AVI AFRIQUE 2019 Speakers

Day One

CEO (Interim)

Thomas Kgokolo Mr Kgokolo is a Chartered Accountant (CA). He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences, B. Compt. Honours from the University of South Africa (UNISA), and B. Com. Accounting Sciences from University of Pretoria (UP). Prior to his appointment as Acting CEO, Mr Kgokolo was an ATNS Board Member and served as a Member of the Audit and Risk Committee.


Mr Frans HiemstraDr Sandile Malinga is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) for ATNS and is responsible for air traffic services, technology and training. He is a non-executive director and acting chairman of SENTECH SOC Limited, a company responsible for broadcasting signal distribution and connectivity in South Africa.

Prior to joining ATNS, he was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), where he was one of the primary drivers of the South African space programme. At SANSA, he had oversight over key programmes including space-based augmented navigation, space radar systems, satellite tracking & telemetry, space weather, satellite imagery and the national satellite build programme.

Before joining SANSA, Sandile was the Managing Director of the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory, a national geo-space science facility. With a PhD in Physics and, as a space physics researcher by training, he was a Senior Lecturer and a Dean’s Assistant at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he also served on the Faculty Board and the University Senate. With extensive executive leadership experience and an MBA from the Business School Netherlands, Sandile has served on several prominent bodies including the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA) and the Committee of Heads of Organisations of Research and Technology (COHORT).
Ms Alison GabrieleAlison Gabriele is Head, Training and Consulting for Africa and the Middle East for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), based in Amman, Jordan. She works on IATA’s Africa and Middle East Business Development team to identify areas in the region where IATA training can bring value to members and industry stakeholders to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and changing industry.

Prior to joining IATA in 2018, Alison worked with Emirates in Dubai for six years in the areas of Revenue Optimisation and Loyalty. Before that, she was based in her native Canada working in and out of the airline industry at companies such as: Westjet, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Pepsi and Bombardier, among others. Alison has a passion for learning and a thirst for knowledge. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.
Dr Reza Mia Dr Reza Mia is the Founder and Chairman of Pegasus Universal Aerospace, a South African aerospace company. He is known for his diversity of expertise across medical aesthetics, art, science and planes.

At the age of 23, Reza obtained his medical degree with multiple distinctions from the University of Witwatersrand. He then sought to further his studies by pursuing an MBA from the University of Liverpool.

Reza was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship for Entrepreneurship from the London School of Business and Finance for an MSc Finance and Investment degree – where he majored in investment banking and capital markets – graduating with merit. Dr Reza completed his dissertation in Aerospace OEM analysis, has obtained his Advanced Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine from the Centre of Higher Education, and recently qualified in Negotiation Skills through Harvard Online.
Mr Sam  TwalaSam Twala is the Director and co-founder of Ntsu Aviation Solutions and AfricaUSC, as well as Chairman of SAFU. He began his professional career as an Engineer in Training in a high-tech military company. As a trainee, he gained experience in areas such as laser design, optical sensors and image processing, amongst others.

Sam joined the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) in 2011 as a certification engineer specialising in avionics. His responsibilities included evaluation and approval of design data for minor and major aircraft modifications, conducting type validation of foreign aircraft, initial approval of design organisations and renewal audits. Other duties included reviewing and amending regulations and technical standards. After two years in the certification engineering department, Sam joined the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) department as a “UAS specialist”. Amongst others, his responsibilities included development of the regulations and technical standards for RPAS, known as Part 101 today.

He served as a special adviser to the South African chapter of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Unmanned Aircraft System Study Group (UASSG) from May 2013 to July 2014. He also served as the South African member of the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS) from April 2013 to February 2016. He later served as South African representative and a member of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel (RPASP) from its inception in November 2014 until February 2016. Sam left SACAA to join Air Traffic and Navigations Services (ATNS), where he worked as Senior Systems Engineer of Communications, Surveillance and Navigations (CNS) systems in the planning department from March 2016 until February 2018.

Sam is a recipient of the European UVS International Catherine Fargeon award – in recognition of his personal commitment & contribution to promoting the insertion of RPAS into non-segregated airspace and/or the general promotion of the future use of RPAS.

Mr Frans Hiemstra Frans Hiemstra is the Head of Partner Channels for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa. In this role, Frans focuses on supply management as we grow our existing cities and expand to new territories in SSA.

Frans has been with Uber since September 2015 and previously worked as a Management Consultant in the Energy & Resources, Manufacturing, Distribution and African Economic Development sectors.

Frans grew up in South Africa, studied at Stellenbosch University and is a Chartered Accountant. He has worked locally and abroad in the USA, UK, East and West Africa. He has a passion for the development of innovative local business and the creation or facilitation of opportunities for small businesses. He has been able to do this through his management consulting experience and while working at Uber.

Thomas Kgokolo Mr Adnan Theba has over 15 years’ experience in Business Applications. He has experience in both Small- to Medium- and Global Enterprise Applications while working at Sage, SAP and Oracle. He was also a member of the Microsoft Business Applications Team focusing on the financial services industry. Adnan now works for Microsoft on digital transformations in the public sector. His education includes a bachelors and honours degree from the University of Pretoria, qualifications in business model and financial strategy from INSEAD in France, and an innovation qualification from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

Adnan believes that the power of the cloud and the solutions that Microsoft has, has the potential to make a difference in our everyday lives, irrespective of industry or situation – Microsoft solutions can provide better service delivery, improved financial management and HR processes, safer skies and more co-ordinated ground staff. It will ultimately help people and businesses make progress as more empowered, collaborative and connected communities.

His current projects focus on celebrating people and their usage of technology; one is within Microsoft, highlighting how teamwork has created success, and the other is working as the founder of a community called “Now I See” which focuses on accessibility and technology in the workplace.
Dr Palesa Mothapo Dr Palesa Mothapo is the Head: Postdoctoral Research Support at Stellenbosch University, Division for Research Development. Her primary role is providing support to postdoctoral research fellows through capacity development initiatives, identifying new funding opportunities and overall support on the processes that influence these emerging researchers within the academic space.

Palesa holds a PhD degree in Zoology and has completed her BSc. Hons and Masters’ degrees cum-laude, from Stellenbosch University. She is an alumnus of the GreenMatter WWF Nedbank Green Trust Emerging Leaders, was listed on the 2014 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans, a lifetime member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, and a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow.

Her research focus is on invasive species (mainly ants), biodiversity impacts, control and management, as well as socio-economic and socio-cultural impacts related to policies on the management of invasive species. She is passionate about capacity development in academia to improve research transition from academia to industry, with a focus on improving innovation potential of graduates as well as improving high-end skills graduate employment. She is passionate about young women in STEM and devotes much of her time to mentoring and encouraging young women – particularly in rural and underdeveloped areas – to take part in STEM careers. She believes that solving the grand challenges in Africa such as poverty alleviation and food security, requires that we conduct solution-based research. Developing research capacity, transferring skills and sharing resources will enable us as Africans to start solving our own problems and improve innovation potential.
Dr Linda MeyerDr Linda Meyer is an accomplished Senior Executive with twenty-five years’ experience in the private and public sectors, specialising in the fields of stakeholder engagement and advancement, ethics and accountability, strategic leadership, talent management, governance and risk management, business development, information technology and innovation, financial management, procurement, and organisational transformation and change management. She is qualified to doctoral level in the fields of business administration, management, leadership, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Linda was appointed to various governance structures including the South African Private Higher Education, South African Magistrates Commission, CCMA, Services SETA and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. She is currently employed in the position of Academic Executive – Dean: Institutional Advancement at Boston City Campus and Business College, and formerly held the positions of the Head of Justice College (DoJ&CD); Chief Director: Corporate Services (DoJ&CD); CCMA Commissioner and various other Senior and Executive Management and Consulting positions. 

She has a proven record of accomplishment, strong leadership and business acumen skills with a high degree of accountability within the private and public sectors. A published author in 13 countries and a regular media guest and speaker at industry conferences. 
Mr Zareef Minty Aged 25, Zareef Minty is an LLB graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He is a thought leader and innovator and at only 19, became the youngest national youth president in South African history. He ran in the 2014 national general elections where he was 5th on the party’s parliamentary candidates list. Zareef is a motivational speaker, where he speaks at schools around South Africa every fortnight. He also writes for the largest online newspapers agency in South Africa called News 24 – contributing articles based on politics, law, business and current events nationally and globally – and writes lighter topics for TeenZone, a major teen magazine in South Africa.

