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Research Associates

Senior Research Associates

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.

Sindiso Mnisi Weeks

Sindiso Mnisi Weeks is an assistant professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and a senior research associate at LARC. She was formerly a senior lecturer in the Department of Private Law and a senior researcher at the Centre for Law and Society at the University of Cape Town, where she worked on the Rural Women’s Action Research Programme. Her areas of expertise include african customary law, women’s rights, traditional courts, the relationship between culture and human rights, public policy, the institutionalization of traditional authorities, the relationship between property and authority, the law of succession, and comparative epistemology. Dr. Mnisi Weeks received her BA and LLB from the University of Cape Town and her doctorate in socio-legal studies from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She also previously clerked for the Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Dikgang Moseneke. She is co-author of "African Customary Law in South Africa: Post-Apartheid and Living Law Perspectives”, published by Oxford University Press Southern Africa. Sindiso is a senior research associate at LARC.

Thandabantu Nhlapu

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.

Janine Ubink

Janine Ubink has a law degree as well as a PhD in legal anthropology from Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her 6-year PhD-research focused on customary land management in peri-urban Ghana. She has worked at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden Law School from 2001 until 2013, when she moved with her family to South California and joined the University of California Irvine (UCI) Law School. Her research focuses on legal pluralism, customary law and its relation with state law, traditional authorities, transitional justice, rule of law reforms, gender, and land management, with a regional focus on Africa, particularly Ghana, Namibia, Malawi and Somalia.  She has published on these subjects in various books and articles in peer-reviewed journals.In the coming years, her research will focus on similar topics of land management, customary law and traditional authorities in South Africa. Janine also works as a consultant in this field, most recently as an adviser to the Ministry of Justice of Somalia. In December of 2015 she became the President of the international Commission on Legal Pluralism. She is a senior research associate at LARC.

Derick Fay

Derick Fay is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.  He is affiliated with LARC as a Fulbright Scholar for 2017-18.  His prior research has focused on the area around Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve, in the Eastern Cape, examining changes and continuities in rural livelihoods and landholding, and the tensions between post-apartheid transformation and biodiversity conservation.  His work on rural land tenure was cited in the 2010 challenge to CLaRA.  His current research centers around the relationships between conservation, law, and customary resource rights in the 2012 trial of three fishermen arrested in Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve, considering international precedents concerning the recognition of rights to natural resources which have entered South African law through recent Constitutional Court rulings. He is a senior research associate at LARC.


Research Associates

Michael Clark

Michael Clark is a legal and research consultant and junior research associate at the Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC) at the University of Cape Town. Prior to his work at LARC, Michael worked as a legal researcher at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) as a research and advocacy officer. Michael has considerable experience in legal and participatory action research in the areas of socio-economic rights, housing, land and property rights. He holds an LLB from the University of Stellenbosch.  Michael is a Junior research assocate at LARC.

Tara Weinberg

Tara Weinberg worked at LARC as a Researcher before starting her PhD in History at the University of Michigan in 2015. Her dissertation looks at a history of claims on and struggles over land in 20th century South Africa. She's broadly interested in issues of property, gender and citizenship. She has done work in the area of contemporary land reform, land restitution, communal land tenure and communal property associations. She has a BA (Hons) from University of Cape Town and an MA from the University of Chicago. She is a Junior research associate at LARC.