Russell Rensburg: Director

Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Russell joined RHAP in 2017 and took up the position of Director in January 2019. 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

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

Peggy Mosia: 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

Merriam Mokoena: General Assistant

Mme Meriam has been working as RHAP’s general asssistant since 2016. Merriam’s warmth, diligence and reliability are of some of many traits that make her much loved in the office. She keeps the office environment clean and in good shape and brings with her a positive energy and caring approach to all.  “It has been an amazing four years. I’ve learned a lot but most of all I became part of a wonderful family. I am a mother to a daughter and have 2 granddaughters whom I adore a lot. I love spending time with my family and enjoy going to church.”

Marije Versteeg – Mojanaga

Marije Versteeg-Mojanaga works across programmes on issues of NGO management and governance, knowledge management, planning and M&E and special projects. She was the first Director of the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) from inception in 2009 until the end of 2018. Marije’s expertise lies in health advocacy and social justice, organisational and programme development and governance, coalition-building and partnerships for social change.

At the Annual Rural Health Conference in 2018, Marije received the Special Recognition Award for Excellence in Leadership in Rural Health Advocacy.

Marije holds an MA in Culture, Organisation and Management from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and an MA in Applied Ethics from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Marije can be contacted at

PhD Fellowship

As a knowledge broker in rural health equity, RHAP continuously identifies information needs and research gaps that require in-depth research, writing and stakeholder engagement to collaboratively create the right questions and find solutions that can help close the inequity gap. As such we are proud to announce our new PhD fellowship programme where PhD candidates work with RHAP and the Wits Centre for Rural Health on priority research for rural health equity.

Graduate Internship programme

As part of RHAP’s vision and strategy to develop skills and leadership for rural health, the Graduate Internship Programme provides an opportunity for young graduates to gain work experience in rural health advocacy work and to hone their skills. At the same time RHAP benefits from the new energy and ideas the graduates bring and the increased capacity to keep driving, deepening and expanding our work.

Graduate interns

In the second semester of 2019 the following graduates started their internship at RHAP:

My name is Lungile Gamede and I am an innovative, caring and enthusiastic person who strives to demonstrate excellence in the tasks that I undertake. I am a professional nurse and obtained my qualification at The University of the Witwatersrand in 2017. I was part of student societies such as The Wits Students Bioethics Society and ENACTUS during my undergraduate degree. I organized a career exhibition for two high schools in the community where I completed my community service as a professional nurse. I also serve in the church counselling and health team.

I completed my community service year in a primary healthcare clinic situated in a small rural-township community in the Northwest Province called Agisanang Clinic. I am currently pursuing an MSc degree in rural health from The University of the Witwatersrand and my research interests lie in the access to quality mental health for pregnant and postnatal women in rural areas at a primary healthcare level.

I want to be a part of the driving force that strives not only to improve the healthcare of people living in rural areas, but also help to relieve them of capability and optimism deprivation.

I intend on pursuing a PhD in the next 5years.

My name is Cassandra Jagesar and I am one of the new interns at RHAP. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Public Health from Monash University South Africa in 2017. While at Monash I had the privilege of being a part of a student association that promoted health and brought awareness on Healthcare to fellow students. I found my passion for helping  underprivileged people whilst engaging in community service at an NGO in my final year. Since then my love for helping others and trying to make a change for the better has grown. I am currently studying a course on Healthcare Services Management and looks forward to obtaining my Honors, Masters and PhD qualifications in the future. My aim is to put all my knowledge and skills on public health to good use while advocating for better access to healthcare for rural communities. It is my wish that we as a country achieve the goal of bringing equal access to healthcare to all citizens no matter where they are located or how much they may earn.