Brent van Rensburg
Co-Founder and Artistic Director
“Never give up.”
Brent brings 40 years of experience and passion for the circus to train young performers from all walks of life. Born in 1961 in Cape Town, he started to learn daring aerial skills at the circus school, YMCA Observatory, Cape Town, from 1973 until 1978. For the next 15 years he performed internationally in Italy, Holland, Denmark, Norway, France, England, Monte Carlo and America. Due to an accident, he decided to leave the performing side and started as an acrobatic instructor at the Ringling Brothers Clown College in Florida for two years. Then he performed in Disneyland LA with a comedy aerial act over main street and then a high-wire act in San Diego Sea World. Afterwards he spent three years conducting circus workshops for Club Med Holiday Resorts. There he met his future wife and Co-Founder of Zip Zap, Laurence Estève. In 1991 they turned 30 under a big top performing their flying trapeze act together for Circus Arlette Gruss in France. In 1992 Brent and Laurence returned to his native country South Africa and founded Zip Zap.
Brent has done a great deal of rigging and stunt work in addition to his Zip Zap responsibilities. On top of rigging huge zip lines across a canyon in Tanzania for the US TV show “The Amazing Race”, he also set the world record for the highest flying trapeze in 1997 for a Sanlam commercial “Sometimes you have to put your trust in someone else’s hands”. In June 2008 Brent was awarded the title of Men's Health Best Man 2008 (Public Service). In April 2011 the immense value of Brent's work was recognised by his home town. He received the Mayor's Medal for Youth Affairs for his "great contribution towards developing youth affairs in South Africa”. In 2012 he received the Western Cape Government award for his contribution towards the promotion of the performing arts and he also spoke at the TedX Conference about alternative education. In 2016 he was awarded the highest recognition from the Rotary internationally: the Paul Harris fellowship.
Co-Founder and CEO
“Never ever give up."
Laurence was born in 1961 in Rueil-Malmaison, France, and started her career as an internationally recognised athlete in Windsurfing and Artistic Snow Ski. After her high school diploma, she studied Physical Education at university and collected numerous teachers' diplomas: gymnastic, sailing & windsurfing, swimming and bodybuilding. In 1988 she finished her Masters in Science & Technology of Economy and Administration of Sports Institutions, University de Paris IX, Dauphine, Paris. After completing her MBA, she worked extensively as a business administrator for numerous Club Med Holiday resorts around the world. There she met her future husband and Zip Zap Co-Founder Brent van Rensburg. While in South Africa she created a duet on a trapeze with her friend and performed more than 600 shows in Sun City from 1994 to 1996. Back in Cape Town she performed stunts for commercials and movies, when Zip Zap was still a weekend passion more than a career! Using her diverse talents, Laurence has managed the financial and managerial aspects of the organisation in addition to aiding in the artistic development of the Zip Zap shows. Laurence was knighted of the national order of Merit by the President of the French Republique Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 for her contribution to social development. In 2016 Laurence was the 2nd runner up for the BBQ Community Builder award. She was also awarded the highest recognition from the Rotary internationally: the Paul Harris fellowship. In 2017 Laurence was invited to preside the jury for the International Festival of the Cirque de Demain (circus of tomorrow) in Paris, FRANCE. She was also part of the jury for the EXIT show of the ESAC (Ecole Superieure des Arts du Cirque) in Brussels, Belgium. In 2019 she was selected as a finalist for an AWIEF award for Social Entrepreneurship
Victoria Engelhorn Nel
Chairperson and Fundraising
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Victoria did most of her schooling in Switzerland, finishing in Oxford with an International Baccalaureate. She completed her BS in business studies and biochemistry at Duke University, North Carolina in the United States. While there she completed a program called Leadership in the Arts, which brought her to work for the 21st Century Foundation in New York. Victoria later went to study African Sub-Saharan history and literary in Paris, where she met her husband. In 1996, she and her father started a family business in social responsible venture capital, focusing on clean technologies and grassroots business. She married, becoming a stepmother to one and a mother to three, living in Mayotte. In 2003, Victoria opened “Songololo Children” in Barcelona; a children's shop concentrating on the sale of socially responsible and eco-friendly toys, accessories and clothing from all over the world. She moved to Cape Town in 2005, where in 2007 she became director of a property company that owns the Heritage Square and managing director of the Cape Heritage Hotel.
“now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that”.
Michael earned a BA in Political Science and an LLB at Rhodes University and opened his own law practice specializing in labor law and industrial relations in 1986. He sits as a Trustee, Committee Member, Executive Member of various associations, societies and groupings and has since joined the Zip Zap board and provided a great deal of assistance around legal matters such as contract creation. Michael is a regular contributor on industrial relations and labour law to radio, TV, newspapers and magazines and has received awards from both the Medical Association of South Africa and the Law Society. Award given by the Law Society for Human Rights Attorney of the Year 2015 and an award given by the South African Medical Association “In the Spirit of Service to Medicine for Medicine 2015”.
