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 the Senior Advocacy Offer at International Budget Partnership’s South Africa office. Here she supports grassroots organisations to advocate for inclusive budgeting for services to informal settlements in the metros. Her sectoral interests include housing, health and urban development and her prior experience includes holding senior positions in government and the private sector.
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,. Allan has worked previously as the Country Director for Oxfam in South Africa and Head of Programmes for Oxfam in Tanzania amongst other role in his 11 years of employment with Oxfam. He is an experienced development practitioner who has a keen interest in organisational strengthening, leadership and strategy.
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.
Inger Harber
Inger HarberSPRINT Learning Network Convenor
Inger Harber joined Isandla Institute in September 2020 as the Learning Network Convenor for the “Safer Places: Resilient Institutions and Neighbourhoods Together (SPRINT) Project”. She has a Masters in Development Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Over the last ten years she has primarily worked in the Disaster Risk sector, including as the Programmes Coordinator for Humanitarian and Disaster Risk Reduction at Oxfam Australia's office in South Africa. She was previously the coordinator of People Enhancing Resilience for People Exposed to Risks (Periperi U), a consortium of African Universities, at Stellenbosch University.
Mfundo Majola
Mfundo MajolaSPRINT Intern
Mfundo Majola has an Honours degree in Political Studies and is currently completing his Master’s degree from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). His research focus is on Informal Settlement Upgrading and Participatory Governance. His research interests lie in Active Citizenship, Participatory Governance, and Urban Migration. He recently worked on the Lockdown Diaries Project and worked as a research assistant at UWC.
Mirjam van Donk, Director
Mirjam van Donk, DirectorDirector
Director Mirjam is an urban land planner with a Master degree from the Development Planning Unit at University College London. She also holds a Masters 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.