Cornerstone Institute is a private institute of higher learning, offering a range of courses relevant to helping us to confront South Africa’s biggest social, political and economic challenges. Community Champions is a new and exciting initiative created by Cornerstone Institute and Bush Radio to bring to light those ‘behind the scenes people that make a difference in our community. Noel’s interviewees talk about themselves and how they work to help others.

Kicking off at 9 pm starting every Thursday on Bush Radio 89.5FM. Noel will take us on a journey, exploring the world of leaders of non-profit organisations, social entrepreneurs, groundbreakers, doers who are making a difference in their communities through community forums, artists, go-getters, small business people, activists and others, all who have one thing in common – they are women and men who pay it forward.

The guests on the Community Champions program are people who care about the community, and who through their work and how they have lived, and continue to live their lives, make significant contributions to empowering others. Cornerstone Institute and Noel Daniels are no strangers to engaging community developers, having hosted more than 100 influential guests over the past six years through their well-known Critical Dialogue series.

In fact, the 9 pm CEO Chats with Community Champions show immediately follows the Cornerstone Critical Dialogues Learn to Change the World Conversations (the new format for the Critical Dialogues), which are broadcast in the 7 – 9 pm slot on Bush Radio, live-streamed on Cornerstone’s Facebook page and YouTube channel and as a podcast on Spotify and iTunes.

So please tune in to Bush Radio at 9 pm every Thursday for new episodes of the CEO Chats, where Cornerstone Institute CEO Noel Daniels will take us on a journey into the lives, struggles and victories of South Africa’s best community champions.

In the season finale of Community Champions on Bush Radio 89.5 FM, Cornerstone Institute CEO Noel Daniels will interview human rights lawyer, activist and Cornerstone Institute board member Gary Jansen.

Gary Jansen has practised law since 1984. He was articled to Y. Ebrahim and Co., where he established himself as a human rights lawyer, working to assist communities with a range of political issues.

Gary’s work has continued to focus on business development, using his skills to unlock opportunities for Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) and to ensure that successful business people from local communities continue to contribute to community development.

Next week is our very last show for the season. We are so grateful to everyone who has supported this pilot series of Community Champions, especially to Bush Radio 85.9FM for making it possible.

We go back to the drawing board after the next show to plan for 2022. If you have any ideas for what we can do to improve the show, we welcome you to get in touch with us at Cornerstone Institute via our website (, by calling (021-448-0050) or by emailing (

Gary is going to help us as we think through what a programme like Community Champions should be about in the future. Your inputs would be most welcome and you can contact us directly at Cornerstone Institute (as per the details above) or via Bush Radio.

Pamela Mtati was born in Gugulethu, Cape Town. As a child, she was interested in everything; her curiosity led her to ballroom dancing, which she did for 10 years, excelling in local competitions.

In 1992, she enrolled in African dance classes and was scouted by a family friend to join a local dance group, which joined forces with the St Mary’s Marimba Band and became known as Phambili Marimba Band. She worked with the group as a dancer and singer for three years.

She has worked as a dancer, singer, percussionist, marimba player and drummer, in groups such as Amampondo, Manyanani, Jika, and the Soweto String Quartet, and collaborated with many international groups and organisations.

After matriculating in 1996, she did voluntary teaching, dance and music in her community. She taught at Bonga Primary School, Old Cross Road Youth, Pinelands High School, UCT School of dance and Artscape. At this time, she became involved in a cultural exchange programme with dancers from Réunion Island, to whom she taught African dance, drumming and music.

In 1997, she co-founded Women Unite, an all-female marimba band. She led the group – which toured nationally and internationally, visiting Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Norway, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland – for five years.

Between 1999 and 2002, she studied dance and music education at the University of Cape Town. After graduation in 2002, she was employed by Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and has remained in its employ ever since. In 2016, the WCED appointed her lead teacher in the creative arts and she is currently a dance specialist for the Department. She is also a board member for Cape Cultural Collective and works with the City of Cape Town on the Life Counts and 16 days of Activism programmes.

Pamela has been one of the choreographers for the Cape Town Carnival since 2010. She is a dance facilitator for Wolanani, an organisation for orphans and vulnerable kids in the Mfuleni area. She also served as a board member for Umbiyozo project from 2017 to 2019.

She is also an experienced actor and has performed in plays such as Itumeleng Wa-Lehure’s The Gaptoothes Sisters and Women Unite’s Kwanele – Enough.

In 2003, she founded the Likhwezi Marimba Dancers and Arts Project, to try and bring exposure to undiscovered artists. In addition to her teaching career, she remains committed to Likhwezi.

