Home Articles Special Report – 35-under-35 finalists

Special Report – 35-under-35 finalists

It gives us the greatest honour to announce the names of 35 of the most outstanding young CAs(SA) in South Africa. They have been handpicked not only for their exceptional career achievements and abilities but also for how they actively are giving back to the community and the less fortunate – and ultimately for the way in which their goals and visions are furthering their lives and careers and changing the world around them for the better

Shiluba Mawela27, Corporate Finance Officer at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange

Shiluba Mawela currently holds the position of Corporate Finance Officer at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. As well as being the founder and co-director of Lesedi Entrepreneurial Hub, a social development enterprise that provides support, advice and mentorship to start-ups, she is also co-director and treasurer of Transitions Foundation, a non-profit organisation that helps young people to realise their dreams through education.

In 2012 she was selected as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. In November 2013, she was recognised by Destiny magazine as a Top 40 Outstanding Young Leader, Innovator and Job Creator for her work in social activism. She has also received the AfriTrust Community Award.

Siyabonga Gugu Nxiweni 34, CEO of Emmanuel Haven

Gugu was involved in tutoring students even before he qualified as a CA(SA). His passion to give back is even more evident today, with him giving regular talks to the NMMU Thuthuka students on leadership.

After completing his articles at KPMG he took over the position of CEO at Emmanuel Haven (an NGO founded by his mother).

Emmanuel Haven is a Section 21 not-for-profit company and is working towards the vision of a HIV-free Motherwell (the largest township in Port Elizabeth). The organisation provides homecare services, offers treatments at day-care clinics, and runs projects for children infected with or affected by HIV.

During his tenure, Emmanuel Haven was awarded a World Leadership Award in 2007 by the World Leadership Forum. Gugu has received local, national and international recognition, and he was recently honoured by the World Economic Forum to be part of the Young Global Leader class of 2014.

Cuan Chelin 32, Founder and CEO of the Super-Brands Group

Cuan Chelin has built a R240 million per annum turnover business in six years.

On 1 April 2014, Cuan sold his sports brand business to a subsidiary of a JSE-listed group but continues to grow a remarkable portfolio of leading businesses including South Africa’s largest online sports betting website; Toy Kingdom, a toy retail chain; and a joint venture with the South African Golf Association.

Cuan has just featured on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine (June issue), as well as in various pubications and articles including  Finweek in which he discusses the future of online retail in South Africa.

The business donated sporting equipment to over 100 Khayalitsha school children at the Cricket School of Excellence Development Clinic in Khayalitsha. Cuan partakes in a number of other CSI programmes.

Mergan Naidoo 32, CFO of the Goldrush Gaming Group

After joining Egoli Gaming in 2009, Mergan Naidoo’s ability was soon affirmed and he was duly offered a seat on the board as a director, shareholder and partner. Mergan is now CFO of the Goldrush Gaming Group.

Mergan initiated and lead the acquisition, merger and restructuring of multiple (17) companies in the gaming industry. The process that lasted three years and involved negotiations with multiple stakeholders, tax structuring in South Africa and the UK, BEE Structuring, as well as mediating with multiple gambling boards for regulatory approvals.

This culminated in the formation of the Goldrush Gaming Group in December 2013 – one of the largest alternative gaming groups in South Africa .

Thomas Teddy Mogale Kgokolo 30, CFO: Competition Commission of South Africa

In January 2014, Thomas Kgokolo was appointed as the CFO of the Competition Commission of South Africa, as well as been elected as the acting chief risk officer of the commission.

In 2013, at the age of 29, Thomas was appointed chairperson of Mineworkers Provident Fund’s Risk and Audit Committee.

The fund is one of the top ten retirement funds in South Africa with a total membership of 106 000, and an asset base of R24,8 billion.

Working with SAICA on the FET colleges Financial Management Improvement programme from 2012, Thomas assisted in drafting the supply chain management policy for all 52 FET colleges and provided training to over 150 college officials.

Mariam Cassim 32, CEO of Thebe Connect

Mariam created an initiative that unlocked R150 million of new value in the Thebe Group. She created this by unlocking existing synergies after noticing that the group companies were operating as silos and post-merger integration was poor in the company.

She is currently the CEO of Thebe Connect – a new business idea that she has begun to monetise at Thebe. She also represents Thebe as a non-executive director on the boards of various companies where she continues to add value with her vast knowledge gained through the synergy initiative.

She gives back by mentoring and tutoring maths and accounting students from disadvantaged backgrounds during her personal time and has always been passionate about the concept of giving  of oneself.

Devin Sinclair 31, Chief Operating Officer of Okapi

Devin Sinclair has relished the challenge and opportunity of building and creating Africa’s first true luxury brand. Okapi  produces luxury leather goods that are entirely made in South Africa from hundred per cent African-sourced raw material.

Devin successfully tasked the challenge of setting up and managing all financial, operational and e-commerce aspects of the business in both South Africa and London. At the end of 2013, he found great satisfaction in launching the online store and brand in London. One of the attractions of his role at Okapi is that corporate social responsibility is at the core of everything they do.

Augmenting his CA(SA) with an MBA from the Judge Buiness School at the University of Cambridge has been a recent highlight in his career.

Vianca Pretorius 31, Partner: Grant Thornton

Vianca’s vision has always been to become a partner in the profession – and she achieved this in June 2013 when she became the youngest partner out of the 110 at Grant Thornton in South Africa.

This gives her the opportunity to transfer skills and mentor students studying to become Chartered Accountants, both internally at Grant Thornton and externally where she lectures to previously disadvantaged students for smaller institutions.

One of her many career highlights was when she was selected to attend the Grant Thornton International Advanced Manager Programme in 2013/14. It was held in Chicago, Madrid and Bangkok.

Lauren Berrington 35, Chief Audit Executive of Bidvest

Lauren is the Chief Audit Executive of Bidvest. Her role requires her to oversee some 75 internal auditors across 11 divisions of the company. The mandate that she has successfully executed within two years was to transform the Internal Audit function from an underperforming, low-skilled and technologically outdated function to one that is iconic and progressive within the audit fraternity.

A career highlight for her was when she was nominated for the Bidvest Chairman’s Award. The nomination was affirmation that she was successfully achieving her vision for the Internal Audit function.

She makes a difference by her involvement of charity projects like hosting Christmas fairs and has hosted, funded and arranged a market for the SPCA in Germiston.

Bonolo Molemo Ramokhele  27, Executive Director: Strategy and Business

Development of LeoFortis Group

Being elected to chair World Economic Forum Global Shapers, Johannesburg Hub, is a recent and significant highlight for Bonolo Ramokhele, as well as being in the top 1 per cent of youngest people to be invited to the WEF’s Davos meeting.

Currently, Bonolo is Executive Director: Strategy and Business Development of LeoFortis Group. Here, a great achievement for him has been securing an energy contract in South Sudan which included managing a team of engineers and closing a deal with the Minister of Housing and Energy.

A passionate committee member of the Association for the Advancement of Blacck Accountants of Southern Africa (ABASA) Education Committee, Bonolo is making a difference through organising career days in rural areas and townships in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Gauteng.

Lorenzo Phillippe Cardoso 33, CFO of SA Taxi Finance Holdings

Lorenzo is the CFO and director of SA Taxi Finance Holdings (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Transaction Capital Limited. He is experienced in finance, funding, profitability and financial modelling. He was instrumental in redefining the company’s funding structure with a recent successful listing of a rated securitisation vehicle on the JSE that resulted in a material change in the cost funding of SA Taxi.

He was also appointed as one of the Top 50 Executives of Transactional Capital Group – and is one of the youngest members. The group has more than 5 000 employees.

Ismail Lambat 31, Executive Manager at Eskom

In his seventh year at Eskom and at the tender age of 31, Ismail Lambat is an Executive Manager – Capital Efficiency. In his current position he is responsible for leading a team responsible for the strategic planning, optimising and prioritisation of Eskom’s Capital Investment Portfolio, currently standing at  R300 billion. Ismail has had an illustrious career so far  having represented South Africa internationally in the structuring and financing of the proposed Nuclear Programme and is actively involved in a Business Productivity Initiative at Eskom.

He is passionate about philanthropic activity and is involved in the development and training of entrepreneurs and the appraisal of business plans for new businesses. He is a trustee of an NGO and has spearheaded social upliftment programmes.

Matshepo Faith More 32, Chief Financial Officer of the Public

Investment Corporation

Although most CAs(SA) dream of being CFO of a JSE-listed entity by the age of 40, little did she know that she would achieve her goal so soon. At the age of 32, Matshepo was appointed Chief Financial Officer of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) which has assets equal to R1,4 trillion. The PIC is a JSE Top 40 listed entity and owns 12 per cent of the JSE’s market capitalisation – making it the largest bond market holder in South Africa. A year later she was also appointed Executive Director.

Matshepo is a board member of ABASA. She also sits the Social and Ethics Board Sub-committee of property company Pareto and the board of ComProp – a property company managing township retail.

David Matthew Smith Finance Controller – Operations at Pick n Pay

Recently appointed as Finance Controller – Operations, David Smith is currently the youngest divisional director in Pick n Pay. He credits his progression to his ability to take initiative at every corner.

Since joining Pick n Pay in 2007, David has enjoyed rapid promotion through the ranks right to Divisional Director – Finance in 2011 where he played a vital role in merchandise finance and assisted seting up new reporting parameters.

Being the initiator, during his training contract with KPMG David organised a cause called Change4Change which raised money for various charities – a successful initiative still in place, seven years later.

Abednigo Tau26, MD of Thamani Strategic Investments

Abednigo was awarded the Deloitte Way for 2013, but he decided to pursue his entrepreneurial dream and founded Thamani Strategic Investments Pty Ltd. He is Managing Director of the company.

Abednigo has also made strategic investments on his own and co-owns a sports pub in Soweto. For him it’s a privilege to be able to directly affect the people living in the area by creating sustainable jobs.

He makes a difference by organising charity events on his own, like 1 000 Blankets, 1 000 Lives where he collects 1 000 blankets every year and hand it out to street children in winter. He also heads up an initiative involving painting children’s homes and old age homes.

Jurie Bester32, Co-owner and Manager at Junit Manufacturing CC

Leaving  a managerial position at Grant Thornton Durban, Jurie Bester joined the family business, Junit Manufacturing CC, in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland. The business is co-owned and managed by Jurie and his mother and manufactures clothing for Woolworths. It employs 2 000 people.

Within four years the turnover has increased two-fold. Jurie has even bigger plans for the future and is in negotiations with Mauritian fabric suppliers to increase their lines and changing their set-up to export some of the products to the United Kingdom and United States.

Jurie is also involved in property development in Zimbali Golf Estate, Ballito, and town house development in Newcastle.

He sponsors many schools and donates a lot to charity, especially in rural areas where poverty and unemployment is on the rise.

Gavin Mark Lucas 33, Lead Founder and CEO of the Stor-Age Self Storage Group

The lead founder and CEO of the Stor-Age Self Storage Group of Companies, Gavin Mark Lucas, was just 24 and completing his articles when he started Stor-Age with three other partners. Gavin is now 33 and the company has more than 370 employees and a portfolio value in excess of R1,5 billion and is well on its way to meeting its target of a R2 billion, 40-property portfolio by 2015.

Gavin has played a lead role at Stor-Age in developing their Community Interaction Programme. Built on two of Stor-Age’s four core values, sustainability and relevance, they provide financial assistance to local communities’ schools and sports clubs.

Jana Duvenage 30, Co-Director of Donna HD Chartered


In September 2012, Jana Duvenage and her partner, Celeste Hendricks, decided to take a huge step in their career and launched their own accounting, auditing  and tax business – Donna HD Chartered Accountants, of which she is now co-director.

For the year ended 28 February 2014, their second year of trading, they have managed to exceed R1 million in revenue and have more than 220 clients.

Jana makes a difference by being involved in local CSI projects and her company provides financial assistance and guidance to local churches, farmers and schools.

Celeste Hendricks 27, Co-Director of Donna HD Chartered Accountants

Besides becoming a Chartered Accountant at the age of 23, another great achievement for Celeste Hendricks has been to start her own business with partner Jana Duvenage. She is now co-director of Donna HD Chartered Accountants.

They perform all financial-related services and in their second year of trading have exceeded the R1 million revenue mark. They have a client portfolio of more than 220 clients.

They take initiative by training their clients on how to perform certain accounting duties themselves, thus improving clients’ skills and adding value to the business community.

Jacques Lubbe32, CFO of TSX-listed  Katanga Mining Ltd

Jacques set himself a goal to become CFO of an internationally listed mining company by the age of 37, after 12 years of experience in the mining industry. He decided to take the road less travelled and grabbed the opportunity to join a start-up mining operation in the DRC. He never looked back …

His appointment as  CFO of TSX-listed Katanga Mining Ltd was announced in November 2013. At the age of 32, five years ahead of his plan, this has been the highlight of his career.

Living in Central Africa, where poverty is rife and basic infrastructure and health services are lacking, he and his wife decided that they didn’t have a choice – they had to get involved in uplifting their community.

