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Siphelele Nsibande the ACCESS NEC Chairperson!

ciphe accessThe ACCESS NEC Chairperson is the title granted to the democratically elected ACCESS member who has shown supreme leadership qualities, empathy and acknowledgement for the role of science development in South Africa. The role comes coupled with the responsibility of being a leader to a national team as well as the representative of ACCESS members worldwide. The current ACCESS National Executive Chairperson is Siphelele Nsibande, who was voted into office on the 13th of January 2017.

Born and raised in the rural outskirts of KwaZulu-Natal, Siphelele moved to an urban ciphe gradlocation in 2006 for her high school education. Eventually, Siphelele enrolled at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Life sciences, all whilst surrounding herself with fantastic friends and becoming a beacon of inspiration to her peers. Siphelele furthered her studies at the same university and graduated with an Honours degree in Environmental science. Her passion and undying love for nature and society, drove her to pursue a Master’s degree in Geography and Environmental Science.

MEC Pic 4Siphelele has a strong passion for learning, growth and development. She enjoys other people’s company and is not only a team player but a leader, capitalizing on her easy going attitude and amazing interpersonal skills. She hopes to someday contribute positively to youth development, especially under a scientific umbrella. HPW was a natural step for Siphe as it afforded her the opportunity to hone these dreams into achievable goals and ideals.

Siphelele joined ACCESS in 2015. By the impression of its current members as well as the NEC pic3facilitation of Dr.Palmer during a campus visit, Siphelele became enthralled and inspired. She could no longer sit back as a non-member whilst ACCESS initiatives were being held nationwide, thus she secured a membership in the organization through the HPW 20. Subsequently Siphelele enrolled and trained as a core lecturer and graduated from the core lecturer workshops held in Gauteng. Siphelele has inspired other KwaZulu-Natal students and holds the stance that the ACCESS programme is a golden opportunity, in order to contribute positively to the development of the nation from any spatial location around the country. ACCESS has given Siphelele and others a platform in science education as well as rural youth development. It is one of her aims to spread the waves of ACCESS across the globe, one country at a time. To Siphelele the ACCESS HP Programme is instrumental in helping young and aspiring scientists grow whilst simultaneously exposing the previously disadvantaged to science opportunities. She aims to be a fundamental pillar in expanding and maintaining such a great legacy.

Message from the Chairperson

“To the youth, especially the underprivileged, secure yourself a room with us. Getting involved with ACCESS is not rocket science (although we encourage rocket science critical thinking). It is one of the greatest platforms for your development and all it takes is some motivation and a letter explaining that motivation! (See here for details). Values of the program include multi-dimensional thinking, Afrocentrism and a strong sense of curiosity inspiring. Overall a great way of thinking for an aspiring young scientist. On behalf of the 2017 NEC, I am inviting everyone who sees this message or gets word about our program or even wants to know why is water wet to share the message and become part of our family.  The youth are our future, and down that river of unpredictability sails the grand boat of ACCESS! Come along for the journey and let’s make South Africa the great power of the South and a beacon of scientific light in Africa, the dark continent no longer! Amandla!”

Mthulisi Mpofu, Deputy Chair

mthulusiMthulisi Mpofu obtained his Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geographic In­formation System in 2016 at the University of Fort Hare. He is graduating in May 2017 with Honours degree in Geology which was by coursework and re­search focused on the evolution of stress fields from the Karoo to the Cape Supergroup. Mthulisi is currently doing his first-year Master of Science in Geology at the University of Fort Hare. In 2016 he joined YALI NETWORK where he did online courses that encompassed understanding climate change. He is mostly motivated by being a problem solver as we are in a so­ciety that needs solutions to different problems. Mthulisi is very much pas­sionate about geohydrology as he is fascinated by underground water system and discharge mechanisms that makes it possible for water to be accessible for human consumption hence I would like to be one of the top geologist in the field of geohydrology who would find sustainable ways of conserving this precious resource.

After applying for HPW 21, he was among the top 30 students who were selected to attend the workshop at Vaal University. This inspired him to further apply for the online course as he was in­trigued by the Earth System Science. He then decided to participate in the core lecturing pro­gramme as he felt the need to impart the knowledge and guidance to the future planeteers. One of the principles he lives by is that “We have empowered to empower” which makes me suita­ble for this position because he would love to see more young Africans become inspired and moti­vated by science as well as enlightening them about what makes planet earth to be outstanding.

Nomhle Ngwenya, Treasurer

Nomhle Ngwenya is a 20-year-old young woman. She is doing her final year in Ge­ographyNomhle and Environmental studies at Wits University. Nomhle is very passionate about what she does and she is interested in reaching her full potential and capabil­ities as an environmentalist through ACCESS. She sees herself transforming and changing the world for the better. Nomhle states that “The wonderful thing about growing up in a very diverse world is the abil­ity to construct your own identity and finding your role in society”. She feels she has been blessed in her life to be given opportunities where she has discov­ered so many amazing things. She is fascinated about attaining knowl­edge of all sorts especially that pertaining to the environment. Nomhle loves reading, travelling and finding those hidden secrets life has to offer. She is currently the acting Treasurer for ACCESS and hopes to be an excellent one.