Dr John Volmink was born and raised in the suburb of Athlone, Cape Town. He started his academic career at the University of the Western Cape where he completed a BSc in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics and a BSc (Hons) in Physics. He later completed the MSc and then PhD in Mathematics Education at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1988.

He started his teaching career as a high school teacher and later held

various university teaching positions, including at the University of the Western Cape and the University of Cape Town. In 1988, he was appointed Assistant Professor in Mathematics Education at Cornell University.

Upon the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, he returned to Southern Africa having spent almost a decade in the USA. After a brief stint at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, he returned to South Africa in 1991. He immediately got involved in development initiatives as the Director of the Centre for Advancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CASME) in Durban, where he also helped establish a doctoral programme for black mathematics educators in collaboration with Aalborg University in Denmark. Between 1995 and 2004, John served as Campus Vice-Principal at the then University of Natal, Durban, and later as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships at the University of KwaZulu-Natal before returning to Cape Town in 2005.

During his 15 years in Durban, he was involved in several education NGOs. In 1993, he co-launched the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (SAARMSE), later renamed SAARMSTE, and served as its first president. 

He has also been centrally involved in curriculum reform in post-apartheid South Africa, asked by all four Ministers of Education to play a leading role in the transformation of education in the New South Africa. He served for four years (2006 to 2010) as the Chairperson of Umalusi Council, and was re-appointed by the Minister of Basic Education as the Chairperson for the eight-year period from 2014 to 2022. He served as a member of several Ministerial Task Teams.

In 2016, he served as the Interim Vice-Chancellor of the Durban University of Technology and as Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2017. 

John and his late wife Angela, who was also a teacher, worked together in community-based educational projects in the Athlone area with a focus on young people. 

These days he is centrally involved in an Ubuntu Leaders Academy project in Portugal and heads up the Ubuntu Global Network with participants from 189 countries. He also co-founded the Ubuntu Mathematics Institute in Cape Town this year. He is the Chairperson of the DG Murray Trust and several other organisations.

Rev Dr Rudi Buys joined Cornerstone Institute as Dean of Humanities in 2017, and now serves as Executive Dean responsible for all faculties and programmes.

He previously served as a Dutch Reformed Church youth pastor, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Ministry and as the Provincial Youth Commission’s commissioner tasked with education.

He later served as founding CEO of a higher education consulting group, which worked at several South African institutions to facilitate racial integration and institutional transformation. Working with student leaders on co-curricular development programmes in student life was a key part of this work.

Rudi and his team played a critical role in resolving racial conflict and violence at the University of the Free State after a horrible incident of racial discrimination – the infamous Reitz incident. The project led Rudi to join the university as Dean of Student Affairs in 2010.

In 2015 and 2016 he did his doctoral research as a faculty research associate, and joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as visiting scholar with an NRF-Scholarship. Professor Jonathan Jansen supervised his doctoral studies, which focused on bridge-building as a theory and practice of leading change. His ongoing research draws on the work of Paulo Freire, Homi Bhabha, Donald Winnicott and René Girard, among others.

In 2018, Rudi published his first book, Brugbouers, Die Reitz-video en die pad na versoening (‘Bridge-building, the Reitz video and the road to reconciliation’), with Penguin Random House. The book was shortlisted for the Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Prize in 2019.

He writes a fortnightly column, called ‘The Buys-line’, for the Cape Argus newspaper.

Kumi Naidoo is a South African-born human rights and climate activist.

He served as International Executive Director of Greenpeace (from 2009 to 2016) and Secretary-General of Amnesty International (from 2018 to 2020).

Kumi is currently Professor of Practice at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University and a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy. He lectures at Fossil Free University and serves as Special Advisor to the Green Economy Coalition. Kumi serves as Global Ambassador to Africans Rising for

Justice, Peace and Dignity. He is a Visiting Fellow at Oxford and an Honorary Fellow at Magdalen College.

Born in South Africa in 1965, Kumi became involved in South Africa’s liberation struggle at the age of 15 when he joined the Helping Hands Youth Organisation (an affiliate of the South African Youth Congress).

He received his BA in Political Science, cum laude, from the University of Durban-Westville in 1985. After the Apartheid government imposed a State of Emergency the following year, Kumi was arrested numerous times and charged with violating provisions against mass mobilisation and civil disobedience. Police harassment eventually forced him to go underground before fleeing to the United Kingdom in 1987. Kumi spent his time in exile at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, earning a doctorate in political sociology.

