DAG’s staff team is made up of diverse, well-qualified and experienced individuals, volunteers and interns, committed to making a difference in the lives of the urban poor. Our staff come from various areas of Cape Town and across the world. Skills range from policy, research analysis towards housing, and socio-technical planning expertise.

Staff: Aditya Kumar

Aditya Kumar

Executive Director of DAG

Aditya Kumar is the Executive Director of DAG. Previously, Adi worked as the Deputy Director at Community Organisation Resource Centre. Over the last fifteen years, he has worked on post disaster, post conflict and informal settlement upgrading across the world. His practice focuses on inter-sectoral partnerships, strengthening community action and housing policy.

Staff: Kathy Aranes

Operations Director

Kathy is DAG’s Operations Director and has worked in the non-profit sector throughout her working career. She is passionate about making a difference in society both personally and professionally. Kathy’s been at DAG for a total of 19.5 years (with a 3-year broken service record working for a trade union). She cycles for fun and hopes to make it her favourite pastime.

Staff: Helen Rourke

Programme Manager

Helen Macgregor Rourke is a Programme Coordinator at the Development Action Group.  She has fifteen years of experience in the urban development sector, primarily with a focus on informal settlements, urban land markets, regeneration, low income housing, citizen mobilisation and partnership building and local government. She has extensive expertise in informal settlement upgrading, including the coordination of the NUSP socio technical assistance to the City of Cape Town for 32 informal settlements and pioneered the Hangberginsitu upgrade in 2008, which included settlement enumeration, profiling and participatory GIS. Formerly, Helen worked as a research coordinator for the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme, UCT. She coordinated a number of provincial post disaster assessments following two extreme weather events. Helen holds a partially completed Mphil in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management, UCT as well as Diploma in Urban Land Management and Informal Settlement Regularisation, Erasmus University Rotterdam. She enjoys spending time in the outdoors and camping.

Staff: Zama Mgwatyu

Programme Manager

Zama Mgwatyu is DAG’s Programme Coordinator responsible for DAG’s Housing & Human Settlements programme, He recently led a team that contributed to Dag delivering of 2371 houses in Khayelitsha, as well as associated research and advocacy projects in community driven housing. The delivery of the 2173 houses was done in collaboration with emerging local contractors, partnerships with private sector material suppliers and general support from the wider community.  Zama has extensive experience working with poor and marginalised communities in Cape Town as well as managing research programmes, for example DAG’s community research in temporary relocation areas. Zama’s responsibilities include holding overall budgetary control, liaising with external stakeholders including funders and Ministry of Housing. Zama has more than 10 years’ experience in coordinating and leading on research and advocacy projects related to human settlements and supporting facilitation of active community engagement in all activities. Zama holds an honors Degree in Public Administration from UWC holds a Diploma in Urban Land Management and Informal Settlement Regularisation from Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Staff: Helena Hendricks (Engelbrecht)


Helena Hendricks (Engelbrecht) is the Accountant at DAG, and has been in this position since September 2004. She has worked in the NGO/NPO sector since 1985: Cape Credit Union League (1985-1996); People’s Dialogue on Land & Shelter (1996 – 2014);  DAG 2004 – current, including an  8.5 month period at Shackdwellers International (April – November 2008). Helena has a diploma in Management Accounting and Finance and attended several financial courses/seminars/workshops during her 32 years in this industry. She enjoys DIY, handicrafts, gardening, working with youth, attending self-development courses, cycling and connecting with family and friends.

Staff: Akhona Siswana

Project Officer

Akhona Siswana is a Project Officer at DAG in the housing and human settlements programme. He joined DAG in August 2011 as a finance person for the Khayelitsha Housing Project and later did some facilitation work on the project. Akhona has contributed to various practical community development initiatives, such as stakeholder management, socio-technical support, community engagements and community learning platforms. Akhona had a stint as a teacher in the period 2005 – 2007 but the chalk and the chalkboard soon became too much for him. Akhona holds an Internal Auditing certificate from the Walter Sisulu University of Technology and Science and has attended the Essential Practice of Community Development course offered by CDRA and many other staff development courses/seminars offered by DAG. Akhona is a die-hard Kaizer Chiefs and Manchester United supporter, a secretary to Young Brothers Rugby Football Club affiliated to Western province Rugby Union and enjoys spending sometime in the sportsground watching rugby.

