Humanities team

Head of School



Prof Jesmael Mataga

Contact details: | 053 491 0143



PhD African Studies (Heritage & Public Culture) University of Cape Town; MA in Heritage Studies-University of Zimbabwe; BA Hons, University of Zimbabwe; Certificate in Scientific Principles of Conservation- (ICCROM), Italy

Prof Mataga has experience in research and training in heritage management on the African continent with a focus on museum curation, intangible heritage, cultural diversity and implementation of UNESCO conventions.

He worked for the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and taught in the Archaeology Unit of the University of Zimbabwe and at the National University of Lesotho.

His current research, situated in an emerging research focus on critical and decolonial heritage, explores the role and place of communities in heritage management.

His work aims to support innovation in heritage management practice which addresses the critical challenges of our time, such as poverty and inequality, climate change, conflict, decolonisation, migration and social justice.

Prof Mataga joined the university in May 2015. He loves travelling and enjoys the outdoors.



Ms Simoné Williams

Contact details: | 053 491 0268



MBA, Unisa (School of Business Leadership); PGDip in Labour Law University of the Free State; B.Admin, University of the Free State

Ms Simoné Williams is the School Registrar in the School of Humanities. Prior to joining SPU she was a Principal Admin Officer at the University of Limpopo in the School of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. 

Ms Williams higher education career started at the University of the Free State where she climbed the ranks from Assistant Officer to Officer in both undergraduate and postgraduate student administration.



Ms Sukayna Obaray

Contact details: | 053 491 0218


Ms Sukayna Obaray joined Sol Plaatje University in August 2016. She has a varied background in the travel and customer service industries and extensive experience as an administrator within the higher education sector.

Ms Obaray quite recently discovered her passion for teaching and is currently completing her Bachelor of Education degree with specialisation in Foundation Phase Teaching through the University of South Africa.

She is a die-hard lover of biltong, sushi and travelling adventures and will most likely be the friendly voice that welcomes you when you call the School of Humanities.





Dr Garth Benneyworth, Head of Department and Senior Lecturer: Heritage Studies

Contact details: | 053 491 0127


PhD (History); MA (Heritage Studies); Licence in Managing Successful Programs (UK)


Dr Garth Benneyworth is Head of Department: Heritage Studies at SPU.

His PhD research was on the black concentration camps of the South African War. From 1999 to 2018, he located 13 of these historic camp terrains and pioneered the first ever-archaeological surveys on such camps in South Africa.

Dr Benneyworth has extensive experience in the global Heritage Sector and developed and curated numerous exhibitions including the Nelson Mandela National Museum, Liliesleaf: A Place of Liberation, Chief Albert Luthuli Museum, Magersfontein Battlefield Museum and the Voortrekker Monument.

He specialises in War Studies and the Heritage of Conflict with a focus on the Armed Struggle of the Liberation Movements and the South African War.

His research is published in several leading international journals, including Historia, the South African Historical Journal, the Journal for Contemporary Affairs and éditions Academia L’Harmattan, Université catholique de Louvain. Dr Benneyworth is also the recipient of a National Heritage Council Grant, which project involves an appraisal and analysis of an archaeological collection he created from excavations into Black concentration camps, together with archival and terrain work.

Dr Benneyworth is a member of several professional and academic organisations.

He serves as the current Chairperson of the Council for the War Museum of the Boer Republics; as Director on the Board of Directors of the Moral Regeneration Movement; and is a Member of the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa.

He is a Senior Lecturer in Heritage Studies and affiliated as Senior Research Associate to the University of Johannesburg and with the McGregor Museum as a Research Associate.

He holds three trademarks and patents in the fields of business management, business administration, project management, business research, history, archaeology, natural, urban, heritage and tourism environments and places of cultural significance. Having worked globally in business and consulting since 1989, he joined SPU in 2014 to pursue an academic career.


Prof David Morris, Extraordinary Professor, Archaeology/Heritage Studies

Contact details: | 082 222 4777




Prof David Morris is Head of Archaeology at the McGregor Museum and Extraordinary Professor in the School of Humanities at Sol Plaatje University. Born in Kimberley, he has a general interest in the archaeology and history of the Northern Cape and Southern Africa; and in museums and their role in society.

Awarded a PhD by the University of the Western Cape, his doctoral research revolved upon the rock art of the Northern Cape, his prior Masters dissertation (cum laude, UWC) having focused on the site of Driekopseiland near Kimberley. He has carried out extensive archaeological fieldwork throughout the Northern Cape and has published extensively on it.