Health & Safety
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Clarence started at Haggie Rand 22 years ago and has stayed with the company since. His interest in the community is through his church, visiting the sick and serving various bodies which care for the less fortunate. His boy scout days already revolved around getting the young off the streets and teaching them life skills. Regulations with regard to safety and risks have become fundamental in any operation and it is in this area where he is an active support to Zip Zap. The passing of his wife has left a huge void in his life and he will channel his expertise and energy to the continued existence of Zip Zap Circus School.
It’s not what happens to you but how you deal with it
David is a young entrepreneur based in Cape Town. After studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT), David completed his training as a chartered accountant with Deloittes in 1989. Thereafter he traveled for two years before starting a career in the media industry in the UK. David and his wife Lea lived in Amsterdam, London and Tel Aviv until they returned to South Africa in 1994 where David founded the AFS Group, a dynamic niche company focused on partnering the oil industry in the downstream petroleum environment. David has three daughters, loves the outdoors, meaningful relationships, mentoring and making a difference.
Guardian of the code
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Beryl is a business woman with a strong community development focus. She is a founder member and director of GEM Investments and the immediate past chair of the council of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and of the WHEAT (Women’s Hope Education and Training Trust). She has served on the Wesgro board as the vice-chairperson and the chairperson of the HR/Remuneration Committee. In addition to that, she has also worked with the Minister of Public Works and Transport in an advisory capacity on monitoring and evaluation.
Social Work & HR
Success is not the money you have in the bank, nor even the cars you have, but the number of people you have helped achieve success
Brian met Brent and Laurence back in 2009, while serving with Doctors Without Borders. The rest is history. It was clear, back then already, that this would be a lifelong deal. A passionate HR Generalist and Training Specialist, he decided after several corporate years it was time to start his own HR Consultancy, Sakhile HR & Training Solutions (Pty) Ltd. He now services various businesses in his own time. Zip Zap will always be his home.
PR & Spokesperson
"before enlightenment wash the dishes, after enlightenment wash the dishes"
Zolani Mahola is a singer and actress most famous for her role as lead singer for the band Freshlyground and for her role in the SABC drama series Tsha Tsha. While studying a BA in Theatre & Performance at UCT she met the musicians who would come to form the band in 2002. To date they have opened for and shared stages with the likes of BB King, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, Robbie Williams such legends as Stevie Wonder, Busi Mhlongo, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Clegg, Oliver Mtukudzi, Cindy Lauper and Annie Lennox to name but a few. As part of her solo work she staged a tribute show to Ella Fitzgerald (her all time favorite female vocalist) at the On Broadway theater in Cape Town. Zolani's lead role in her debut musical theatre appearance in the brand new South African musical "Calling Me Home" was staged at the Joburg theatre in late 2017 and appearing on broadway stages worldwide in 2018. Freshlyground have just released their 6th studio album and are about to embark on a European tour.
Mandisa Lorraine Fani
Beneficiaries and Alumni representative
“Let your past not haunt you, but rather admire it and be proud because you’ve overcome that phase in your life.”
Mandisa Lorraine Fani is a shining example of the virtuous full circle that is Zip Zap. From a young 11-year old youth beneficiary of a youth programme to a Zip Zap board member! This is testament to the power of inspiring youth to dream beyond their circumstances, and to dream big! At 19 she wrote: “I love being at Zip Zap so much because you learn how to work with people from different backgrounds, and you get to exchange skills and learn different languages and cultures. At Zip Zap you are also constantly encouraged by your peers to do better and to improve your performance.” Lorraine matriculated in 2011 at Camps Bay High School. She was awarded, ‘’The President’s Award, International Award For Young People In the Silver Standard’’ and she excelled in dramatic arts. In 2012 Lorraine travelled to Wales (first time abroad), to perform in ‘Torchbearers’. A spectacular culmination of 4 years work on the Mzansi Cymru Project, linking communities in South Wales & South Africa for the cultural event of the Olympic Games. In 2015, she graduated from Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in Dental Assisting. In 2016, she decided to redirect her career to Electrical Engineering specialising in Heavy Current at College of Cape Town, graduating in 2018 Lorraine then furthered her studies securing a National Diploma: in Electrical Engineering. As Beneficiaries and Alumni portfolio manager Mandisa Lorraine is paving the way for a new board position to ensure the young people have a voice at the highest level of the organisation. Passionate about community work and volunteering, she is also an activist for civil society around the global issue of climate change.