South African Chamber of Commerce in Japan
H.E. Mr. Lulama Smuts NGONYAMA / Honorary Chairperson
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in JapanH.E Mr Lulama Smuts Ngonyama is a former South African Ambassador to Spain, 2014-19 and currently to Japan. H.E was born in Uitenhage, where he attended school in Fort Beaufort. H.E graduated from the University of Fort Hare with a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com), and a Master’s Degree (M.Phil) in Political Economy from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, amongst other qualifications.
H.E is a loyal member of the African National Congress (ANC), where he served as the head of presidency and as a national spokesperson for 10 years. H.E was a Member of Parliament for the South African National Assembly in 2009-14 when he was a member of the Congress of the People (COPE).
Ambassador Ngonyama extends his warm wishes to all members of the South African Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SACCJ). H.E is dedicated to deepening the strong diplomatic relation with Japan by advancing South Africa’s national priorities through structured bilateral engagements. Ambassador is committed to creating a better South Africa, committed to contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world. H.E emphasise increased cooperation and synergy between the Embassy, the Japanese government, its private sector and the Chamber and will continue to play a meaning role in stimulating the relations.
Ambassador Ngonyama sees the SACCJ as key to helping strengthen business and cultural ties, and is firmly committed to supporting efforts to bring the nations closer together through mutual understanding and respect. H.E reiterates that the SACCJ should identify trade and commerce opportunities for the South African government and business as well as enhance and promote friendship and cultural exchanges between South Africa and Japan.
H.E adores sport, a former rugby player and enjoys reading in his spare time. H.E would like to encourage the Chamber to foster relations between Japan and South Africa in the sporting fraternity.
Board of Directors
Simon Farrell (Chairman)
Simon was based in Cape Town for about eight years as a foreign correspondent for US and UK publications. He also travelled around South Africa to report on business, society and lifestyle for the local press. He was inspired to write two books: South Africa Chic, published by Didier Millet in 2008, and Top Getaways in Southern Africa, published by Reader’s Digest in 2000. Simon's fondest memory is being introduced to SA President Nelson Mandela at Cape Town Press Club in October 1996.
Francois de Villiers (Vice-Chairman, Finance & Digital)
Francois is from Port Elizabeth, South Africa and has been living and working in Japan for over 20 years.
Harrison “Chain” Hlabane (Vice-Chairman)
Born and raised in Benoni, South Africa, I am an academic, journalist and a business person, previously worked for the Star newspaper, Jacaranda FM, CTB Media (television network in Beppu), I am currently employed at SBT Japan in the Global Office Management division responsible for Global HR and BOP of 32 branch offices overseas. I am also a Director at BootCulture Sports Diplomacy Institute, South Africa, and also a Director at Sixgunsally PTY LTD, an event management company in South Africa.
I have been in Japan since 2004, and through the activities of my graduate studies and subsequent profession, I had and still continue to have the opportunity to travel back and forth between Japan and South Africa promoting people to people exchanges, journalist exchanges, education and dialogue between the two countries. I am passionate about forging closer relations between Japan and South Africa, and always taking the opportunity to promote the cultures of both countries whenever possible. My ultimate goal is to serve as a bridge between Japan and South Africa.
Samukelisiwe Mthembu is from KwaZulu Natal, Durban. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Internal Auditing at the University of Pretoria and a Post-graduate diploma in Internal Auditing at the Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIASA). She went on to practice as an Internal Auditor in both the public and private sectors in South Africa. It was during this time that her passion for International Development and Diplomacy was ignited. As a result, she came to Japan as a JET program participant working for the Tokyo Board of Education. During this time she has also been furthering her academics through the Global MBA program of the University of London, as well as a diploma in Multilateral Diplomacy with the United Nations Training and Research Academy.
In her free time, she enjoys hiking and traveling the lengths and breadths of Japan while exposing herself to the Japanese culture and the warmth of the Japanese people.
Through the Food, Agriculture, and Hospitality portfolio, she hopes to play a role in strengthening the business ties and promoting trade between Japan and South Africa. Under the theme “Business meets Diplomacy”, she also hopes to play an active role in strengthening the relations between the SACCJ and some of its key stakeholders.
Mr. Chaplin is a Johannesburg native who has been practicing karate for more than 20 years. Graduated with an MBA from Doshisha Business School in Kyoto, he is a business enthusiast and would like to assist in creating business solutions for Japanese and South African businesses. His primary goal is the transference of knowledge and quality products from Japan to Africa. In addition to his career in business and entrepreneurship, including working with the Kakehashi Africa network for the past two years, his goal as a director with SACCJ would be to realize this ambition while assisting in growing our membership base.
Riaan le Roux / Director Ex officio
Riaan acts as liaison between the SACCJ Board and the South African Embassy in Japan.
Sabina Mokono / Director Ex officio
Ms. Mokono hails from Polokwane, Limpopo Province. She currently serves as a Third Secretary Political at the Embassy of South Africa in Japan since April 2021. Ms. Mokono’s work comprises of enhancing bilateral relations between South Africa and Japan through the promotion of tourism, sports, arts and culture among many other areas of cooperation. Ms. Mokono hopes to contribute positively to the SACCJ as we work together towards deepening bilateral relations between South Africa and Japan.
Katsura Ogishima / F & A
Katsura Ogishima has been involved in the Chamber since 2018 and would like to contribute to the development of business between South Africa and Japan.
She has been to South Africa many times and loves South African wines, Hunter’s dry and the Braai culture