In 1996, two young town planners from very different backgrounds reported for duty at a local municipality in Gauteng. Only two years had passed since the dawn of democracy in South Africa. A massive task awaited.
Johan Olivier and William Bila learnt about policies, legislation, Integrated Development Plans and Spatial Development Frameworks. They learnt about managing multi-million rand capital budgets and the thousands of cross-sectoral projects that fall within the scope of a metropolitan municipality.
They also spent hundreds of hours in community halls, churches, schools and dimly-lit township homes – listening and learning to look beyond policies and paperwork, boardrooms and big budgets. They shared a vision to see places transformed in a way that includes the people who call those places home.
Wear running shoes to community meetings.
This was one of the first lessons our founders learnt twenty-seven years ago when one day, they had to flee from a community hall of angry citizens. On another occasion, William was barricaded into a church building with police and protesters outside.
In those heated gatherings, Johan and William learnt what no policy document or academic write-up could ever have taught them. That despite the frustration and the anger, communities in South Africa carry in their midst incredible strength, resourcefulness and energy. And that running away is never the solution.
In 2013, after managing their own urban planning consultancy for eight years, Johan and William established Ranyaka Community Transformation as a non-profit vehicle to pursue tangible, positive socio-economic impact in a way that actively engages the heroes who are already there.
Today, the Ranyaka team wears running shoes because we know that we’re running towards something that is worth pursuing. We pursue hope.
THE NAME ‘RANYAKA’ MEANS ‘TO PURSUE’
Meet our team. As you scroll down, you should know that many more names and faces should be listed here – those of the everyday heroes we have met over two-and-a-half decades and those we continue to meet every day. Without you, our short write-ups about our team members mean very little.
Thank you to every fellow South African who is working towards restoration, resilience and growth.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BOARD MEMBER, URBAN PLANNER AND DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST
Over the past twenty-nine years, Johan has worked across the municipal, private and local community development sectors where he has been involved in projects on local, provincial and national levels. His experience spans the development of socio-economic investment plans, land use and spatial planning, spatial economics, community-based planning and sustainable development. In 2001, Johan was appointed to the position of Assistant Director responsible for the formulation and implementation of the City of Johannesburg’s Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework and Capital Investment Framework. In 2005, he co-founded Akanya Development Solutions, a town planning and municipal management consultancy and in 2013, Johan and other members of the Akanya team established Ranyaka Community Transformation. In 2017, Johan was also contracted by the United Nations Habitat Unit’s Global Future Cities Programme to serve as a Local City Specialist for the City of Cape Town. Johan holds a degree in town and urban planning.
BOARD MEMBER AND URBAN PLANNER
William is the Chief Executive Officer and owner of Pretoria-based town planning consultancy, Akanya Development Solutions. He is also a co-founder of Ranyaka. William is a registered town planner with the South African Council for Planners (SACPLAN) and holds over two decades’ extensive work experience in projects throughout the country. These include land use planning, Integrated Development Plans, Spatial Development Frameworks, precinct plans and strategy formulation for municipalities. He has also served as a member of the Gauteng Development Tribunal. William is in the process of completing his Master’s in Business Administration.
Phindile Khulu is a Finance Project Accountant and an Acting Finance Manager at the Law School of Wits University. Prior to that, she focused mainly on the finances of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), also located at Wits Law School. Phindile has been active in the social justice sector for almost a decade. She is passionate about community well-being. As a result, she is a mentor to many students. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Accounting) degree from Monash University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Specialised Accountancy (Wits), a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Master of Business Leadership (both from the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership). Phindile joined the board of Ranyaka in 2023. She is also a board member to other organisations in the public interest sector.
David Mandaha is a strategist and award-winning communicator who has worked in the government, state-owned entity and media sectors for more than 15 years. Mandaha holds a BA degree in Media and Language Studies from the University of Venda, a BA degree in Public Management from the Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management from MANCOSA. David is presently pursuing his Masters in Business Administration (MBA). He currently heads up the external communication portfolio for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), one of Africa’s leading scientific and technology development and implementation organisations. He served as a board member of the Capricorn Education Resource Centre, a non-profit organisation tasked with promoting science, technology and innovation in rural Limpopo.
PROGRAMME MANAGER AND URBAN PLANNER
Sithembiso completed her Diploma in Town and Regional Planning at the University of Johannesburg in 2009. She holds over six years’ experience spanning the Government and private sectors. Sithembiso has an in-depth understanding of, and insight into participatory planning, the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach and Asset Based Community Development.
Lesego is a journalism graduate who has worked in the Government, private and NPO sectors, where she has honed her skills as a versatile content producer, communications consultant and researcher. Lesego is also the founder and CEO of Brain Waves Development and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Sustainable Development. In 2020, the Mail & Guardian voted Lesego as one of the 200 most influential young people under the age of 35 and the Dutch Council selected her as one of South Africa’s 50 Young Women in Science.
