Who We Are
Animal Law Reform South Africa (“ALRSA”) is a non-profit company and registered non-profit organisation (NPO).
We were informally established in 2014 by a group of lawyers interested in animal protection. In 2017, Animal Law Reform South Africa was formally registered by lawyers from academia, practice and civil society, attorney Amy P. Wilson and Professors David Bilchitz and Bonita Meyersfeld.
After 5 years of being on the board, in July 2022, Professor Bonita Meyersfeld resigned and Professor Melanie Murcott joined the board of directors. In June 2023, Tokyo Ndlela was appointed to the board of directors and in November 2023, Faaiza Syed joined the board as the Executive Director. Lara Wallis was executive director between July 2021 and February 2022. Collectively, they have a broad range of expertise and decades of experience in both human and animal legal issues.
Utilising the law as our tool, we work on intersectional issues to ensure justice for all who require it. Through our main pillars (Animal Flourishing; Social Justice and Law), as well as through collaboration, we believe we can achieve incremental change for vulnerable beings and ensure that their interests are accounted for in the legal system.
We intend to operate as an organisation that can be approached by all relevant stakeholders ranging from animal rights, welfare and protection organisations to the government. We are willing to engage with those involved in the utilisation of animals to better their conditions and protection, while holding industry accountable. We therefore take a collaborative and not isolative approach and will work together, provided it falls within our mission and goals.
Animal Law Reform South Africa envisages a society whose laws, courts, enforcement agencies and private entities
advance the protection and flourishing of humans, non-human animals and the environment
and are held accountable.
Our Pillars and Focus Areas
We work through three main pillars:
ANIMAL FLOURISHING | SOCIAL JUSTICE | LAW.
We focus on a few key areas that we believe will bring about the most change. These include:
Legislative and Policy Reform | Litigation and Legal Services | Education and Research.
- Connect issues relating to the law, animal flourishing and social justice
- Achieve the highest level of protection of nonhuman animals, human animals and the environment utilising the legal system and related avenues
- Strengthen and develop legislation and policy relating to animal, human and environmental protection in South Africa and Africa
- Litigate cases which will have a strategic value in advancing animal flourishing and protection and social justice movements in South Africa and Africa
- Provide access to legal services, advice and assistance to animal, human and environmental groups and organisations
- Educate relevant stakeholders on animal law and protection including lawyers, learners, students, professors, veterinarians, law enforcement agencies, government officials and other individuals and organisations and equipping them with the requisite knowledge to tackle issues relating thereto
- Undertake and promote research and academic output in the field of animal law and related subject matter
- Sensitise those in legal, animal, human, environmental and social justice fields to the overlap and interconnection between these fields and potential to enhance all these efforts through collaborative efforts
- Provide a platform and network for animal, human and social justice movements by connecting relevant individuals, organisations and others
- Collaborate with relevant stakeholders on certain matters in order to achieve meaningful and lasting change.
We are made up of a small but effective team consisting of our board of directors, and a few key institutional officers who assist with research, administration and financial matters.
We have additional consultants working on strategic projects and providing advice and assistance on an ad hoc basis.
In addition, we work with legal professionals, experts, students, NGOs, coalitions, volunteers and other stakeholders on a broad variety of issues.
Financial and Compliance Officer
Phindile Khulu (Phindi) is a financial expert with nine years in the social justice sector. She is passionate about community wellbeing and makes it her social change initiative. She holds a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Accounting) (Monash University), a Postgraduate Diploma in Specialised Accountancy (Wits), a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and a Master of Business Leadership (both from UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership).
Phindi is a Finance Project Accountant at the Law School of Wits University. Prior to that, she mainly focused on the finances of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), also located at Wits Law School. She is a mother and a mentor to many students. Additionally, she is a board member to other public interest organisations.
Attorney, Programme Lead: Corporate Accountability Programme
Michaela is an admitted attorney holding LL.B and LL.M (Environmental Law) degrees from the University of Pretoria. Her journey in the legal realm began in the field of immigration law, where she gained invaluable experience for four years. However, her true calling and fervent passion lie in animal law.
