In South Africa
- Chief editor
Lee Mwiti (@LMAfrican) is chief editor of Africa Check, having joined on 1 September 2016 as deputy editor. He has experience of reporting Africa’s geopolitical economy, having previously been deputy editor at the pan-African focused Mail and Guardian Africa and a senior Africa-focused writer at the Nation Media Group – east and central Africa’s largest media house. Lee holds a masters degree in international studies from the University of Nairobi, a bachelor’s in biomedical sciences and a certificate qualification in journalism. He is a recovering pedant – and a failed polymath.
- Deputy chief editor
Kate Wilkinson (@kateomega) joined Africa Check as a researcher in July 2013. Her main research areas include education, immigration, crime and viral social media hoaxes. In 2018, she discovered an error in the South African police service’s annual crime statistics, which led to an official revision. She leads the organisation’s media work, with regular appearance on local and international television and radio. Her work also involves training African journalists on verification and research techniques. In 2017, she developed a programme which taught school children how to decipher fact from fiction on social media. The Mail and Guardian named her one of its Top 200 Young South Africans in 2013.
Cayley Clifford (@cayleyclifford) holds an Honours Degree in International Relations from the University of KwaZulu Natal and a first class Masters Degree in International Relations from the University of Witwatersrand. Before joining Africa Check as a researcher in November 2018, Cayley worked as a research scholar at the South African Institute of International Affairs. Her research interests include African governance, foreign policy and international criminal justice.
Keegan Leech (@KKLeechie) graduated from Makhanda’s Rhodes University in 2019, with a Bachelor of Science degree in English literature, applied mathematics, and physics and electronics. He started working as an Africa Check researcher in February of 2020. Although his degree focused heavily on science and physics, he has a passion for all kinds of research and discovery, and spends much of his free time reading and learning new things. He is a nerd, dog person, and a lover of poetry. His research interests include popular science and the environment.
Naledi Mashishi joined Africa Check in February 2020 as a researcher. In 2017 she obtained a bursary from Thomson Reuters for her honors studies and spent 2019 working for Reuters as an editorial intern. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies, and Politics and International Relations from Rhodes University. In her spare time she enjoys reading African literature and creative writing.
- Head copy editor and Facebook programme coordinator
Mary Alexander (@SouthAfricaGateway) joined Africa Check in May 2018, tasked with making our fact-checks clear and readable for everyone. She also manages our Facebook fact-checking programme. Mary has 30 years of experience in publishing, 16 of them online. She’s worked in newspaper, magazine, educational, book and online publishing in overlapping roles: writer, illustrator, researcher, editor, webmaster, designer and project manager. Her site South Africa Gateway tells the stories of South Africa and the rest of Africa in essays, data, graphics and animation.
- Copy editor
Ester Levinrad (@esterlevinrad), a freelance editor and editorial project manager, joined Africa Check in June 2019 as a copy editor. She started her career as a magazine journalist, dipped briefly back into academia, and has for the past decade worked predominantly in the book trade, as an editor at Kwela Books, a publisher at Jacana Media, and most recently as a publisher at Jonathan Ball Publishers. Ester has edited and published books across a variety of genres, from poetry and memoir to cookbooks and financial self-help. She holds degrees from the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University.
- Editorial assistant
Taryn Willows (@taryn_w97) holds a bachelors degree majoring in English and Media Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand. She joined Africa Check in April 2019 as a research intern and has been editorial assistant since November 2019. Her interests include researching, fact-checking and avid reading. In addition to this, she possesses a great fascination with music and art: including the ability to play several instruments, as well as draw. She is also a member of the Golden Key Honour Society, where she had been awarded the Professor Jeff Johnston Study Abroad Scholarship.
- Kenya editor
Alphonce Shiundu (@Shiundu) joined Africa Check in January 2017 as Kenya editor. He was previously parliamentary editor of Standard Group Plc. Before then, he was a journalist at the Nation Media Group. He has experience and expertise in new media training, newsroom convergence and publishing technologies. He holds a masters degree in media and development from the University of Westminster, London; a bachelors in information sciences from Moi University in Kenya. He’s a Chevening scholar; an alumnus of the School of Authentic Journalism (Mexico), the Professional Fellows Exchange Programme (Washington DC), and the Young African Leaders Initiative (Nairobi). He believes in holding power to account. In his free time, he climbs mountains.
- Kenya deputy editor
Vincent Ng’ethe (@vn6) joined Africa Check as Kenya deputy editor in December 2017. He was an Online Sub Editor at the Nation Media Group, with responsibility for the Dot9 Blog and also the sub editor for Newsplex, the Daily Nation’s data journalism desk. In addition to data and fact checking, he has written stories with a focus on urban planning and the natural environment. Ng’ethe graduated in 2006 with an honours degree in geography and environmental science from Trent University in Canada. He also has certificates in advanced sub-editing and data journalism from Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications.
Dancan Nanyanga Bwire (@Dancan_Bwire) is a creative writer, passionate blogger and a researcher at Africa Check since August 2019, and research intern since February 2019 before that. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication from the Maasai Mara University in Kenya. Dancan has previously had internships at the Kenya News Agency, Consolata Media Centre and has written on security, entertainment and human-wildlife conflict. Prior to joining Africa Check, he worked with The Standard Group Plc as a graduate trainee with sub-editing roles on the Standard digital platform. He tweets @Nairobi_Weekly and blogs at www.nairobiweekly.com
Grace Wairimu Gichuhi is a storyteller, writer who always aims at informing the misinformed and tell stories with accuracy and fairness. She holds a bachelor degree in linguistics, media and communications from Moi University, Kenya. Prior to joining Africa Check in June 2019 as research intern and researcher since December 2019, she was a graduate trainee at Standard Media Group Plc where she worked as a sub-editor for the standard digital platforms. In between posts, she has also worked as an editor and proofreader for Techish (an online platform that provides the public with insightful tech opinion pieces and gives honest technological gadget reviews). Grace has also previously worked as a volunteer News anchor at Kenya Television Service (a school-based T.V. station).
- Nigeria editor
David Ajikobi (@Pantaphobious) joined Africa Check as Nigeria editor in November 2016. He was previously an Editor/Producer at Channels Television with about a decade of experience across different media platforms. He was one of the pioneer News Editors/Producers at 99.3 Nigeria Info, 96.9 Cool FM and 95.1 Wazobia FM in Lagos. Earlier in his career, he was Metro Editor at NEXT Newspaper (234next.com) published by African-born Pulitzer Prize winner, Dele Olojede. David has a bachelor’s degree in zoology at the University of Lagos and a masters degree in media and communications with distinctions, from the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.
- Nigeria deputy editor/health researcher
Motunrayo Joel (@motunjoel2) joined Africa Check as Nigeria deputy editor/health researcher in February 2018. She has about eight years of experience in journalism covering health, education and development issues at the Punch newspapers. She studied Journalism at the Midrand Graduate Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa, where she graduated with distinctions. She won the Nigeria Academy of Science Award in 2016 and was named runner-up at the 2015 edition of the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism award. She was among the 12 journalists from eight countries in Africa and South Asia shortlisted for the 2015 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Foreign Press Award and the Kurt Schork Memorial Awards. Motunrayo also won a prize for investigative reporting at the 2016 Diamond Awards for Media Excellence.
- Researcher & community manager
Allwell Okpi (@allwellokpi) joined Africa Check as researcher and community manager in January 2018. As a trained journalist, his newsroom experience spans eight years: reporting and editing at NEXT Newspaper and PUNCH Newspaper. Allwell has also led content development for leading strategic communications consulting firms in West Africa – C&F Porter Novelli and Chain Reactions Nigeria (an Edelman affiliate) – and in those roles, helped develop and deploy strategies for consumer marketing, advocacy campaigns, media relations and crisis communication. He has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Federal University of Technology Minna and certificates in copy writing and digital marketing.
- Hausa Facebook research assistant & translator
Fatima Abubakar (@batulu13) joined Africa Check in August 2019. She has worked as a writer for Leadership Newspaper (Hausa) and Adon Gari Hausa Magazine, both in Abuja. Fatima has translated an English novel into Hausa, “Love Complicated”, and is also the author of “Lale Ramadan”, a Hausa cookbook as well as “Maduarin mu Daya”, a Hausa family biography. Fatima is a presenter for Bond FM 92.9, Radio Nigeria, where she acts as a producer, news translator and newscaster. She has a double honours bachelor degree in mass communications and Hausa from Bayero University, Kano.
- Editorial Project Coordinator
Catherine Olorunfemi (@kathyofem) joined Africa Check as editorial project coordinator in June 2020. She was previously a content developer at CloudWare Technologies, where she built and managed websites with WordPress, organised and handled training, created and edited short videos, as well as managed social media platforms. Before that Catherine served as a news reporter and producer at Diamond FM, University of Ibadan as well as at the Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State. During her undergraduate days, Catherine was assistant editor for The Interpreter, a departmental magazine for the department of Mass Communication. Also, she was one of the editors of Oasis News Bulletin. Catherine has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication from Adekunle Ajasin, University Akungba Akoko Ondo State.
