In December we say farewell, or rather ‘see you later’ to Dr Cleo Graf, who has decided to take some time out to spend time travelling and exploring with her family. Cleo will still be working with the College on projects as a service provider, while she travels with her husband and two children. Cleo has been with the College since March 2016 and became an invaluable and respected member of our senior management team. Her contribution to the new online Higher Education Diploma programme has ensured that with her leaving, she can hand the baton over to someone else to continue the work.
Cleo, we wish you well, and hope that 2023 is all you are hoping for. We are glad you will remain a part of the College as a service provider and look forward to seeing you when you return.
Welcome to two new Responsible Resource Management Staff:
Thabang Rainett Teffo
Overlapping with Cleo’s imminent departure, we welcome Thabang Rainett Teffo, who will take over from Cleo as Head of the Responsible Resource Management Business Unit. Thabang arrived at the College on 7 December, and will spend time with Dr Cleo Graf before she departs and the College closes.
Thabang is an MSc (Masters of Science) graduate from the Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“During my MSc, I majored in Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation practices. I am currently in the final semester of my Ph.D. focusing on urban wildlife habitats management at the species level and human wildlife interactions in urban landscapes.” he explained.
Thabang describes himself as a driven person with good communication skills, who is passionate about conservation and the social issues related to it, which includes human-nature interactions.
Thabang ventured into environmental conservation studies because he developed his interest in the natural environment and societal issues at an early age. During his undergraduate years in South Africa, he volunteered at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), where he had the opportunity to work on several projects including a Wildlife and Energy project and the Wildlife and Roads Project. Whilst involved with these projects he learned the importance of creating awareness with stakeholders, building relationships, research techniques and the importance of communicating with all parties.
Thabang also worked temporarily in Saudi Arabia to manage the conflicts between Hamadryas baboons and humans in the high mountain Alps of Abha.
He then spent five years studying in Hungary and taking courses that taught him about EU conservation systems and projects, which could prove invaluable to the College in best practice and applied learning within our own programmes.
Thabang is a research fellow at the African Wildlife Economy Institute, which is based at Stellenbosch University and has been working, until recently with the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC).
We look forward to seeing how Thabang uses his skills, knowledge and contacts in his new role with us, and we welcome him aboard!
Qinisani Nhlakanipho Qwabe
We also welcome Dr Qinisani Nhlakanipho Qwabe, an experienced professional with a demonstrated history within the education sector, as the new Higher Education Lecturer for the College’s new online short course programme and future Diploma which is in process of accreditation by the Council on Higher Education (CHE).
Among some of the skills that Qinisani possesses are facilitation, people management, conflict management, supervision, research, and organisational development skills. Qinisani specialises in being able to work closely with business stakeholders, provide support and advice regarding organisational development, and provide solutions towards improving organisational productivity.
He is described by one of his previous lecturers and colleagues, Dr Xolilie Mkhize, as being self-motivated, innovative, hardworking, reliable, and dependable, possessing good negotiation and networking skills. Dr Mhize believes Qinisani has accumulated appropriate work experience in line with his academic qualifications, and says that over the years he has also demonstrated leadership, mentorship, and entrepreneurial skills.
Dr Musa Khapayi, a colleague and peer says “although Dr Qinisani Qwabe is only 28 years old he has achieved much in the realm of academia.” He stated that he has experienced him to be a talented young academic who has considerable potential for a career in academia and described him as hardworking, responsible and balanced in his approach towards both staff and students.
Besides lecturing at the University of the Free State (UFS), he has also undertaken community work, which has involved the setting up of food gardens in disadvantaged regions using indigenous crops.
Dr Qwabe is the recipient of numerous academic awards over the last few years and was one of the Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 Finalists for Young South African Leaders in 2022. In addition, he has contributed a number of published journals and papers to the academic world.
Qinisani recently completed his doctoral thesis in April 2022, which focused on a critical area in the South African agricultural sector– Investigating the role of indigenous vegetables on food security and agrobiodiversity in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This looked at the socio-economic importance of indigenous vegetables to the Ntuze smallholder farming community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Qinisani, or Q, as he has asked us to call him, describes himself as “an active scholar that is able to undertake research, learning and teaching, concurrently.” We are excited to welcome him on board. Q arrived at the College on 5 December to ensure that he also has time with Dr Cleo Graf before the College closes.