AFTER undertaking site visits and deliberating for five weeks, the eight Halala Awards adjudicators will announce the winners today, the third time that this prestigious event is taking place in the City of Johannesburg.

Halala judge: JDA chief executive officer Lael BethlehemHalala judge: JDA chief executive officer Lael Bethlehem
Initiated by the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) in 2008, the awards acknowledge and bestow honour on development projects, people and places that have brought about a profound and lasting change to the inner city.

Working through a list of 59 entries across all categories from an initial 95, entries were judged on criteria such as sustainability, originality or “extraordinary effort” before the final choices were made for the seven categories.

Property developers such as Olitzki Property Holdings (OPH); iconic places such as Turbine Hall; and people like Neil Fraser have all received accolades in the past.

One of this year’s adjudicators, the JDA’s senior development manager, Nkosinathi Manzana, spoke about the quality of submissions this year. Even as a development manager who knew the inner city area inside out, he was not aware of some of the initiatives in central Johannesburg. Stressing the importance of the Halala Joburg Awards, Manzana said he realised there was a big need for marketing these initiatives as the public was generally not aware of the “good work and the good stories out there”.

Frank Meintjies of the Nelson Mandela Foundation agreed, saying the entries were of a very high quality but that the panel had had consensus on most of the awards. “People are doing very interesting things. It is just very exciting. We are also seeing sectors working together much more.

Neil FraserNeil Fraser
“Yet who are the people who had the mammoth task of judging these efforts? Drawing from a diverse cross-section of urban development and business specialists, they were selected as judges based on their years of experience and innately innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.

Lael Bethlehem has been the chief executive officer of the JDA since August 2005, but has served in the public sector for a number of years. She started working for the City of Johannesburg in 2002 where she was head of economic development. Known for her effervescent personality and her passion for inner city revival, Bethlehem will leave the JDA at the end of July to take up an opportunity in the private sector.

In 2009, she was a nominee in the corporate category of the Business Woman of the Year Award. She has a master’s degree in industrial sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Vocal and involved, urban development specialist Neil Fraser is an activist and champion for inner city revival in Joburg. In 2008, he walked away with the Believing in Joburg category at the inaugural Halala Joburg Awards. Now semi-retired and living in Montagu, Fraser is a past executive director of the Central Johannesburg Partnership (CJP) and a former JDA board member. Although he now lives in Western Cape Province, he remains active in Joburg’s revival efforts. He writes a regular column on urban renewal and regeneration, Citichat. Fraser is qualified as a quantity surveyor and owns his own company, UrbanInc.

KUM and CJP director, Anne SteffnyKUM and CJP director, Anne Steffny
A well known face and outspoken champion for the concerns of businesses and entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, Anne Steffny is the director of Kagiso Urban Management (KUM) and the CJP, both independent section 21 companies dedicated to the revitalisation of Joburg’s inner city. The CJP and the KUM, in partnership with the City of Johannesburg and other concerns, manage 11 legislated central improvement districts, six voluntary improvement districts and three special projects around the city.

In her role as director, Steffny is at the coalface of Johannesburg’s inner city challenges, and as a signatory to the Inner City Partnership Forum, she plays an active role in keeping developments sustainable.

Starting off as a professional nurse, Salome Sengani worked her way into banking and finance having realised that finance was the tool to support growth and development. She spent 14 years in the banking sector where she managed various lending and investment portfolios. During this time she studied part-time to obtain a bachelor of commerce honours degree at Unisa in 1991 and an MBA at Pretoria University in 2003.

She later entered the public finance sector where she focussed on finding finance solutions for integrated housing developments. In 2001, she was appointed a member of the first board of the JDA; she retired in January 2008. Sengani is currently a senior member of a private investment firm, where she focuses on investments in affordable housing and property developments. It is her second year as an adjudicator for the Halala Awards.

The director of housing empowerment finance at Absa, Gert Dry, is the former managing executive of REAM – Absa Real Estate Asset Management. He is another adjudicator. He is currently on the board of SanParks and is the president of the WRSA, Wildlife Ranching South Africa. It is a non-profit organisation representing 1 500 members of the 9 000 registered game ranches, and liaises closely between the game ranchers, non-governmental and governmental authorities to help set up policies, regulations and norms and standards in the wildlife industry.

Santhurie Naidoo has held the position of inner city programme manager since January 2009. She oversees and monitors the deliverables in the Inner City Regeneration Charter. Before taking on this challenging position she was part of the department of development planning and urban management where she sharpened her teeth on spatial development challenges in the city. Armed with a master’s degree in town and regional planning, this born and bred Durbanite also tried her hand at economics with the Department of Trade and Industry, where she worked in research, particularly with the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa.

Previously with the Soul City Institute, which focuses on behaviour change and communications, especially relating to health issues, Meintjies was the manager of the Action for Children Programme. He has just joined the Nelson Mandela Foundation as the Mandela Day co-ordinator.

Meintjies is a social activist at heart who focuses his energy on matters of cultural transformation. But he is also armed with a master’s degree in urban development planning and has working experience in all varied spheres of society – working for the government in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, in the private sector and for non-profit organisations. He is the founder of the Isandla Institute in Cape Town, which focus on urban issues and related poverty.

Manzana is the senior development manager at the JDA, where he heads up the massive roll-out of the Rea Vaya network across the city. Recently promoted, Manzana will take over the position of chief operations officer of the JDA in July. With a bachelor of science in civil engineering, Manzana’s passion lies in infrastructure development but he believes strongly that partnerships between the public and private sector are critical in making lasting changes to the public environment.