The team

The Team

The team comprises a group of academics committed to the development of Social Policy as an area of study and research within Southern African academia. We are committed to the generation of high quality research, both qualitative and quantitative, to help generate the evidence base for the implementation of evidence informed policy throughout the region.

David Avenell is a Director and SASPRI’s GIS specialist.

Dr Helen Barnes is a Senior Research Fellow whose research interests are in the areas of poverty and deprivation, particularly with regard to children, and also tax-benefit microsimulation.



Christine Byaruhanga
is a Research Officer whose main interests are deprivation, poverty spatial inequality and tax-benefit microsimulation.




Jabulani Jele is a  Research Officer with research interests in spatial inequality, particularly the impact that apartheid spatial geography has on people’s lived experience of inequality today..




Dr Faith Masekesa is a Research Fellow. She has recently completed a PhD in Development Economics at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan. Her main research interests are in microsimulation modelling and poverty and inequality research.




Dr David McLennan is a Director and Senior Research Fellow whose main interests are in small area deprivation and small area measures of segregation and inequality. He also has a keen interest in the relationship between crime and deprivation/inequality.




Prof Michael Noble CBE is Executive Director of SASPRI. He is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Oxford in the UK, Visiting Professor at Rhodes University in South Africa and Honorary Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa. His main research interests are in poverty, deprivation, inequality and social security policy particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. He specialises in quantitative research methods and is committed to evidence-informed policy making. 


Prof Gemma Wright is SASPRI’s Research Director. She is a Professor Extraordinarius at the Archie Mafeje Institute for Applied Social Policy Research at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She is also a research associate at Rhodes University in South Africa. She has a special interest in poverty, child poverty, social security policy and tax-benefit microsimulation.



Dr Wanga Zembe is a Director of SASPRI and a Specialist Scientist in Health Systems Research at the South African Medical Research Council .She has research experience in deprivation, child poverty and child health. Her main interests are research and teaching in Social Policy, specifically as this relates to poverty and inequality.



Associate Fellows

Prof Robert van Niekerk is a Professor in the Wits School of Governance at the University of the Witwatersrand. His research interests are in the institutional history, ideologies and understandings of social policy and social change in South Africa. He also has an interest in social policy in a post-apartheid South Africa – particularly polices aimed at overcoming inequality and developing social rights of citizenship and the “good society” – and the factors which account for success and failure in policy implementation.

Dr Phakama Ntshongwana is Campus Principal at the Missionvale Campus of Nelson Mandela University South Africa. Her research interests include income maintenance policy in South Africa and more particularly social security provision for low income lone mothers and their children.

Research Associates

Michell Mpike was formerly a Research Officer with SASPRI. In August 2016 Michell started a Masters degree supported by an Erasmus Mundus scholarship.