witwatersrand and is an Attorney, Notary and Conveyancer of the High Court of South Africa.  She is an experienced property lawyer and as a director of a Cape Town law firm, combined a diverse commercial and property law practice with an interest in water law and restitution of land rights. Following a family relocation, she taught at the American University in Dubai and then joined the team drafting the legal documentation for the first property developments in the UAE. As legal consultant and adviser to the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority, she conducted a comparative study into international jointly owned property laws to form the basis of a legal and regulatory framework for property ownership in the country. In addition to her role as a legal adviser, she has a special interest in indigenous land rights in South Africa and the connection between indigenous rights, property law and dispossession. She is currently involved in research in this field and in the interpretation of fiduciary duties of state land trusts in post colonial jurisdictions.  She is a senior research associate at LARC.