Tshegofatso Phala – Executive Director
“Tshego” is an accomplished public interest lawyer with over 10 years’ experience in public interest litigation. Holding a Bachelor of Arts and LLB degree from the University of Witwatersrand, Tshego practised as an attorney in the Pro Bono Department at Webber Wentzel Attorneys between 2011 and 2016 and was appointed as a partner in 2017.
Keen to embed herself in movement lawyering, she joined the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) in February 2019 leading their Sexual Rights Litigation in Africa. She is also a 2020/21 Fellow of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African leaders and is currently the Chairperson of the board of the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities in South Africa.
In the course of her practice, Tshego was part of a number of landmark cases that advanced the rule of law and constitutional democracy in South Africa, as well as the protection and advancement of the rights of LGBTQI persons (with particular focus on LGBTQI youth, transgender and intersex persons).
Tshego has a passion for human rights and the protection of vulnerable and marginalised persons and communities in society. She believes that movement-led lawyering and community lawyering can contribute positively to bringing about social change and the legal empowerment of marginalised voices.”
Robyn Beere – Deputy Director
Robyn was the Director of Inclusive Education South Africa (IESA) for eight and a half years. During her time with IESA she built up the organisation to become a leading civil society voice promoting the right to meaningful access to participation in learning for all children in South Africa. She has written extensively and developed a range of educational resources to be used in pre-service and in-service teaching training on inclusive pedagogy. Robyn has presented at numerous conferences and been invited to participate in regional expert meetings to discuss the protection of disability rights in an African context.
With an LLB and Hons Degree in Political Science, Robyn now works as an advocate for the effective implementation of inclusive education policy. She is also the Chairperson of the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities Alliance. Robyn led the development of an alternative report and submissions to the UN Committee on the CRPD and a delegation to the UN in March 2018. She has been instrumental in co-ordinating the Alliance efforts to ensure government accountability for the implementation of the Convention and other regional and national legislative and policy frameworks.
Chandre Stuurman – Senior Attorney
Bertha Justice Alumna
Chandre obtained her BA (Law) degree from Stellenbosch University in 2009, and completed her post-graduate LLB degree in 2011 at the same university. In 2011, Chandre was a student researcher in the South African Property Law Research Chair headed by Professor AJ van der Walt, focusing on Constitutional Property Law, and in particular Section 25 of the Constitution. In addition, she was involved in the Financial Literacy Project of the University’s Legal Aid Clinic.
Chandre completed her training at Shepstone & Wylie, Cape Town, 2012 to 2014, where she worked in, among others, in the Corporate & Commercial as well as the International Transport, Trade & Energy, Departments. Chandre was admitted and enrolled as an attorney in the Western Cape High Court and has obtained Right of Appearance in the Western Cape High Court, in May and October 2014, respectively.
Chandre joined the EELC in 2014 and is a passionate social justice lawyer with a drive to use the law as a tool for social justice and for equality in education. Chandre is particularly interested in the advancement of the rights of children with disabilities, and who are experiencing barriers to learning, and focuses her practice on ensuring that their right to an equitable and quality inclusive education system, is realized.
Tarryn Cooper-Bell – Senior Attorney
Tarryn obtained both her Bachelor of Science degree as well as her LLB from Rhodes University. She thereafter completed her training as a candidate attorney at the Rhodes University Law Clinic where she was involved in general litigation and various other access to justice programmes.
After her admission in 2012 she was employed as an associate at the Boksburg based law firm of Malherbe, Rigg & Ranwell Attorneys where she specialised in municipal law. The call towards human rights and social justice however inspired her return to the Rhodes University Law Clinic as an attorney in charge of the advice office programme in early 2014 where she furthered the Law Clinic’s work in the human rights field.
She thereafter progressed through the ranks to head of legal services for the Grahamstown office and member of the Rhodes University Law Clinic management committee. As an attorney at the Law Clinic, Tarryn was involved in general litigation, LLB student supervision and lecturing of various modules in the LLB Legal Practice course.
Tarryn joined the EELC in April 2017 to contribute towards the fight for social justice and equal, quality education for all on a national level.
Anjuli Maistry – Senior Attorney
Anjuli joins the EELC as a senior attorney. Prior to this she worked at the Centre for Child Law (CCL) and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). At CCL, where she worked for four years, she focused on litigation, having worked on a variety of cases related to children’s access to socio-economic rights, including their access to basic and higher education as well as birth registration. At LHR, where she worked for five years, she managed the Johannesburg law clinic, and focused on litigation related to refugee and migrants’ rights. In 2020 she obtained her LLM in children’s rights (with a specific focus on access to education for learners with disabilities) at the University of Pretoria.
