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Branch Executive Committee





started in the events industry in 1992
 with Global Conferences and worked her way up the ladder from PA to Conference organiser to finally General Manager of Cape Town which was the Head Office at the time. She boasts an uninterrupted professional career in this industry for the last 22 years and has project managed events large and small. In 2009, after 17 years with one of the largest PCO’s, Crystal and Juanita de Lange started their own company called Centeq Events. Centeq Events specialises in database management and registration management pre, during and post your event.  Crystal has served on the South African Association for the conference industry as Treasurer, belonged as a Patron Member of SAACI, a member of ICCA as well as an active member of Cape Town Tourism. “Here’s to many more years in the industry”.


Mobile:+27(0)82 414 4411



 Vice Chairperson

Désireé Smits Van Waesberghe


Désireé Simts Van Waesberghe has more than 17 years experience in the meetings industry, Désirée fulfils leadership positions in start-ups, business development, association management and marketing. She worked for meaningful international organisations such as Banque Paribas, Amsterdam RAI Group, Cape Town International Convention Centre and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Since joining HelmsBriscoe in 2011 as Regional Vice President, Désirée manages a team of highly qualified industry professionals in South-East Africa. HelmsBriscoe is world's largest meetings procurement firm, supporting international and local organisations in finding the most perfect destinations and venues whilst obtaining the best conditions for their events.

Désirée has a Masters degree in International Law and European Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She was selected for the prestigious Erasmus program at La Sorbonne-Paris IV and studied Public Relations & Mass Communications at the University of Utrecht. Désirée speaks five languages fluently. She grew up, studied and worked in the Netherlands, lived in Switzerland, Spain and France and travelled extensively in over 50 countries. Since 2001 Désirée resides permanently in gorgeous Cape Town, where she started her own business consultancy CAPEMOTION and where it is such a joy to raise two precious sons Noud & Luuk.


Mobile: +27(0)72 335 5211




Jaques Fouche’s career started off with marketing coupled with business development in the research and film industry.
  After extensive travels and living abroad for a number of years he returned home and was lucky enough to be offered a position at Gearhouse where he has been employed since February 2011. The first year posed many challenges as he was new to the industry which is known to be tough.  With determination, hard work and the support from his colleagues he gained success and feels blessed to work in such an exciting industry. Jaques has been serving on the SAACI committee for the last 18 months and believes that he is a strong contributing member to the team as we strive to build the Cape Town branch to be the best in the country.  Jaques would be honoured to be re-elected and to be part of the driving force of the newly structured SAACI. 


Mobile:+27(0)83 824 8311




Branch Co-ordinator








1. Community

Janine Abrahams 


2. Intelligence


Jaco du Plooy
is the Sales, Marketing and Revenue Manager at NH The Lord Charles Hotel.
  He has been involved in the Tourism and hospitality sector for over 18 years now and is very passionate about the industry, particularly the meetings and events industry. He enjoys networking and sees himself as an ambassador for the industry and our beautiful destination. During his studies towards a Tourism Diploma at Vaal Triangle University of Technology, he had the opportunity to gain work experience at Walt Disney World in Florida USA.  He also gained more experience in the convention industry while working as a Conference and Banqueting sales coordinator for Hilton Worldwide in London UK. Upon his return to SA, he was employed as a Receptionist and later as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at The Birchwood Executive Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport. He was again approached by Disney to join the team at sea on the M/S Disney Wonder, for Disney Cruise Line. Here he had various positions including Retail, Training, Crew Purser, Guest Services Manager and ultimately groups and incentives manager.  For the past 8 years he has been developing the business for NH Hotel Group in South Africa.


Mobile: +27(0)82 413 2111



3. Academy



Esti Venske
is a senior lecturer in Event Management within the Faculty of Business at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology where she leads EMBOK based curriculum development in consultation with national and international event industry practitioners. Being passionate about the employability of young event professionals entering the world of business events, she has pioneered the youth association membership programme at her academic institution as well as the formation of an event management specific academic advisory board where industry practitioners may provide expert input on various matters related to graduate skills and competence.  As a researcher, Esti has presented and published international academic papers on tourism and event management and is currently collaborating on an international research project investigating the legacy of mega events where her core focus is on vulnerable communities and corporate social responsibility. She has standing experience as an event practitioner managing academic conferences and coordinating various cause-related events with her students in disadvantaged communities in an effort to contribute to social upliftment.


