About Us

Isandla Institute is a key role player in the local governance sector, an important analytical voice on urban development issues, a convener of spaces of dialogue on urban citizenship, a producer of quality research, and a thought leader on issues such as informal settlements upgrading, urban governance and local level planning systems. In several instances, it has either directly ensured the uptake of progressive ideas in government policy or contributed (with others) to a shift towards more progressive solutions in policy and practice, aimed at addressing urban poverty, inequality and vulnerability. The organisation is also acknowledged for its role in building networks and partnership approaches to development.

While we are ambitious about the change we want to contribute to, and meticulous about the quality of our work and the relationships we nurture, the team at Isandla Institute is quite small. This requires us to be smart about how we invest our effort and who we work with to ensure greater impact. Our team is also a relatively young, in line with the organisation’s commitment to support the professional development of young – primarily black – professionals.


Ashoek Adhikari
Ashoek AdhikariDirector
Ashoek Adhikari is a lawyer by training and has extensive work experience in the legal profession, in the public sector and in the private sector. Ashoek also serves on the boards of the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, Accelerate Cape Town and chairs the Audit Committee of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund.
Yasmeen Dinath
Yasmeen DinathDirector
Yasmeen Dinath is an urban and regional planner with 17 years of working experience in urban planning across three sectors: Local Government, Higher Education and Research, and the Property Sector. Yasmeen is the Planning Manager of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) (SoE), a company owned by the City of Johannesburg. She is responsible for strategic area-based planning that informs the capital implementation of urban upgrading projects across Johannesburg’s strategic priority areas. She has engaged in part –time research work for the National Research Foundation: South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning and by the Gauteng City Region Observatory. Yasmeen has also produced research on peripheral towns and centres of the Gauteng City-Region, on approaches to Inner City regeneration in Johannesburg, on the evolving socio-spatial footprint of Islam in Johannesburg and on urban mothers’ experiences of the city.
Philip Harrison
Philip HarrisonDirector
Philip Harrison is the South African research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Philip has worked in the field of urban planning for around 25 years, in the public, private and academic sectors. He has served on South Africa’s National Planning Commission and has been closely involved in the preparation of a National Development Plan for South Africa
Tracy Jooste
Tracy JoosteDirector
Tracy Jooste is Head of Special Projects at International Budget Partnership South Africa, where she supports grassroots organisations to advocate for equitable budgets for water, sanitation and health services to informal settlements. She also leads initiatives to advance gender-responsive procurement. She has experience in housing, health and urban policy and research and has previously held director positions in government and the private sector. She is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity at LSE.
Shanaaz Majiet
Shanaaz MajietDirector
Shanaaz Majiet is a qualified Master coach with extensive experience in the public sector, particularly in the fields of human settlements and local government. She was the former Head of Department for the Western Cape Provincial Department of Local Government and Housing and Deputy Director General: Provincial and Municipal Government Support at the Department of Cooperative Governance until August 2015.
Allan Moolman
Allan MoolmanDirector
Allan Moolman is the Director of dala! Consulting Services – a consultancy focussed on organisational impact and performance. He currently is employed by Oxfam Great Britain as Interim Head of Partnerships and has worked previously as the Country Director for Oxfam in South Africa and Head of Programmes for Oxfam in Tanzania and as Programme Strategy and Design Lead for OGB. He is an experienced development practitioner who has a keen interest in organisational strengthening, leadership and strategy and increasingly, decolonisation in the not-for-profit sector.
Mirjam van Donk, Director
Mirjam van Donk, DirectorDirector
Mirjam van Donk is the Director of Isandla Institute and serves Ex Officio


Sennica Bacela
Sennica BacelaAdministrator
Sennica provides logistical and administrative support to all our work and projects. She holds a Secretarial Studies Certificate from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Zayd Gool
Zayd GoolIntern
Zayd Gool is the Isandla Institute intern. He has his Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Cape Town. He is interested in the exploration of violence prevention interventions and initiatives and its interlinkages within the housing conditions within informal settlements as well as advocating for active participation within the Planning Sphere.
Jens Horber
Jens HorberUrban Land Project Officer
Jens Horber is the Urban Land Project Officer at Isandla Institute. He has diplomas in Industrial Design and Business Management, and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning, and experience in project management, design, and business management in the industrial design and public art fields. He is an experienced professional town planner, and is interested in urban policy (and how it addresses spatial transformation, urbanisation, housing, and governance), sustainable development, rural development, and heritage.
Inger Harber
Inger HarberResearcher
Jinty Jackson is a researcher leading our project on informal settlement upgrading and a "just urban transition". She holds a Masters degree in Southern Urbanism from the University of Cape Town, a diploma in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University and an Honours degree in English Literature from UCT. Her research interests include how social movements occupying land and buildings in Cape Town's inner-city are re-imagining the city. Previously, she worked as a journalist in South Africa and for international news outlets in France, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Annette May
Annette MayUrban Land Policy Researcher
Annette May is the Urban Land Policy Researcher at Isandla Institute. Her research interests include the socio-economic and service delivery obligations of local government. As such she has conducted research on the local government competences of municipal health services, housing, water and sanitation, as well as the duty of municipalities to facilitate public participation in the context of basic service delivery. In addition to authoring publications in these research areas, it also forms part of her doctoral studies conducted under the auspices of the SARChi Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Policy at the Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape. She holds a LLB (UWC) and LLM (Master in Human rights and Democratisation in Africa) from the University of Pretoria and is an attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
Mirjam van Donk, Director
Mirjam van Donk, DirectorDirector
Director Mirjam is an urban land planner with a Master’s degree from the Development Planning Unit at University College London. She also holds a Master’s degree in Theology from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Mirjam has worked and written extensively on local government, urban governance, human settlements, development planning, gender and HIV/AIDS. She has expertise in managing complex projects and teams, programme design and institutional transformation.