Basetsana holds a BA degree in Development Studies from the University of Johannesburg. She is passionate about community development and social activism and has, in recent years, gained experience working on research in Social Labour plans and how they should be rolled out through community projects in mining towns. She is also a certified Skills Development Facilitator with HW Seta and ETDP Seta where she assists NPOs with workplace skills development plans.
ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT & COLLABORATION ADVISOR
Marli is a social entrepreneur and NGO sector specialist with 20 years’ experience in business development, operations, social enterprise development and socio-economic programme development. Amongst other projects, Marli is spearheading an Inclusive Economies programme in Stellenbosch, that includes talent identification, entrepreneurial development ecosystem mapping, the facilitation of needs-based training, access to market, local supply chain inclusion and the development of local investment platforms. Marli also works with NPOs, academia, government and civil society networks, steering their focus towards the common agenda to achieve collective impact. She graduated with a B-tech Degree in Public Relations Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2003 and most recently completed the Executive Programme: Social Impact Strategy Development from the University of Pennsylvania.
Malusi Mazibuko is a social youth entrepreneur with over 15 years’ experience in community development and training. Malusi has established and overseen the successful implementation of various community-based initiatives across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN Youth Empowerment Project) and Gauteng (the A!MEN movement). One of Malusi’s greatest career highlights to date is the establishment of 70 youth hubs across all 9 provinces in South Africa, which are serving communities in rural, semi-urban, townships and cities. Malusi has also had the opportunity to facilitate community development projects in the US and UK. In mid-2022, Malusi also completed his LLB law journey.
STAKEHOLDER AND RELATIONSHIP MANAGER
Amy holds a diploma in Public Relations from UNISA, completed a BA degree in International Relations and Diplomacy in 2021 and is currently enrolled for an Honours in African Politics. Amy is a natural networker and has a passion for people development and promoting start-up and small businesses. She has a special knack for spotting opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Before joining the Ranyaka team, Amy worked in the field of logistics and operations.
LOCAL COORDINATOR: ZWIDE
Sim holds a National Diploma in Small Business Management from Walter Sisulu University, as well as a National Certificate in Practical Labour Law. After 14 years as an inspector for the Department of Labour, Sim established his own company to focus on the capacitation of youth with scarce skills. He has been closely involved in a variety of community projects, ranging from farming and learnerships to training and development and youth interventions. His vision is to help make people’s lives easier by bringing solutions to their challenges. He joined the Ranyaka team as local coordinator for Zwide, Gqeberha in 2020.
ANDILE WAH! MAFA
LOCAL COORDINATOR: UMLAZI
Born in Umlazi, Andile graduated from Mangosuthu University of Technology and is an experienced cost accountant. He also has extensive experience in youth and community development, as General Secretary at the UKZN Student YMCA and Director of EII Consulting, former council member of the Mangosuthu University of Technology and former head of programmes for The GoodMen Foundation.
LOCAL COORDINATOR: MAGALIESBURG
Ryan works nationally as an agricultural project coordinator for the Nedbank-sponsored Proud of my Town food network, for which Ranyaka is the implementation agent. He is a registered Emergency Health Care Practitioner and has studied Economics, Tourism and Marketing, and he is in the process of becoming an AGRI-SETA-approved Trainer of Trainers. He has served on two school governing bodies, including as the treasurer of an agricultural high school. His involvement in community development spans 26 years in his home community of Magaliesburg. As part of the Ranyaka team, Ryan has also extended his involvement into other provinces. He is passionate about sound governance, cooperative community improvement and stakeholder liaison between civic organisations and government departments.
FINANCE AND OPERATIONS CO-ORDINATOR
Diane studied Sport Science at Stellenbosch University and obtained her Foundations of Business Management Certificate from the Louis Group Business Academy. She has a passion for community development and employing sport as a tool to engage with young people and instil important life skills.
Purdey holds 21 years’ experience in office administration and management within the corporate financial sector. She also spent three years in the employ of an NGO, serving as a facilitator to assist children with reading programmes. In addition to general administration, Purdey is closely involved in the management and logistical planning for a variety of Ranyaka workshops and events. Purdey has also emerged as a hands-on driver of Fix Your Space projects in the Western Cape. She is currently working towards completing a degree in Psychology through Unisa and is passionate about community upliftment, building quality relationships and the development of people.
BRAND MANAGER & IDEATION
Sonya holds an honours degree in Business Communication from North-West University and a Diploma in Public Relations from the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Sonya has been working in the fields of marketing, public relations, publishing and event planning since 1994. Her experience spans the government, corporate and non-profit sectors. She is passionate about storytelling and documentary photography.