Samba Dialimpa Badji (@dialimpa), has been the editor of our French-language website since January 2019. He was previously deputy editor of the same office since joining the organisation in July 2016. Samba studied journalism at the Centre d’Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) in Dakar. He holds a masters degree in Defense, Security and Peace from Centres des Hautes études de défense et de sécurité de Dakar and the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the University of Dakar. Before joining Africa Check, he was deputy editor of the BBC French-language service in Dakar for more than four years, and before that editor of independent Senegalese radio station Océan FM. He previously worked for other media, including the radio station Walfadjri, the daily newspaper Le Matin and Radio France Internationale.
- Deputy editor
Mame Gor Ngom (@gor_ngom) started as deputy editor at Africa Check’s francophone office in March 2019. Mame Gor is a Senegalese journalist and an alumnus of Centre d’Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information at University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar. Previously, he was editor at Senegalese newspapers Le Matin and recently La Tribune, for seven years. In addition, he was the publishing director for the daily newspaper La Cloche. Mame Gor has degrees in general university studies and political sciences from Gaston Berger University of Saint Louis as well as a degree in letters.
- Health researcher
Diomma Dramé (@DrameDiomma) joined Africa Check’s francophone office in April 2019 as a health researcher. She was previously a journalist at Ouestaf News since April 2017. She also worked for the monthly Intelligence magazine and was head of the society desk of the daily 24 heures. For five years, she was a reporter for the daily Wal-fadrji. Diomma holds a diploma in journalism from Institut supérieur d’entrepreneurship et de gestion.
- Senior researcher & digital communications coordinator
Hyppolite Valdez Onanina (@ValdezOnanina) has held this position since March 2020. He was previously a researcher and community manager from July 2017 to February 2020. Valdez started his experience with Africa Check in April 2016 as a permanent contributor. He was reporter for the senegalese news agency and for Alerte Info, and was an intern at the United Nations Information Center in Dakar. Valdez is a journalist, graduate of the Centre africain de formation et de perfectionnement des journalistes in Cotonou. He holds a master degree in Media and Communication from ETICCA Dakar and an MBA in Political Communication and Influence Strategies from Madiba Leadership Institute in Dakar. Valdez is very interested in access to public information.
Dieynaba Thiombane (@Diebanaba) joined Africa Check in July 2019. Her work is mainly focused on fact checking on Facebook. Dieynaba holds bachelors degree in Journalism and Communication from Centre d’Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) in Dakar. She studied Modern Literature at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and was a reporter-trainee for the daily Le Soleil. She was also editor for Senagriculture, specialising in agriculture, livestock and agribusiness.
- Editorial assistant & junior researcher
Ass Momar Lô (@assmomar) joined Africa Check in October 2018 as an editorial assistant and part-time contributor. Presently, he is the editorial assistant and junior researcher. Ass Momar holds a master degree in English studies from University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar as well as a bachelors degree in Journalism and Communication from Centre d’Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) in Dakar. Before joining Africa Check, he was an intern at West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR). In 2019, he obtained a special diploma in Leadership in Public Management at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as part of the YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) program.
- Content creator
Chrisse Akele (@chrissezoe) joined Africa Check in May 2020 as a content creator intern for social media. She previously completed an internship as community manager for the WebTV of the GinaZao group, which promotes entrepreneurship in Africa. Chrisse holds a bachelor in business communication from ETICCA Dakar. She is currently studying for an MBA in digital marketing and brand content at Institut supérieur de Management de Dakar. Chrisse has a particular interest in music and reading.
- Executive director
Noko Makgato (@nokolosh) took over as Africa Check’s executive director on 1 June 2019. He joined Africa Check on 1 September 2016 as deputy director. With over two decades of experience in media, Noko has a deep understanding of the industry coupled with expertise in news gathering and newsroom management, content management and distribution. In various senior roles, Noko has led several editorial and creative teams successfully in print and digital. He recently served as assistant editor responsible for news at Business Day/Financial Mail. In his previous role as managing director of digital agency Big Media, Noko was responsible for day-to-day operations and for shaping and implementing digital communications strategies for a wide range of clients. Noko holds an MBA degree and a national diploma in journalism.
- Deputy director
Retha Langa (@HeritageAffair) joined Africa Check in August 2019. She brings over a decade of experience across various sectors including media, development and entrepreneurship. Retha is driven by a desire to do meaningful work that matters. She started her career as a journalist and later moved into the non-profit space. In her previous role as head of research and strategy at marketing startup Langa Eleven, she played a pivotal role in building relationships with clients and shaping the overall company strategy to ensure sustainable growth. She is also the co-founder of the R-Ladies chapter in Johannesburg which forms part of the global R-Ladies movement aiming to promote gender diversity in the tech sector. She holds a PhD in heritage and is studying towards a masters degree in e-Science.