Pila-sande Mkuzo – Junior Attorney
Bertha Justice Alumna
Pila-sande is from East London in the Eastern Cape. She completed her Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Fort Hare in 2017. She was awarded the Canon Collins Leigh-Day Scholarship and in 2018 received the Dean of Research Exceptional Achievement Award.
Pila-sande has been active in social justice work, including forming part of the steering committee of the East London #TheTotalShutdown and the HIV Policy Conference. As a student, she served as the Secretary of the Indlovukazi Women Empowerment Society and she is currently the chairperson of Passionate Unlimited Peers in Action (PUPA) based in the Eastern Cape. She has also served under the Eastern Cape Aids Council Women’s Sector and the NACOSA Provincial Advisory Committee. Pila-Sande completed her articles at the EELC as a Bertha Justice Fellow
Rubeena Parker – Head of Research
Rubeena Parker obtained both Bachelor of Business Science and LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town.
During her studies, motivated by a desire to create opportunities for others to learn, and in so doing, to transcend their environments, Rubeena tutored township based learners in English and History. She was an active member of the UCT Township Debating League, teaching learners debating skills and equipping learners to compete in national debating competitions. Rubeena also volunteered at the Athlone Legal Advice Office, providing practical legal advice to members of the Athlone community.
Rubeena completed her articles and practised as an attorney at Webber Wentzel. During her time there, she developed a keen interest and specialist skills in the areas of constitutional and administrative law and was involved in public interest litigation. Rubeena also spent time working at international law firm, Linklaters, in London.
Recognising education as the key to accessing and advancing all rights constitutionally enshrined, Rubeena joined the EELC in February 2018, as its Senior Researcher, and is looking forward to contributing to our work for equal, quality education for all.
Yolanda Mnyengeza – 2nd Year Candidate Attorney
Bertha Justice Fellow
Yolanda was born and bred in a small town in Paarl and attended Langa High School. In 2017 she attained her LLB degree from the University of the Western Cape, and thereafter worked for the Equal Education Law Centre as an intern, where she engaged with schools, learners, as well government stakeholders to advocate for the right to education.
Following her internship at the EELC, she worked with ProBono.Org assisting people gain access to legal support and services. Her passion is to assist people from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds access legal information, as well as representation to enable them to improve the quality of their lives.
Yolanda is a first year candidate attorney and Bertha Justice Fellow.
Gertrude Quan – Researcher
Gertrude Quan is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her doctoral research focuses largely on the rights of children in migration situations. She is also an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa.
In 2019, she worked as an intern at Child’s Rights Connect, an international organization based in Geneva Switzerland where she summarized children’s rights cases within the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body System, for the creation of children’s rights jurisprudence database.
Gertrude was awarded a scholarship as a guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law between 2020 and 2021. She was also a research associate to Professor Ann Skelton, who is the current UNESCO chair for education law in Africa and Member of the United Nations children’s rights Committee, for a period of four years.
Gertrude is passionate about children’s rights and wrote her master’s thesis on the right to basic education in South Africa. She is an aspiring children’s rights expert and an academic.
Yasmina Shabodien – Finance Administrator
Yasmina Shabodien joined the EELC in March 2019 in the role of Office Administrator. Yasmina is from Cape Town and has worked in the non-profit sector for over twenty years in an administrative capacity. Prior to joining the EELC, she has worked for Kagiso Trust, Impumelelo Social Innovations Programme and Black Sash. Her portfolio includes financial administration, events management and office administration amongst others. Working for these various organisations has strengthened her commitment and passion to improve social development, social justice and equality within marginalised communities.
Anathi Canham – 1st Year Candidate Attorney
Anathi joins the EELC as a candidate attorney having obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Sociology from Rhodes University and an LLB. from University of Witwatersrand. He hails from Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape. Anathi has a keen interest in debating and has won a number of awards in various moot trial competitions and most notably the All Africa Moot Competition, Braam Fischer Moot Competition, and the Oxford Media Price moot. He has also volunteered time at Lusikisiki Legal Aid Board office to provide general legal assistance to the members of his community.
Ebrahiem Daniels – 1st Year Candidate Attorney
Ebrahiem joins the EELC as a candidate attorney. He holds an LLB from the University of Western Cape where he belongeds to various societies, amongst which are the Students for Law and Social Justice, The Joint Cultural Societies, and the Top Achievers Programme as a mentor. His passion for human rights started in high school where he was a member of the Representative Council for Learners for 2 consecutive years.
Yolisa Piliso – Canon Collins / Joel Joffe Intern
Yolisa joins the EELC as an intern. Yolisa was awarded a Canon Collins / Joel Joffe 4th year scholarship in 2020 which includes a 5 month internship at the EELC in 2021. Yolisa holds an LLB from the University of the Western Cape