Every year, coinciding with Youth Month, the Mail & Guardian releases a list of 200 South Africans under 35 who have done exceptional work in their fields as well as aim to uplift South African society. The Open Society Foundation for South Africa is proud to announce that eight of our grantees were featured on 2017’s list.


Lungile Zakwe, chief operating officer for the Treatment Action Campaign

After completing studies both at home and around the globe Lungile Zakwe has worked extensively in running what is widely accepted as one of the most important HIV/AIDS rights organisations in the world, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). She also runs the AFRO-Freedom Book Club a group in which open-minded individuals come together to discuss African literature. Zakwe is inspired by everyday women in society who she believes are strong beyond measure. She is also passionate about African identity and reiterates that we as South Africans are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Ntokozo Yingwana, gender activist, consultant for the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce and PhD candidate and communication and research uptake officer at the African Centre for Migration & Society at Wits

Ntokozo Yingwana is an intersectional feminist who has dedicated her life to fighting gender and sexuality bias in society. She consults for a range of organisations including an OSF-SA grantee the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (sweat). Yingwana is most inspired when she sees the sex worker rights’ activists she helped train advocate for themselves and the taboo issue in public. Yingwana is currently a PhD candidate and communication and research uptake officer at the African Centre for Migration & Society at Wits.

Nosipho Vidima, human rights and lobbying officer at SWEAT

After witnessing a brutal attack of a fellow sex worker by a group of police in 2012, Nosipho Vidima joined a Sisonke march to protest police harassment and abuse perpetrated against sex workers. This was the start of her work for fighting for the rights of sex workers. Since then she has served as a sex worker ambassador for TB/HIV Care Durban, worked for the Red Umbrella sex worker programme and SWEAT. Vidima currently coordinates the sweat campaign #SayHerName, which documents the deaths of sex workers in South Africa and ensures that they become legal cases that are not overlooked.

Nomonde Nyembe, attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies

Drawing on personal experience as a black woman in South Africa, Nomonde Nyembe’s work is propelled by hoping to help transform South Africa from one of the most unequal societies in the world to one of equality. Nyembe is a former fellow of the UCLA-Sonke Health and Human Rights Fellowship, a former clerk of the Constitutional Court and is currently an attorney at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS). She currently leads the Business and Human Rights Programme at Cals and has been instrumental in litigating against the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) during the recent social grants crisis.

Tholakele Nene, manager of the #MineAlert app

An avid reader and lover of the written word, Tholakele Nene is motivated by journalism that seeks to make a difference. As manager of the #MineAlert app she uses community generated information to press government for more information regarding the South African mining industry. This information is then crafted into investigative articles for Oxpeckers, which she then distributes back into mine-affected communities. This in turn supports community upliftment encouraging more South Africans to be involved in active citizenship.

Silomo Khumalo, activist legal researcher for Section 27

After completing his undergraduate in law and honours degree in public policy at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Silomo Khumalo was awarded a Section 27-SLSJ fellowship to work at Section 27. His passion for disability rights and inclusive education stem from his own struggles as he has been blind since the age of nine. His work for Section27 included the production of research reports, book chapters and opinion pieces. From July 2017 Khumalo will be working as a clerk to Justice Johan Froneman at the Constitutional Court.

Kelly-Jo Bluen, legal researcher at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

Kelly-Jo Bluen’s work at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) includes research focusing on international relations as well as geopolitics and conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence pertaining to international justice. She is also the project leader for international justice at the IJR. Much of Bluen’s work is driven by her commitment to justice and equality as well as the notion that although international law upholds systems that aim to suppress marginalisation and oppression, much of the system’s creation was guided by social power structures which continue to uphold other forms of discrimination such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

Michael Bishop, advocate at the Legal Resource Centre

Michael Bishop was drawn to law due to its intricate combination of logic, persuasion and justice. His law career deals almost exclusively with human rights, constitutional and administrative law. After he served his pupillage under Justice Pius Langa he began work for the the Legal Resource Centre (LRC), South Africa’s biggest public interest law firm. Bishop and the LRC help people assert their constitutional rights by providing high quality legal representation to those who could not usually afford it.

This year we are also excited to announce that one of our programme managers was included in the #MGYoung200

OSF-SA Staff:

Alan Wallis, information, expression and accountability programme manager at the Open Society Foundation for South Africa

Alan Wallis’ career as a human rights lawyer includes clerking at the Constitutional Court and working as a project lawyer in the International Criminal Justice Programme at the South African Litigation Centre. As manager of the information, expression and accountability programme at the Open Society Foundation (OSF-SA) Wallis performs a key behind-the-scenes role in providing key support to civil society organisations.


Content adapted from the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2017 website