Dr Hlongwane is a biology lecturer with broad interests in ecology, entomology, and entomophagy. She holds an MSc and a PhD in Ecological Sciences. Her research includes the distribution of arthropods in different habitats, the use of edible insects as a source of food, and plant-animal interactions in grassland ecosystems. In addition, her research on entomophagy involved working with rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo provinces, South Africa to find solutions on how to use edible insects to supplement household food security and improve rural livelihoods. Zabentungwa has attended over 10 national and international conferences and her research has been published in various peer-reviewed journals.
During her PhD studies, Zabentungwa was a research intern under the Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems (SHEFs) program, which is a global research program funded by the Wellcome Trust. In addition, she was also a research assistant for the Durban Research Action Partnership, which is a collaboration between the University of KwaZulu-Natal and eThekwini Municipality.