COUP is a growing community of different people in collaboration with each other to advance the creation and dissemination of knowledge regarding cannabis. COUP members have diverse professional experiences and interests, but all share an interest in cannabis. Particularly in researching the potential uses, risks and existing relations of cannabis, as well as advocating and developing policies for cannabis.
Noëleen Murray is an architect and academic who holds the Research Chair in the Humanities at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She previously held the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in Critical Architecture and Urbanism, as the Director of the Wits City Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her key books include 'Desire Lines – Space, Memory and Identity in the Postapartheid City' (2007), and 'Becoming UWC, Reflections, pathways and the unmaking of apartheid’s legacy' (2012). She also co-authored with Leslie Witz on the award winning book titled ‘Hostels, Homes, Museum: Memorializing Migrant Labour Pasts in Lwandle South Africa' (2014). She also serves on the Board of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum in Cape Town, and she is a Fellow of the Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology at LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
Suresh Patel is Stakeholder Manager for Fields of Green for ALL (FGA), a non-profit organisation advocating for cannabis policy and legislative reform in South Africa. FGA has played a pivotal role in accelerating cannabis reform by legally challenging the historic and present complexities surrounding cannabis prohibition and decriminalisation. Suresh’s role is to identify and build relationships with local and international stakeholders who actively engage with a broad range of issues that the cannabis industry has. In addition, he is the project manager and contributor to FGA’s proposed policy framework called 'Cannabis in South Africa, The People’s Plant: A Full-Spectrum Manifesto for Policy Reform.' Suresh has an entrepreneurial background and he is a graduate from the University of Pretoria/Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) with a degree in PgDip in Business Administration. He also has a degree in BSc Property Studies from the University of Cape Town (UCT). He aims to accelerate academic research by combining his stakeholder engagement skills, FGA manifesto and his knowledge of the history and dynamics of the South African Cannabis community.
Peter Vale is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, and a founding Director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS). He is the Nelson Mandela Professor of Politics Emeritus at Rhodes University, and a founding member and Honorary Professor in the Africa Earth Observatory Network (AEON). He is a senior Fellow at the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI), a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa (FRSSAf), the World Academy for Arts and Science (FWAAS) and the African Academy of Science (FAAS). Additionally, he is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (MASSAf), the recipient of the International Medal of the University of Utrecht, as well as the Rhodes University’s Distinguished Senior Research Award. Recently he co-authored a book with Vineet Thakur, titled ‘South Africa, race and the making of international relations’ (2020) which won the Francesco Guicciardini Prize for Best Book in Historical International Relations.
Marc Wegerif is a lecturer in Development Studies that has over 30 years of experience working with a range of organisations on human rights issues, particularly involving food systems, economic justice and agrarian reform over the last 20 years. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Human Economy Programme, University of Pretoria, during which he did research on food systems and land rights. Before that Marc obtained his PhD in Rural Sociology from Wageningen University. The focus of the research was on the food system that feeds the large and fast-growing city of Dar es Salaam. Before joining academia he did extensive work with a range of South African non-government organisations, such as consulting with national and international development agencies, and starting and running several development organisations. He has extensive experience with Oxfam International as their previous Land Rights Policy Lead, in which he was responsible for global advocacy and coordination of the organisation’s land related policy and advocacy work. Additionally, he also held a position as the Food and Land Rights Advisor for Oxfam which involved developing Oxfam policies on food and land issues, doing international campaigning and managing several multi-country projects and providing internal advice. Marc has a keen interest in cannabis as a multi-use cash crop and the potential economic and agricultural impact the plant will have on South Africa.
Motshedisi (Tshidi) Mathibe
Motshedisi (Tshidi) Mathibe is a lecturer at University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). She teaches on the Post Diploma in Business Management in the area of Entrepreneurship. She Also teaches Entrepreneurship and Strategic Marketing on the Corporate programme and Enterprise Development Academy space. Her research interests are in the field of Social Entrepreneurship, Women Entrepreneurship, Informal Sector Economy, Base of the Pyramid Markets, and Strategic Marketing. In addition, to teaching and research responsibilities, Tshidi is involved in The United Nation’s Global Impact Young SDG Innovators Programme. As part of the programme Mentors, Tshidi supports the team of young innovators in their efforts to frame a challenge, applying sustainable business and innovation concepts to create prototypes and tangible business solutions with real market potential. She plays a vital role from ideation to development to a presentation of these young minds’ solutions to the company’s senior management.
Tracy Muwanga is a trans-disciplinary post-doctoral research fellow, for the Faculty of Law as well as the Natural and Agricultural sciences at the University of Pretoria. She finished her LLD degree in Public Law, from the Department of Public Law at the University of Pretoria in 2018, with the research focus for her thesis on medical and human rights law. Currently, Dr Muwanga is working on research relating to the right to food, food systems and food insecurity, which has sparked her interest in the Cannabis field from an agricultural and legal perspective. She is currently undergoing a legal comparative study regarding the legalisation of cannabis. She is interested in the intersection between legislation, policy and cannabis and hemp as an agricultural crop.
