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Meet our team


Alphonce Shiundu

Kenya editor

Alphonce 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.

Dancan Nanyanga Bwire


Dancan Nanyanga Bwire is a creative writer and an enthusiast of international affairs. He joined Africa Check as a research intern in February 2019 and has been working as a researcher at Africa Check since August 2019. He holds a master of arts degree in international studies from the University of Nairobi and a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication from 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.

Grace Wairimu Gichuhi


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).


Kenya deputy editor

Makinia Juma currently holds the position of Kenya deputy editor for Africa Check, having initially joined the organisation as a senior researcher in 2021. Specialising in the mis/disinformation landscape, Makinia boasts experience in empowering journalists, students, and leaders in different fields through tailored training programs, addressing the nuanced challenges of information disorder specific to Kenya. Her portfolio includes the production of numerous reports covering a spectrum of topics within the realm of fact-checking. Prior to her current role, Makinia held positions as a verification researcher and senior fact-checker at PesaCheck. Makinia finds joy in expressing her passion for dance, particularly in Kizomba and Konpa styles.


Senior researcher

Tess Wandia is a researcher, project coordinator, an enthusiast of all things internet and African stories. Keen on discovering new and existing uses of technology, she seeks to explore how communities in their diversity, interact with and are impacted by technology. Tess has worked with various organisations: iHub Nairobi, Freedom House, Netalitica and networks such as DIODE and GeDIA in various research capacities, where she contributed and expanded her expertise in investigating various internet governance and digital rights themes. In 2017 she was recognised as one of the next generation of women in internet governance in Africa, for her work with marginalised groups such as women and children, that explored their experiences online and how they can be safer online.


David Ajikobi

Nigeria editor

David Ajikobi 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 ( 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 joined Africa Check as Nigeria deputy editor/health researcher in February 2018. She has a deep understanding of Nigeria's health sector. Prior to joining Africa Check, she worked at Punch Newspaper where she won awards including the Nigeria Academy of Science award. She has certificates in early childhood education and disability reporting. She holds a masters degree in international human resource management from Rome Business School, and a bachelor of arts in journalism from Midrand Graduate Institute (now called Eduvos), Johannesburg.

Allwell Okpi

Researcher & community manager

Allwell Okpi 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 masters degree in marketing and communication from Rome Business School; a bachelors degree in geology from the Federal University of Technology Minna; and certificates in digital journalism from Reuters; public relations from the Metropolitan School of Business and Management, UK; persuasive writing and public speaking from Harvard University, and leadership from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana.   


Junior researcher

Catherine Adeniyi became a junior researcher at Africa Check in June 2022. Previously, she was the editorial project coordinator at Africa Check from June 2020 to May 2022. Prior to joining Africa Check, Catherine was 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 was 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. She has a bachelors degree in mass communication from Adekunle Ajasin, University Akungba Akoko Ondo State.



Muktar Balogun, a graduate of Federal University Oye-Ekiti, joined Africa Check as an editorial intern at the Nigeria office in June 2023. He previously served as an intern fact-checker at DUBAWA while he was a student. Muktar also had a stint at The Nation as an intern at the newspaper's online department. Additionally, he held the position of editor for the Union of Campus Journalists at his university. He was a runner-up for the best fact-check at the Centre for Journalism, Innovation, and Development (CJID) campus journalism awards.


Editorial intern

Semilore Adelola is a serial volunteer and media enthusiast interested in media literacy. She was a member of the Nigeria Fact Checkers Coalition (NFC) during the 2023 Lagos governorship election, where she fact checked election-related information. Afterwards, Semilore became a volunteer at RoundCheck Nigeria to improve her knowledge on information verification. She also recently interned at Shola Animashaun Photography Academy to improve on her photography, videography and social media skills.



Editorial intern

Amobi Denzel Ifeanyichukwu is a graduate of Babcock university, with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication. While awaiting his National Youth Service posting, Denzel worked for House of Ajebo, where he did audio and video editing, photography, content creation for marketing of different brands on social media, including Landmark, Minimie Chinchin, Malta Guinness, and Bella Belina wine. Denzel also participated in the planning and anchoring of events on how to identify niches, and how to monetise YouTube channels. 


South Africa

Lee Mwiti

Chief editor

Lee Mwiti 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

Cayley Clifford joined Africa Check as Deputy Chief Editor in May 2022, having previously occupied a research role within the organisation since 2018. She has experience fact-checking important claims around migration, crime and health in South Africa, and also enjoys investigating social media scams. Prior to joining Africa Check, Cayley worked at the South African Institute of International Affairs where she led the programme on Russia-Africa relations. She has a first-class master's degree in international relations from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Keegan Leech


Keegan Leech 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.



