who we are

Open Secrets is a non-profit organisation which exposes and builds accountability for private sector economic crimes through investigative research, advocacy, and the law.

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.

history

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.

our team

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Leila Khan

Intern – Research and Advocacy

Leila holds a BSocSci in Politics and Economic History, and an LLB from the University of Cape Town (UCT). She has done research work for the Centre for Law and Society (CLS) as well as the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), and was involved in student-worker organising for free education and the end of outsourcing at South African universities. She is currently working as a research and advocacy intern at Open Secrets.
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Michael Marchant

Researcher – Investigations and Advocacy

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.
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Nombuso Mathibela

Intern – Legal Research

Nombuso is a legal research intern at Open Secrets. She holds a BA(LLB) from the University of Cape Town and has previously held a fellowship at Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education. She has worked in legal research for public interest firms and tutored in the Gender studies department at the University of Cape Town.
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Philile Ntombela

Researcher – Advocacy and Investigations

Philile graduated from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a BA degree in English, Media, and Culture Studies. She also holds a BA (Hons) in Political Communication (UCT). Philile previously worked at Equal Education, where her research and advocacy centered on national and provincial budget polices and higher education funding. She tutored Media and Society at UCT, and is particularly interested in social policy and restorative justice.
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Khuraisha Patel

Researcher – Law

Khuraisha is an attorney and holds an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (University of Pretoria). She has worked on research and litigation in areas of Business and Human Rights, Gender and Access to Information as a Candidate Attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of Witwatersrand and in Gender and International Refugee Law as an intern at the Refugee Law Project, Kampala.
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Hennie van Vuuren

Director

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).
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former team members

Neroli Price

Thato Toeba

Anine Kriegler

Bradley Pietersen

Naomi Marshak

Murray Hunter

our board

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Shaamela Cassiem

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.

Professor Bonita Meyersfeld

Bonita Meyersfeld

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.

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Basetsana Molebatsi

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.

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Hennie van Vuuren (ex-officio)

Hennie is Director of Open Secrets.

our funders

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: