The Team

THE OPERATIONS TEAM


EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

Ben Theron – Chief Executive Officer

Ben Theron, a Certified Fraud Examiner, stands as a seasoned Operations Executive boasting three decades of invaluable experience. He has successfully attained a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Pretoria, which serves as a testament to his academic prowess. His professional journey has spanned various sectors, including telecommunications, electronic tolling, and forensic investigations.

Noteworthy accomplishments punctuate Ben’s career trajectory. Among these, he played a pivotal role in the conception and establishment of the Gauteng Freeway Tolling system. Furthermore, he orchestrated the strategic redirection of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), transforming it into a formidable force dedicated to combating corruption and advocating for change. An additional highlight encompasses his adept reengineering and repositioning of the Eskom Forensic Investigations Unit. Through his adept leadership, this unit effectively concluded intricate and vital investigations. This in turn facilitated the acceleration of civil and criminal cases by law enforcement entities, ultimately culminating in successful outcomes.

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Cynthia Stimpel – Whistleblower Liaison Manager

Cynthia Stimpel has served as the Whistleblower Liaison Manager at The Whistleblower House since Feb 2022. She is a Motivational Speaker, sharing her journey as a whistleblower and advocating for positive change. Additionally, she works as a Yoga Instructor for both adults and children.

Cynthia is a Board Member of the National Committee – Defend our Democracy and volunteers her time at Accountability Now, Radio Veritas, and various community initiatives. She is also the author of “Hijackers on Board,” recounting her experiences at South African Airways (SAA). Cynthia holds an MBA as her highest qualification and has predominantly worked in Banking, Treasury, and Risk environments throughout her career.

During her tenure at SAA, where she served as Group Treasurer for the last two years, Cynthia received several notable awards, including the Citation on Integrity Award from the Air Pilots Association of South Africa (APLA-SA) in 2021, the BluePrint for Free Speech Special Recognition Award in 2022, and the Ahmed Kathrada Excellence in Leadership Award from the Congress of Business Economics in 2023. Additionally, in 2023, she was honoured with the Whistleblower Excellence Award and the Sherpa Award for her support of whistleblowers by The Public Interest of South Africa (PISA).

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS


NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

Ivan Pillay – Board Chair

Ivan Pillay emerged as a Merebank activist during the heady days of Durban’s anti-apartheid politics in the 1970s. This period was greatly influenced by the collective unity and resources of the Indian community, as well as the determination exhibited by families engaged in the struggle. His involvement in Operation Vula marked the culmination of his years in exile, concluding in the late 1980s. This operation involved the infiltration of ANC leaders into South Africa with the aim of organising clandestine efforts and channeling the prevailing public discontent.

In 1999, Ivan embarked on a new phase of his career by joining the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This move presented an invaluable opportunity to contribute to an institution that held immense significance for the fledgling democratic state’s capacity to offer comprehensive services to its citizens. Through the taxation of wealth, SARS played a pivotal role in facilitating the provision of essential state services such as housing, education, and healthcare. During his tenure under the leadership of Commissioner Pravin Gordhan, Ivan’s journey at SARS began by heading the Criminal Investigations unit. Subsequently, he assumed roles including General Manager of Enforcement, Chief Officer of Risk and Enforcement, Deputy Commissioner, and ultimately, Acting Commissioner.

Regrettably, Ivan’s tenure at SARS came to an abrupt end in 2015 when he was compelled to resign. Since then, he has transitioned into the role of a private consultant, offering his expertise to companies and state enterprises that aspire to enhance their governance and eliminate corruption from their operations.

Dr Liezl Groenewald – Co-founding Director

Dr Liezl Groenewald holds the position of CEO Elect at The Ethics Institute (TEI) in South Africa, and she recently concluded her term as the President of the Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa). In 2022, she successfully completed her PhD in Applied Ethics. With a wealth of experience, she takes on the role of a seasoned facilitator for The Ethics Institute, as well as for the Institute of Directors South Africa (IoDSA). Additionally, she serves as a guest lecturer at the Innsbruck University of Applied Sciences in Austria, and at various business schools in South Africa.

Dr Groenewald is a sought-after speaker at both local and international conferences. She contributes her insights as a media commentator on matters related to ethics and whistleblowing, and she adeptly moderates discussions. Her expertise extends to being an author of articles on business and military ethics. Notably, she has authored a comprehensive Whistleblowing First Responder Guide, along with the Whistleblowing Management Handbook. She has also co-authored the Ethics and Compliance Handbook, as well as the Institutionalising Ethics Handbook. Her contributions extend beyond writing, as she collaborates with the Institute for Business Ethics in the UK, focusing on developing tools that foster non-retaliation within organisations and support whistleblowers.

In terms of her affiliations, Liezl actively participates on the Council of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). She holds a membership on the Inaugural Committee of the International Society of Military Ethics for Africa (Afro-ISME) and is a valued member of the Advisory Boards for BEN-Africa and Visslan, a whistleblowing service provider based in Sweden. Her dedication to research is evident as she serves as a research associate at US Philosophy Department. On a global scale, Dr. Groenewald represented South Africa in the global technical working groups responsible for ISO 37000, the ISO Standard for the Governance of Organisations, as well as ISO 37002, the ISO Whistleblowing Management Standard. Her multifaceted involvement showcases her deep commitment to advancing ethical practices within organisations and across industries.

