Executive Committee


About Our Senior Leadership

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Sean Davison is a South African citizen who first came to South Africa from New Zealand in 1991 to carry out research in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Cape Town.

In 1994 he took up an academic post at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), where he is currently Professor in the Department of Biotechnology and Head of the Forensic DNA Laboratory. His lab specialises in identifying individuals from highly degraded DNA and identified the anti-apartheid activists exhumed from mass graves revealed during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.

Sean Davison was the co-founder of the Innocence Project SA, an organisation that seeks the exoneration of wrongfully imprisoned people on the basis of DNA testing that was not done at the time of their trial.

Sean Davison published a book The Last Waltz: Love, Death & Betrayalwhich described the three months he spent with his mother before she died. A manuscript copy of this book revealing that, at the request of his terminally-ill mother, a medical doctor, he gave her crushed morphine tablets in a glass of water was leaked to the police. As a consequence of this he was arrested and went on trial for the attempted murder of his mother. During his high court trial he was offered a lesser charge of assisted suicide which he pleaded guilty to and was ordered to serve a five month house arrest sentence in Dunedin, New Zealand.

In 2010, while awaiting his trial, he founded the organisation DignitySA which seeks a law change in South Africa to allow for assisted dying for terminally ill people. In May 2013 year Sean Davison returned home to his wife Raine, and their two young children. Sean’s trial ignited debate on voluntary euthanasia in both South Africa and New Zealand.

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Willem Landman was founding CEO of EthicsSA (2000-2010) and is currently an Independent Non-Executive Director of the Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA) and professor extraordinaire of philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch (since 2000). He has degrees from the Universities of Stellenbosch, Oxford (South Africa-at-Large Rhodes Scholar) and South Africa (Unisa), in philosophy, political philosophy, theology and law.

He was Professor and chair of the department of philosophy, University of the Western Cape (1986-1994) and professor of medical humanities in the Brody School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, USA (1994-2000).

Among his achievements he co-edited the book The Bioethics Reader: Editors’ Choice, Blackwell, Oxford (2007); co-founded and co-edited the international journal Developing World Bioethics, Blackwell, Oxford, UK (2000-08); he writes a monthly Ethics Opinion for ‘Sake24’; served on several journal editorial boards and company ethics boards (Discovery Health; Momentum Life; Primecure), and chairs the Ethics Board of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Southern Africa; Chair, Ethics Committee (a subcommittee of the Sustainability Committee) of the King Committee on Governance for South Africa (King III) that wrote chapter 1 of King III (2007-09); Council member, Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoD) (2003-09); and Ethics Advisor, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Geneva, Switzerland (since 2005).

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Lee Last worked in the corporate environment for 20 years after which she became an entrepreneur. Within six years, as a self-taught landscaper, she became an expert in her field.

Lee has always been involved in voluntary work and was trained as a Hospice caregiver and HIV/AIDS counsellor. Her humanitarian work, past and present, includes fundraising for a child abuse centre, teaching township food gardening and teaching English and Ethics to domestic workers at a local Development Centre.

Sannetjie Marais  worked in the fields of financial, administrative and programme management in corporate, small and medium enterprises.  She has over 10 years’ experience in the NGO and non-profit sectors and is the founder of kaziWingu (Pty) Ltd, which focuses on providing accessible, affordable accounting, admin and management services for SMMEs and Non Profit Organisations. 

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Professor Brian O’Connell (Retired VC and Rector, UWC) completed a BA degree and a University Education Diploma from UNISA and UWC. He then obtained a BA (Hons) in History from UNISA (with distinction), an MA and MEd Degrees from Columbia University in New York. In 1985, he was appointed to the position of senior lecturer at UWC. He held that position until 1988 when he was appointed Rector of the Athlone College of Education, in Paarl. In 1991, he was appointed Director of the School of Education at Peninsula Technikon and also became Director of the Institution’s Academic Development Programme. In 1994, he became acting Vice-Rector, with responsibility for Student Affairs. Before being appointed Rector of UWC, Brian O’Connell was Head of the Western Cape Education Department, from 1995 to October 2001. He currently chairs the Community Chest, an affiliate of the United Way International, and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.   

The artistic images above were painted and kindly donated to DignitySA by Lioda Conrad.