He made the Mail and Guardians’ Top 200 Young South Africans under 35 list in 2014 under the politics category. Zareef is very involved in University leadership where he was the Treasurer of the Law Students Council, the all-faculty Treasurer, the Chairperson of the Black Lawyers Association and the Chairperson of the Student Discipline Committee. He has made huge waves in the transparency of management regulations for students. His achievements include:
  • Named One Young World Ambassador for South Africa where he will be representing the country abroad later this year.
  • Listed in the Top 10 of GQ Best Dressed.
  • Won the title of SABC 1's One Day Leader with an audience of over 5 Million people watching the show weekly.
  • Listed as a Forbes Africa 30 Under 30.
  • Listed as Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 30 to look out for together with Patrice Motsepe and Phuti Mahanyele.


Mr Tony Frost Mr Tony Frost’s professional career has seen him serving, among others, two terms as President of the Institute of Personnel Management (Southern Africa) (1991 & 1992), and Chair of the Board of Governors of the International School of South Africa (1990 – 1995). He was a member of the Advisory Boards of the Wits University School of Business Administration and the Global Forum of the International Society for Human Resource Management. He has served as a member of the Minister of Environmental Affairs Advisory Forum, the JSE Sustainability Index Advisory Committee, and the NBI Sustainable Futures Advisory Board.

For five years, until February 2007, he was the Chief Executive of the WWF in South Africa, was on the WWF Global Operations Executive, the WWF Global Conservation Programme Committee, the Percy Fitzpatrick Advisory Board, Chair of the Southern African Wildlife College, the Board of the South African National Biodiversity Institute and Chair of its Governance and Strategy Committee.

His current roles include:
  • Owner and Chairman: Sirocco Strategic Management
  • Board Member and Administrator: Education Endowment Fund
  • Chairman: Aerial Vision Africa
  • Chairman: Aviation Development Foundation
  • Board Member: Earth Centre
  • Chairman: WellCapital
  • Advisory Board Member: Global Change Institute of the University of the Witwatersrand.
  • Member of the faculty of the African Leadership University
  • Working with several schools focused on development and growth
Dr Tebogo Mashifana At only 32 years old, Dr Tebogo Mashifana is already a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering Technology at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Having completed her Bachelors and Master’s degrees cum laude, she went on to obtain her PhD in Civil Engineering as well as an MBA degree. She is registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa as a Professional Engineering Technologist.

Tebogo was featured in the Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans (under 35) for 2019 and has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 Top 100 Young Independents in SADC. Her current projects focus on the treatment and beneficiation of minerals, solid wastes and the treatment of wastewater. Her interest lies in developing commercially- and environmentally-sustainable solutions that convert waste materials into useful and value-adding products.

She devotes her spare time to mentoring other women as well as encouraging young girls and women to pursue careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
Mr Khulekani Ngcobo Khulekani Ngcobo has an advanced Masters’ Degree in Engineering from Ecole Nationale de l'Aviation Civile (ENAC) in France where he specialised in communication, navigation, surveillance and satellite aviation technologies. He graduated magna cum laude and as top of the class.

Khulekani also has an MBA from Management College, Southern Africa, as well as an honours degree, University of South Africa, and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Cape Town.

He has more than 14 years’ engineering experience and started his career as a graduate engineer at the Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT), a division of ARMSCOR from January 2005 until August 2008. During that time, he developed naval software artefacts and GIS applications for deployment and usage onboard South African Navy vessels and submarines. Some of the geospatial software and computer applications that were developed are still used for operations onboard the South African Navy vessels and submarines.

He joined THALES in 2008 as a Software Engineer and worked with a team of international specialists from various countries to develop Combat Management Systems and Warfare Software including the configuration, testing and integration with naval systems. Khulekani successfully commissioned and delivered 6 Navy Vessels on time and within budget while working in the Netherlands and Thailand. He received an honourable recognition by the Royal Thai Navy for completing T994 and Sattahip Navy Projects and commissioning 6 Navy Vessels ahead of scheduled Thailand King’s birthday in December 2011.

