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Khulekani Dumisa (32)

Founder and Journalist, Khulekani on Wheels

Enterprising 32-year-old Khulekani Dumisa has created a career for himself that many will envy – he gets to drive new cars for a living.

He’s broken into the elite world of motoring journalism through the back door, by setting up his own website entitled Khulekani on Wheels. It’s become a platform that the car industry can’t ignore, backed up by social media coverage on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with a combined monthly reach of over 300 000 views.

Last year he was asked to join the judging panel for the awards, and he’s recruited six other motoring enthusiasts for his team and hired a motoring journalism intern.

Technically Dumisa is a lawyer, he studied at the universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Witwatersrand, specialising in banking and financial markets law; and he may return to the profession one day. Right now though, he’s following a different calling: “I am exploring a new career and answering the call of entrepreneurship. I hope to help grow our economy and create opportunities for others,” he says.

“If this dream comes true and what we are building succeeds, part of the growth would be to groom a successor. That will allow me to go back to law. To teach possibly. Maybe I’ll start another venture. The prospects in this country are exciting.”

Not many young people enjoy the same opportunities, he says, which is why he challenged himself to start a business that can generate jobs. He aims to hone Khulekani on Wheels into a leading social media-based motoring platform and to grow as an entrepreneur.

“I wish to create opportunities for writers, journalists, photographers, videographers and other creatives who are passionate about motoring to realise their dreams by creating some of the best work the industry has ever seen,” he says.

It’s also fulfilling his own dreams, of course, because he’s passionate about cars. “I am immensely privileged to experience different cars, almost on a weekly basis, that every car lover dreams about,” he says. “As much as people love all sorts of cars, the average person usually has to make a call on one car. I consider it my calling to arm the consumer with pertinent information so they are informed.”

He know that people spend hours conducting online research and wade through masses of information.

“We simplify the information and make it relatable. This empowers the consumer with their decision-making and makes the information readily available to them,” he says. – Lesley Stones



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Nosipho Dumisa (31)

Nosipho Dumisa (31)

Writer, Director & Producer, Gambit Films Pty (Ltd)

Anybody who frequents arthouse cinemas will remember Nommer 37, a tense, gritty gangster movie set in Cape Town.

It was the work of Nosipho Dumisa, a screenwriter, director and producer and the co-founder of Gambit Films. Nommer 37 won her numerous awards internationally, including the Cheval Noir jury prize for Best Director at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. It was also selected to premiere at the SXSW (South by South West) International Film Festival in Texas in 2018, becoming the first wholly South African-made feature film to ever have its world premiere at this prestigious festival.

Dumisa (31) has also served as a jury member for feature films at Neuchâtel International Film Festival in Switzerland. Closer to home, she’s directed episodes of kykNET and Kie’s Youth Dance Drama series, danZ.

Now she’s about to start directing a series she has written for Netflix called Blood & Water, a drama about a youngster who uncovers a dark family secret.

Dumisa first started performing stories and creating imaginary worlds with her siblings when they were very, very young. “Storytelling in every medium has a way of changing the world, changing world views, and helping people escape for a little while. Watching all of those emotions play across an audience is just one of the reasons that I’m passionate about it,” she says.

“As a storyteller, I’m able to introduce people to new worlds and subcultures, helping to create bridges and hopefully understanding between all of us. I’m also able to assist people in a bit of escapism. Mostly though, through filmmaking I am able to share ideas and start conversations.”

She believes her work as a young film entrepreneur is contributing positively to the country’s economy. Basing her company in Cape Town, a city infamous for still being very segregated, will hopefully break down some walls, she says. “I am fighting against stereotypes of what a director should be, and of what stories should be told. Hopefully, I am also able to open doors for other women in this industry and help to elevate us to where we should be — equals.”

One day she hopes to write a novel, but more than anything else she wants to see Gambit Films help the local film industry to raise its voice internationally.

— Lesley Stones


David Franciscus (28)

David Franciscus (28)

Film producer and writer-director

The magic of storytelling, with an entrepreneurial and industry-specific edge is what makes film writer and director David Franciscus tick. He wants to entertain people with inspiring stories that will have a positive impact on the world: “Stories that will inspire us all to reach higher, live consciously and to be kinder to one another.”

