Braam Hanekom (Director) is a Zimbabwean-born South African refugee rights activist. He then moved to Cape Town where he founded PASSOP in 2007. He is fluent in Shona and for 2 years he wrote a weekly column for a newspaper ‘The Zimbabwean’. During the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008 he endured police harassment and arbitrary detentions, several while participating in different legal protest actions. During the same period PASSOP was instrumental in exposing the crisis at refugee centres in South Africa. In 2009, with funding from OXFAM, he completed a postgraduate diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from the Liverpool School of Tropical medicine. Despite not being (in his words) a “traditional academic”, he has been published in the University of Pennsylvania Law School Journal for Human rights. Although he remains an active member of the ANC, he is a strong critic of government shortcomings. He was awarded the 2008 Inyathelo award for youth in philanthropy and 2009 he was elected onto Cape Town TV’s Board on which he remains. He has spoken at several universities around the world and is recognised as an expert in his field.
Anthony Muteti (Community Outreach Officer and Paralegal) is a Zimbabwean teacher, activist, human rights campaigner and a refugee since 2003. He was born in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo Province in 1969 and obtained a BSc Honors Degree in Politics and Administration from the University of Zimbabwe in 1991. He worked as a teacher in Zimbabwe for ten years whilst being actively involved in civil society organisations dealing with human rights advocacy and community mobilization. As a result, he became a victim of the politically motivated violence in Zimbabwe in 2002 before fleeing to South Africa in 2003, where he was granted refugee status. He joined PASSOP in 2007 and helped set up the Imizamo Yethu branch in Hout Bay. He was actively involved with the Hout Bay Partnership for Development, was a member of a UNHCR team that assessed the vulnerability of foreigners in South Africa, and was and is actively involved in a number of different community activities and Task Teams focused on integration and community mobilization. He was displaced in November 2009 from Imizamo Yethu following an outbreak of xenophobic violence there. After running an anti-xenophobia help desk project in 2011, he is now focusing on expanding PASSOP’s community branch structures in townships and low-income communities in the Western Cape and beyond.
Bernard Dipo Toyambi (ZDP Project Officer) is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was born in 1975 in DRC and obtained his LLB degree in Law from the Free University of Kinshasa (Universite Libre de Kinshasa) in 2001. Bernard worked as human rights activist and lawyer in Kinshasa before the worsening political crisis forced him to move to South Africa in 2005. He was granted a Refugee Status in 2007. In 2009 he was admitted as an LLM Masters student in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the University of the Western Cape. He graduated with an LLM Degree in September 2011. Bernard joined PASSOP in June 2011 and works as a full-time paralegal officer. He believes there is an acute need for more integration and communication between refugee communities from different countries living in South Africa, because the struggle for the full realisation of our rights will only be achieved if we speak with one unified voice.
Guillain Koko (LGBTI Refugee Project Coordinator) is a human right Lawyer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He holds an LLB Degree in Public Law from the Catholic University of Bukavu and is currently pursuing a Masters of Law with specialisation in Constitutional and International Law at the University of South Africa. He worked as a lawyer in DRC and as a legal advisor to several human rights and environmental NGOs. He has also conducted human rights monitoring missions in DRC on behalf of Avocat Sans Frontières (Lawyers without Borders) and the United Nations Mission in DRC in the Eastern African and Great Lakes Region. He joined PASSOP in February 2012 after working as paralegal intern at the Legal Resources Centre, assigned to Director William Kerfoot. He is fluent in French, English, Swahili and Lingala. At Passop, he was first a paralegal officer before he was assigned as the Project Coordinator of LGBTI Refugee Support and Advocacy Project.
Lucky Katenhe [Client Liaison and IT Maintenance Officer] was born in August 1983 in Harare. To be able to attend university in Zimbabwe, Lucky first raised money by teaching at a High School in Harare. When he had saved up enough, he studied Philosophy at the University of Zimbabwe, where he was strongly involved in student activism. Amidst the violence in the run-up to the elections in 2008, Lucky travelled to South Africa in search of employment opportunities in order to financially support both his continued studies and his retired parents. In 2010, after sustaining grave injuries during an accident at work, Lucky approached PASSOP to get assistance in claiming compensation. When we picked up on his intense interest in human rights issues, as well as his uncanny knack to fix anything, including computers, printers and other electronic devices, he was hired as both an IT specialist and youth development officer. Lucky is also a talented linguist and can speak multiple languages, including Shona, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho.
