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TUMELO CHIPFUPA is a joint managing director at Cova Advisory & Associates. Before his recent move to Cova, he was the Deputy Director-General responsible for the suite of incentives offered by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), as well as being in charge of the Special Economic Zones Programme.

Tumelo qualified as a Mechanical Engineer with an MSc fromDuke University in the USA. He also has a MBA from Wits University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University. He started his career as an Engineer with Eskom, and later joined SAA as an aircraft maintenance engineer. He joined the dti in 1997. He was instrumental in the introduction of a number of major dti incentives, which included the Enterprise Investment Programme, Section 12I of the Income Tax Act, the Business Process Servicing Incentives, the Film and TV rebate, the Automotive Investment Scheme, the Black Business Supplier Development Programme and - most recently - the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme.

He has served on the Manufacturing Development Board, the boards of the National Empowerment Fund, the Centurion Aerospace Village, the Swedish-South Africa Business Partnership Programme, as well as various adjudication committees for the dti's incentive programmes.


DUANE NEWMAN is the joint managing director of Cova Advisory & Associates. He is a respected sustainability strategy and business consultant, with an expertise in grants, incentives and tax in the green economy. Prior to founding Cova, Duane was a partner at Deloitte for 12 years, where he set up and led the sustainability and climate change division and served on the global Exco of the sustainability practice from its inception in 2009. Duane represented Deloitte Africa at COP15 and COP16 and led Deloitte at COP17 in Durban. He also set up two sections: on Grants & Incentives, and Customs & International Trade. He grew both practices into the largest of their kind in South Africa. Duane also set up the Research and Development Tax practice and was leader for Tax Innovation for many years. Duane was Managing Director of the Tax Technology division and oversaw its disposal to Thomson Reuters in 2011. Duane set up the Renewable Energy practice for Deloitte SA, and was Lead Project Director for Bid Rounds 1 and 2 to the Department of Energy, where Deloitte provided services to over 70 clients. Duane has held numerous leadership positions outside Deloitte including Chairman of the Incentives Association, Chairman of the Trade Committee at the South African Chamber of Commerce (and Industry?), Chairman of the Business Environment Committee of American Chamber of Commerce and Executive Committee Member of Eurochamber. Most recently, he has served as Board member responsible for Sustainability at the American Chamber of Commerce. Duane qualified as a Chartered Accountant with SAICA and is a registered Tax Practitioner. He is regularly quoted in the press and writes for several publications on his areas of expertise.


FRANCISCA STRAUSS is an incentives expert at Cova Advisory, where she assists companies to access government grants and allowances. Francisca was with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) for 20 years, where she was responsible for implementing and managing incentives and liaison with other government bodies. Among the programmes she developed, implemented and managed were the Business Process Services programme, the Film and Television incentives, the Export Marketing and Investment Assistance programme, the Cooperative Incentive Scheme, the Capital Project Feasibility Programme, the Aquaculture Development Enhancement Programme, the Incubation Support Programme, the Manufacturing Investment Programme, the Automotive Investment Scheme, and the 12I tax allowance. Francisca has also served as a Foreign Economic Representative for the dti in Bangkok, where she spent three years promoting investment into South Africa and South African exports to Thailand and neighbouring countries. She holds a BCom Accounting degree from the University of Pretoria.



MARI WICHMANN is an admitted attorney and tax specialist with over 6 years experience with government grants and tax incentives.

Before moving to Cova, Mari was a Manager in the Deloitte Research & Development and Government Incentives teams, and her experience included providing advice to new local and foreign investors on the available incentives, assistance with preparing their incentive applications, the monitoring and maintenance of applications, assistance with feedback reports, and the optimisation of tax deductions.


PHILISIWE HLONGWA is an admitted attorney with over 4 years of corporate tax experience. Philisiwe was previously a Corporate Tax consultant at PWC, where she advised on various aspects of Corporate Tax, including R&D tax. As a Senior Consultant at Cova Advisory and Associates, her areas of specialisation are in research and development, and in government grants and incentives.