During her LL.B studies, Michaela immersed herself in the critical examination of the detrimental impact of testing cosmetic products and ingredients on non-human animals, igniting her advocacy for ethical and cruelty-free alternatives. Michaela’s LL.M mini dissertation focused on the effects of marine seismic surveys on whales, addressing vital issues surrounding non-human animal welfare, corporate accountability, and the intersection with climate change.
Fuelled by her innate empathy and determination, she seeks to bring about meaningful change through legal advocacy, ensuring that animals are granted the compassion, respect, and protection they deserve.
Cheslyn is a proud graduate of The University of the Western Cape (UWC) completing a Bachelor of Laws degree in 2018. He completed a Master’s degree in Environmental law with a focus on Climate Change in 2020 from his alma mater. Cheslyn has been a Graduate Lecturing Assistant and Coordinator at the Law Faculty of UWC, thereafter becoming an educator at Boston College and City Campus.
In 2021 he was a part time lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) while working on various research projects and commentary for The Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organizations (CAAWO) and Animal Law Reform South Africa (ALRSA) respectively.
Cheslyn is a recipient of the Growth Bursary from the Global Environmental Law Centre (GELC) and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree with a focus on Animal Welfare in Animal Agriculture at UWC.
Legal Research Consultant
Li-Fen is a non-practising legal practitioner with over 10 years of professional experience, mostly focussed on environmental and corporate law. She started her career as a corporate attorney at Norton Rose Fulbright, and thereafter specialised in environmental law at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. She then joined the Centre for Environmental Rights (a law clinic that helps communities realise their right to a healthy environment) as an attorney in the Corporate Accountability and Transparency Programme, before becoming the Centre’s first office manager. She has since worked for a legal services company, the City of Cape Town, and the University of Cape Town.
Li-Fen holds an LLM (Environmental Law) from the University of Western Cape in 2020, and her research focussed on the personal liability of directors for environmental transgressions.
Tracey Kanhanga: Research Assistant
Dr. Tracey Kanhanga is a post-doctoral research fellow at the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights, and International Law (SAIFAC) at the University of Johannesburg. She is also an editor at African Law Matters.
Tracey worked as an assistant at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL). She holds a Bachelor of Law (Honours) from the University of Zimbabwe, an LLM, and an LLD from the University of Johannesburg. Her research interests lie in international environmental law, climate change litigation, and human rights law.
Legal Research Consultant: McDonald Moyo
McDonald Moyo holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). For 2 years, McDonald worked as a Graduate Lecturing Assistant at UWC’s Law Faculty teaching Constitutional Law. Following the completion of his studies in South Africa, He returned to Zimbabwe, where he has worked full-time in the civil society sector since 2018.
He is engaged in human rights work as a Programmes Lawyer for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. He has drafted legal position papers, opinions, submissions, press statements, and publications on various legal topics. He is also prominently involved in initiatives that target the provision of legal services to marginalised and indigent communities, including the delivery of rights literacy programs. In this regard, he has been responsible for the preparation of communications products aimed at ensuring knowledge and Access to Justice are explained in simple and effective ways to the most vulnerable.
McDonald shares an interest in Environmental law and Animal law. He desires to contribute to the research, policy and advocacy for law reform and other changes to improve animal welfare in Africa. He believes that the law can be used as a tool to help create greater legal protections for animals and the advancement of their rights as sentient beings. He uses his legal expertise to educate the public on the environment and continue to lobby for better protection of animals
Co-Founder: Professor Bonita Meyersfeld
Bonita Meyersfeld is a human rights lawyer and academic. She is an associate professor at Wits Law School and from 2012 to 2017 she was the director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. She is an editor and chair of the board of the South African Journal on Human Rights and the founding member and chair of the board of Lawyers against Abuse. Bonita obtained her LLB (cum laude) from Wits and her masters and doctorate in law from Yale Law School. Bonita teaches and publishes in the areas of international law, business and human rights, women’s rights and international criminal law. She is the author of the book, Domestic Violence and International Law. Prior to Wits Bonita worked in human rights law in the House of Lords and has worked at various non-governmental organisations in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Bonita has presented expert statements to various UN fora and was appointed by the Government of Ecuador as part of a five member expert panel to provide guidance to the Inter-Governmental Working Group on a binding instrument for business and human rights.
Bonita has been appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite (Knight of the National Order of Merit) by the President of the French Republic in honour of her work on human rights and gender-based violence.