Our Staff

SOUTH OF AFRICA HEAD OFFICE
Stef Venter
Stef Venter – Managing Director

Stef Venter graduated from Hotel School, doing his internship at the Protea Hotel Witbank. He then went on to qualify as a Chef, moving on to work at a 5 Star game lodge as a chef and General Manager.Stef joined the company in 2003 where he served as a relief General Manager at Shangri-La Country Hotel and later operated Paternoster accommodation for a further 6 years. In 2010, Stef returned to Limpopo and took charge of the Finance Department.

Since 2015, after also taking on the various projects, Stef took over as Managing Director of South of Africa.


Khatija Mahomed – Human Resources & PA TO MD

Shortly after matriculating in 2010, Khatija Mahomed began studying Counselling Psychology at the Blackford Centre for Counselling. She joined South of Africa’s Head Office in January 2012 as a Filing clerk and assisting with debtors.Her study field played a big role when she was put in charge of HR in November 2012. She later obtained her Diploma in Human Resources, Industrial Relations and Labour Law.

Apart from running the HR department, payroll and all IR related tasks, she is also personal assistant to the Managing Director.

Marcia Manale & Thabo Mashao – Sales Consultants
Starting out as a waitress at a local restaurant, Marcia Manale joined Elephant Springs in 2004 as a scullery, before being promoted to waiter a few months later. Marcia’s potential for growth was recognized and she was promoted to Duty Manager. In 2012 she was promoted to Front Office Manager, where after she ran the hotel in 2014 as Acting General Manager. Later she gained further experience at Shangri-La as Front Office Manager in 2015 and 2016, before being promoted to Sales Consultant at South of Africa’s Head Office, dealing with group bookings, conferences, making sales calls and managing site visits.As part of the Sales Team, Thabo Mashao’s history in the service industry certainly benefits South of Africa. With work experience as a waiter for 3 years prior to joining the group in 2013, he quickly moved up the corporate ladder. His experience as driver for the group makes him the perfect Sales Consultant as travelling to meet clients is in his blood. Thabo joined the reception team in 2015 at Shangri-La, and his interest in sales was apparent. In 2016 Thabo joined the South of Africa Head Office Sales Team as Sales Consultant.
Rose Pahl & Joseph Chiliza – Central Reservations
Studying business administration at Boston City Campus played to Rose Pahl’s strengths when she joined South of Africa in 2013. Currently furthering her career by studying Economics and Management Science through Unisa part time, Rose began working in the hospitality at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve for 3 years as receptionist. She joined Elephant Springs as receptionist, before being promoted to the South of Africa Central Reservations in 2014, managing the call centre, dealing with individual bookings, conferences and also attending sales calls.Joseph Chiliza’s work experience in the hospitality industry began at the Bosch-Hoek Golf Estate, where he worked for 4 years as Assistant Manager of the Golf Club and three years as Assistant F&B Manager at the Rawdons Hotel prior to joining Shangri-La in 2005. He continued in the F&B field as Manager of his department, before being promoted to Assistant Manager of the Shangri-La. Joseph further gained work experience at Elephant Springs as F&B Manager before joining the South of Africa Head Office in 2012, where he now manages group bookings and reservations.
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Johan Esterhuizen – Project Manager

Johan Esterhuizen has been involved in the hospitality and interior design industry for the past 13 years. In 2000 Esterhuizen joined the company working as Reservations Manager. In 2003 Esterhuizen began JC Creations, his own interior design company, specializing in softs for hotels. Shortly thereafter, Esterhuizen joined Riverside Estates in Houtbay, being responsible for all building projects interiors, F&B, wedding and conference coordination and Finance.He returned to South of Africa in 2012 tasked as Project manager, which includes all building and interior projects. Esterhuizen played a major role in the interiors of the new Shangri-La and Abalone Pool Villas and is currently busy with the upgrading of Elephant Springs.
egmond
Egmond du Plessis – Guest Relations & Social Media

Having worked in the hospitality industry since 2001, with several years of retail experience, Du Plessis rejoined South of Africa in 2010 and now heads the e-Marketing office as well as the Guest Relations department.Apart from being in charge of all online listings, online rate management and social media, he also plays an important role in the liaising with PR and marketing.
 