He’s the founder and managing director of Protagonist Studios, which employs seven full-time staff members. Together with its mandate to produce TV commercials, Protagonist Studios is currently developing two feature films and two TV series..

“I’ve always been in love with cinema and I’ve always been drawn to stories,” he says. “Coming from a mixed ethnic background, I never felt a sense of belonging as a kid. I eventually found my identity in film and everything I am and everything I’ve accomplished is due to my love for the craft of filmmaking. I’m passionate about telling stories because I believe the ability to record memories, biologically speaking, makes … life worth living.”

Franciscus believes that film is one of the most effective ways to share stories with the world and to inspire positive social change. It enables audiences to see and experience something from another person’s perspective, which is how a filmmaker/storyteller can create empathy and promote kindness.

Stories can be used for the betterment of humanity or to its detriment, and Franciscus  is firmly on the side of good. His commercial work funds unpaid ”passion projects”, which include producing and directing a socially-conscious horror movie, and a sci-fi TV series called Happy to Serve You, a fictional look at conservation and the effects of over-population.

Franciscus can trace his realisation that his love for stories could be turned into a career to his years at university. He studied at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where he had the chance to assist the directors of local and international TV commercials.

After graduating in 2011 he studied film and entrepreneurship in the United States for a year, before coming home to launch seven niche technology companies, one of which proved successful enough to represent the seed money he needed to launch Protagonist Studios.

In 2015, Franciscus won a Silver Loerie award and a Cannes Whale Tale award for the first commercial he produced and directed, and last year he won a Gold Loerie for being Brand SA’s Young Creative 2018.

He’s just finished shooting a short comedy film called Open Mike Knight, and also on his agenda is an entrepreneurial reality show, which he is producing in partnership with the SA Innovation Summit, a project he describes as a mash-up of Dragon’s Den, The Apprentice and Survivor. – Lesley Stones


Nkosiyati Khumalo (32)

Nkosiyati Khumalo (32)

Editor-in-chief, GQ South Africa

An overachiever par excellence, Nkosiyati Khumalo demands to be taken seriously and the world rises to meet him. GQ South Africa is one of the nation’s most stylish men’s lifestyle media brands and Khumalo is at the helm to make sure that it stays right there at the top. He is the third editor-in chief of GQ South Africa and the first Black editor-in-chief globally.

Born in Swaziland and raised in the United States, Khumalo has always known what he wanted to do with his life. “I loved reading and writing from a young age and as I grew older, I found I loved speaking to people and finding out their stories and sharing them accurately; that’s when I knew that there is nothing I’d rather do but media, in order to represent stories correctly,” he says.

Khumalo dropped out after his first year at university due to financial constraints and began doing odd jobs. In 2008 he moved to South Africa, hungry for success, where his chutzpah enabled him to grow from strength to strength. Being in a new country revitalised his passion as he sought to understand the market and the gaps that needed to be filled. In various capacities and jobs, Khumalo did everything from working in retail to managing a choir to freelancing until he was employed by GQ as an intern.

His position allows him to push boundaries and take each issue to the next level. Khumalo says that as a child, he rarely got to see Africans being represented fully in their beauty, talent and creativity and his driving motivation is being able to change the narrative. His new cover strategy has shaken up the magazine industry in South Africa and elevated stories and photography to a whole new level.

Khumalo pursues a wide variety of channels to provide opportunities for up and coming talent. He is particularly passionate about imparting writing and public speaking skills and wants everyone to know that “the veil is now off and you have access to me — tag me, pitch your ideas, let us collaborate, I am open to new perspectives”.

He’s definitely one for the history books.

Instagram: @yatikhumalo

Ciro de Siena (33)

Ciro de Siena (33)

Motoring Journalist

When he was very young, Ciro de Siena remembers watching his father slowly restoring a vintage Ford Mustang. He never forgot the unique sound of that car, and that’s where his passion for the motoring world began.