Kirsten Cosser joined Africa Check as a researcher in January 2022. She holds a master of arts in social and psychological research from the University of the Witwatersrand and a bachelor of social science honours in psychology from the University of Cape Town. She is perpetually curious about the human mind, and enjoys reading sci-fi, making art and exploring new places.



Philile Ntombela joined Africa Check as a researcher in December 2023. Her previous research and advocacy work centred on national and provincial budget policies. She has presented her findings on the government’s social spending to various Parliamentary Committees on several occasions, and has been involved in the research and drafting of submissions to two commissions of inquiry. Philile has bylines in major South African newspapers and has been interviewed on various radio and TV news stations. She holds a bachelor of arts in English, media, and culture studies from the University of KwaZulu Natal, an honours in political communication from the University of Cape Town, and a masters in political studies from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Taryn Khourie

Data & project researcher

Taryn Khourie holds a bachelor's degree majoring in English literature and media studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, and an honours degree in media studies from UNISA. She joined Africa Check in April 2019 as a research intern and has worked up to become Africa Check's data and project researcher in November 2022. Among her duties, Taryn manages the "What's Crap on WhatsApp?" project. She enjoys playing several instruments, painting and spending quality time with her family. She is also a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, where she was awarded the Professor Jeff Johnston Study Abroad Scholarship.


Copy editor

Winnie Theletsane joined Africa Check as a copy editor in May 2023. She has been in the media industry since 2014, starting off as an intern at the SABC. Winnie holds a bachelor of arts degree in language practice and an honours in communication from North-West University. She has experience in radio reporting, online content editing and sub-editing at a TV news channel. Outside the office, Winnie enjoys any series of the intellectual level of 'The Big Bang Theory' - and most importantly - strives to be a fun and strong mother to her beautiful, smart baby girl.

Ester Levinrad

Copy editor

Ester Levinrad joined Africa Check in June 2019. She has worked as a magazine journalist and as an editor and publisher in the book trade 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.



Chief editor

Valdez Onanina has held this position since September 1, 2022. He began his adventure at Africa Check in April 2016 as a permanent contributor before successively being appointed to the position of researcher and community manager from July 2017 to February 2020, senior researcher and digital communications coordinator until February 2021, and then deputy editor-in-chief until August 2022. Valdez has a degree in journalism, including working for the Senegalese News Agency and Alerte Info News Agency. He was also an intern at the United Nations Information Center in Dakar. He holds a masters degree in media and communication from ETICCA Dakar and an MBA in political communication and influence strategies from Madiba Leadership Institute in Dakar. He has a keen interest in access to public information.



Dieynaba Thiombane 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.

ass momar


Ass Momar Lô joined Africa Check in October 2018 as an editorial assistant and part-time contributor, and was promoted to the full researcher position in October 2021. He holds a master degree in English studies from University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar as well as a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Communication from the national journalism school Centre d’Études des Sciences et Techniques de l’Information (CESTI) in Dakar. Momar is fond of radio, which was his specialization in his early career in journalism. By the way, he has produced several radio investigations that have won national and international awards. 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.

diassy souleymane

Researcher and community manager

Souleymane Diassy joined Africa Check in February 2023 as a researcher and community manager. Winner of the 2019 African Fact-checking Awards in the category for journalism students, he was a freelancer for Africa Check's francophone office from May 2020 to January 2023. He holds a higher diploma in journalism and communication from the Centre d'Etudes des Sciences et Techniques de l'Information (CESTI) in Dakar. He was also an intern at the Senegalese news agency. Passionate about digital innovation, Souleymane is an active member of La Maison des Reporters, an independent Senegalese media specialised in investigative reporting. Souleymane has produced several award-winning reports at the national level. Before joining Africa Check, he was a community manager at the Senegalese Personal Data Protection Commission. 

Project Team

Noko Makgato

Executive director

Noko Makgato 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.

Lwandle Mthombeni

Finance manager


Lwandle Mthombeni has over eight years of experience within the non-profit organisation sector, and two years in local government as a project accountant with a demonstrated history of working in the farming and the built environment industry. He is skilled in cash flow forecasting, financial statement analysis, variance analysis and also a solution oriented person. 

Carina van Wyk

Head of education & training

Carina van Wyk joined Africa Check in May 2019. Having worked as a journalist, content developer, sub-editor and trainer, she has almost two decades of experience in the fields of media and communications. She holds a master's degree in journalism and media studies from Wits University, as part of which she completed a research project on the impact of independent fact-checking on journalism practice in South Africa. Carina has extensive knowledge of the media landscape and experience in managing and conducting training for journalists, fact-checkers and communicators across Africa.

Laura Kapelari

Head of digital communication

Laura Kapelari 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.