After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, Kumi returned to South Africa to work on the legalisation of the African National Congress. He was Founding Executive Director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), whose mandate is to ensure that the traditions of civil society continue to serve the people of South Africa. In addition, he held several leadership positions on a wide range of education, development and social justice initiatives, including in adult education NGOs, in the 1997 National Men’s March protesting violence against women and children, and as the official spokesperson for the 1994 Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). He remains a board member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

From 1998 to 2008, Kumi was the Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of Johannesburg-based Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, which is dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. He has also been the Global Council Co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty since its inception in 2003.

Jayson Magooda is from Bishop Lavis in Cape Town. He is a musician and community development worker who started working with young people as early as 1998.

Jayson is extremely passionate about development in South Africa. He founded a non-profit called Bishop Lavis Arts and Culture Kids Development Forum and uses this platform to collaborate with people who have similar social development interests. He also works with organisations that have a strong focus on the NGO sector through various SMME training programmes and has recently been added as a People First Foundation board member.

Jayson was the 2020/2021 Cornerstone Institute SRC Vice President and Academic Affairs Officer. He is a community development specialist with extensive experience in the professional training and coaching industry. He is skilled in coaching, team building, public speaking, training, and management.

Nazeema Mohamed’s academic life, professional trajectory and political activism have all focused on resisting inequality and achieving social justice. Her work is built on a values and ethics foundation, which is respectful of human dignity and affirms our humanity.


Nazeema Mohamed brings a wealth of experience in the area of social justice in higher education and university transformation.


She has served as director of policy development and support in the Department of Education; the co-ordinator of the American Council on Higher Education’s strategic planning support initiative for historically black universities; transformation manager and director at the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand; and programme officer for the social justice and universities programme at the Ford Foundation’s Southern Africa office.


Ms Mohamed has served on several ministerial committees in higher education. She is an experienced facilitator and trained life coach, with a master’s degree in higher education management from the University of London. She currently serves as a member of the Council of the University of Cape Town and is executive director of Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement.

Shaun Viljoen was born in June 1956, in Athlone, Cape Town, into a working-class family that was engaged in organisations striving for non-racialism during Apartheid.


After completing his matric at Herold Cressy High School in District Six in the midst of the Apartheid Group Areas Act removals, he went on to complete a BA majoring in English, drama and mathematics at the University of Cape Town. 


He later obtained a postgraduate higher diploma in education at UCT and a master’s degree with distinction in English and education at the Institute of Education, London University. Wits Press published his biography of Richard Rive – the subject of his 2007 doctoral thesis – in 2013. His book, Richard Rive: A Partial Biography (Wits Press, 2013), was shortlisted for the Alan Paton prize for non-fiction. 


Shaun Viljoen has taught South African and African literature at Cathkin High School, Hewat College, Wits University and Stellenbosch University. His research focuses on South African and African literature with a particular interest in queer biography and memoir.  


He recently retired as an associate professor in the English department at Stellenbosch University. He now works for Cornerstone Institute designing undergraduate and postgraduate education programmes for their proposed Teachers College. 

Charmaine Iwu is a Community Development Lecturer at Cornerstone Institute. She holds a Bachelor of Administration Honours from the University of the Western Cape, as well as a Masters of Education from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Charmaine has a great understanding and knowledge of the South African higher education ecosystem. Due to her extensive research experience, she is able to teach a wide variety of tertiary level subjects within the Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines. She currently specialises in the Policy, Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Community Development Workers, Monitoring and Evaluation of Community Projects and Organisational Management Practice in Community Development.

Charmaine is a distinguished researcher who has produced and contributed to multiple academic projects. She is currently an academic, lecturer and individual who is actively involved in community engagement. Her students would describe her as a profoundly passionate lecturer with deep insights into the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes prospective Community Development Practitioners need.

Howard Johnson is an entrepreneur whose ambition is to establish and sustain businesses that contribute to people’s economic growth and development.

After teaching in Cape Town and London, he started his first business in 1998 and subsequently started various companies. Some of which have been sold.

He is passionate about the tourism industry and was the founding chairperson of EduSA (the language school association) and co-founder of SAYTC (South African Youth Travel Confederation).

He served as Chairperson of SATSA Western Cape for three years and sat on the national board. He also served as the chairperson of the CPUT Advisory Committee on Tourism.

Passionate about travelling, he has travelled extensively to more than 22 countries, promoting his businesses and South Africa as a destination. His interest is now imparting knowledge and experience to budding entrepreneurs through public talks and training interventions. He recently launched his stand-up commentary show: Like A Boss! In August 2020, he became the CEO of SASMEA (SA Small Medium Enterprise Association) and subsequently co-founded SMMEIC (SMME.Industry Council).


Dr Crystal Jannecke is the Registrar of Cornerstone Institute.