While studying TV journalism, De Siena realised that he could combine that interest with his love for cars, as there seemed to be a huge gap in the market. He then went on to start his own online motoring publication in his second year of studies from his dorm room, which eventually led him to where he is today: heading the video department of at, the largest car marketplace in South Africa. began as a vehicle classifieds business; it now has a huge content division and their YouTube channel is an integral part of it. In fact, the YouTube channel is the largest corporate channel in South Africa, measured by subscribers, in any industry. The platform is over four times the size of their nearest competitor, and in 2018 averaged around 1.5 million views per month. De Siena produces weekly content for the channel, which includes producing, presenting, directing, editing and writing most of the films on He is also the creative director for all of the company’s videos, which includes television adverts, advertorial videos and social media videos.

“Buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases a person will make. My goal is to help make the purchasing process easier by providing as much information, for free, to the South African consumer,” says De Siena. He is working on helping young journalists gain entrance to the industry, by mentoring young writers and video presenters. He has witnessed great young talent, but acknowledges that it is a tough industry to crack without some help from the inside, because of how closed off and small the industry is.

After a long break De Siena is back on SABC 3’s The Expresso Show, where he started his career. You can catch him on your screens presenting Formula 1 previews and reviews. He spends a lot of time traveling internationally to shoot videos for his channel, and is proud to represent South Africa at large international car launches, where he gets to bring unique content back home to share with his audience. He also continues to host weekly car segments, featuring live Q&A sessions, on CapeTalk Radio and NorthWestFM.


Gugulethu Mfuphi (30)

Gugulethu Mfuphi (30)

Financial Journalist, KayaFM

She could have chosen a career as a chartered accountant, but the lure of broadcasting was too much to ignore. While studying towards a BCom Accounting at the University of Johannesburg, was yearning to merge her love of numbers with her passion for broadcasting.

“I watched Nikiwe Bikitsha, Siki Mgabadeli and Lerato Mbele and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be part of shaping the conversation in South Africa, Africa and the world.”

Mfuphi was introduced to radio broadcasting by UJFM newsreader Mommy Mohlahlo, who opened the door for her, and there she started as a newsreader. That led to a graveyard shift, a right of passage for most broadcasters, at Talk Radio 702.

It was a regular caller on the talk radio station that pointed her to her next career move to financial news provider Moneyweb, where financial broadcast guru Alec Hogg gave her a chance. “He told me I need to learn to tell the story in the numbers, and not simply report on them.”

There she learnt the craft of explaining finance and economics to ordinary people. Later, CNBC Africa beckoned and she jumped at the opportunity to work in television. But she later returned to her first love, radio, as a presenter on Kaya FM.

Mfuphi describes herself as a daddy’s girl; she says her father was an early supporter of her ambition to go into broadcasting. “He told me to strike while the iron is hot. He supported my love of public speaking even at high school and told me to go for it.” To this day, her father critiques her work and gives her valuable feedback.

Her ambition now is to use her financial media skills to shift the mind-sets of young Black women towards money and the economy. “I want to shift the needle and have a bigger influence.” She’s off to an impressive start.


Sibusiso Ngobeni (33)

Sibusiso Ngobeni (33)

Executive Producer, Mindset Concept Production House


Award-winning TV producer Sibusiso Ngobeni has the big ambition of informing, engaging and influencing an entire generation of people through the content he produces.

He loves telling stories, and believes his work makes a difference because of its educational, informative, engaging and responsible content. He works on TV shows, commercials and films, and recently won an award from the South African Film and Television Awards (Safta) for a TV documentary series called Kick It. The programme highlighted the rampant problem of substance abuse in the country.

“A show like that was designed to inform and educate viewers about the dangers of substance abuse and how addicts, family and friends of addicts and communities at large can potentially address the challenges we face with substance abuse,” he says.

“Content is really king and can either break or build a nation – a nation without good, engaging content is a nation without a soul, and I believe this industry is the soul of a nation.”

He’s not all seriousness, though, and adds: “I like being able to have fun whilst I get paid for it, rather than being stuck in some very corporate job somewhere.”

Ngobeni graduated in 2007, from AFDA, South Africa’s film school which bills itself as the school for the creative economy, with a degree in film producing and was appointed an executive producer with Mindset Concept Production House.

He started his career in 2008 and has worked in multiple genres including corporate productions, music videos, documentaries, documentary TV series, reality and sports TV, game shows, sitcoms and radio commercials.

Until recently, Ngobeni was an executive producer with Engage Entertainment, and notable productions he worked on include the 2010 World Cup Review Show, Gospel Gold, MVP Jam, Psalted, the first season of Ithuba Lamagcina, and the third season of Gauteng Maboneng. “My future plans are rather really big,” he says.

“I recently left my previous business and teamed up with an incredible set of young ladies to form a new business that will focus on industry development, particularly upskilling the youth in rural areas and peri-urban areas through our knowledge of film and television. We have a lot planned, and I will be focusing on building that with my new partners and mentoring a lot of new young people who are entering the industry.” – Lesley Stones


Keneilwe-Palesa Mohapi (34)

Keneilwe-Palesa Mohapi (34)

Radio Broadcaster and music programmer, Jacaranda FM

Listening to the dulcet tones of 34-year-old radio presenter Keneilwe-Palesa Mohapi will make your day, everyday. She’s won prizes from Liberty Radio Awards and Tucs FM radio and an international speaking award from The Duke of Edinburgh at Buckingham Palace.

Right now, you can hear her on Jacaranda FM where she hosts the award-winning Weekends with Kenzy show and also programmes the music.

“My love for radio stems from its intimacy,” she says. “Radio is the most intimate medium to communicate with people. It’s personal because as a listener you laugh, you cry, you get upset, you engage. I believe that when the platform is used for the betterment of others, lives can be changed in a positive way. I’m blessed to be able to express myself creatively as well be part of a team of exceptional broadcasters who inspire me to up my game regularly.”

By the age of 18, Mohapi, who was born in KwaZulu-Natal and raised in Pretoria, had already won a national public speaking competition and was acknowledged as the first female and African winner of the English Speaking Union public speaking competition in London, where she was named the audience’s favourite as well as world champion. She also represented South Africa in welcoming the then United States President George W. Bush and his entourage on a state visit in 2003.

She started her career whilst still a student at University of Pretoria, hosting a show on Tuks FM campus station, soon after becoming the DJ manager, where she was responsible for training youngsters in the field. In her final year she won the radio station’s DJ of the year award, the first female to do so.

While still at Tuks FM she was offered a job by the Free State radio station OFM, where she had a successful four-year stint hosting an evening show, which developed into the station’s first hour-long talk show. Next she hosted the breakfast show for Limpopo-based Capricorn FM, producing interesting, relevant and compelling content every day.

She also has TV experience, firstly as a judge on the Afrikaans youth rock show Rockspaaider in 2009, which impressed the team so much, they offered her the gig to present the programme the following year.

Mohapi has been inducted into the Liberty Radio Awards Bright Star club, highlighting her work as a young professional who will continue to lead and make an impact on the industry. She has also lectured in radio programming at Damelin College in Bloemfontein, as she believes in talent development and giving back to those who want learn. – Lesley Stones


Zodumo Maphumulo (33)

Zodumo Maphumulo (33)

Football Production Manager, SuperSport International

Don’t try telling Zodumo Maphumulo that football is a man’s game.

She’ll runs rings around you with her credentials as the football production manager of SuperSport International.

At 33 she already has a 10-year career in sport broadcasting behind her, and since SuperSport is committed to female representation in this male dominated industry, that’s helped her find her niche.

She’s competitive too, and felt that failure was never an option: she grew up in KwaZulu-Natal in a home broken by domestic violence, and was one of three kids raised by a single mother.

“I saw all the sacrifices my mum would secretly make for her kids and I always knew that I somehow needed to raise the bar,” she says.

To pay it back, when she isn’t busy planning broadcasting schedules for football fixtures, she spends her time on projects that promote opportunities for young people to join the industry.

“My favourite project by far has to be the Absa Ready to Work campaign,” she says. “This was aimed at bridging the divide between education and the world of work through a platform providing young South Africans with work, people, entrepreneurship and money skills to become work-ready or start their own business.” Absa asked her to share the story of her own rise from humble beginnings on national TV, which she did, generating a positive response from other young women seeking information about how to get into the industry.

Maphumulo loves both sport and TV broadcasting, which make this her perfect career. She particularly loves the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) Super Diski programme, a social responsibility campaign that fast tracks the development of young players for the PSL.

“Working in a male-dominated industry has driven me to always work harder, do better, push the glass ceiling even further and ensure women are represented well both on screen and off screen,” she says.