Nonkosazana Simakade [Office Manager] was born in 1977 in the small town of Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape. In 2000, ‘Nonki’ moved to Cape Town in hopes of obtaining employment and adding to her Matric studies. Since arriving in Cape Town, Nonki has been actively involved in organizations concerned with issues of xenophobia. Being one of the millions of South Africans who migrate within the country in order to find employment, she felt a connection to the struggles of other migrants. In 2007 the death (from starvation) of Zimbabwean Adonis Musati outside the Home Affairs Refugee Reception Centre in Cape Town inspired her to become more actively involved in the issues, and she was subsequently one of the original staff members at PASSOP. After leaving for the past three years to bear and raise three children, she has now recently re-joined PASSOP and adds a vibrant Xhosa energy to the office.
Tendai Bhiza (Office Administrator) is a Zimbabwean refugee who fled the political instability in Zimbabwe in 2004. She then proceeded to find a way to support her family in South Africa. She is a single mother of a 12-year-old son. Before joining PASSOP she worked as a self-employed African curios salesperson at Greenmarket square. She joined PASSOP as an activist after being introduced to the organisation at several protest actions at Parliament and the Home Affairs Office. Finally, after years of attending dozens of workshops and meeting with PASSOP, she joined the staff and has now established herself as the “mother of PASSOP staff”.
Eunice Rumeni (Disabled Children’s Project Field Researcher/Office Assistant) was born in Harare in 1969 and studied book-keeping and accounts at the Bulawayo Technical Institute. She became actively involved in an organisation called ZPDCA (Zimbabwean Parents of Disabled Children Association) and was elected as chairperson to the organisation from 2005-2007. She came to South Africa in early 2009 to seek treatment for her disabled son in Cape Town. Since arriving here she has become actively involved in organising workshops around various issues dealing with the disabled in Africa. She joined PASSOP in September 2010 and is responsible to the book-keeping and general administrative tasks.-jfkl
Perceive Shava (Gender Rights Project Coordinator) was born in the Mashonaland Central Province of Zimbabwe. After obtaining two diplomas in Business and Office Administration, she worked as the Ambassador’s Secretary at the Polish Embassy in Harare and decided to further her studies when the embassy closed. With plans to work and study, she relocated to Cape Town in early 2011 working at a medical practice as a receptionist. In mid-2012, Perceive survived a horrific acid attack that severely damaged her face and has since taken seven major surgeries to restore. Known to the media and public as “Susan”, Perceive was supported by PASSOP after the ordeal and she later joined the staff in February 2013. Positioned as the Gender Rights Coordinator, she works to raise awareness and add her voice to the plight of gender-based violence in surrounding communities.
David von Burgsdorff (Advisor) joined PASSOP in April 2010 whilst doing research for his Masters Dissertation at the University of Cape Town on the constraints faced by Zimbabwean migrants in remitting money and goods to Zimbabwe. Originally from Germany, he has lived in a number of different countries, including Mozambique, Togo, Slovakia, Belgium, Cuba, the U.S., East Timor and the UK. Before he finished the Masters Degree at UCT in Applied Development Economics he had obtained a previous Masters Degree in Political Economy from the London School of Economics. His past working experience includes working on reintegration programs, human rights and development policy in numerous developing countries around the world (including East Timor and Cuba) with a number of organisations, including the UNDP and the European Commission. David left his full-time position as Programme Coordinator after 2 years with us in May 2012, but he is still involved as an advisor of sorts when needed.
Volunteers and Interns are relied on heavily at PASSOP due to a lack of resources. At any given time there are between 5 and 20 volunteers and interns working for PASSOP. They come from a wide range of different backgrounds and bring a variety of different expertises. Some are immigrants from different parts of Africa who want to join the mission that PASSOP has in defending the rights of marginalized immigrants; many others are students from some of the top Universities in the United States and Europe. If you are interested in volunteering at PASSOP, please contact David von Burgsdorff (firstname.lastname@example.org).