Upon joining ATNS in 2012 as Senior Project Manager/Senior Systems Engineer, Khulekani’s focus has been managing acquisitions and implementation of high-profile aviation (CAPEX) programmes and solutions that meet the current and future needs and expectations of the Air Traffic Management Community. These include surveillance and display systems projects such as Primary and Secondary Surveillance Radar Replacement Programme, Country-Wide Area Multilateration Programme, Radome Replacement Project, Electronic Flight Strip (EFS) Systems Project, DATIS Systems Installation Project, ATS Resource Tool Implementation Project, and, Air Traffic Management (ATM) Acquisition and Implementation programme.
Mr Thabiso Tolo Thabiso Tolo is the Pilot Commander of the only flight inspection (equipped and certified) aircraft in the SADC. He is the operations manager as well as the chief pilot of the Flight Inspection Unit which resides within the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

He has an aviation career spanning over 25 years. He has experience in military aviation, commercial airline aviation and general aviation as a pilot, pilot instructor and aviation manager.

Thabiso holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Stellenbosch and a business certificate from WITS University.
Mr Joe Phalwane Joe Phalwane is an award-winning entrepreneur, innovator, speaker and trainer. He is the founder of AeroBuddies, an aviation and aeronautics STEM education enrichment company that impacts learners of all grades with customised programmes teaching maths and science through project-based learning. His team now impacts and inspires over 10 000 learners annually to consider aviation and aeronautical sciences as possible future careers.

AeroBuddies has received a range of awards including:
  • 2018 African Entrepreneurship Award Finalist
  • 2018 Civil Aviation Industry Awards Runner Up: General Aviation Category
  • 2018 Edtech Category Winner Leaderex Pitch Pavillion
  • 2017 Radio 702 Sage Small Business of the Year
  • 2017 Eduweek Awards Finalist
  • 2016 ATNS AVI Awards
  • 2016 Gauteng eGov ICT Bootcamp Award
  • 2016 City of Joburg SBS Award
Joe was selected as a 2018 Top 30 innovator out of 5000 entrepreneurs from across all 54 African countries by the BMCE Bank of Africa in Casablanca. Joe is sought after by various media outlets to speak on the subject of STEM education through aviation and aeronautics. He is a licensed aviation professional with over 10 years’ experience in the industry. He previously worked
Mr Frans Hiemstra Ms Diligence Mkwanazi is a devoted and determined Air Traffic Controller, Mentor, Officer in Charge (OIC) and student. Better known as ‘Dili’, this young woman’s career at ATNS began in 2011 as a bursar.

Driven by her motto ‘You are never too young or too old to learn’, Diligence has carved herself a career through determination, passion and persistence. In August 2016, she validated as an Air Traffic Controller and in February 2017 was appointed as the Rand: OIC, with a staff complement of 19 members.

Currently pursuing her studies in Industrial and Organisational Psychology with UNISA, she will soon be embarking on a course with Wits and undertaking some IATA courses to enhance her managerial and leadership skills even further. She also remains highly active as a member of the aviation community by providing Safety Awareness Initiatives to flight schools in and around Rand Airport. Diligence recently transferred to O.R. Tambo Tower Control and is currently training in the tower.
Ms Lebogang Letsoalo Ms Lebogang Letsoalo is a Supply Chain Coach and Mentor, and currently a Chief Executive of Sincpoint, an organisation focusing on sustainable supply chain advisory, coaching and optimisation solutions. She has 18 years’ executive experience within the energy, chemicals and mining industries. Her extensive experience in supply chain management, procurement and project development has developed her passion for functional mentorship and coaching, optimising supply chains and building skill and capacity. Her previously held roles included working for IBM, DeBeers, Fluor, Eskom and Sasol as a buyer, procurement manager, executive manager capital procurement, general manager supply chain and vice president of supply chain.

Lebo founded the African Women in Supply Chain Association  – the first and only association in Southern Africa focusing on functional mentorship and coaching in supply chain to build skills and capacity in the sector – and has successfully integrated the industry, government institutions and academia to take a unified approach to upskilling. She has built a successful relationship with academic institutions over the years which has led to mentoring students in logistics – bridging the gap between industry and academia through the implementation of internships, site visits, career guidance and entrepreneurial readiness programs. Lebo is an avid advocate for transforming the logistics sector and supporting women to grow within it.