With John Parkington and photographer Neil Rusch, he co-authored the book Karoo Rock Engravings (2008); and coedited with Ben Smith (Wits) and Knut Helskog (Tromso, Norway) the book Working with Rock Art (2012), also contributing a chapter. He also coedited and wrote a chapter for the 2013 book Engraved Landscape: Biesje Poort: Many stories.

In a museological context, he has been involved in creating displays and site museums including the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre. Prof Morris has been at the forefront of conserving and promoting research at the site of Canteen Kopje at Barkly West. He was editor of the South African Archaeological Society newsletter, The Digging Stick (1994-2001) and was vice-president of the Society (2002-2004), serving currently as a member of the society’s National Council. He is a Council Member of the National Museum, Bloemfontein and an honorary member of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists. Prof Morris was appointed an Extraordinary Professor at Sol Plaatje University in 2015 and contributes to the teaching of archaeology in the Heritage Department.


Dr Joseph Chikumbirike, Lecturer: Archaeology/Conservation/Heritage Studies

Contact details: | 053 491 0221


PhD in Science (Palaeosciences) (University of the Witwatersrand); MA Heritage Studies UZ; BSc Geography and Environmental Studies; Certificate Environmental Management in a Globalised Economy(CDG- Germany); Certificate in Software Engineering (UZ); Certificate in Heritage Education (Southampton University–UK); Certificate in Preventive Conservation in Museums in Africa (ICCROM).


Dr Chikumbirike has experience within the Heritage Sector in Southern Africa. His research interests include conservation and cultural heritage management, archaeoethnobotany, palaeoenvironment, and ethnobotany.

He is currently working on three research projects. Firstly, People and plant interaction during the MSA and LSA at Wonderwerk Cave: A vegetational history. The study aims to establish the vegetational history in this area.

Secondly, Social, environment and subsistence economy of the prehistoric societies in Shangani, in Zimbabwe. The study seeks to establish the interaction, social organisation, technological, environment and subsistence practices of prehistoric agricultural communities in this region. Finally, An ethnoarchaeobotanical study of the Kuruman cultural landscape. The study documents local resource exploitation practices by considering social and cultural dynamics native to the area. He has also collaborated as an anthracologist as part of an International Scientific Research Team working at Bushman Cave in the Limpopo Province. The project aims to clarify the stratigraphy and obtain new archaeological samples. His research has been featured in several prominent journals. Dr Chikumbirike joined Sol Plaatje University in July 2016 as a lecturer in Heritage Studies and Archaeology.


Dr Foreman Bandama, Lecturer: Archaeology 

Contact details:  | 053 491 0367


Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology, Economic History and Geography; BA Honours in Archaeology, University of Zimbabwe; MSc. PhD at the University of Cape Town (UCT)


Dr Bandama is an African archaeologist with various specialisations that include lithics, ceramics, glass beads and archaeometallurgy.

His PhD thesis is an interesting blend of conventional material culture studies and archaeometallurgical analyses, focusing on the history of tin and bronze metallurgy and why and how this metallurgical innovation took place.

This is a significant question given that the innovation was not a sequential sequence of inventions but additions to an already vibrant and deeply embedded iron and copper metallurgical tradition.

His research explores the nature of this, and other metallurgical innovations that took place in the context of expanded international trade and commodity production at the precolonial elite centres in the region.

While archaeometallurgy has been his strongest area, methodological overlaps have pushed him to apply his scientific analytical techniques to a range material science questions posed by materials from other research domains, such as glass bead chemistry and ceramic petrography. As an African archaeologist first and foremost, his work draws liberally from African theory, as well as his lived experience as a product of a crafting rural Tsonga family.

His approaches to African theory are informed and calibrated by hermeneutic phenomenology, in which he uses his experiences to examine phenomena as they appeared in his everyday life before they had been theorised, interpreted, explained, and otherwise abstracted by other researchers.

He is the current Secretary and Executive Council Member of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA).

Outside professional pursuits, Dr Bandama is an ardent lover of outdoor life but he often struggles to draw the line as soon as he enters his other office (the bush). He joined SPU in July 2018.


Ms Itumeleng Masiteng, Junior Lecturer: Heritage Studies

Contact details: | 053 491 0229


MHCS Masters (Heritage and Museum Studies), University of Pretoria; BCHS Honours (Heritage and Museum Studies), University of Pretoria; Post Graduate Diploma (Heritage and Museum Studies), University of Pretoria. BSc Archaeology and Psychology; UNISA, BA Honours Archaeology, UNISA


Ms Masiteng a qualified Archaeologist has a Master’s degree in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria.

She has worked as an Archaeology Researcher and Curator for Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History. 

Ms Masiteng has worked for the South African Heritage Resources Agency as an Archaeologist within the Burial Grounds and Graves Unit. Her research interests include the Iron Age of Southern Africa, Archaeo-Zoology, Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology, as well as human remains in museum collections. 

Ms Masiteng joined Sol Plaatje University in November 2016 and teaches in the Higher Cert and BA program courses within Heritage Studies.


Dr Sibongile Masuku, Lecturer: Museum and Heritage Studies 

Contact details: | 053 491 0394


PhD in Education (Environmental Education – Rhodes University); MA in Education (Environmental Education, Rhodes University – cum laude); MA in European Leisure Studies (Vrije Universiteit Brussels), BA Humanities (UNISA – majors – English and History and concurrent diploma in Education).


Dr Masuku is a Mellon Foundation Postdoctorate scholar at the School of Media and Journalism Studies at Rhodes University and an online tutor on Environmental Education for Unisa.

She was also an environmental education external examiner for Unisa.

Her PhD dissertation was titled IN-BETWEENNESS: A postcolonial exploration of sociocultural intergenerational learning through cattle as a medium of cultural expression in Mpembeni, KwaZulu-Natal.

Her MA thesis in Environmental Education was entitled: The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in/for Environmental Education processes.

Her work displays a praxis and theory mix that interweaves cultural heritage, natural heritage and education.

Dr Masuku previously worked with the African World Heritage Fund, the South African Heritage Resources Agency, Robben Island Museum, the national Department of Arts and Culture and King Sobhuza 11 Memorial Park, focusing on cultural heritage interpretation and education, fundraising, policy as well as heritage resources management.

Her work in Natural Resources Management focusing on social ecology and the interface of people and parks was with the South African National Parks and Natal Parks Board.

Dr Masuku has published teacher support materials in Share-Net, as well papers in refereed scientific journals, as well as co-authored a book entitled Our Water, Culture; A glimpse into the water history of the South African People published by the Water Research.

Dr Masuku served as the Chairperson of Luthuli Museum Council, member of the Board of the National Botanical Institute, member of the Ditsong Museums of South Africa as well as Honorary President of the Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa. Dr Masuku was also involved in the drafting of the position paper on World Heritage.


Ms Nyebe Mohale, Junior Lecturer: Heritage Studies

Contact details: | 053 491 0131


B.Sc. Zoology (UFS); BSC Honours Zoology (UFS); BSC Honours Environmental Management (UNISA). MSC (UFS-ongoing)


Ms Mohale teaches Natural History at Sol Plaatje University in the School of Humanities.

She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Environmental Management at the University of the Free State. 

Her research focus is on the Late Pleistocene paleoenvironmentof the South African central interior. Her current research relies strongly on stable isotope analyses for understanding the paleo-environments and dietary behaviour of ancient herbivores of the region and considers how these species responded ecologically differently to climate change.


Dr Lorenco Pinto, Lecturer: Archaeology/Heritage Studies

Contact details: | 053 491 0308


BA Archaeology, History of Art and Anthropology; BA (Honours) Heritage Studies, MSc Rock Art Studies (University of Witwatersrand), PhD in Archaeology (University of Witwatersrand)


Dr Pinto’s PhD dissertation entitled ‘Understanding Variation: A Stylistic-Ethnographic Analysis of Rock Art from the Makgabeng Plateau, Limpopo Province, South Africa’, focussed on the interaction between two rock art corpora and multiple cultural groupings.

He has lectured undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Pretoria. During his tenure at the University of Pretoria he was promoted from junior lecturer to lecturer.

He worked at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, in Pietermaritzburg, as assistant collections manager.

Dr Pinto is committed to heritage community involvement in South Africa. He was the chairperson of the Archaeological Society of South Africa (Northern Branch) from 2016 to 2018. Currently, he is a committee member of the Archaeological Society of South Africa (Trans-Garib branch) and is keen to assist in growing the Society.

From 2017 to 2018, he co-facilitated a National Geographic palaeoanthropology outreach programme. He has worked with various communities from different social backgrounds. Working with these communities has allowed him to share his passion for southern African heritage and the importance of preserving such heritage.

Dr Pinto was appointed a Lecturer at Sol Plaatje University in February, 2018, and teaches undergraduate Heritage Studies and Archaeology modules in the Heritage Department.




