vision and mission
Our vision is to promote the right to truth, and contribute towards social justice by holding powerful private actors to account through research that leads to legal accountability and advocacy for change. We aim to contribute our efforts to an area of work which is currently under-served in the region, and in doing so, complement and support the important work being undertaken by partner organisations in civil society.
Open Secrets registered as an independent non-profit organisation in February 2017 and has since been pursuing work arising from its research on apartheid-era economic crimes, as well as embarking on new investigations. Open Secrets was originally established through a fellowship awarded by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa in 2012, and operated as a project of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation from January 2014. Its main focus in this period was research and advocacy on economic crime during apartheid, which culminated in the publication of Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit in May 2017.
Michael works as a researcher at Open Secrets, focusing on investigations and advocacy. He is simultaneously completing his LLB at the University of South Africa. Michael holds an MSc in International Development from the University of Edinburgh, as well as a PPE(Hons) from the University of Cape Town. He was the lead researcher on Apartheid Guns & Money: A Tale of Profit. He is also active in the Right2Know Campaign.
Zen holds a BA International Studies degree from Stellenbosch University. She also holds a PGDip in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University’s School of Public Leadership. As a postgraduate researcher at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST) she engaged in research around State Capture and governance issues. She is currently working as a research and advocacy intern at Open Secrets and completing her MPhil.
Mamello is a communications and advocacy intern at Open Secrets. She is also a PhD candidate in Political Studies at the University of Cape Town. Mamello holds an MPhil in Justice and Transformation from UCT as well as an MSc in Security, Leadership and Society from King’s College London. She has worked on research focussing on transitional justice for the Institute for Justice Reconciliation and the International Center for Transitional Justice.
Philile holds a BA degree in English, Media, and Culture Studies (UKZN) and a BA (Hons) in Political Communication (UCT). She previously worked at Equal Education, where her research and advocacy centered on national and provincial budget polices and higher education funding. On multiple occasions, she has presented her research findings on government social spending to Parliamentary Committees, and presented a model for funding higher education to the Fees Commission. Philile is interested in social policy and restorative justice.
Tabitha completed her LLB at the University of Cape Town and is a Bertha Justice Fellow. As a researcher, analyst, and lawyer, with over 8 years of experience in the human rights field, her previous work experience includes gender work, transformation in higher education, sexual and reproductive health rights, violence and crime, prisons, and education law. She has a drive and passion for holding Power to account, using various tools, including legal tools and advocacy.
Naushina graduated from the Dullah Omar Institute with her Masters in Law, State & Multi-level government after completing her LLB (Law) degree from the University of the Western Cape. She has completed an advanced course in Leadership and Social Responsibility. Her recent work during her training as an Attorney with the Legal Resources Centre includes using strategic litigation to protect vulnerable groups, promoting law reform and enforcing measures of transparency & accountability. She is a Bertha Justice Fellow and part of the Bertha Women’s Working Group.
Hennie works as the director of Open Secrets and is a past fellow of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa. He has also worked as Director of the Institute for Security Studies in Cape Town and for Transparency International in Berlin. Hennie supports the Right2Know campaign and serves on the boards of Natural Justice and My Vote Counts. He is the author of Apartheid Guns & Money: A Tale of Profit (2017) and co-author of The Devil in the Detail: How the Arms Deal Changed Everything (2011).
Shaamela works at Save the Children. She works closely with social justice groups and previously worked as a manager for international training and technical assistance at the International Budget Partnership. Shaamela is passionate about working with organisations for sustainability and impact, social justice and transformation, and adult education and learning.
Bonita is the former director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and an associate professor of law at the University of Witwatersrand. She teaches international law, business and human rights, and international criminal law. She is an editor of the South African Journal on Human Rights, and the founding member and chair of the board of Lawyers against Abuse. She is passionate about the role of law in promoting human rights in business.
Basetsana is a partner at the firm of attorneys Harris, Nupen, Molebatsi (HNM). In addition to her focus on commercial law, she has a background in advocating for access to information as a human rights lawyer, and previously worked with the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC). Basetsana is a former Chairperson of the Women’s Legal Centre Trust, and is a member of the Advisory Council of the Centre for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.
Hennie van Vuuren (ex-officio)
Hennie is Director of Open Secrets.
Open Secrets relies on the generous support of individual donors and partner organisations to fund our work. We gratefully acknowledge current support from the following organisational funders: