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Alice Mushagalusa K.

PhD Fellow

Alice Mushagalusa joined SWOP as a PhD Fellow in June 2019. Alice completed her Masters Degree in Industrial Sociology at Wits University in 2014 after completing her Honours Degree in 2013. Her current research investigates the relationship between wartime rape and militarized masculinities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She explored how wartime rape constructed a hierarchy of gendered power between the perpetrators and their victims. She examined the shifting meanings and roles wartime rape played in the eastern DRC and has argued that it is important to pay attention to how masculinities and femininities are locally constructed in order to dismantle the seed for reproducing the militarisation and associated gendered and sexual violence in the DRC.

Baleni Sibanda

Alois S Baleni

PhD Fellow

Alois S Baleni is a PhD fellow at SWOP and holds a Master‘s in Development Studies as well as an Honours and junior degree from the University of South Africa (Unisa). Baleni has worked extensively in rural development and the NGO sector, research and communications consultancy where he held various middle and senior management positions. He later joined Wits University and served under the Registrar‘s Division.


Baleni is currently pursuing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Witwatersrand. He has an avid interest in the decolonial epistemology and his broader research interests include matters of racism, violence, social movements, politics and coloniality. 


Nonkululeko Mabaso 

PhD Fellow

Nonkululeko is PhD candidate in Development Studies. Her doctoral research topic is: ‘The Reconfigurations of Racialised Economic Power in South Africa:  A Case Study of Sanlam and Remgro Limited- pre and post 1994’. It explores the intricate relationship between the state’s neoliberal economic policy intended for transformation (BBBEE), corporate strategies (including internationalisation and financialisation), and the racialised distribution of economic power in post-1994 South Africa. Her research interests include: Whiteness Studies, inequality, economic transformation, economic policy, research methods and student movements. She was also one of the #FeesMustFall student activists who contributed to SWOP’s student led publication: Rioting and Writing: Diaries of Wits Fallists. 

Nonkululeko Mabaso
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Thenjiwe Mswane

PhD Fellow

uThenjiwe is a mdlwembe of a guluva of a stabane. An aunt, a sister. A children's author. A published poet and writer.

A Third world black radical feminist positioned in the global south. 

Thenjiwe is umZulu from Kwa-Zulu interested in thinking through idea's of 'Zulu-ness'. 

She is interested in performance, spirituality, sexuality, language - she teaches isiZulu in her sparetime, and violence. 

Thenjiwe is an experienced Gender Researcher, and a retired Queer Activist. 

Thenjiwe Mswane

Dylan Kukard 

PhD Fellow

Dylan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology, with a theoretical interest on how violence co-opts traditional logics of power to pose bigger questions about the democratisation of violence in South Africa for subaltern groups. Through the Mellon Foundation Funded ‘Violent States, States of Violence’ Project, he is aiming his doctoral research on the nexus of violence and power in the subjectification of queer public health users undergoing gender-affirming therapy or medical transition. Grounded through an interest in developments in statistics and research methods, in 2019 Dylan co-authored a published article on Conversation analysis in South Africa titled, ‘Identity in interaction: sub-cultural intersubjectivities in popular radio conversation on Inxeba”. 

Dylan Kukard

Nomaqhawe Molife

PhD Candidate 

My name is Nomaqhawe Molife. I am a PhD candidate in Migration and Displacement at the Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS). I have a Bachelor of Social Sciences majoring in Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, as well as an Honors and Master’s degree in Development Sociology from the University of Witwatersrand. My Masters thesis was on the intergenerational transfer of a violent memory and the ways in which the memory is recalled for various socio-political agendas. This was part of a broader project titled “Violent states and States of violence” administered through Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP). My doctoral research is interested in the ways in which identity and belonging are constructed by migrants; more specifically the ways in which colonial legacies of racial and tribal segregation shaped communities in Southern Africa.

My study is interested in the social integration of couples in transnational intermarriages in Johannesburg. The research will be exploring how African immigrants and local South Africans navigate their identity and belonging in a transnational intermarriage. This intimate context has been intentionally chosen to observe what salient differences emerge between two individuals who are from two assumed competing groups, in an environment that is configured to keep them at tension with each other.

Through exploring ideas of identity and belonging from the experiences of each partner the study hopes to explore how identity and belonging are reshaped by this interaction and how it impacts on each of couples’ extended family. The intention of the study is to contribute to migration studies more specifically in gaining knowledge on factors impacting on the identity and belonging of transnational couples and their families in cosmopolitan cities.


Lisa Seftel

Master’s Research Intern 

Small biography

  • Currently Executive Director for Nedlac, responsible inter alia for the co-ordination of social partners’ responses to the Covid19 pandemic and economic recovery. Worked for both the provincial (2005/6) and City of Joburg’s Transport Department  (2009 – 2019)where inter alia have played a leading role in the introduction of bus rapid transit. 