Staff: Willard Matiashe

Spatial Planner

Willard Matiashe is a trained Spatial Planner with a broad range of interest and abilities. He joined DAG in February 2012 and currently serves as DAG’s lead researcher on small and medium research projects related to housing and urban development. His core research interests are on contemporary urban development policies, urban land management practice with specific focus on Land value capture, and development disputes in South Africa.

Staff: Gaarith Williams

Project Support Officer

Gaarith Williams is Project Support Officer at DAG, he completed his Masters in Architecture in 2014 with his dissertation titled; IzweLethu!: Visions of decoloniality through the reimagining of electrical services. He has previously worked with WCED on various school upgrades, as well as the mass opportunity and development programme. He has taught at the UCT School of Architecture, and is currently serving as a building and landscape committee member for Heritage Western Cape. He is interested in ideas of spatial justice, [radical] transformation and land, identity, informality and symbiotic relations, emerging typologies, aesthetics, semiotics and [spatial] de-colonial thought/action. He spends his spare time indulging in art and scandalous reality TV.

Staff: Naeemah

Project Support Officer

Naeemah is a Project Support Officer at Development Action Group. She currently supports the ‘Reimagining Woodstock and Salt River’ Project at DAG. Naeemah has her Honours in Environmental Geographical Science from the University of Cape Town. Her Honours Thesis, title When Development Meets Preservation: A Case Study of the Bromwell Boutique Mall, Woodstock puts in perspectives Cape Town’s historical communities plight to retain its lived heritage in the face of urban renewal highlighting issues of Environmental Injustice, exclusion and contestation around the redevelopment of neighbourhood space. Naeemah is a proud Springbok Scout who absolutely adores anything and everything in the outdoors. Her ideal day spent would be walking beneath the trees or making her way up a mountain.

Staff: Ryan

Project Support Officer

As a Project Support Officer, Ryan is primarily responsible to support, lead, and participate in lobbying and partnership activities for the Democratic Urban Governance Program. Moreover, his work involves the analysis and formulation of policies, undertaking consultancy work related to housing and urban development, course conceptualisation and the development/implementation of training programs. The key project Ryan is responsible for, is the ‘Re-imagining Black River Corridor’ which primarily involves the building of a multi-sectoral coalition of interested and affected parties.

Staff: Zinzi Gatyeni

Programme Support Officer

Zinzi Gatyeni is a Programme Support Officer. She assists with a variety of projects and ensures that outcomes are reached. She also plays an important role in time administration and time management. She is a loving and caring person that’s places high value on work and family.

Staff: Ntombi Reshane

Maintenance Professional

Ntombi Reshane is DAG’s maintenance professional, started in June 2011. She is responsible with the majority of cleaning our headquarters. She also provides hospitality assistance when it comes to our overseeing that meetings run smoothly and guests are welcomed. Outside of DAG you will find her in Gym, playing Netball and attending community meetings.

Staff: Sizwe Nikholas Mxobo

Project Coordinator

Sizwe Nikholas Mxobo works for DAG as Project coordinator. Sizwe interest and passion lies in informal settlement development in unison with community participation and Youth development. Before DAG Sizwe Mxobo worked for 6 months for Actuality as an urban planner and development facilitator, before that Sizwe worked for Community Organisation Resources Center (CORC) as a project coordinator, during this period Sizwe worked on different scales of informal settlement upgrading projects including re-blocking of MtshiniWam, Kuku Town and Flamingo Crescent informal settlement. Sizwe holds a national diploma in Town and Regional Planning  from Cape Peninsula University of Technology. In 2014 Sizwe was awarded by SAPI with a National Planning Award as Outstanding Young Planner, and he is also 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow.  When Sizwe is not at work you are most likely to find him working with Youth on development issues, using Arts and culture as tools of engagement or you find him in Church.”

Getting Involved

Development Action Group (DAG) is a leading non-profit organisation, playing a vital role in tackling South Africa’s urban development challenges and re-imagining human settlements. You can get involved by:


DAG’s work is supported by national and international institutions, trusts and foundations. We also welcome donations from the general public and corporates to help us to continue our work to create sustainable human settlements for poor and marginalised citizens in South Africa’s unequal and divided cities.


DAG has a dynamic team of professionals in the urban sector. In order to develop capacity in the sector we often recruit local and international development professionals to work as volunteers on our programmes and projects.


DAG believes that research is a fundamental part of development. Hence, we often support students involved with research initiatives in the field of our work. This is dependent on the nature of research, the available capacity at the time, and the critical question being explored. Email all enquiries to: or for call 021 448 7886.