ABOUT THE SOCIAL JUSTICE ASSEMBLY
After years of consultation and planning, representatives from across the social justice sector will gather on 26 & 27 January 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inaugural Social Justice Assembly (SJA). The SJA will unpack the findings of the Social Justice Sector Review Report, published in November 2020, and will seek to build sectoral cohesion and better coordination in response to the crises affecting people living in South Africa.
The SJA will bring together over 250 delegates from community-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, international non-governmental organisations, academics and donors into one space to discuss challenges facing the country and the world, the state of the sector currently and how best civil society can coordinate its efforts to bring about lasting and consequential change.
“The SJA presents a unique and exciting opportunity for movements and organisations working on all aspects of social justice in South Africa to come together to learn from our past, exchange on how we understand our present so we can better work together towards the transformation that is necessary,” says Phumi Mtetwa, Southern African Regional Director at JASS and SJA Coordinating Committee member.
The two-day event will include wide-ranging discussions on the history of the sector, its impact, cultures of accountability and governance, resource allocation and power dynamics within the sector.
The coordinating committee consists of eight members who were approached by the Reference Group which informed the Social Justice Sector Review Report to form the Assembly Coordinating Committee, they include:
AFESIS - Nontando Ngamlana
Amandla.mobi - Koketso Moeti
Cape Flats Movements - Caroline Peters
JASS - Phumi Mtetwa and Kea Seipato
MACUA/WAMUA – Gilbert Moela
PARI - Mbongiseni Buthelezi
SERI - Nomzamo Zondo
The SJA organisers want to create an egalitarian space where all voices are equally heard and as such have encouraged participants to help shape the agenda through programme proposals and speaker suggestions.
Seehaam Samaai is a practicing lawyer since 2001 and identifies as a feminist lawyer and activist. She holds a BProc and LLM degree in Constitutional Litigation from UWC. She is the current Director of the Women’s Legal Centre; an African Feminist Legal Centre that advances women’s rights and equality through strategic litigation, advocacy and education & training. She was the Director of Legal Administration at the Western Cape Regional Office of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development where she provided and worked for the Foundation for Human Rights in their Strengthening of Civil Society and Access to Justice Programme. She was a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at UWC and Director of the UWC Law Clinic where she provided practical training to both law students and candidate attorneys within a clinical law environment with the aim of inculcating principles of social responsibility and social justice. The Clinic also provided free legal services to indigent and marginalised persons.
Tshepo Madlingozi is the Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at WITS University, and an Associate Professor at the School of Law of the same university where he teaches social justice and human rights. He holds master’s degrees in both Law and Sociology, and he received his PhD degree from Birkbeck, University of London. He is a Research Associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education at Nelson Mandela University, and a Visiting Professor, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is a co-editor of South African Journal on Human Rights. He is a co-editor of Symbol or Substance: Socio-economic Rights in South Africa (Cambridge UP) and a co-editor of Introduction to Law and Legal Skills in South Africa, 2nd Edition (Oxford UP South Africa). He sits on the boards of the following civil society organizations: the Rural Democracy Trust, Mining-Affected Communities United in Action/Women-Affected by Mining Action, and Afrika Ikalafe Spiritual Health Institute. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), and a member of the advisory board of Health Justice Initiative. For thirteen years (2015-2018) he worked with and for Khulumani Support Group, a 120 000-strong social movement of victims and survivors of Apartheid as National Advocacy Coordinator & later the Chairperson.
Noncedo Madubedube is a queer, black womxn of Marxist-Feminist traditions. She is a pedagogist and social justice activist. She is the current General Secretary of Equal Education, a youth-led social movement focusing on the right to education in South Africa. She is the first womxn to hold this position since the formation of Equal Education in 2008.
She holds a Bachelor of Education majoring in Mathematics and Languages. She currently serves on the board of the Health Justice Initiative and the 2030 Reading panel. She has served on organising secretariats for various national coalitions such as #UniteBehind, the C19 People's Coalition, DoD-WC Chapter. As a long-time student activist and feminist organiser, she is invested in participating in spaces that build, connect and unite.
Wandisa Phama is the Centre for Environmental Rights’ Deputy Director. She is an admitted attorney who is passionate about human rights and social justice. She holds an LLB and LLM in Social Justice from the University of Cape Town. She is also an alumni of the Bertha Foundation Justice Fellowship. Prior to joining the CER, Wandisa served at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits as an acting co-deputy director, and headed the CALS Business and Human Rights Programme.