- TRi Facts general manager
Aniesha Bulbulia (@anieshabulbulia) previously worked at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) as its Business Development Manager, from there she later moved to head the IAJ’s Communications Unit where she collaborated, built and made the department relevant to the needs of modern day journalists and communicators. Her business acumen, organisational skills and interpersonal relationship with clients, delegates and facilitators make her an asset to the organisation. Aniesha is also a facilitator/trainer and a registered assessor with MICT-Seta.
- TRi Facts head of education & training
Carina van Wyk joined Africa Check in May 2019. Her background is mostly in journalism (print, broadcast and online) but prior to her current position she was head of training at Flow Communications, an integrated communications company in Johannesburg. Carina’s knowledge of the media, experience in managing and conducting training for a variety of South African and international clients in both the public and private sector, and her interest in fact-checking make her perfectly suited for this role. She is currently studying towards a masters degree in journalism and media studies.
- Head of partnerships & engagement
An-Li Theron joined Africa Check in June 2020. She has close to two decades experience in stakeholder engagement and organisational communication. An-Li previously headed the Strategic Communications Unit at the University of Johannesburg and subsequently found her niche in the Development and Fundraising Office at the university. An-Li is a firm believer that civil society has a vital role to play in developing democracy. She aligns herself to meaningful work with a societal impact, and she is passionate about assisting organisations in their sustainability by combining her business development, and storytelling skills to solicit funding and create mutually beneficial collaborations. She holds a BA Honours degree in Integrated Organisational Communication.
- Head of digital communication
Laura Kapelari (@laurakapelari) joined Africa Check in September 2016. She was previously marketing and fundraising coordinator at SA Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind. Before this, Laura interned at Médecins Sans Frontières, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and SANGONeT, adding to her information technology and public information skillset. She holds first-class masters degrees in both International Relations and German Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand and has a diploma in Digital Marketing from the University of Cape Town.
- Impact manager
Nicola Theunissen (@nicola_pixel) joined Africa Check in November 2017 as impact manager. Previously, she worked as an independent communication specialist in Monitoring & Evaluation for a Ghanaian-based NGO promoting better M&E practices in Africa, the South African Monitoring & Evaluation Association (SAMEA) and Khulisa Management Services. She continues to consult in the M&E field. Nicola started her career as a trade journalist in natural resources, infrastructure and urban planning. She holds a masters’ degree in communication studies and an honours degree in community and health psychology.
- Impact coordinator
Thipe Maelane joined Africa Check in March 2020. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the Pearson Institute of Higher Education and an honours degree with the University of the Witwatersrand. Thipe has always had a passion for writing, and is a big reader with an interest in politics. He has experience in the broadcast, online and public relations sectors as well as a keen eye for news. Thipe believes that the key to a progressive democratic society is access to accurate information. His research interests include the impact of fact-checking around African elections.
- Info Finder editor/senior researcher
Liesl Pretorius (@lieslpret) is a digitally savvy journalist and editor who joined Africa Check in July 2019. Her interests include misinformation, civic technology and automation. As an impactAFRICA grantee, Liesl launched Track My Mayor, a promise tracker aimed at keeping local politicians accountable. She is a former editor of the Media24 digital news brands Netwerk24.com and CityPress.co.za. The Media recognised Liesl as one of the top 40 South African media people under 40. She holds an M.Phil. (Journalism) from the University of Stellenbosch.
- Marketing assistant
Khumo Motaung (@MowMotaung) joined Africa Check in February 2018 as editorial and marketing assistant. Khumo is a third year LLB law student at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and holds a certificate in advanced radio from the Wits Radio Academy. She ventured into radio two years ago, producing as well as presenting content for a law-focused talk show on UNISA Radio. She also completed a radio programming internship with Jacaranda FM and VOW FM in 2017, where she gained experience in activations, project management and marketing.
