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Current Staff and Graduate Students

Professor Elrena van der Spuy 

Elrena is the Head of the Department of Public Law in the Faculty of Law. She has been interested in the social history of police and policing in South Africa.

Substantive areas of inquiry  have included the  structural evolution of the police in modern South Africa; the dynamics of policing under conditions of counter-insurgency in the 1980s; the impact of transitional politics on the form and function of the police; the narrative accounts of transition amongst key criminal justice incumbents, and the history of public inquiries into police, 1910-2015.

The complexity and ambiguities associated with the subculture of police organisations has been a long standing research interest. Finally, using the South African case study as a point of departure has allowed her to explore the challenges confronting police in other post colonies.

Find out more here.



Matthew Skade

Matt is currently working as a Senior Research Officer in the Centre of Criminology, and is an MPhil student in Criminology with the Faculty of Law at UCT.  Matt’s work experience spans over 15 years with extensive experience in project management, research, relationship management, NGO management, social entrepreneurship, business management and strategic management roles. 










Anine Kriegler

Dissertation title: South African criminology’s aetiological crisis: reflections on a century of murder

My dissertation investigates South African crime statistics over the last century. It speaks to debates on the causes of crime, especially in South Africa, on the relationship between social theory and empirical data, and on the value of criminological statistics, with a particular focus on the incidence of murder.

I was at UCT for my undergrad in Politics and Economics, as well as my Honours and first Master’s degree in International Relations. I have a second Master’s degree in Criminology from the University of Cambridge.

My primary areas of research interest are crime statistics and drug policy. Together with Mark Shaw, I co-authored the book, A Citizen’s Guide to Crime Trends in South Africa. It aims to empower ordinary people in South Africa to sift through the noise and have better, more informed and productive conversations about the crime statistics. My other key research interest is into alternative approaches to managing the harms around the drug trade, and the global drug legalisation debate.

You can follow me on Twitter or on The Conversation Africa.


Mafaro Kasipo

Topic: ‘Enterprise’ crime and public procurement: a case study of the South African construction industry

Mafaro is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Criminology. Her research topic is Organised crime and public procurement: a case study of collusion within the South African construction industry. The thesis makes the argument that the distinction between public sector and private sector, legitimate and illegitimate business in conceptualising organised crime, white collar crime and corruption is superficial. Indeed, organised crime in the African context is complex, fluid and interlinks with high politics and legitimate business. This thesis seeks to answer the research question; to what extent can collusion in a private sector industry be conceptualised as organised crime?





Carina Bruwer

Dissertation title: Understanding and Responding to Maritime Trafficking off the East African Rim: Do the measures against piracy off the horn of Africa provide a model?

My research questions which comparative lessons can be drawn from the counter-piracy response in the Western Indian Ocean and be applied when responding to other organized crimes, specifically heroin -and ivory trafficking, also taking place in the waters of the Western Indian Ocean. In doing so, the thesis explores the areas of organized crime, maritime security, maritime crime and international law.

I received my LLB and LLM Degrees from Stellenbosch University. My Master’s Degree was in Public International Law.

My research interests include international law, criminal law, maritime crime, maritime security, drug trafficking, wildlife trafficking and organized crime in general.

You can follow me at The Conversation Africa.



Luke Skywalker

Topic: Rise of the Violent Entrepreneur: A study in illegal protection contracts in a post-1994 Cape Town

Luke’s current research focuses on the nature of protection rackets and the illegal economy they operate within. Drawing on an understanding of organised crime syndicate operations and state and institutional responses, Luke plans to contribute to an understanding of how protection rackets may influence the onset of ‘violent entrepreneurship’ within the transforming post-1994 Cape Town landscape. He endeavours to complete his PhD in 2017 and seeks to pursue a professional career within the National Intelligence Agency thereafter.



Olwethu Majola

Topic: An Assessment of the Implementation of International Legal Instruments and Responses in the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime in Africa

Olwethu ‘s educational background includes an LLB from the University of the Free State and an LLM degree in Transnational Criminal Justice from the University of the Western Cape and Humboldt University, Berlin. She is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa and has worked as a legal adviser in both the private and public sectors in South Africa. She has assisted national, regional and international organizations with research into matters relating to international law, peace and security and transnational organized crime.





Gráinne Perkins

Topic: ‘Lest we forget’: Trends in and Organisational Responses to the Murder of Police Officials in the Western Cape Province, South Africa (2002-2014)

With 15 years of professional experience in policing and criminology, Gráinne Perkins is currently pursuing a PhD at the Centre of Criminology, University of Cape Town. Her research deals with the homicide of police officers and how these killings influence the practices and actions of other officers. The research involves participant observation within the working units of the South African Police Service in some of Cape Town’s most violent townships. Gráinne has a Masters in Criminology from Queen’s University, Belfast and a MPA from the University of Ulster. She holds the rank of Detective Sergeant in An Garda Síochána (Irish Police Service) and is a recipient of the Commissioner’s Medal.