JACOBIE VAN DER WESTHUYZEN is a qualified criminologist and has extensive commercial experience in financial markets, financial accounting and the agricultural, legal and transport sectors.

Jacobie brings this diverse commercial experience to Cova, where she is a consultant on government grants and incentives. She has expertise and experience in R&D grants, Section 12I of the Income Tax Act, the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme and with MIDP grants.


ZELDA BURCHELL is currently a consultant at Cova Advisory and Associates. Zelda has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and has working the climate change and sustainability space since 2008.






WIMPIE VAN NIEKERK is a key new member of Cova Advisory’s energy team. His arrival has further strengthened our expertise in this important area of our activities. He has experience in the identification and implementation of energy efficiency and load reduction projects, ranging from mining to industrial projects.

Wimpie is client-focused and skilled in building strong client relations.

He is a qualified Mechanical Engineer, with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (M.Eng), is CEMI accredited, and is an Energy Management Systems expert (ISO 50 001).


BUSISIWE VILAKAZI is a qualified Accountant with extensive experience in the finance field.

Busisiwe completed her Bcompt in Accounting Sciences degree at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and is currently completing her postgraduate qualification in Chartered Management Accounting through the Chartered Institution of Management Accountants.

Prior to joining Cova Advisory and Associates she has worked at major financial institutions such as Standard Bank and Hollard Insurance.

To Cova she brings her years of experience in the finance and experience in government grants and incentives.


GRANT WHITTAKER heads up Cova Advisory’s new Cape Town Office. He has fourteen years of experience in consulting on government incentives, having previously operated his own consulting business in the Western Cape. Grant has completed a BA degree in Communication Science through UNISA, holds a diploma in Project Management from the Parker Institute of Australia, and has been a member of Project Management South Africa for 6 years. Grant’s area of specialisation is in new business development and client retention, and his goal is to establish Cova as the number-one choice of Western Cape business owners when it comes to seeking advice on government incentives.


MUKESH THULSIE joined Cova Advisory in February 2016 as an energy consultant, specializing in energy efficiency and energy efficiency incentives. Previously, he has worked on energy auditing and energy management, after qualifying as a mechanical engineer. He is a CVMP in training and is focused on quality management of energy audit inspections.





RENDANI TSHISHIVHIRI joined Cova Advisory in January 2016, as a consultant on incentives and was previously at a big 4 accounting firm. He has a degree in accounting, and he is still working on becoming a CA. He is expanding his knowledge of the incentives landscape.





ED VOLEK qualified as a chemical engineer, and is an energy specialist at Cova, where he oversees measurement and verification management. This is of increasing importance as companies need to provide data on energy use to secure Section 12l energy efficiency support. His aim is to help establish Cova as one of the leading companies assisting firms with 12l. Ed is a member of the South African Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the London-based Institute of Global Engineers, and is on the Board of the Measurement and Verification Professionals of South Africa.


TOM SMYTH has an Honours degree in Finance, and is an expert on government incentive schemes, covering grants, tax incentives, and support for R&D. As well as providing advice, he helps to identify opportunities for clients, and to liaise with government officials. His aim is to provide value-added services and advice to clients, while keeping a close eye on all the available incentives. He is a member of the Incentive Consultants' Association, and sits on the R&D Task Team, which advises government.


FUNGAI MAKONI is a specialist consultant at Cova, and manages the Research and Development (R&D) portfolio. Her task is to ensure that clients are able to access the Government Incentives which are available for R&D, and to expand the client base.

As well as her work at Cova, she lectures honours-level Chartered Accounting trainees on financial accounting.

Fungai is a Chartered Accountant and has a Higher Diploma in Tax Law. Before joining Cova, she worked at Deloitte in the government grants and incentives department, and has also worked at EY.


PIETER DE VILLIERS is the Senior Manager in charge of Energy at Cova Advisory. He joined in August 2016, and specialises in measurement and verification of energy savings, which is required for companies to submit claims for 12L and 12I tax incentives.

Pieter has a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering, and is a certified Measurement and Verification professional and Energy Manager.

Before joining Cova, he worked on energy saving projects at Ensight Energy Solutions.


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