Crystal holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town. Her doctoral thesis, in the discipline of political studies, focused on contested historical land claims and constructed communal identities in the South African context. She has held post-doctoral fellowships at both the University of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch University. Her work experience spans academic administration, institutional management, research management, higher education teaching, community development, trade unions, domestic work and child care.

She remains involved with youth and community development, using music and choral singing within the context of the Moravian Church as the platform from which to nurture and build. She has been involved in academic coaching of primary, secondary, and tertiary students for many years. She remains passionate about preparing learners and students to take responsibility for doing their best in order to achieve academic success. Experiencing their transformation continues to be rewarding. She is dedicated to enabling access to higher education and remains committed to facilitating innovative systems and processes that promote the recognition of prior learning.


Elvis Sibeko is a CEO, internationally acclaimed theatre director, choreographer, dancer, fitness instructor and festival curator.

Elvis was introduced to dance theatre and trained by Linda Lee Mhlongo at Leerhuleni Educational Theatre in Daveyton, Etwatwa. He then trained as a professional dancer at Tribhangi Dance Theatre in Midrand, Johannesburg. In 2009 he joined the Jazzart Dance Theatre training programme in Cape Town under the Artistic direction of Alfred Hinkel. He completed his two-year Higher Education and Training Certificate in Community Development Practice in 2011 at the Fundamentals Training Centre under the Direction of current Cornerstone Institute CEO Noel Daniels. Elvis also completed his Bachelor of Arts undergraduate and Honours degrees from the University of Cape Town, specialising in dance.

For over a decade, Elvis’s work has been carried out nationally and internationally. He has worked with several South African’s and international dance and theatre luminaries such as Cassper Nyovest, Terry Fortune, Mynie Grove, Dizu Plaatjies, Didi Moses, Camillo Robert Lombard, Pops Mohamed, Brett Bailey, Mandla Mbothwe, Mzo Gasa, Jay Pather, Sbonakaliso Ndaba, Alfred Hinkel, Mamela, Nyamaza, Gregory Maqoma, David April, to mention a few.

Elvis has received many awards nationally and internationally, such as the Netherlands DOX Award for best dancer and choreographer in 2015. After receiving this award, he was given an opportunity to teach South African Dance Styles in four universities in the Netherlands for three years. In 2016 Elvis was awarded an artist residency as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and curator for the Netherlands Afrovibes Festival, one of the top African contemporary festivals in Europe. In 2017 Elvis choreographed Cassper Nyovest’s Fill Up FNB Stadium event, one of the most prominent events in South Africa.

South African Arts and Culture Trust nominated Elvis Sibeko for the ACT Award to acknowledge him as one of the dancers and choreographers who has been active for the last five years in promoting quality and professional South African Arts nationally and internationally. In 2019 he was awarded a fellowship bursary to curate and choreograph for the biggest Public Arts Festival in South  Africa, Infecting the City. In 2020 Artscape Theatre Centre, in association with the National Department of Arts and Culture, Sports of South Africa, asked Elvis Sibeko to write and direct a musical called The Kingdom of Ubuntu to celebrate the 2020 South African Heritage month.

As an artist, Elvis Sibeko is also a music producer and composer who has been creating music for dance theatre companies and theatre-makers/artists nationally and internationally throughout his career. His music has been used by well-known theatre-makers and theatre companies in their productions. In 2021, he launched his debut album at Artscape Opera House and collaborated with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra to play his album live. He has also worked with local and international festivals, teaching and choreographing and lecturing South African dance history.

Abdul-Basier matriculated from Symphony Road Senior Secondary School in 1990. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) Degree at the University of the Western Cape and thereafter served articles with Shrand & Ekermans Inc. He subsequently worked as Audit Manager and Financial Advisor at Shrand & Ekermans, and then Audit Manager and Economic Development Consultant at HS Accounting.  Basier is a registered Professional Accountant (SA) duly registered with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants. He started his accounting practice, AB Dramat Professional Accountants (SA), in 2004. He specialises in Financial Accounting, Taxation, Business Development, and community-based projects.

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Part 1 & 2

Zenariah is a consultant in communications, publications and project management. Prior to her consultancy, she was at the Community Chest of the Western Cape, where she was responsible for publications. Zenariah has also served as the Chief of Staff at Independent Media, a subsidiary of the Sekunjalo Investment Group. Other positions worth mentioning are having served as the head of investigations at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the Western Cape, as a researcher at the Education Policy Unit (EPU) at the University of the Western Cape where she conducted research into post-apartheid higher education policy.

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Noel Daniels

Mobile: +27 82 414 4022

Judith Mukuna-Garnish

Mobile: +27 61 457 9559

Danielle Peterson

Mobile: +27 72 126 0565

Cornerstone Institute
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