Spatial Analysis and City Planning

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Our Team

The SA&CP is made up of a diverse group of staff, researchers, and students. Explore below to view profiles and learn more about our research team.

Staff Profiles

Prof. Philip Harrison

NRF Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning

Professor Philip Harrison is the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning funded by the National Research Foundation and hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand. From 2006 to 2010 he was Executive Director in Development Planning and Urban Management at the City of Johannesburg. Prior to that, he held academic positions at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Natal. He also served as a member of the National Planning Commission from 2010 to 2015, participating in the formulation of the National Development Plan. He has published widely in the fields of city planning and regional and urban development and is currently working on projects relating to city-region governance, pandemic governance, recent histories of planning in South Africa, and large-scale project investment in African cities. | Profile

Dr Mncedisi Siteleki

Postdoctoral Fellow

Associate Staff 

Maurice Smithers

Maurice Smithers, born in Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape, has been a Joburger since 1961. He has been a social justice activist his whole life, working in a variety of non-governmental organisations, except for 12 years in government post-1994. He lived and worked in Yeoville Bellevue as a community development and urban planning activist, part-time and full-time, from 1997 to 2015. In 2015, he moved to Kensington where he continues to be involved in community development work and is currently chair of the Kensington Community Association (KCA). He is still involved, with others, in development initiatives in Yeoville Bellevue.

A focus area for him is the impact of the sale and consumption of alcohol on the lives of people in communities across the country, rural and urban, formal and informal, privileged and precarious. He produced an ethnographic report on his work in Yeoville Bellevue, part of which focused on the inability of community members to have a meaningful say over where, when and how alcohol is sold and consumed in their neighbourhood, despite constitutional commitments to promote and enable public participation in matters of governance. In 2018, he undertook a MSc in Development Planning at Wits, the research report for which investigated the interface between liquor licensing and municipal planning. He is currently writing a book on the history and social impact of alcohol for Wits University Press and is exploring the ‘spatiality’ of alcohol and its inevitable impact on the immediate environment in which it is sold and consumed.

ORCID | E-mail: 


Dr Tanya Zack

Visiting Senior Lecturer

Dr Zack is a known researcher, a professional urban planner and popular writer on Johannesburg. Her recent co-authored book with Mark Lewis Wake Up! This is Joburg (Duke, 2022) is a testament to the powerful use of visual methods, an ethnographic approach and political economy sensibility. She works at the interface of academia, community organisations and the professional world of town planning and has a unique entry into the shadows of South Africa’s most interesting urban place.

The issues she grapples with in her professional and creative writing life are amongst the most pressing urban issues of the contemporary African city. These include migration, informal work, high density living, cross border trade, waste reclaiming, sustainable urban development and the role of urban policy in confronting the complex contestations of a city such as Johannesburg. Her work is illuminating and unusual, having impact beyond writing in a straight academic voice. She enjoys a reputation in both professional and government circles in South Africa in general for insightful, empirically grounded and brave work on the urban poor. Her ability to produce high quality original research, generally based on Johannesburg cases, frames known and emerging problems in fresh and accessible ways.

Research interests: Migration, micro-business, inner city, policy development  | ORCiD | Website

Dr Sylvia Croese

Senior researcher

Sylvia Croese is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and International Studies at the University of California, Irvine and a senior visiting researcher in the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research explores the intersection between global and local knowledge, policy and investments flows in African cities. 

ORCID LinkedIn profile | E-mail: 

Dr Margot Rubin

Associate Professor

Margot is a Lecturer in Spatial Planning at the Cardiff University School of Geography and Planning and a visiting lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning and a Research Associate with the Gauteng City Region Observatory. Her research explores key questions of urban sustainability through lenses such as housing provision and mobility, framed by broader theoretical analyses of governance and gender. Largely focused on the Global South, her work draws on research networks that span multiple countries. 

rubinmargot@gmail.comORCiD | LinkedIn |   Profile 

Dr Christopher McMichael

Dr Christopher McMichael is a researcher whose work  focuses on urban politics, power and governance.  He is a political scientist who has published widely on current affairs, culture and criminology, for both mass media and academic audiences. He has also worked in media and education in Japan and Sweden. Currently, he is working with Professor Philip Harrison on a joint book about mayors and the complex urban politics of the City of Johannesburg.

ORCID/ LinkedIn

Student Profiles

Zethuzonke Bella Gavrilov

PhD Candidate  

Qualifications: BSc Landscape Architecture, Hons Applied Science Architecture, PGDip Development Planning, MSC Development Planning. 

Interests: public transport reform and informal transportation. 

Zonke Gavrilov is a PhD candidate whose scholarship is based on public transport reform in South Africa. Her qualifications and background are in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and former lecturer in Transport Economics at the University of Johannesburg.  She participated in the BRT negotiation sessions that took place between the City of Ekurhuleni and the Ekurhuleni Taxi Industry in 2017 as a member of the city. In 2020 she joined the Ekurhuleni Taxi Industry as a member of the Tembisa Pretoria Taxi Association (TEPTA).

Patricia Theron

PhD Student

Patricia Theron (1987, Marseille, France) is a designer, editor, writer and researcher, currently registered for a PhD in Architecture and Spatial Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand. She completed her Master’s Thesis in Architecture in 2015 at the University of Pretoria, entitled ‘A New Political Landscape at the Union Buildings’. Her background within the field has involved a combination of practice and study, but her work within a variety of architecture, heritage and urban-focussed practices began to take shape around the written communication of the spatial design disciplines, eventually leading into publishing. In 2017 she worked in the capacity of Managing-Editor, within the Domus Africa Bureau, on the production of the ‘Future African Cities Supplement’ to the July/August edition of Domus International, Issue 1015. The Supplement, which featured six African cities and their futures, was released worldwide to Domus’ 100 000 print subscriber-base in 89 countries. As a lead researcher and major contributor to the publication, she conducted research into the following areas: smart cities, knowledge economies, city-regions, and the benchmarking of African cities. Since 2016, she has been teaching design and theory at different institutions across Gauteng, and working in practice, most recently at GAPP Architects and Urban Designers, on a range of architectural and urban projects, including two property assessment projects for the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development. Her doctoral research is a study of the city of Lagos, focussing on the paradox between formal mechanisms of planning and the informal processes which are driving development in that city. 

Chido Muzanenhamo

PhD Student

Chido Muzanenhamo has BA, BA Honours and MA degrees (all with distinction) from Wits. Chido's research interests include Gender Studies, African Urbanisms, Transnationality and the temporalities of migration in the African borderlands. Chido is also interested in Labour in the Global Economy, particularly, the informal economy, and use of informal spaces. 

Email: | ORCiD

Nalini Naicker

PhD Student

Nalini has spent 13 years in urban planning and development and is currently undertaking a PhD in Regional Planning investigating Leadership for the Governance of City-Regions in low-trust contexts. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Industrial Psychology. Postgraduate studies in Human Resources Management and Development and an MComm in Leadership, Performance & Change Management.

Nalini is a senior corporate manager with 13 years’ experience in crisis management, change management, human resources, education and government. Naicker
ORCID: 0009-0005-9514-1803

Mariam Genes

Mariam Genes is an Urban Economist; currently employed as an Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute of Human Settlements Studies (IHSS), Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam. She has a Master Degree in Public Policy Analysis and Programme Management; and currently pursuing her PhD (Urban and Regional Planning) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her research areas of interests include urban economics; local economic development; and public policy analysis. For the last seven years to date, she has been involved in multidisciplinary research projects in Dar es Salaam. These include research on urban (in)equality and livelihoods; inclusive urbanisation; resilient cities; and rural-urban transformations.