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OSF-SA Photography Competition Gallery

OSF-SA Photography Competition Virtual Exhibition, “Social Justice Through the Lens”

Photography has played a critical part in defining South African politics and culture. During apartheid, photographs were used as a tool by security police to monitor political activists. At the time, photographs also offered a powerful way to document the lives of everyday South Africans – their experiences of injustice, persecution, defiance and hope. Today, photography remains a critical means for exposing and challenging injustice. At the Open Society Foundations we strongly support socially engaged photography and acknowledge its potential to drive social change.

In 2015 the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) launched its Inaugural Social Justice Photography Competition. We invited young African photographers to submit images that distil the essence of the work supported by OSF-SA, our grantees and partner organisations. Focusing on OSF-SA’s key thematic areas, the competition also aimed to provide a platform for emerging young photographers working in South Africa.

Our panel of judges included renowned South African photographer, Omar Badsha, the associate director of the the Open Society Foundation’s Documentary Photography Project, Yukiko Yamagata, executive director of OSF-SA, Fatima Hassan, and OSF-SA programme officer, Dimitri Selibas.

The winning body of work selected by the judges was Xoliswa Ngwenya’s photo-series “In My Solitude”.

Please click on an image to view full size. You can then scroll through images in the full-size view.

First Prize: Xoliswa Ngwenya

Xoliswa Ngwenya








©Xoliswa Ngwenya,In My Solitude 01

© Xoliswa Ngwenya (2)

© Xoliswa Ngwenya (3)

© Xoliswa Ngwenya (1)

© Xoliswa Ngwenya

© Xoliswa Ngwenya (4)

Runner-up: Mandisa Buthelezi

Mandisa Buthelezi


Runner-up: Awonke Zidlele

Awonke Zidlele300x200


Runner-up: Andile Bhala

Andile Bhala

1humanity to others, ubuntu

The Social Justice Through the Lens exhibition will be shown at Breakaway Café, 50 Waterkant Street, Cape Town, from 21 June until 22 July. The exhibition will then be moved to the OSF-SA offices. If you wish to get contact with any of the photographers or to inquire about purchasing copies of the images in the online gallery please contact us at or at

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