The SANReN Team

Meet the SANReN Team…

Leon Staphorst
Leon has been the Head of the South African Research Network (SANReN) Competency Area at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) since 1 January 2013. He started his career in January 2000 as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Pretoria in the areas of systems analysis, digital signal processing, telecommunications, information theory and channel coding. Thereafter he joined Motorola South Africa in January 2007 as a Technical Trainer, eventually taking on the management of the Motorola Cellular Training Institute (MCTI). From June 2008 he was the Customer Solutions Manager for the Neotel key account at Nokia Siemens Networks. Leon has been employed by the CSIR since November 2009, initially as a Principle Researcher in the area of Radar applications and theory, thereafter as the Research Group Leader for the CSIR’s Experimental Electronic Warfare Systems group. Leon holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Electronic Engineering, as well as a Masters Degree in Business Administration, all with Honours from the University of Pretoria. He is registered as a Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute in the United Kingdom. Leon is also a Fellow of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Ajay Makan
Ajay is Head of Operations at SANReN since 1 April 2014. He is primarily responsible for effectiveness and efficiency improvements of the business operations, financial management and programme management of strategic projects at SANReN. He provides strategic, tactical and operational support to the SANReN director and the SANReN team. Previous to joining the SANReN CA team, he was a senior project manager with the CSIR Meraka Institute. He has 14 years project management experience; managing multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder, multi-year and multi-country projects which have focused primarily in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for development (ICT4D) domain. He has managed projects across the value chain from research to development; first proto-typing to production and manufacturing; to large-scale roll-out and implementation including operational set-up.

Zuki Makalima
Zukisani started his career at CSIR Meraka Institute in 2009 and heads up the Project and Procurement management team. He has several qualifications: a Bachelor of Science majoring in Physical Science and Applied Mathematics from the University of Fort Hare (UFH), a Bachelor of Science in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and A Bachelor of Science in Information Systems (Hons) in software Engineering from the University of South Africa (UNISA). His career started in 1994 and he has had the privilege of working for well recognised companies in South Africa and in the United States of America (Transtel, Telkom, Intelsat(USA), Multichoice and the then Department of Communications in South Africa). Zuki is an example of a man with a hunger for knowledge, especially in the field of Telecommunications and Information and Technology (IT). His dreams are to make a significant contribution in the telecommunications industry and obtain a PhD one day. He is a man with a vision and lives by a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe”.  His role is building telecommunications infrastructures based on fibre technology for the South African Research and Education community.

Nqabomzi Mashologu
Nqabomzi is the Portfolio Project Administrator at the SANReN CA. Her main role is to give administration support to SANReN team. She is currently pursuing her studies and empowering herself with short courses that will help her grow in her role. She loves challenging herself.

Thabo Koeshe
Thabo is a project manager at the SANReN CA. He graduated with a Master of Information Systems from Central Queensland University in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia in 2002. He is responsible for management of many SA NREN projects, both at metro and long haul levels. Thabo has thorough experience running projects at both public and private entities.

Thokozani Khwela
Thokozani is currently a senior project manager at the SANReN CA responsible for the rollout of the SANReN Network and services projects. He has extensive experience in both the public and private sector as a project manager. His other activities are in support of infrastructure procurement. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Electronics degree, an MBA degree and an MSc. in Strategic Focus degree.

Siju Mammen
Siju is currently the Network Engineering manager at the SANReN CA at the CSIR. He has been employed full time since January 2006 and has worked in a variety of fields at several companies prior to joining the CSIR. Specifically, he was a Business Solution’s Analyst at Nedbank, where he developed custom banking solutions for business clients; a Consultant at Bytes System Integration, where he assisted the consulting team to develop Information and Communications Technology (ICT) roadmaps for various clients; and finally as a control system engineer at ArcelorMittal where he planned, coordinated and implemented the deployment of systems at various plants in the Newcastle Steelworks. Currently, he is coordinating the rollout of the South African Identity Federation and developing the stakeholder engagement plan for the science community in the SANReN team. He holds a Bachelors and an Honours degree in Computer Engineering and a Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering.