With over a decade of work holding various roles in the Public Interest Law and Social Justice Sector, her work has included litigating for the inclusion of community voices formulating the South African Mining Charter, the protection of the right to social security or access to social grants, holding the financial institution accountable for their role in human rights abuses of projects they finance and defending activists from victimisation and intimidation by private actors.
While at CALS, Wandisa also taught a number of courses at the Wits Law School, including postgraduate courses in Law and Sustainability, Human Rights and the Market Place, and an undergraduate course in Environmental Law. Wandisa believes in using human rights-based solutions to challenge social inequality and to advance social justice struggles. She is committed to leadership development and the transformation of the legal profession and the broader South African society and creating resilient social justice institutions that value health and well-being in the manner they go about doing their work.
Caroline is an African feminist and human rights defender, nationally recognized and award-winning activist against gender-based violence. She has given input at Parliament on gender-based violence laws and has trained magistrates, clinic staff and community leaders, on sensitivity towards survivors of Gender-Based Violence. She began working at the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children in Manenberg when it was founded in 1999 and has been active in several organisations including Ilitha Labantu, which was the first women and children’s centre to be founded in a township, and the 1 000 Women Trust, an initiative to support women and children organisations. She has used her own personal story of trauma from gender-based violence to fuel her work of advocacy, prevention and intervention for women and girls in her community and beyond. Caroline also serves as the Cape Flats Women’s Movement coordinator, an association comprising various women and children’s rights community-based organisations focused on violence and crime prevention against women and children. She is also the Provincial Coordinator for South Africa Women in Dialogue. the founder and director of the Callas Foundation. coordinates the Human Rights Defender programme of Women’s Legal Centre, and serves on various boards
Gilbert Moela is Media and Communication Officer at Mining Affected Communities United in Action. He is also an Freelance journalist and Editor of At the Mine Gate a monthly newsletter for MACUA. Gilbert joined MACUA in 2015 as an activist and later volunteered for the organization’s media and Communications department until he was formally employed in 2020.
He is a human rights, mining & environmental rights activist, a well-known community leader. He has been an activist for almost 5 years dealing with socio economic and environmental rights in his community as well as across 8 Provinces across South Africa. He has also completed a short course in Mining, Policy and Practice through Wits University and Mandela Institute.
Nontando Zintle Ngamlana is a social justice activist and a seasoned development practitioner. Her work and research interests center around social accountability and good local governance. In her work she engages how South African municipalities are governed, the extent to which the political and institutional environment supports the developmental mandate of local government and the role citizens play in strengthening good governance. Furthermore, her work engages issues of safety, collective violence and social cohesion building. She is the Executive Director at Afesis-corplan, an organization she joined in 2007. She holds a MDev from Nelson Mandela University, a MBA from Netherlands, a B.Sc from the then University of Port Elizabeth and numerous other executive leadership qualifications and research fellowships.He is a human rights, mining & environmental rights activist, a well-known community leader. He has been an activist for almost 5 years dealing with socio economic and environmental rights in his community as well as across 8 Provinces across South Africa. He has also completed a short course in Mining, Policy and Practice through Wits University and Mandela Institute.
Mbongiseni Buthelezi is Director of the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies at the University of Johannesburg. Prior to joining PARI he was a researcher and a lecturer at the University of Cape Town variously in the Research Initiative in Archive and Public Culture (Department of Anthropology), the Land and Accountability Research Centre, the Department of English, and the Centre for Popular Memory (Department of History). Buthelezi holds a PhD in English and Comparative Literature, co-supervised in History and Anthropology, from Columbia University.
Nomzamo Zondo is an attorney and the Executive Director of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI). She joined SERI in February 2013 to fulfill her lifelong dream to work with exploited and marginalized communities, using the law to balance the scales of social justice. Nomzamo works mainly on housing rights cases, defending communities threatened with eviction, litigating for the provision of basic services and the upgrading of informal settlements. Her key achievements include litigating on behalf of the South African Informal Traders Forum to reverse the removal of 8000 from the Johannesburg Business District in 2013, representing the Families of the deceased Marikana mineworkers and coordinating criminal defense in support of the #FeesMustFall movement. Nomzamo’s practice of the law has highlighted the need to amplify community voices in public interest litigation. She is celebrated for agitating for legal representation that supports and strengthens the agency of communities and movements.