Prof Victor Nico Teise, Head of Department and Associate Professor: Afrikaans

Contact details: | 053 491 0189


BA (UWC, majoring in Afrikaans and Dutch and Linguistics); BA (Honours) (UWC); Higher Diploma in Education (UWC); MA (cum laude, Afrikaans & Dutch, UFS); PhD (Afrikaans & Dutch, UFS)


Prof Teise is Head of Department for Languages and Communication in the School of Humanities.

Prof Teise started his teaching career at Dr Blok Senior Secondary School in Heidedal, Bloemfontein and was later appointed as a lecturer and senior lecturer at the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT, FS). At CUT, he also acted as programme head for the Language Practice programme before joining the University of the Free State as a lecturer-researcher in higher education studies where he was responsible for teaching numerous modules in the Advanced Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma as well as the MA programme.

Before joining Sol Plaatje University, Prof Teise was the acting head of the School of Higher Education Studies at the UFS.

He joined Sol Plaatje University in February 2016 and lectures in Afrikaans and Dutch in the BA and BEd undergraduate programmes.

His research focus includes Afrikaans literature and textual criticism as well as higher education.

Dr Marga Stander, Senior Lecturer: Afrikaans

Contact details: | 053 491 0260


PhD (Applied Linguistics, Afrikaans – Vista University); MA in Sociolinguistics (UFS); BA Honours (UFS); and BA in Drama and Theatre Arts (UFS); BEd Honours in Deaf Education (WITS); PGCE (Unisa); a TEFL certificate (Table Bay) and TESOL certificate (Trinity College, London).  She received Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards from the UFS in 2015 and 2016.



Dr Marga Stander has held several academic posts, which included: coordinator for the Unit for Language Development on the Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS); teacher of English, Visual Arts and South African Sign Language at the Thiboloha Special School in Phuthaditjhaba; senior lecturer in Afrikaans Linguistics and Academic Literacy facilitator at UFS.

Dr Stander is a research associate at the Sign Language Department of UFS where she supervises two master students.

Dr Stander has presented her research at local and international conferences and has published several articles.

Her research focus includes applied linguistics, second language acquisition, academic writing and plagiarism.

She joined Sol Plaatje University in March 2017 and teaches English Linguistics and Literature and South African Sign Language as a conversational language.



Mr Sabata Mokae, Lecturer: Creative Writing

Contact details: | 053 491 0170


MA in Creative Writing, Rhodes University; PHD African Languages (ongoing – Rhodes University)


Mr Sabata Mokae is the author of The Story of Sol T. Plaatje (SPET), Escaping Trauma (Corner Café Press) – a collection of English poems, a Setswana novella titled Ga ke Modisa (Geko Publishing/Oxford University Press), a Setswana young adult novella called Dikeledi (Geko Publishing/Oxford University Press) and Kanakotsame: In My Times (The Inksword Publishing), and a collection of newspaper columns.

He has also translated Gcina Mhlophe’s two children’s books from English to Setswana. These are Semaka sa Dinaane (Our Story Magic, UKZN Press) and Dinaane tsa Aforika (Stories of Africa, UKZN Press).

He is the recipient of the South African Literary Award (2011), MNET Literary Award for Best Novel in Setswana (2013), MNET Film Award (2013) and Lesedi la Afrika Award (2017).

In 2014, he was a writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, where he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in Writing.

He is currently completing a PhD in African Languages at Rhodes University.

His research interests are Sol Plaatje, mother tongue fiction writing, historical fiction as well as race and reconciliation in post-apartheid Setswana literature.

He is also involved in the annual Northern Cape Writers Festival, which is organised jointly by Sol Plaatje University and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. He facilitates a Prison Writing Programme at Tswelopele Correctional Centre and the Kimberley Correctional Centre. He joined Sol Plaatje University in September 2015.


Ms Sizakele I Mokhele, Lecturer: Creative Writing 

Contact details: | 053 491 0453


MA in Creative Writing, Rhodes University


Ms Sizakele I Mokhele is a published author and a renowned poet who obtained her MA in Creative Writing in 2018 from the Rhodes University and her thesis was a collection of poems focusing on real stories about poverty, love, politics, past pains and healing, written in demotic language.

Her poetry has been published in local and international literature magazines and journals such the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology and JALADA Africa.

She is also an author of children’s stories, written in IsiZulu, with Oxford University Press. Before she joined Sol Plaatje University in October 2019, she taught English and IsiZulu in Soweto and Parkhurst.

She has a vast and varied experience in running community development programmes.

Since 2009, she has coordinated various local and regional (SADC) literary projects and works voluntarily as an Executive Director of House of Siza – a registered NPO that seeks to change people’s lives through literature, music and art.