Anton Harber (@AntonHarber), the chair of our board, is the Caxton Adjunct Professor of Journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He was a founding editor of the Weekly Mail (now the Mail & Guardian), Editor-in-Chief of eNCA and board member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. He wrote Diepsloot (Jonathan Ball, 2011), winner of the Recht Malan Prize, and co-edited the first two editions of The A–Z of South African Politics (Penguin, 1994/5) and Southern African Muckrakers: 300 Years of Investigative Reporting that Shaped the Region (Jacana, 2018)
Cami Mbulawa, CA, our board treasurer, serves as an Executive within RisCura’s team that provides unlisted investment services for clients across all alternative asset classes such as private equity, infrastructure and private debt. She completed her articles at KPMG and worked for various companies in oil and gas, financial services and agri-finance. Cami’s passion for business and corporate governance led her to being appointed independent non-executive director in the asset management, printing, enterprise development, state-owned entity and tertiary education space.
Dapo Olorunyomi (@DapsyOly) is the publisher of Premium Times, Nigeria’s leading investigative and online news platform, and has won many journalism awards over 35 years in Nigeria, across Africa, and around the world. A former chief of staff at the anti-corruption Economic and Financial Crimes Commission he in 2004 founded the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Reporting and, after launching Premium Times he in February 2018 helped found Dubawa.org, a fact-checking and verification platform to help combat the spread of fake news and misinformation in Nigeria. His academic career includes studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, in Nigeria, the American University in Washington DC and the University of Oxford in the UK.
Hamadou Tidiane Sy (@tidianeouestaf) is a seasoned Senegalese journalist, and champion of independent, ethical and high-quality journalism. After working early in his career for major international media including Channel Africa, AFP and the BBC, he founded the award-winning Ouestaf News. For the past decade, he has dedicated time to training journalists, founding in 2011 a Journalism, Communication & Digital Media School in Dakar (ejicom.com). With Ouestaf News, he has taken part in major global investigative projects: Swissleaks, Fatal extractions, Panama Papers (with ICIJ). Through Ejicom’s partnership with Africa Check, Tidiane has been instrumental in the introduction and promotion of fact checking in francophone Africa.
Karien Bezuidenhout (@karienbez) is an advocate for openness and supporter of social entrepreneurs. As a director of the Shuttleworth Foundation, her core interest lies in social and policy innovation through practical interventions and sustainable social enterprises. Through her experience as board member to social change organisations and social enterprises across the world, she strives to make connections that accelerate learning. Karien studied business and economics at the business schools of the University of Stellenbosch and University of Cape Town.
Mandla Mchunu is the Chairman of the Africore Group, and a respected figure in South Africa’s political, legal, community and business circles. He lectured at the universities of the North and UND (UKZN); and was a guest professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, USA. As the Director for the Center for Socio-Legal Studies at UND he co-pioneered the Street Law Programme in South Africa. In 1994 he joined the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and in 1997 he served as the IEC’s Chief Electoral Officer. He has served in several leadership positions in the public and private sectors, e.g. as board member for multinationals such as Heineken and SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd. He has led democracy support missions in the continent and served as an electoral observer for the UN, Commonwealth etc.
Paula Fray (@paulafray) is the managing director of the pan-African media training organisation frayintermedia which she founded in 2005. A former regional director for Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa, Fray was editor of the Saturday Star in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1999 to 2003. She serves on the boards of Media Monitoring Africa and IRIN news and on the panel of adjudicators of the Press Council of South Africa. In 2015, Print and Digital Media South Africa honoured her as a Print and Digital Media Fellow in recognition of her contribution to the industry.
Pamella Makotsi Sittoni (@PamSittoni) is Executive Editor, Daily Nation, at the Nation Media Group in Kenya. Ms Sittoni has held several leadership positions, including serving as Managing Editor of The EastAfrican (2012 – 2018) and the Standard (2005 – 2006). She began her career at the Nation Media Group as a reporter in 1993, moving in 2003 to the Standard Group as Deputy Managing Editor. From 2006 to 2012, she worked as a Communications Specialist at UNICEF Kenya. In 2017, Ms Sittoni was named by the World Association of Newspapers as the Laureate of the Women in News Editorial Leadership Award for Sub-Saharan Africa. She is a Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, through the African Leadership Initiative. She holds a BA and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Communication from the University of Nairobi, and a Masters in Communication from the University of Leicester.
Judie Kaberia is chair of the Africa Check Foundation board in Kenya, a subsidiary of Africa Check Trust. An award-winning multimedia journalist and media trainer of over 16 years of experience, she is a 2015 fellow of the Edward R. Murrow Programme for Journalists (Washington DC) and a mentor with the US Embassy programme for Female Journalists. She has also worked closely in media programmes with the Graduate School of Media and Communications at the Aga Khan University in Nairobi, UNDP and Heinrich Böll Stiftung. She has previously been East Africa coordinator for Germany’s Wayamo Foundation and a journalist and associate editor at Kenya’s Capital Group Limited.