In 1979 George Soros, Chairperson and Founder of the Open Society Foundations, provided scholarships to black South African students to study at the University of Cape Town during apartheid. To date, the Open Society Foundations has awarded Scholarships to more than 15 000 Scholars around the world. To commemorate the 25 years of grant making in South Africa, they awarded 25 Commemorative Open Society Scholarships and Fellowships which were announced on 30 November 2018 at the OSF-SA 25 year Commemorative Event.
Sonto Dube, editorial mentor intern for the Citizen Justice Network whose application was commendatory and got her awarded one of the scholarships for her passion for redressing the gaps between formal and substantive access to justice for the poor and marginalized populations and the role that community-based paralegals play in promoting access to justice.
‘I started working at the justice sector in May 2016, to NGO called ACAOSA. My experience both at CAOSA and CJN has provided me with an opportunity to interact with paralegals in the nine provinces of South Africa. Through this interaction, I had an opportunity to deeply understand efforts of paralegals in ensuring access to justice for poor and marginalized population who do not afford to pay for private lawyers and attorney. As well as to understand that there are existing inequalities created by apartheid-era injustices which continue to plague South Africa today said Sonto Dube’.
She intends to pursue a Master’s degree in Developmental Studies where she can pursue a paper that will expand the knowledge related to the gaps to access to justice for the poor and marginalized in order to influence the paralegal sector. She currently holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Development Studies from the University of Johannesburg.
Sonto has been a great and insightful addition to the Citizen Justice Network. Her experiences both at CAOSA and CJN have inspired her passion and spurred on her activism and this opportunity will only further her aspirations to positively contribute in realizing access to social justice for everyone, especially for the majority of people in the disenfranchised communities who have often battled with access to justice said Zandile Mashaba, Project Coordinator for the Citizen Justice Network.Winning this award is the beginning of my small contribution in the long way of ensuring that I am actively contributing to building an open society that allows even people like myself who come from rural communities with little resources to contribute to democracy. I look forward to other opportunities along the way in my journey that will allow me to create global networks where I will be able to share ideas and gain more knowledge in relation to how other countries deal with some of the issues faced by South Africa said Sonto.