Her research interest is in isicamtho poetry. Isicamtho is an informal urban language spoken in South Africa and infuses different languages.



Prof Karen Haire, Associate Professor: English

Contact details: | 053 491 0435


Ed.D (International Education: Language and Literacy), Columbia University, USA; MA (International Political Economy of Development), Fordham University, USA; BA Honours (French and German), Durham University, England


Originally from Ireland, Dr Karen Haire’s area of research is South African man of letters, Sol T Plaatje.

She has published two (co-authored) works on Plaatje: the first, Lover of His People (2012), a translation into English of S.M. Molema’s Setswana biography, with two researched essays; the second, Bringing Plaatje Back Home. Ga E Phetsolele Nageng (2015), the first book-length critical work on Plaatje’s oeuvre.

Her publications in literary journals, Alternation, English Studies in Africa, Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, South African Journal of African Languages and Journal of Black Studies epitomize her decolonising thrust: the (re)writing/telling of African peoples, cultures, stories and history from a postcolonial, non-Western and afrocentric perspective.

As an educator, Dr Haire’s experience includes design and delivery of undergraduate courses in African Studies: Postcolonial (African) Literature; African Cultures; South African History and Apartheid and The Struggle. (United States 2013-2019) as well as building academic/research writing capacity at tertiary (South Africa 2008-2012)

As a writer, she is currently broadening her scope, beyond academic writing, She teaches in the English programme at Sol Plaatje University.


Mrs Elna van Rhyn, Junior Lecturer: English

Contact details: | 053 491 0158


B.A (Languages) with English and Afrikaans and Nederlands (UFS); H.E.D (Unisa); B.Ed Hons (UFS); Postgraduate Diploma in Intercultural Communication (Stellenbosch)


Mrs Elna van Rhyn is currently completing an MA degree in General Linguistics Stellenbosch University.

She has several years of teaching experience and was a lecturer in English at the National Institute for Higher Education in Kimberley.

She joined Sol Plaatje University in January 2015 and teaches courses in English Poetry and Literature.

Her research focus includes intercultural communication, linguistics and editing.



Ms Palesa Seleke, Lecturer: Setswana

Contact details: | 053 491 0207


MA, BA, BA Hons (UNW)


Ms Seleke’s MA research was based on an analysis of Gomolemo Mokae’s Setswana writings.

Mokae was a medical doctor and a Black Consciousness political activist.

Her research explored Mokae’s remarkable and revolutionary contribution to Setswana Modern literature. Deserving of scholarly attention, his writings are some of the few examples of Realist and Committed literature in Setswana and in African languages.

Her research demonstrates that the creation of literary texts can be influenced by extraneous factors.

These include the writer’s biography, historical, socio-political and literary context or environments. Thus in interpreting literary text these contextual influences need to be considered.

Her research recommended a wider application of Contextual Approaches in the analysis of Setswana literature. Ms Seleke has worked as a presenter for a Campus Radio Station, an educator and as a part-time lecturer at North West University’s Mahikeng Campus.

She joined Sol Plaatje University in June 2016 and is a lecturer in the Department of Languages where she teaches Setswana.



Ms Cecilia Nomalanga Mashibini, Lecturer: Interpreting and Translation

Contact details: | 053 491 0467


Diploma Legal Interpreting, University of Potchefstroom; BA Hons Language Practice, University of the Free State


Cecilia Nomalanga Mashibini is a language practitioner specialising in interpreting and translation. 

She holds a Diploma in Legal Interpreting obtained from the University of Potchefstroom in 2001 and a BA Hons Language Practice obtained from the University of the Free State in 2012.

Before she joined the University of Sol Plaatje in 2020, she was employed at the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development as a Provincial Manager: Court Interpreting.

Cecilia Nomalanga Mashibini is a Lecturer in Interpreting & Translation and teaches Interpreting and Theory of law for court interpreters.

She is presently enrolled and studying MA (Language practice) at the University of the Free State.


Ms Mmatlou Jerida Malatji, Lecturer: Court Interpreting 

Contact details: | 053 491 0466


BA Degree, Hon. Degree in Translation Studies and Linguistics and MA in Translation Studies and Linguistics- University of Limpopo


Ms Malatji is currently working on her PhD research proposal with a special focus on Language Policy and Planning.

Before joining Sol Plaatje University in 2020, Ms Malatji was a Research Assistant at the University of Limpopo where she had also registered for her PhD.

She is currently lectures courses on Interpreting Liaison Contexts, English Communication Skills for Interpreters and Legal English.



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