“The television broadcasting industry can be intimidating and the hours can be brutal, but the feeling of accomplishment is rewarding.”

Her best advice to young women is to not let fear get in the way, but to take any opportunity presented with both hands and run with it.

As she develops in her field, she would love to work with international sporting federations such as FIFA or international broadcasters such as Sky Sports or ESPN. – Lesley Stones


Kearatwa Sedidi and Sithembiso Mpehle (27)

Kearatwa Sedidi and Sithembiso Mpehle (27)

Chief Operations Officer and Executive Creative director and Animator, Dipopaai Studios

The desire for Africans to tell their own African stories through animation was the starting point for Johannesburg-based Dipopaai Studios, which, co-created by Johannesburg-based 27-year-olds Kearatwa Sedidi and Sithembiso Mpehle. started out in the good old days when animators drew with pen on paper. The studio morphed over the years into one that produces quality animated videos popular throughout the continent.

Sedidi and Mpehle are probably best known so far for their extremely popular YouTube series called Kronikles of Hip Hop, which uses comic animation to cheekily parody South Africa’s hip-hop scene.

The company is now five years old, and a quick tally of the production work to date comes in at more than 10 000 hours of drawing, yielding 5 000 illustrations, 600 animatic videos, three EPs, two successful pitches for funding to the National Film and Video Foundation, and one great adventure to Annecy in France.

Their talents span character design, scriptwriting, storyboarding, 2D and 3D animated video development, voice recording and sound production. A full service, in other words, to develop videos for corporate clients or to craft their own projects.

Mpehle says their animation studio was founded in 2014 with one important mission: “To faka the spice in African animated content.”

He believes that their business has that rare combination of abundant creative talent, business strategy and skill. The Dipopaai team has a clear vision of how to set itself apart from others in the market, he says, by calling on different strategic partnerships to create an authentic product.

“The company was founded on the belief that there is a certain magic in South African stories,” he explains.

“Dipopaai is an African animation studio on a mission to give a platform to mzansi mnandi animation and music. We use our deep understanding of local nuances in order to create meaningful and entertaining content. Kronikles of Hip Hop has been our most successful franchise to date, drawing in over a million views on YouTube.”

The five-strong Dipopaai crew has also worked with the likes of musos Culoe de Song, Khuli Chana, The Parlotones and Cassper Nyovest on their animated music videos.

They plan to create and curate local and international animated content in order to develop an African cartoon network.

– Lesley Stones

Kyla Herrmannsen (30)

Kyla Herrmannsen (30)

Producer & Investigative Journalist, Checkpoint

Investigative journalist Kyla Herrmannsen is doing a valuable job by holding the corrupt and the incompetent to account.

She already holds a string of awards for deep, sensitive and important reporting on issues including the recent Life Esidimeni scandal for the TV show Checkpoint.

Herrmannsen produced several documentaries about Life Esidimeni to highlight the suffering of the mental health patients there long before it became a national story.

Her exposure of the government’s deadly decision-making was used as evidence by the Health Ombudsman to inform his findings and recommendations and won her two Discovery health journalism awards. She also won the Best TV feature in the 2017 Vodacom journalist of the year awards.

She’s a reporter, an editor and an on-screen presenter, breaking stories that affect some of the poorest people in the country and asking politicians the hard questions they don’t allow other individuals to ask. “This is one of the most important aspects of seeking change as a journalist. Those who need to be accountable must be made to account,” she says.

What also drives her is seeking accountability or solutions for those whose stories she tells. “I’ve been blown away by the power journalism can have and the monumental difference my work can sometimes make,” she says.

“I’m continually humbled by the strength of the people I have the privilege of interviewing. That they trust me enough to allow me into their homes and tell me the most private stories wrought with pain and suffering – that they know will appear on TV – speaks to their immense resilience and bravery. Being in a position to witness and tell some of these stories is a huge responsibility that can also be very rewarding.”

Her stories often inspire viewers to help, for instance, a legal firm offered free counselling for a woman shot in the eye allegedly by the Red Ants; and a viewer bought a Jojo tank and a new house for an old woman who drew water from a steam shared by cows.

It’s important to have a heart as a journalist, Herrmannsen adds, and she’s organised pro bono counselling for interviewees who need help beyond simply having their story heard.