Roderick Mooi
Roderick is an experienced software engineer who became part of the SANReN CA in 2012. His projects are focused on advanced (value-added) services development and include perfSONAR and the SA NREN CSIRT. Roderick has an M. Tech. in Information technology. He also works ad-hoc on tools to improve team productivity as well as participating in network design and tender evaluation activities. You can find more about him here.

Dr Renier van Heerden
Dr Renier van Heerden is a senior researcher at Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, South Africa in the field of Cyber Security and currently Services Development and Incubation manager (acting) at the SANReN CA.  The following domains are his interest: password security, network attack and network ontologies. Prior to joining the CSIR he worked as a software engineer in advanced optics applications for South African based Denel Optronics and as a Lecturer at the University of Pretoria. Renier obtained a degree in Electronic Engineering, a Masters in Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria and PhD at Rhodes University. Renier also obtained protea colours in  Mindsport, Wargaming and was the national champion 2010 and 2011 for the Ancients discipline. Currently he is an active participant in the Flames of War wargaming community.

Kasandra Pillay
Kasandra is a senior engineer at SANReN. She has a BSc Electronics Engineering degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Honours and Masters in Engineering (Technology Management) degrees from the University of Pretoria. She was appointed to the SANReN Engineering team in March 2014 after working as a project engineer in the control engineering department at Sasol, Secunda. She is supporting the Mconf web conferencing service at the SA NREN and assisting with various other SANReN CA initiatives in the Network engineering and Service Development and Incubation groups. She is enjoys new challenges, traveling, and taking her dog, Chino, for walks.

Ntuthuko Sambo
Ntuthkos’s career started off in an Intership programme at the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in 2006. He then joined the CSIR as an Intern in 2007, and was made permanent in 2008 . He is currently an engineer in the SANReN CA, primarily responsible for equipment planning and site rollouts, a liaison between the SANReN and Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET) technical teams and involved in other activities in support of the SANReN network. He holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science from the University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN). Previously, he worked within the CSIR Meraka Institute’s Wireless Africa programme where he was involved in wireless mesh networking development using open source packages such as Open-WRT and DD-WRT.

Sakhi Hadebe
Sakhi has been an Engineer at the South African National Research Network (SANReN) Competency Area at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) since 1 January 2013. He holds a Bachelor and Honors degree in Computer Science, both obtained from the University of Zululand. He started his career as an educator, teaching Mathematics and Computer Applications Technology from 2004 to 2005. Thereafter he worked for FNB as a Call Centre Specialist till 2007. In 2008, he completed a one-year Infrastructure Management Services (IMS) training programme in India. While in India, he was also certified as a Microsoft Certified systems Engineer (MCSE 2003) and certified on ITIL v2. He thereafter worked for SAAB Grintek Technologies as a support engineer from 2009 to 2011.

Uli Horn
Uli is currently member of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Signal and Data Transport Consortium (SaDT), collaborating in the Signal and Timing work package. In addition, he is involved with cloud computing infrastructure and applications. He has wide experience in simulation and modelling from diverse disciplines and various industries such as defence, electrical supply companies, mining, chemical process control to bioprocess and bioinformatics, as well as microprocessor and analog electronic design. He has a BSc Eng (Elec) degree in electronics from the Univeristy of Cape Town (UCT) and a Diploma in Datametrics in Computing from the Univeristy of South Africa (UNISA).

Dr Bruce Becker
Bruce joined the CSIR Meraka Institute in 2008, as a Senior Researcher responsible for the creation of the South African National Grid. He has a background in Ultrarelativistic Heavy Ion Physics, with a Ph.D. from the University of Cape Town. His work on the ALICE Experiment at CERN led him through two postdocs in France (Commissariat a’ l’Energie Atomique, Paris) and Italy (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Cagliari), where he was responsible for the development of real-time triggering algorithms for components of the detector and WLCG site operations. During this time, he organised the first meetings with interested institutes in South Africa to develop the South African National Grid, a federation of distributed computing centres for e-Science. In 2011, this activity was merged with SANREN and he continues to coordinate the development and deployment of services in the wider context of the Africa-Arabia Regional Operations Centre. He has been heavily involved in developing scientific and technical collaborations in the Africa region, as well as between African institutes and European counterparts, through FP7 projects (EPKIH, CHAIN/CHAIN-REDS, ei4Africa). He is usually happy with a cup of coffee and something to rant about. You can find more about him here.