Martha Ngoye – Non-Executive Director

Martha Ngoye is a distinguished attorney registered with the High Court of South Africa, having garnered experience in the realm of corporate law. She boasts an impressive career history, having contributed her expertise to esteemed firms like Edward Nathan and Friedland, considered among South Africa’s most esteemed legal entities. Martha’s path as a trailblazer is evident in her response to the summons of corporate giants; she ventured into pivotal roles at Standard Bank and Barclays, institutions that were pivotal in a turbulent era marked by the hesitancy of major white law firms to fully embrace women, particularly those of black ethnicity.

Embracing a sense of patriotic duty, Martha transitioned her efforts towards the enhancement of the civil service. Her journey led her to Transnet, a government-owned enterprise responsible for freight rail and shipping infrastructure in South Africa. Subsequently, she took on a significant role within the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). Within this role, Martha is unrelenting in her tireless combat against the pervasive tide of corruption. She stands resolute on the frontlines, confronting corruption in its multifarious manifestations, including individuals occupying official positions, ministers, and the unseen specters that often accompany them.

Martha’s unwavering commitment to corporate governance is deeply ingrained in her being. During her tenure as Group Executive for Legal, Risk, and Compliance, and her subsequent role as Acting Chief Executive at PRASA, she found herself embroiled in a valiant battle against unlawful contracts that government officials sought to exploit to the detriment of South African people. This courageous stance came at a personal cost, subjecting her to considerable adversity and victimisation. Nonetheless, Martha persists in her battle against these challenges, displaying an unyielding spirit that resonates to this very day.

Mirriam Phumla Williams – Non-Executive Director

Phumla Williams has dedicated 27 years to the Public Service, serving as a senior manager in public finance and government communication. In her final decade within the public service, she held the positions of Cabinet and government spokesperson, concurrently serving as the Accounting Officer of the Department. Ms. Williams retired in December 2022.

Before entering government service, her professional journey unfolded in the ANC political unit during her exile in Mozambique and Swaziland. Her primary focus areas involved mass mobilisation and collaboration with mass-based community organisations. Following the unbanning of the African National Congress, she transitioned to the ANC Organising Department and later to the Department of Information and Publicity (DIP).

Ms. Williams holds a degree in Public Administration and a master’s degree in public administration, both earned from the University of South Africa (UNISA). Additionally, she possesses a Certificate in Public Sector Finance from the University of Stellenbosch. With a deep commitment to public service excellence, Ms. Williams is passionate about engaging with the citizens of her country.

Christina Mabongi Masilo – Non-Executive Director

Mabongi is an accomplished legal professional with a diverse background in tax, customs, and corporate law. She has dedicated her career to making a significant impact in the legal landscape of South Africa. Christina pursued higher education at the University of Kwazulu-Natal and the University of Pretoria, where she obtained her LLB and completed various short courses in financial management for SARS.

Christina’s journey in law commenced with her admission as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 2001. She later extended her legal expertise by becoming an advocate of the High Court, a milestone achieved in April 2016. Her professional journey spans a rich tapestry of experiences, including serving as a legal advisor for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for over 14 years, where she handled intricate tax matters and provided strategic counsel on litigation. Her expertise led her to be appointed as Assistant Commissioner for the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance by SARS, a role where she played a pivotal role in shaping policy and governance structures.

In addition to her tenure at SARS, Christina has been a practicing advocate at the Pretoria Bar since October 2016, specialising in tax and customs law. She has also demonstrated her leadership capabilities by spearheading the Financial Flows Investigation Stream for the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Corruption, and Fraud in the Public Sector. Christina’s commitment to legal excellence is underscored by her educational pursuits, professional achievements, and unwavering dedication to upholding the rule of law. Outside of her legal endeavours, she enjoys reading, traveling, and staying informed about global business trends. Driven by her passion for law and a vision for a better future, Christina continues to make meaningful contributions to the legal profession and the broader community in South Africa.

Siqhamo Yamkela Ntola – Non-Executive Director

Yamkela Siqhamo Ntola serves as a senior lecturer in the Department of Public, Constitutional, and International Law at the College of Law, University of South Africa (UNISA). In this role, Yamkela imparts knowledge on environmental and international law to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Before joining UNISA, Yamkela held the position of Water and Environment Portfolio Manager at the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). In this capacity, Yamkela played a pivotal role in exposing instances of over-expenditure and under-delivery within the Department of Water and Sanitation’s ‘Bucket Eradication Programme.’

Furthermore, Yamkela successfully advocated for the prosecution of directors of Aurora Empowerment Systems due to environmental damage resulting from acid mine water in their Grootvlei Gold Mine. Additionally, Yamkela contributed to oral and written submissions for the South African Human Rights Commission’s Inquiry into the Sewage Problem in the Vaal River.

Yamkela is a holder of a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Nelson Mandela University. He has also earned a Master of Philosophy degree specialising in Sustainable Mineral Resource Development from the University of Cape Town (2023) and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree at the University of Pretoria.

FULL TEAM