Mobile: +27(0)21 460 3522



4. Into Africa



Kurt Johnson started as a client manager for AV Alliance in 2003.  He spearheaded the audiovisual delivery at the CTICC for 10 years.  During that time Kurt provided the necessary management and leadership to grow AV Alliance into a national service provider.   His skills include creative conceptualization, turnkey technical project management and production management.   His enthusiastic and upbeat personality is matched with a strong work ethic. His obsession with AV Alliance resulted in him becoming a Shareholder and Director in the business in 2010.  Besides managing technical for events in all nine provinces, he has also managed events for clients as far afield as Singapore and Australia.


Mobile: +27(0)82 822 8811

5. Branding and Communications

Zeenat Parker
is the Corporate Communications Manager at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), is a consummate industry
professional with extensive experience in the communications and public relations sector. An  accredited Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) Chartered Public Relations Practitioner, she is passionate about using communication as a tool to affect change. Prior to her position as Corporate Communications Manager at the CTICC, she held the position of Communications Officer at both Wesgro the Investment and Trade Promotion Agency of the Western Cape and the Department of Social Services. She boasts over 10 years' experience in the sphere of government and industry communication.Coupled with her experience, she also holds a BA Degree in Film, Media and Visual Studies from the University of Cape Town as well as a Postgraduate

Diploma in Marketing from the same institution. In 2011 she furthered her studies and attained a post graduate degree in Event Management from the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business. he is passionate about transforming the meetings and event's industry and positioning Cape Town and South Africa as one of the world's leading meetings and events destination. She believes that industry platforms such as SAACI play a pivotal role in advancing the local meetings and events

Mobile: +27(0)71 888 2611  


6. Stakeholder Engagement



Thiru Naidoo has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of South Africa. She is currently the Business Tourism Co-ordinator at Wesgro. In  2006, Thiru authored the book “Science of Tourism”, which was published and sold through Juta Publishers. During her employment as Tourism Lecturer at the Cape College from 1992 to 2002, she was given the prestigious Award of Excellence for going beyond the parameters of her duty. Thiru has secured numerous bids for the Province. Her highlight to date has been the Loeries Bid for the City of Cape Town.  She worked closely with City Officials to coordinate and design the bid. The reason this remains a highlight is because to date it is one of the few bids that has been secured by the Province in partnership with other City Stakeholders.  Thiru was complemented both by City and Province for her leadership, negotiation and coordination amongst key stakeholders. Thiru was part of the team that assisted in formulating the National Convention Bureau Strategy which is currently in implementation. Thiru aspires to promote Cape Town & the Western Cape as the number one destination to meet and visit; keeps abreast of developments in the tourism industry, generate new business leads for the company, whilst ensuring at all times that the company’s standards are maintained.


Mobile: +27(0)21 487 8622


   7. Sustainability     


Liezel Short earned her stripes (literally) as a Captain in the South African National Defence Force, Liezel has channelled her natural ability for creating order and harmony into her role at Red Hot Events, with predictably outstanding results. As a trained Combat Logistician and having time done managing Hospitality during her time served in the Armed Forces, Liezel’s personality as a punctual perfectionist has found the ideal outlet in pairing the right performance with a matching event. With an unorthodox eye for original combinations that create lasting impressions, Liezel’s touch of magic brings sound & sight together in a dazzling balance.


Mobile: +27(0)83 283 2311



8. Future Focus



Lerisha Mudaliar graduated from the Durban Institute of Technology with a National Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management, Lerisha being focused and wanting to strive towards excellence decided to broaden her horizons and moved to Cape Town. She began her Cape Town career with a transfer through Nationwide Airlines. This was short lived, as an opportunity to join the events management field soon presented itself under the mentorship of Keith Burton (Fast Functions). During this time she simultaneously took on the challenge of being the SAACI Western Cape secretariat. Lerisha out grew her role at Fast Functions and went on to join Centeq Events. She refined her skills as one of their registration coordinators. Lerisha used the SAACI platform to gain industry contacts, tremendous knowledge from the experts and develop interpersonal communication with her peers. In 2012 she joined the Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau and sadly departed ways with SAACI as their secretariat. She is part of the dynamic team, which promotes Cape Town & the Western Cape internationally as one of the preferred business tourism destinations. She also serves on the CPUT Academic Advisory Board. Lerisha believes that having the opportunity to live in a culturally diverse society has empowered and enriched her with a vast reservoir of knowledge to deal with individual differences and promote the Western Cape. For those who are acquainted and understand her, know she is a highly a motivated individual, dedicated to the upliftment of the business tourism industry and life at large. Undoubtedly, she is very independent in character; however she still endeavors to respect her industry peers.


Mobile: +27(0)72 631 7611