Maryke Steynvaart is a Masters student studying Socio-Cultural Anthropology at UP, and she is pursuing a career in social research and policy development. For her Honours degree she conducted qualitative research on the dynamics of emergent Cannabis Social Clubs in South Africa. She is furthering her studies on the socio-economic relations of cannabis and the various cannabis distribution models that have existed, still exists and are continously emerging. As a journalist she has written about cannabis research at UP and covered cannabis webinars for PDBY (formerly ‘Die Perdeby’ UP’s independent student newspaper) amongst several other topics. She has also co-authored an article published in the Daily Maverick titled ‘Proposed cannabis law has serious shortcomings and must go back to the drawing board.’ Generally she has an interest in medical, environmental and economic Anthropology, but specifically the use of plant medicines and the burgeoning ‘psychedelic revolution’.
Jonathan Cane is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. With Noëleen Murray, Research Chair at the University of Pretoria, he is working on a project called ‘EAST: N4/EN4’ which studies minor architectures and infrastructure that connect South African and Mozambique along the N4/EN4 highway corridor. He is the Principle Investigator on the SSRC-funded project 'Sounding the Monsoon' which examines the possibility of sound art to help us think about the Anthropocene and climate change. He holds a PhD in Art History from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and is the author of the monograph ‘Civilising Grass: The Art of the Lawn on the South African Highveld’ (2019), a queer and postcolonial study of gardening. He is a specialist in landscape art in the Global South, having done extensive fieldwork in Latin America and Southern Africa, and he is preparing a book manuscript on the politics of the land in contemporary art.
Andrea Hayes is an award-winning video game developer and game studies academic. She recently finished her Masters Degree in Developments studies at Wits University, which focused on queer and gender studies in various video game spaces. Andrea is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria in Development Studies which falls under the Department of Anthropology & Archaeology. Her PhD work explores the various intersections between video games and climate change, which aims to find ways in which acts of play can create awareness around the human impact on the environment. Andrea has a passion for creative coding, experimenting with digital art and developing video games. She is a freelance website and video game developer, who is passionate about diversifying the tech industry and empowering women in development. Andrea is interested in growing the knowledge around cannabis production and technology within South Africa. She is the website developer for COUP (The Cannabis Organisation, University of Pretoria).
Tshiamo Moumakwe is a final year student in Financial Sciences at the University of Pretoria and who is also a Marketing Intern at TuksNovation, University of Pretoria's business incubator and has been actively involved in their Marketing relations. She recently discovered her passion in assisting small businesses market their businesses and to assist them in refining their ideal customer. In her spare time she is a blossoming creative who enjoys exploring her creativity through directing her own conceptual photography initiatives on her personal Instagram account @tshiamo_wanders. She is passionate about natural forms of healing, plant medicines and the unlimited potential cannabis holds as a medicine to its potential industrial potential. She is determined to aid in raising the awareness of the potential that cannabis holds for South Africa as a country.
Oratile Mangwane is an Honours student in Development Science with a Politics
Undergraduate from the University of Pretoria. Her research interests include urban
planning, spatial inequality and social issues amongst others. She is also a Research and
Development assistant with Helping!Another, an NPO that deals with career development
and higher education. Oratile is passionate about research, Pan-African writing and
contemporary art; she also hopes to contribute to writing in the genre one day. COUP presents an opportunity to learn about the cannabis industry in South Africa and how it can contribute to the medicinal needs of people
Fraser McNeill is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pretoria. He is an NRF rated researcher and received a PhD in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2007, and has published widely on traditional leadership, health, illness, music, ritual and various other aspects relating to the previous homeland of Venda. His interest in Cannabis research is ethnographic, and he is primarily interested in the connection between gendered social relations of Rastafarian organizations and the distinction between male and female cannabis plants. You can see a panel discussion he participated in for the ASSAF here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJVn6kp_5hE
Prof Vanessa Steenkamp is currently Deputy Dean: Teaching & Learning in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria. Prior to her appointment as Dean she was the Head of Department of Pharmacology at the same institution. Her research interest focuses on traditional herbal remedies and the development of drugs from the said medications, which includes drug safety testing. Her research interests also include drugs of abuse and forensic toxicology. She is the author of 180 scientific papers and 6 book chapters and is frequently invited to speak at conferences, having presented on 328 occasions. Professional registrations include; Health Professions Council of South Africa as a Biological Scientist and dual registration as a Natural Scientist and Toxicologist with The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions. She is an active member of scientific organizations And holds several executive roles on committee boards.
Gillian Kerchhoff has a Masters degree in Library And Information Studies (Research Librarianship and Digital Curation) from the University of Cape Town in 2017. She has worked for more than 20 years as a librarian in a number of academic and research libraries as well as in NGOs, including a recent position as librarian at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies focusing on information and research curation. Since 2017 she has been lecturing and supervising students part-time in the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of the Western Cape.