John Hay
John is a Networking expert and well known authority on Internet Protocols. He has experience with all kinds of networking services, routing, firewalls, wireless networks, Network Time Protocol (NTP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and network diagnostics and troubleshooting. He is passionate about monitoring networks; in fact, he is passionate about anything that can be monitored! John is a FreeBSD developer and has commit privileges and is authorised to do work on the FreeBSD source tree. He is also responsible for the South African domain for FreeBSD. He is also passionate about time and maintains the public stratum 1 ntp servers for South Africa ( and His interests extend to energy efficiency, monitoring of electricity usage, electronics, and embedded processors for control and monitoring. His daily work commute is done in a green Puma electric car. John’s enthusiasm for technology and inspiring kids in science and technology has spilled over into his spare time. He is involved with the FIRST programs since 2007, i.e. First Lego League (FLL) and First Tech Challenge (FTC). He has coached teams and been a referee. Mostly recently, he has been Head referee at the FIRST Open African championship 2015. His commitment is such that he has converted the lounge at his home into a FTC field! In his spare time he enjoys camping, travelling, 4x4ing and wildlife with family and friends.

Johann Hugo
Johann is a Networking specialist. He has experience with all kinds of networking services, routing, firewalls, Voip, IPv6 networking, FreeBSD unix systems, radius servers, outdoor wireless mesh networks, telecommunication networks, embedded hardware etc. He was involved with the roll-out of the first SANReN links and since 2010 he is responsible for maintaining the National Eduroam servers. ( He has helped several South African Universities to connect to Eduroam and assists them with debugging on a regular basis. In his spare time he maintains a community wireless mesh network, plays with electronics and embedded processors, helps with the Voortrekkers, does some woodworking, adventures off to remote locations in the bush with his family and friends in his Land Rover Defender and the rest of the time he likes spending at home with is wife and four kids.

Mlungisi Majola
Mlungisi joined the CSIR Meraka Institute in September 2015 as a senior project manager at the SANReN CA responsible for the rollout of the SANReN Network and services projects. He has extensive experience in the telecommunication sector as a project manager and his experience includes exposure to energy, transportation and the defence industries. His passion is to contribute significantly in building Broadband infrastructure that supports the creation of a knowledge-based economy using the best project management tools and techniques available. He is PMP certified by PMI and holds an MBA degree, B-Tech degree and diploma in electrical engineering.

Lorna Seloane
Lorna Seloane is currently a Group Assistant at the SANReN CA. She is a highly organized and result-oriented GA with over 6 years’ experience, providing thorough and skillful administrative and event coordination support to the team.  Lorna is a dedicated and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills and able to grow positive relationships with colleagues and stakeholders at all organizational levels. She is currently pursuing her studies and empowering herself with short coursers that will help her grow in her role.

Schalk Peach
Schalk Peach joined the SANReN CA on 1 November 2016. He is a researcher with the SANReN CSIRT team specialising in cyber ranges, computer network experiments, and network device testing. He is currently studying towards his Master’s degree in Computer Science, focusing on network emulation using Linux container technologies.

Elicia Heera
Elicia Heera is a senior engineer at the SANReN CA. She was appointed to the SANReN Engineering team in August 2017 after working as a Senior Telecommunications Engineer within the Defence, Space, Safety and Security Group consulting to various government departments. She is assisting with various SANReN CA initiatives in the Network Engineering and Service Development and Incubation (SDI) groups. Elicia obtained a BSc Electrical Engineering and a MSc in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Telecommunications from the University of Witwatersrand. She is further certified as a Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) in routing and switching, MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP) and Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Certified SDN Associate (OCSA).

David Hill
David Hill is a principal engineer at SANReN who. He was appointed to the SANReN Network Engineering team in August 2017 after working as a Principal Telecommunications Engineer within the Defence, Peace, Safety and Security Group consulting to various departments within the Safety and Security cluster. He is assisting with various SANReN initiatives in the Network engineering and Service Development and Incubation groups, including network architecture and design, product and service development and network management Operational and Business Support Systems (OSS/BSS). David is certified as a TMForum Business Development Manager, MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP), LEADing Practice Enterprise Architect and Certified Systems Engineer.