Russell Rensburg: Director

Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Russell took up the position of Director of RHAP in January 2019, leading the organisation into the next decade of rural health advocacy. Previously, Russell was RHAP’s Programme Manager for health systems and policy. Russell is an expert in health systems and policy and was a Commissioner of the Lancet High Level Commission on Quality Healthcare. He also manages RHAP’s rural proofing programme which advocates for the equitable allocation of resources for rural health care delivery.

Russell says “The right to health is enshrined in the Bill of Rights and as such places a significant responsibility on the state to ensure that everyone has access to the health care services they need. However access to health is not limited to the treatment of disease but is a critical enabler to human development. While elected officials are mandated to realising this right as responsible citizens we have a duty to participate in the governance of our health systems”. Its is this duty that drives Russell passion to support the strengthening of health user voices in the design and delivery of person centered health systems.

Before joining RHAP, he worked with the UNAIDS supported Technical Support Facility, managing technical assistance to 19 focus countries across Eastern and Southern Africa. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Management and Economics. Russell can be contacted at

Marije Versteeg – Mojanaga: Technical Advisor Management, Advocacy & Ethics

Marije Versteeg-Mojanaga is a Technical Advisor at RHAP, working on issues relating to NGO management and governance and healthcare ethics and advocacy. She was the pioneer leader and Director of the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) from inception in 2009 until she initiated the leadership transition in 2018. Marije’s expertise lies in health advocacy and social justice, organisational development and governance, coalition-building and partnerships for social change.

Marije is currently working on issues relating to fair priority-setting of healthcare resource allocations, and the ethics of healthcare worker advocacy. Marije holds a Masters Degree in Culture, Organisation and Management from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and is studying towards a Masters in Applied Ethics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She has spearheaded the development of the two flagship programmes of the RHAP, which are The Voice Project (Building a critical mass of advocacy competent healthcare workers) and the Rural-Proofing Policy and Budgetting Programme. Marije has authored peer-reviewed and popular publications, provides regular presentations on issues affecting human rights and health in public fora and represents RHAP in a number of civil society coalitions, committees and government bodies. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa and represents RHAP on the Treatment Action Campaign National Council. Marije can be contacted at

Peggy Bopape: Senior Administrator

Peggy is Senior Administrator for RHAP, managing the office and logistics of the different programmes. Before joining RHAP she worked for the NPO Right To Care as the Training Coordinator; coordinating health trainings such as HIV Counselling and Testing, Basic Counselling Skills, TB, Paediatric and Primary Care supporting Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State Province. She has a Diploma in Information Technology, Certificate in Office Administration and completed a Training and Development Management short course through the University of Cape Town. Peggy can be contacted at


Mafoko Phomane: Projects Coordinator

Mafoko works across programmes with a focus on rural mental health and the Voice healthcare worker advocacy training. Starting off as an intern, Mafoko has been with the RHAP since 2014. She holds an MpH in Rural Health and a BA in Psychology and originates from Lesotho where she worked for the Ministry of Health in the field of District Health Management and HIV/AIDS. Her MpH thesis investigated mental health care service delivery by rural nurses. Mafoko is also a senior fellow of TEKANO. She can be contacted at

Karessa Govender: Projects Coordinator

Karessa obtained her undergraduate degree in occupational therapy from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2009. She also holds a master’s degree in occupational therapy through the same university with a specialisation in neurosciences. Karessa has been committed to public service since the onset of her career and has served in four different hospitals since 2010. During this period she has actively contributed to improving the quality and range of services provided in the departments she has worked in. Karessa’s involvement in the public sector has spurned her interest in social advocacy and the unique but often overlooked role of rehabilitation workers in advocating for social justice. Karessa started at RHAP as an intern in 2017 and was appointed Project Officer in 2018 and Project Coordinator in 2019, working across programmes with an emphasis on Human Resources for Health and the Nyandeni Learning Site. Karessa can be contacted at