Lindelwa Sibongakonke Msweli, Secretary

LindiwaLindelwa Sibongakonke Msweli, 21 years of age, was born and raised in a small town called Mtubatuba, KwaZulu-Natal. In 2007, the entire family relocated to Durban. She attended Queensburgh Girls’ High School, and finished off from grade 11 at Vryheid Landbou Hoërskool. Lindelwa is a highly motivated young lady who is outspoken and a hard worker. Outside the environmental sector, she has a great interest in the culinary art. This interest developed when she was only 12 years-old and has been cultivated over the years to be one of the business ide­as to be brought to life on the future. Other interests include travelling and music.

Lin­delwa is currently doing her last semester in B.Sc. Environmental Science and Biology at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. She is so grateful to be pursuing a career in something that she particularly has a great interest in. After completing her degree, she plans on pur­suing an Honours in Nature Conservation at one of the universities of technology in South Africa be­cause I believe I will be equipped with the necessary practical insight that I will require in my career.

She joined ACCESS in 2016 (HPW 20), and it has changed my life ever since. In 2017 she was nominated and elected NEC Secretary for ACCESS Planeteers; this was a great surprise to because there were people who saw potential that I possessed, and she appreciates that and would never take it for granted. As Secretary, she feels it’s an opportunity to give back to ACCESS for the wonderful experience she received. She would like many young South African’s to also gain this wonderful experience by bringing ACCESS to the people.

Provincial Representatives :


Vumboni Harry Msimango, Limpopo

Vumboni Harry Msimango is a highly inquisitive individual born at Elim, Waterval; a semi-rural setting within the Limpopo province. From a very early age, Vumboni exhibited a rather profound sense of curiousity, which at times tended to be morbidRabbitly inquisitive. His curiosity further manifested itself during his primary school days, where he began to take a likening to all sorts of creepy crawlers; snakes, crabs, spiders, astronomi­cal phenomenon, medicine, electronics and basically everything around him. His curiosity ultimately found direction and he tended to depict a passion towards natural sciences, literature and computers. As a product of this vested interests, he was awarded with numerous accolades; including recognition as the most computer literate student in his primary school; two consecutive awards for having read the most books at the local library and at the local old age home. He was also the first and youngest student to ever participate in the National Environmental Education Teacher’s Conference, a setting initiated by the De­partment of Environmental Affair’s Working for Water program, aimed at addressing the Invasive Alien Species conundrum. He further went on to introduce the program at Waterval High, his former high school. He was also recognized for being one of the top performers therein, where he scooped numer­ous accolades for displaying exceptional academic performances. In his spare time, he creates rap mu­sic, writes poetry, photographs picturesque constituents of the natural environment and reads literature. He’s very passionate about professing the beauty of science to society, and the natural sciences, particu­larly Ecology. He’s research aspirations include developing toolkits, informed by other scientific disci­plines, that may be used to catalyze research outputs within Ecology, and according to Rabbit (as he’s affectionately known) “That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Maiwashe Wendy Konanani, Gauteng

wendyMaiwashe Wendy Konanani was raised in Wonderboom North, Pretoria within Gauteng, South Africa. Konanani completed her matric in 2012 and was the captain of the debate team for five years. She spent a year in volunteer programs before pursuing a degree in Environ­mental sciences at the University of Venda majoring in Ecology and Re­source Management, Hydrology and Geology. She also served as a research as­sistant at University of Venda geology department (Effective drilling and blasting methods) and Participated in the leopard spotting project at Pilanes­berg national park as well as wetland rehabilitation project at the Tswaing Crater.

Konanani is Currently studying towards an Honours degree by course work and research on grassland ecology and national park conservation. Konanani is a volunteer at the NZG, Tshwane SPCA and the Bambi Land Care Centre , the latter of which is an NPO dedicated to teaching children from 4 to 6 and the elderly how to read and write. Konanani joined ACCESS in 2016 and was the top student in HPW 22. In a nutshell Konanani proclaims that “Work ethic, a strong academic background, sound planning punctual time keeping and expansive networking skills round up her contribution to the Habitable planet as the Gauteng Rep!”

Ntombifuthi Precious Nzimande, KwaZulu-Natal

A proud Natalian- Ntombifuthi Precious Nzimande was born and bred in Kwa-Zulu Natal, NtombiDurban. She attended Durban South Primary School and upon completing her basic education, she was accepted to study at Durban Girls Secondary School. From 2013 until 2015, Ntombifuthi completed her Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. A year after that, 2016, she com­pleted her BSc in Geography and Environmental Management. In that same year, Ntombifuthi was elected to serve the KZN province in the NEC and through the endless support and work of her colleagues in other campuses in KZN, Ntombifuthi was able to achieve most of the objectives that she and her team had set out for the year of 2016. Currently, Ntombifuthi is still the province rep and is pursuing her MSc in Environmental Science with a research topic focusing on the “Mapping the distribu­tion and diversity patterns of the yellowwood tree (Podacarpus henklii) in the Weza-Ngele indigenous forests using remote sensing and geographic information system, KwaZulu-Natal”.