Hlalani Gumpo

Head of outreach and impact

Hlalani Gumpo joined Africa Check in September 2020. She holds a PhD in programme evaluation from the University of Cape Town and has worked as a monitoring, evaluation and learning specialist for over 11 years across different development initiatives in early childhood development, substance abuse treatment and enterprise development. Hlalani started her career as an assistant lecturer, and before joining Africa Check, she was the monitoring and evaluation manager for TechnoServe South Africa. Her interests are reading and appreciating nature.

Thipe Maelane

Senior outreach coordinator

Thipe Maelane joined Africa Check in March 2020 as the impact coordinator. He holds an honours degree in journalism and media studies from the University of the Witwatersrand. Thipe is a media and communications professional that has experience in television news broadcasting, online media, and public relations. He has a keen interest in politics and believes in work that has a positive impact on democracy.


Digital content specialist

Tshiamo Mononyane joined Africa Check as a digital communications intern in May 2021. She holds a bachelor of arts honours in media studies from the University of the Witwatersrand, which she completed in 2019. Prior to joining Africa Check, Tshiamo worked at VoW FM, a campus-based community radio station broadcasting from the University of the Witwatersrand, as a content producer for two shows. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and painting.

Misiwe Zulu

Finance officer

Misiwe Zulu holds a degree in BCom Accounting and Business Management, obtained from the University of Zululand in 2015. She has over three years of experience in finance, having previously worked as a trainee accountant at PM Management Services, then as a financial administrator at Royale Energy Group. Misiwe has a passion for numbers and solving financial problems. In her spare time, she listens to podcasts and music.


Project coordinator

Mmabatho Koena joined Africa Check as a project coordinator in February 2023. Mmabatho has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 10 years. She previously worked at Unjani Clinics NPC and SA Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind, where she gained experience in fundraising and project management, and she has a certification in Prince 2 Foundation. Before joining Africa Check Mmabatho was the Corporate Social Investment Coordinator for Abcon Group Foundation.


Outreach Assistant

Bokamoso Matsawane started at Africa Check as Outreach Intern in January 2023. She holds a diploma in journalism from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. While studying journalism, she worked as a research assistant in the media department, and she has worked as a broadcast journalist for Rainbow FM. The role of Outreach Assistant speaks to her enjoyment of connecting with people and locations. Bokamoso enjoys composing poetry as a means of self-expression, and you might find her with a book in hand more often than not.


Head of partnership and engagement.

Aretha Mashotana joined Africa Check in April 2023 as the head of partnership and engagement. She holds a degree in international relations. Aretha has been in the non-profit space for over a decade and is passionate about making a meaningful contribution to improving the state of Africa. She has spent her career working in large shops and small, in a variety of sectors (including education, social services and the arts). The campaigns Aretha has worked on have gone on to raise millions for the charities she had the honour of serving.
Sarah Lubala-Smit

Info Finder & media literacy editor

Sarah Lubala-Smit joined Africa Check in September 2020. She holds an Honours degree in English literature from Rhodes University and an MSc in gender, development and globalisation from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Sarah has worked in the education non-profit sector for over four years. She has a deep love of literature and writing, and has been published in the Mail & Guardian, the Daily Vox and others.

Khumo Motaung

Outreach content designer

Khumo Motaung joined Africa Check in February 2018 as editorial and marketing assistant. She is an LLB law student at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and holds a certificate in advanced radio from the Wits Radio Academy. She has experience in radio, 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.



Board Members

Anton Harber


Anton Harber, 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)

Hamadou Tidiane Sy

Hamadou Tidiane Sy 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 ( 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 

Karien Bezuidenhout 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.


Vusi Simphiwe Ndlovu is a corporate and commercial attorney with over 20 years of experience,  practicing at Vusi Ndlovu Attorneys in Johannesburg. He holds, among other qualifications, an LLM in company law and banking and finance law from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MPhil in development finance from the Stellenbosch University Business School. He has a passion for African development, social justice, democracy, social entrepreneurship, and access to education.


Ntombizethu Dhlodhlo

Ntombizethu Dhlodhlo is a qualified chartered accountant with a proven track record in financial reporting, auditing and dinance. She is a seasoned professional with a unique blend of financial expertise and technological acumen with a successful history of driving growth and operational efficiency across various industries. In this role, Ntombizethu with bring in a blend of financial proficiency and strategic vision to enable a competitive edge and precise decision-making as part of the board.


Musikilu Mojeed is the editor-in-chief and chief operating officer of Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper, which he co-founded. He is also co-founder of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), formerly The Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ). A winner of several awards, Mojeed shared the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for his ICIJ team’s groundbreaking reporting on the Panama Papers. Mojeed holds a bachelor's degree in communication arts from the University of Uyo, Nigeria, and a master’s degree in journalism from The City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.


Pamella Makotsi Sittoni

Pamella Makotsi Sittoni 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.

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