  • Have also worked as municipal manager of the Sedibeng District Municipality (2006 – 2009), Chief Director for policy co-ordination and development in the Office of the Premier (2002 – 2005) and as Chief Director and Director in the Department of Labour (1995 – 2002). 

  • Have an Honours in Industrial Sociology (1982), Diploma in Public and Development Management (1993). Currently finalising a Masters in Management by dissertation at Wits School of Governance.


My dissertation seeks to answer why there is more continuity than change in the  South African mini bus taxi indusry and explore the role of the state and violence in shaping it since its emergence in the mid 1970s. My starting point is that this industry is a contested terrain not only for fare income, but for control of the taxi industry and order within it. The interests in the taxi industry go beyond the operators and drivers and include various fractions of the state and capital who provide the taxi industry with resources ranging from vehicles to weapons. What is at stake is not only the levers to significant accumulation, but also social capital and symbolic power.  


My research methodology has included qualitative interviews, review of original source documents such as Commissions of Inquiry and participant observation.


Tilda Nkomo 

Master’s Research Intern 

Tilda Nkomo completed her Bachelor of Arts General Degree at the University of Zimbabwe. She went on to complete her Special Honours degree in Economic History from the same University in December 2019. For her Special Honours dissertation, she worked on a topic which was under the title “A Social and economic history of artisanal mining compounds at Unit mine in Kwekwe, 2000-2018”. Tilda is currently doing her Master’s degree in history by research at the University of Witwatersrand. She received a scholarship administered by SWOP under the  ‘Violent states, States of Violence’ project. Tilda is currently working towards a dissertation with the title “Gold, Politics and Violence: Artisanal Gold Mining Kwekwe Town, Zimbabwe 2000 – 2022”.

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Namhla Ngqwala

Master’s Research Intern 

Namhla Ngqwala is a Masters Research Trainee in the Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) unit. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Political Studies at the University of Witwatersrand. Holds an Honours degree (Political Studies) (NWU), BA (Development and Management) (NWU). Her Masters project focus on a gendered perspective of political killings: a case study of uMzimkhulu, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

She is a  former research intern at the National Research Foundation based at HSRC within the DCES department from the 1st of April 2019 to the 23rd of March 2020 were she resumed as a Masters trainee. Her interest include political violence, peace and security and conflict management.


Alda Bester

Master’s Research Intern 

Alda Sherlenia Bester completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Johannesburg, where she majored in Anthropology, History and Tourism. In 2008 she completed her Honours in Anthropology at the same institution. Her Honours mini- dissertation looked at how the predominantly Coloured community of Ennerdale on the outskirts of Johannesburg soothe and calm their infants less than 12 months old. She is currently doing research in the same Ennerdale community as part of her MA in Anthropology, which she is obtaining from the University of the Witwatersrand under a SWOP scholarship, particularly their Violent States, States of Violence project. Her Master’s research report explores the lives and interactions of a group of Crystal Methamphetamine smoking individuals and how they interact with the wider community and the state in more often than not violent encounters. It proposes that lolly lounges (spaces where crystal Methamphetamine is smoked or injected into the veins ) must be understood within concatenated networks of interpersonal, collective and state violence.


Lesiba Phahladira

Master’s Research Intern 

Lesiba is primarily trained in archaeology with interest in the intersections of history, heritage and (in) present-day societies. He is interested in experimental transdisciplinary methods of producing inclusive research and knowledge. Currently, Lesiba is a Social Anthropology Masters student in Violent States, States of Violence Project. In his Masters he investigates the South African townships’ violent narrative experiences of travelling by MetroRail trains. His broader focus is investigating how Apartheid spatial city planning continues to influence movements of township migrant labourers and forms of township exclusion from the former Apartheid city economies. Lesiba experimentally employs his auto ethnographic accounts, literature and fictional description, township ethnography and memory making to understand how migrant township commuters violently negotiate instants of worsening train services in their everyday journeys to get to work in the cities.  


Kefuoe Emmaculate Maotoane

Master’s Research Intern 

Kefuoe Emmaculate Maotoane completed her undergraduate degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, majoring in Political studies and History in 2017. In 2018, she completed her honours degree in History under the scholarship of the History Workshop at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her honours mini-dissertation looked at the politics of exclusion under the title: ‘Hao wa mono’: the politics of exclusion and everyday life in Bethanie, c. 1980s to the present. She is currently working on her Masters by Research in History with the scholarship of SWOP under the project ‘Violent states, States of violence’ at the University of the Witwatersrand. Kefuoe’s research interests include everyday forms of violence, politics of belonging and rural and urban transformations.

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