She currently contributes to various Boards and continues to be a thought leader advocating on all portfolios of supply chain – from procurement to logistics – enabling positive change in people and organisations. Her roles include:
  • Chairperson of the Board: merSeta and Chairperson of AWISCA
  • Non-Executive Director at Jet Demolition, Booyco Engineering, and IBIS Consulting, as well as Shareholder and Director, Black Industrial Group: Bay Engineering
  • Member of the Advisory Committee of Universities, supervisor for MBA and MBL students at UNISA School of Business Leadership, and coach and mentor to entrepreneurs to ensure sustainability of their businesses
Notable Awards
2008 – Profiled and cited on Financial Mail as one of the top 10 most inspiring women within State Owned Entities.
2017 – Nominated for Nomination for Global Business Leadership Award- International Conference on Gender & Sustainability- New York 2017
2019 – Received a Top Pan African Award as Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government in the sector of Manufacturing.


Mr Victor Radebe Victor Radebe is the Founder of Mzansi Aerospace Technologies, a start-up focused on training, advisory and technology in the field of unmanned aircraft systems. He is also the founder of the Mobility Centre for Africa, a non-profit dedicated to advocating for and researching smarter mobility solutions.

Having worked on some transportation and aviation-related projects like the Ekurhuleni and Durban aerotropolis projects, Victor believes building efficiencies in global travel requires improvements in the first and last mile of air travel. In 2016 Victor partnered with the University of KwaZulu-Natal and government establishing the Aerotropolis Institute Africa to develop the next generation of aerotropolis experts on the continent.

Victor serves as a co-convener of the R&D Workstream of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s 5G Forum, and is also an executive committee member of the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa, an industry body working to develop and promote the adoption of drone technology.

Victor studied a BComm at Wits, a postgraduate diploma in management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has just finished his MBA at Wits Business School. As part of this MBA, Victor wrote his research article on the Effect of Shared Mobility on Private Car Ownership in South Africa.
Mr Protus Seda Protus Seda is a Boeing-trained Aircraft Performance Engineering expert with 19 years’ experience in the airline industry. Seda previously worked at Kenya Airways in Flight Operations after graduating from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He served in various capacities in the airline, including working as a Duty Controller of Operations at the airline’s integrated operations control centre and as ground operations instructor. His other roles included: IOSA project manager, member of the Kenya Airways Turn-around Team (KTAP) that turned around the airline from a loss-making organisation to one of profitability, and project lead for the airline’s performance improvement initiatives that ensured continuity and sustainability.

Seda currently works in IATA as Assistant Director in Safety and Flight Operations, mainly focused on Air Traffic Management. He is tasked with improving safety and efficiency of flight operations by working with strategic stakeholders to implement enhanced safety programs, address operational inefficiencies and provide support for an environment-friendly strategy for a sustainable aviation growth in Africa. Seda is passionate about collaboratively working with industry stakeholders in order to realize creative and innovative ways of ensuring efficiency and seamlessness of air traffic management systems and procedures in the continent.

He holds a BSc (Mathematics) from the University of Nairobi and an MBA from Regenesys Business School, South Africa. He has published two articles in academic journals on airport service quality; looking at how self-service technologies impact passenger perception of service quality with a focused study at OR Tambo international airport. Seda is also an IATA Training and Development Institute (ITDI) instructor.
Ms Prudence Mabitsela Prudence Mabitsela is the Managing Director and co-founder of Dynamic DNA – a learnership training academy in South Africa that specialises in empowering young dynamic people to become technology leaders of tomorrow. She serves as a board member and is also a director at the Pan African Chamber of Commerce’s Women Entrepreneurship Centre.  

Prudence believes in empowering and developing the youth to ensure that they have the right skills for the future – the right skills will drive them to be creative in solving social challenges through entrepreneurship and be gainfully employed in the ICT sector. She provides true empowerment through various skills development programmes.

Prudence believes that change can be done through changing one person at a time. She is currently campaigning to drive more females into the ICT industry using the 4IR4Her platform. In 2019, her business was nominated for the Business of the Year award and she has been nominated for the Young executive of the year award.