Vanja has 23 years’ experience in managing programmes in the legal reform sector. She has worked both at a grassroots level with community-based paralegals as well as on numerous projects in the courts focusing on access to justice and court reform. When she was at the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit at UCT she focused on reform of the magistracy in post-apartheid in South Africa through social context training. She has been with the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town since its inception in 2008. She has been Director of the DGRU since 2017 and was Deputy Director before that. In 2016, Vanja was instrumental in setting up the Judicial Institute for Africa ( JIFA) which provides university-certified short courses for judges and other legal stakeholders in Africa as well as a post-graduate qualification in judicial studies.
Vanja’s research interests lie in the functioning of judicial systems. She has an Mphil (cum laude) in Justice and Transformation from UCT and an Honours degree in Criminology from UCT. She did her BA at Stellenbosch University.
Vanja was the Deputy- Secretary general of the ANCL for a number of years and is now the treasurer.