Joey Lin33, Financial Director at Groot Constantia

Outside his professional career at Engen, Joey Lin has been the financial director at Groot Constantia since his appointment in 2009. Groot Constantia is the oldest operating wine farm in South Africa and currently one of the Big 6 tourist destinations in Cape Town, drawing over 300 000 tourists annually.

All directors of the company provide their services pro bono. For Joey, it was a privilege to take over the role of financial director from a highly respected CA(SA), Sakkie van der Vyver, at the age of 29.

Joey and his wife have been mentoring a TSIBA student since 2007.

Mojalefa Abram Molete30, Director at Molete and Khumalo

Lefa believes that 2014 has been a year of true harvest – he sowed seeds in his life and this is the year they are coming to fruition. There were times when he hit rock bottom, but his passion and vision for himself and his country got him through.

Currently Mojalefa holds the position of co-director of Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants. And while statistics show that the majority of SMEs in South Africa don’t survive their first year, three years down the line their firm is still standing, and most importantly, growing.

In April this year, Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants won the Johannesburg regional Shanduka Black Umbrellas Enterprise Development Award

Peterson Khumalo28, Director at Molete and Khumalo

Peterson is the co-director of Molete and Khumalo Chartered Accountants which specialise in audit, tax and advisory. He left a well-paid job in the corporate world to start the firm with his partner. It was a big step to take, but he believes it’s about making a choice: do you want to be a manger, or do you want to determine your own destiny.

Their company has won the Shanduka Black Umbrellas award for the most jobs created, as well as being placed second for being the best-performing company.   Shanduka Black Umbrellas is a non-profit company involved in the support of emerging black businesses through enterprise development.

Cobus Grove 32, CFO of DigiCore Holdings

In 2013, Cobus Grove was appointed as CFO and Group Financial Director of DigiCore Holdings Ltd, which is listed on the Main Board of the JSE. Cobus has the responsibility of finance and business processes for the group that has an international footprint of more than 50 countries.

Cobus has again been appointed as a member of the SAICA Accounting Practices Council after serving on the committee for a period of three years previously. He is also head of Accounting on SAICA’s Examinations Committee (Examco), which is responsible for setting the Board’s papers. Along with writing articles for Accountancy SA magazine, he has also presented various SAICA seminars. He has also lectured on the SAICA Thuthuka programme through UJ for a period of three years.

Shabeer Hamid Khan 34, CFO of the Department of Trade and Industry

Shabeer Hamid Khan has gone from being a senior manager at the Auditor-General’s office to CFO at the dti. He is now responsible for a budget in excess of R9,5 billion. He was previously responsible for the audit of numerous government departments and entities, as well as being the team leader on two international assignments.

The CFO Help Desk, for which Khan is responsible, was first runner-up in the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) 2013 awards.

In 2013 the dti successfully hosted the first ever South African Premier Business Awards.In 2014 Khan played a key role in the dti executive team with respect to this event, which was attended by President Jacob Zuma.

Eben-Ludwig Mare 32, Financial Director of Cambridge Food

Cambridge Food is the latest division of the Massmart Group.  Eben has been with the company from December 2011 and has worked alongside his CEO to establish the business in a very competitive environment within the South African market. After establishing the fiannce department his responsibilities grew to include the current functions of property, business development, finance, compliance, legal, risk and the management of nine direct reports and the existing staff compliment of over 80 team members.

Eben joined Cambridge from Massmart Holdings where he held the position of Group Financial Manager. During this time he received two citations for excellence of which the first was in 2009 for exceptional performance during a trying time for the Group Finance department. The second was in 2011 as member of the Massmart deal team that worked to ensure the succesful Massmart/Walmart transaction.

Rayna Dolphin 32, Head of Business Finance at STANLIB Asset Management

Rayna’s remarkable achievement of being appointed Head of Business Finance at STANLIB Asset Management includes managing over R500 billion worth of assets. She has successfully leveraged the strength of the CA(SA) qualification and brand to obtain an international career in finance, having worked and lived in the UK and the Netherlands before recently returning to South Africa.

Her role is a strategic finance and planning one which involves engaging with all key stakeholders of the business, reporting to the company Exco and holding company, Liberty, as well as contributing to financial assessment of strategic decision on the business and management for South Africa and the rest of Africa.

In May 2013, Rayna graduated with an international MBA from IE Business School, a top-ranked business school in Spain.

Cindy Mc Kay 33, Director: Audit BEE Inc

Cindy Mc Kay has no regrets after leaving secure employment for the unknown and starting her own audit practice, AuditBEE Inc, in November 2011.

