Kirsten Youens

Founder, Chief Executive Director, Attorney

Kirsten Youens B.Soc.Sci LLB, LLM cum laude


Kirsten qualified as an attorney in 1999 and has a Masters degree in Environmental Law. She has specialised in this field for most of her professional career.

Kirsten has a deep desire to correct the imbalances in the world, and does so through her practice of environmental law and environmental justice.


Janice Tooley

Co-Founder, Executive Director, Attorney

Janice Tooley BSc. Zoology and Botany. BSc. Honours Ecology. MSc. Environmental Management cum laude. LLB cum laude

Janice has been practicing as an environmental attorney since 2013 and has a unique skill set in both environmental management and law. She initially trained in ecology and environmental management, and worked as an environmental consultant, facilitator and environmental impact assessment (EIA) practitioner for many years before pursuing a career as an environmental lawyer.


Lihle Mbokazi

Liaison Manager

Lihle Mbokazi

Lihle is an environmentalist, conservationist and activist. In 2005 she was the first black female to graduate from the Wilderness Leadership School as a Wilderness Guide. From an early age she fell in love with nature and as an adult she volunteered with environmental organisations such as Earth Life Africa, Eco Peace and the Wilderness Action Group.



Renee Kirkham

Renee is a chartered accountant, entrepreneur and business owner of Teqal (Pty) Ltd, OVS Solutions (Pty) Ltd, RSA Capital & Advisory (Pty) Ltd, and One Vision Risk (Pty) Ltd.

Renee started her first business at 23 years old in 1994 and sold it to JSE listed Group namely Astrapak limited, in 2006. She won South African Business Woman of the Year in 2004 and continues to shatter glass ceilings in her field.

Mawande Mazibuko

Mawande is an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa, a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Advocates, practicing at the Pietermaritzburg Bar.
She is an advocate for justice and equality beyond the realm of litigation. Prior to being called to the Bar, she was with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), South Africa Country office, where she served as a member of the Child Protection unit providing technical assistance primarily to government departments in the areas of Child Justice, Migration (Children on the Move) and Violence against women and children programmes.

She further participated in the rollout of the South African Children’s Act through the Street law programme, where she provided legal training to Social Workers and social services auxiliary workers.
Socially, Mawande, contributes to young adults’ leadership skills and life’s purpose through mentorship and coaching using various networks and platforms.

Trudie Nichols

Trudie has been a practising attorney since 1999. She believes strongly in sharing her wealth of experience by giving back to society and the communities in which she practices. Her sense of integrity and social justice has and continues to influence all aspects of her life.

She has worked on matters relating to socio-economic rights such as housing, the environment, health, education and women’s rights under customary unions.

Trudie’s track record of giving back started with the delay of her articles of clerkship so that she could work for the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies as a street law co-ordinator. Once she started practising independently in 2004, she has always ensured that she has acted for NGOs and voluntary associations in relation to public law, strategic impact and class action constitutional litigation to assist in representing the most vulnerable individuals in our society.

Some recent examples include; acting on the instructions of the Wildlands Conservation Trust, representing the Friends of Tsitsikamma, a voluntary association comprising scientists, academics and marine conservationists to interdict and review a decision by the relevant authorities to permit recreational angling in the Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area. Acting on the instructions of Section 27 and the Treatment Action Campaign to obtain an urgent interdict to allow a peaceful march to proceed as planned. Most notably, representing SERI and Abahlahli Basemjondolo Movement SA since 2009 in a vast number of urgent applications and interdicts relating to the rights of individuals and families who reside in informal settlements to protection from unlawful evictions, arbitrary destruction of personal property, personal injury and to dignity and respect.

Trudie has a Bachelor of Arts degree and an LLB degree. She is also a member of the South African Legal Practice Council, Exco, the national regulatory body for all legal practitioners in South Africa and an Acting Judge of the High Court, Gauteng Division, Johannesburg.

Dineo Skosana-Ngwenya

Dineo is a researcher and project leader at Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP). Her current research focus is on post-apartheid dispossession in coal mining-affected communities. Dineo holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of the Witwatersrand. 

Her doctorate research explored the contestations over coal mining and African grave exhumations and relocations in Tweefontein, Mpumalanga Province (South Africa). Dineo  previously worked and published extensively on the continued salience of traditional leadership in post-apartheid South Africa. 

She has an interest in indigenous politics particularly, in rural parts of the country. She is also interested in the institution of traditional authority, as well as politics over land, sacred sites, heritage and belonging.

Funders and Partners

These are the organisations that make our work possible.

  • Open Society Foundation South Africa
  • Environment Defenders Law Centre
  • Center for Climate Integrity
  • Legal Aid South Africa
  • Frontline Defenders
  • GreenGrants (through groundWork)