GENERAL MANAGERS

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Leigh Longden – General Manager, Abalone House & Spa and Abalone Pool Villas

Having worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, Leigh Longden joined Abalone House & Spa at the dawn of a new era. Having assisted with the opening of the Reuben’s Restaurant and Healing Earth Spa, Longden has put her experience of training and running 5 star properties to excellent use. She not only manages the 5-star Boutique hotel, but is also in charge of the Abalone Pool Villas.
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Pieter Erasmus – General Manager, Shangri-La Country Hotel & Spa

With nearly three years of British hospitality experience, his South African hospitality experience included working for Pine Lake Inn in White River, Mpumalanga and 9 years of service with the well known Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, Bela Bela, starting out as Conference Supervisor, followed by Conference & Banqueting Manager, Food & Beverage Manager, Operations Manager and eventually the sought after title of General Manager. Erasmus spent three years as the GM of Elephant Springs Hotel & Cabanas before taking the helm over at Shangri-La in March 2015.
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Ken Strydom – General Manager, Elephant Springs Hotel & Cabanas 

Ken Strydom joined Shangri-La Country Hotel as General Manager when the property was still branded with Protea Hotel. His 3 years of Management Training, 5 years of Front Office, 6 years of Food and Beverage Management and 10 years of General Management is what has made Shangri-La the success it is today. Strydom spent 12 years at GM of Shangri-La, and has also assisted with the operations at Avuxeni Resort. Strydom’s relationship with guests, especially brides-and-grooms-to-be that agreed on saying their vows at Shangri-La (thanks to him!), have not only established Shangri-La as a Wedding Venue of choice, but also the leading venue in Limpopo, and the perfect escape-to venue for Gauteng.  Strydom took over management of Elephant Springs in March 2015.
PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANTS
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Lise Manley – PR, Western Cape (Manley Communications)

Manley Communications, established in 2000, is a consulting agency specialising in creating, implementing and managing perception; from brand identity and marketing to public relations and publicity. Husband and wife team Ian and Lise Manley have built an energetic powerhouse drawing on their expertise and knowledge of the hospitality industry. Manley Communications is a company driven by passion and dedicated to creativity; real and measurable strategies from dynamic, vibrant people.
Annette Ashley
Annette Ashley – Sales, Western Cape (AI Marketing)

In 2004, Annette Ashley decided to celebrate the wealth of experience and contacts gained, by opening her own company offering all aspects of Marketing Services, Conferencing & Events. During her nine years at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Company, Cape Town’s No. 1 Tourist Destination, Ashley was the founder of the “Big Six” marketing platform in Cape Town. She moved on to Canal Walk to market the largest shopping centre in Southern Africa, where she spent 4 years. Significant results were achieved with 55% of international tourists visiting Cape Town, shopping at Canal Walk. Ashley is a Board Member of Cape Town Tourism and serves on the Committee of SAACI (Southern African Association for the Conference Industry). She is also a member of SATSA (South African Tourism Services Association) and Skal International.
Bruce Copley
Bruce Copley – Holistic Educator (AHAA Learning)

Dr Bruce Copley former University Professor is an internationally acclaimed holistic educator who has inspired thousands of people to rediscover their lost love of learning. Described as a real life version of the teacher in the award winning film “Dead Poets Society” Bruce who is affectionately known as ” Captain Oh my Captain ” creates unforgettable learning experiences for people ranging from pre-schoolers to senior citizens using a remarkable array of skills and talents. He brings a fresh and profound approach to Holism grounded in his own awakened awareness and fuelled by a passion to rekindle in others the freedom and fullness that is their innate birthright. Bruce is credited with catalyzing significant changes in major South African organisations such as Eskom, Sun International, ABSA, Old Mutual, SA Defence Force, Geen and Richards and Nedbank. As a playfully serious advocate of holistic wellness, Bruce’s 2 most important ongoing challenges in life are to walk his talk and to hold his visions lightly.
lauren
Lauren Copley – Copywriter (Innovatrix)

Lauren Burley Copley developed all the editorial content for the new South of Africa website. As an independent journalist and editor, Lauren has more than 30 years experience in a wide variety of fields encompassing newspapers, magazines, books, corporate and digital media. Her special fields of interest include medicine, business, tourism, technology, current affairs and human sciences. With a solid background in investigative and newspaper journalism, Lauren has written hundreds of articles on numerous topics in leading South African consumer and business-to-business publications. These include Men’s Health, Marie Claire, Readers Digest, Fair Lady and De Kat magazines. As a full-time writer, editor and website content professional, Lauren provides specialised editorial support in writing, editing, media and web communications for a wide variety clients and companies in South Africa and overseas.