Ntombi believes that through the different executive committees such as Activate! Leadership, Inter­national Golden Key Honour Society, Campus HIV/AIDS Support Unit and the Community Development Association she has gained significant experience that enables her to tackle different and difficult issues in a creative and innovative way. Additionally, being an academic mentor, a tutor and a demonstrator for undergraduate students at the UKZN- PMB campus, grants her an advantage as she is able to cause ripples of positivity in the places she is in.

Kaitano Dube, Northern Cape

Kaitano Dube is the new NEC representitive for Northern Cape. Over the previous years, he has worked hard to bring ACCESS to four institutions that were not active in ACCESS namely Vaal University of Technology, North-West University, Vander­bijlpark Campus, University of Johannesburg and Tshwane University. Mr. Dube is employed by Vaal University kaitanoof Technology as an Ecotourism Management Lecturer in charge of Earth Sciences Modules. Mr Dube holds a number of qualifications in Geography, Environmental Management, Environmental Law, GIS, Remote Sensing and Climate Change. He led a team that successfully hosted HPW21 at Vaal University of Technology. Mr Dube is an active upcoming researcher with research interest spanning from livelihood security and irrigation in the context of climate change. He has a number of local and international conference and journal publications. Previ­ously a student at Midlands State University, University of Zimbabwe and Witwatersrand University Mr. Dube is currently enrolled at Vaal University of Technology for Post Graduate Diploma in Higher Edu­cation and a PhD candidate at UNISA in Environmental Management. His study is aimed at examining the two-way relationship between tourism and climate change in the Victoria Falls resort in Zimbabwe. He hopes to expand the ACCESS programme into the prov­ince in addition to the ACCESS family at SOL Plaatje University.

Bornagain Ntshovelo Hlongwane, North West

Bornagain Ntshovelo Hlongwane, also known as Born, is from, a small village called Josefaborn a few kilometers away from the Kruger National Park (Ponda Maria Gate) within the Limpopo province. Born later moved to Giyani Town and start­ed his primary school at Samson Shiviti Primary School after which he proceeded to Khe­to Nxumayo Agricultural High School and ultimately moved to Mavalani High School where he finished his Grade 12. Over the spam of those years, he became a Love Life Limpopo Representative at the Mopani district and won the HIV and AIDS representation district competition. In the year 2015 he started his first year at the Vaal University of Technology pursu­ing a career in Eco-Tourism. Since he holistically deals with Wildlife management and Biology, HPW made served to fundamentalize his understanding of the impact of Climate Change on Wildlife and with the greater Ecosystems of South Africa.

At his first ever HPW ACCESS workshop, he was inspired and motivated when he saw and re­alized that it takes passion and perseverance to get what you want in life. HPW made him aware that largely, humans do not appreciate and understand human nature. Thus, as the NEC mem­ber for the North-West he has committed himself to achieving his ACCESS goal: “I am here to make an impact”.

Kelvin Pikirai, Eastern Cape

kelvinKelvin holds a Master of Social Science in Rural Development and is currently pursuing a Philosophy De­gree in Developmental Studies. He specialises in ecotourism, climate change and sustainable development in rural communities. He has worked on the conserva­tion of nature and promotion of ecotourism projects in Victoria Falls Zimba­bwe through a company called Mapopoma and also worked in Eastern Cape in the Hogsback Community. Kelvin has also worked to promote development and implementation of gender equity and social inclusion strategies aimed at pro­moting sustainable development in rural areas. In his studies in Rural Develop­ment, he has worked on various sustainable development mechanisms in climate change adaptation strategies, tourism development, and enhancement of food security through indigenous knowledge systems, entrepreneurship and resource governance that promotes sustainable development. Currently, his research in Developmental Studies focus­es on the impacts of ecotourism (nature tourism) on rural livelihoods as well as women participa­tion in ecotourism projects. Kelvin is an alumnae of ACCESS for the class of 2015 and trained as a core lecture in January 2016 and also attended Mini HPW schools workshop in January 2016 and January 2017 at CSIR, Rosebank, Cape Town. Kelvin hosted a successful Mini HPW schools pro­gram in Eastern Cape with his ACCESS colleagues and will be hosting another workshop later in 2017.

Belinda Monyela, Western Cape

BelindaBelinda Monyela hails from a village in Limpopo province called Ga-Molepo (Place of Rest) and is currently residing in Cape Town. Coming from the heartland of Limpopo Province, were farming is the order of the day; Belinda was fascinated by the influence of rainfall (onset and offset) on her community’s crops. Hence, she enrolled for a B.Sc. Degree in Environmental & Geographi­cal Sciences and Ocean &Atmospheric Science at the University of Cape Town to understand these atmospheric dynamics. She furthered her studies at the same in­stitution and is about to complete her M.Sc. Degree in Climate and Sustainable Develop­ment facilitated by the African Climate & Development Initiative (ACDI). Belinda aspires to become a researcher; consequently, she is planning to embark on her Doctorate journey next year.