To tell more people’s stories, she’s studying to become fluent in isiZulu so she can respect people by interviewing them in their own language. – Lesley Stones


Keitumetse Qhali (28)

Keitumetse Qhali (28)

Director of Motion Pictures, Darling Film


Keitumetse Qhali hails from the Eastern Cape, and was raised in a tradition of storytelling. Continuing that tradition of storytelling, Qhali is making her mark as a director. Short films, documentaries, television shows, and music videos are all part of Qhali’s repertoire.

Shomax bought her short film, The Initiate, and it premiered at the Cascade Film Festival in Portland, United States in 2016. The music video Qhali directed, Rands and Nairas, won best video at the 2014 Nigerian Entertainment Awards. In 2019, her documentary won a Safta award for Best Factual and Educational Programme.

Qhali wanted a career that combined art with critical thinking, so she chose film. She grew up watching films, and says a good film tells a good story.

When it comes to stories, Qhali loves layered stories that are character-driven and full of emotion. History, African mythology and science fiction all interest her. Qhali’s dream film would be a fantasy or real-life character story set in pre-colonial South Africa.

As she failed directing during her BA degree in motion picture at Afda, all of Qhali’s directing jobs have been from mentorship and government-funded programmes. “All of my experience is from people taking a big initiative to help me out. I believe in doing the same thing for other people.”

Qhali hopes to pursue her master’s at the New York Film Academy. She’s just broken into the advertising space, and is collaborating with people who are more established and learning from them. She is also anticipating her feature film, which is going into development this year. “I’m excited because I haven’t seen a film with a reflection of my age group’s demographic and background.”

As a leading filmmaker in her industry, Qhali is one of the few Black, female directors working in the commercial space, and this creates a lot of pressure. Qhali has had to be clear and confident with her decisions and career path. “It entails a lot of relying on your own choices, which is difficult, being young.”

Without much advice from people in the industry, Qhali relied on her family. Her mother, particularly, has supported her from the beginning, and her father got onboard when she started working.

But Qhali knows how quickly the industry is changing, and that no one is number one for long. — Shaazia Ebrahim


Melody Xaba (34)

Melody Xaba (34)

Executive Producer, Oasis Pictures


Melody Xaba was raised in Orlando West during the transition to democracy. The politically charged environment was, to a large extent, all Xaba knew about being Black. Then in 1994 CCV-TV (now SABC 1) launched Jam Alley, showing happy, talented, and intelligent Black youth and reflecting the way nine-year-old Xaba felt about herself. Fifteen years later Xaba was working on Jam Alley, after graduating from Afda.

Now a top producer, Xaba has produced multiple Safta Awards-winning shows, including Jam Alley (SABC 1), Club808 ( and Craze ( Based on her own wedding experience, Xaba co-developed Our Perfect Wedding. “I had a three-day wedding in early 2010 and in the middle of it all, I thought ‘Black weddings need their own TV show’ and that was the birth of what became Our Perfect Wedding on Mzansi Magic.”

She joined Rapid Blue in 2016 as a creative developer and developed formats for top brands. Cheeky Media appointed Xaba as executive producer for The Morning Show ( until October 2018.

She received the 2018 Henley Johnny Clegg Scholarship for Creative Industries, and is now pursuing her MBA. Xaba is also the mom of two children who are her pride and joy.

In her 10 years of producing, Xaba has mentored many youngsters in the industry. Mentorship, teaching and leadership come naturally to her, and youth development is part of her contribution to the industry. Xaba runs the Africa Mentorship Programme for Africa TV Market, which focuses on mentoring new producers and assisting them to develop and shape their concepts for TV.

In the face of a growing youth working population, high unemployment, and a global economy undergoing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Xaba believes mentoring and upskilling the youth for globalisation is critical for South Africa.

She recently started an entertainment and media company. As a TV producer she likes challenging old ideas and introducing new ones, and feels strongly about contributing to economic development.

She believes it’s critical to use the media to positively influence the collective consciousness of society and help people to move forward.

Xaba has every intention to occupy a seat at the global entertainment and media table and then make space for more seats. Her life motto is: ain’t no mountain too high, ain’t no valley too low. — Shaazia Ebrahim