Today they are two partners, five staff members and the business is still growing. They service in excess of 250 clients ranging from small to large enterprises, always striving to deliver excellent, fast and efficient service . She is proud of her achievement and enjoys every day at the office.

Cindy supports Jehova Jaireh, an orphanage in Hammanskraal, through delivering administrative functions to them at no charge.

Gareth Olivier 30, Co-founder of CA Connect

Five years ago, Gareth Olivier, together with three CA(SA) friends, started a company called CA Connect.

Gareth’s team partnered with Monash South Africa and launched South Africa’s only private SAICA-accredited CTA in 2013. In 2014, the CTA was bolstered to also admit after-hours CTA students and becoming the first CTA in South Africa delivered via blended learning.

Currently, Gareth is the CTA programme coordinator and also lectures in CTA Financial Reporting. Gareth has high hopes for the role that this programme can play in transformation and is excited about the broad base of students that can benefit from blended learning.

Jeanrè Blignaut31, Owner, Blignaut Chartered Accountants

After leaving his job as Financial Manager at a property group, Jeanrè decided to open his own firm. Today, he is the owner of Blignaut Chartered Accountants, with more than 1 000 clients and a staff complement of 12. In 2013 he was appointed chairman of the Audit Committee of the Kouga Local Municipality.

His audit practice performs various audits at no charge (or at cost). He is also a registered Training Office of SAICA which strives to train future Chartered Accountants to the highest standards possible.

Alphonso Brand 32, Owner, Brand Financial Services

Alphonso has successfully launched and managed various business components: Brand Farming Solutions specialising in the cultivation of pecan nuts and sheep farming, and Brand Financial Services offering accounting and tax services, mostly to SMEs.

He is a partner in a Forensic Audit company where he conducts and manages forensic audits on behalf of various clients with their legal teams.

Alphonso also owns Brand Filling Station, a filling station and convenience store in the Northern Cape.

He also has various investments in properties, primarily in Johannesburg.

Wikus (Willem) Lategan33, Financial Director of Calgro M3

Wikus Lategan  is one of the youngest financial directors on a listed company. He has been instrumental in restructuring and growing Calgro M3 from a R30 million company to a R1 billion company, as well as in restructuring and growing Calgro M3’s JSE Main Board listing in 2012.

He has also been instrumental in the transparency of Calgro M3 reporting and achieving a merit chartered secretaries award in partnership with the JSE  for it 2013 integrated annual report.

Wikus is passionate about being able to make a difference in the living conditions of the people of South Africa and greater Africa, specifically children.

Werner Swanepoel 29, MD of Medical Practice Consulting

Through knowledge obtained during his period of auditing medical schemes and pharmaceutical companies, Werner  is making a difference in the healthcare industry.

He incorporated Medial Practice Consulting (Pty) Ltd – a company of which he is now Managing Director. It joined the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) group of companies, of which the ultimate holding company is the South African Medical Association (SAMA).

Within four years, a web-based Training, Risk and Compliance Management System (TRISCOMS) was launched hosting accredited medical CDP courses and medical journal CPD modules and giving medical doctors in rural areas access to accredited training and professional development through the telecoms networks where infrastructure has been unable to facilitate training in the past.

Today TRISCOMS supports more than 9 500 registered healthcare professionals.

Gugu Vivian Mtetwa 34, Managing Executive: Finance & Technology at Vodacom

At the age of only 28 Gugu was accepted as a partner at PwC and just four years later appointed to ManCo.

After an enjoyable 12 year career in auditing, in 2014 she had a change in career. She is currently the Managing Executive in Finance & Technology at Vodacom. She also serves on the audit committee of Brand South Africa.

Gugu is very passionate about the advancement of black chartered accountants and has been a member of ABASA for a number of years where she served as a member of the board and as vice-president from 2011-2013.

Sapna Galal 31, Co-owner of Impumelelo Financial Advisory Solutions

Sapna, together with her fellow CA(SA) business partner, has successfully initiated and developed a consulting business called Impumelelo Financial Advisory Solutions (IFAS).They started the firm in 2009 and it has recently attained its highest turnover level since inception. IFAS is currently an SME and is fully owned by black women.

She firmly believes that you can achieve career goals without sacrificing family, thereby maintaining a balanced life. Sapna has always been determined to prove that these are not mutually exclusive and decided to become an entrepreneur in order to fulfil this dream.