The Sylvester Stein Fellowship
The Sylvester Stein Fellowship is awarded annually by the Canon Collins Educational & Legal Assistance Trust in memory of the renowned author, journalist, anti-apartheid campaigner and longtime friend of the Trust. Since 2016, money donated by Sylvester’s friends and family has been used to support the development of talented southern African journalists with a focus on the promotion of human rights and social justice in the region. You can help support by making a donation to the Sylvester Stein Fellowship fund. Don't forget to put in the message box: for the Sylvester Stein Fellowship.
2018 Sylvester Stein Fellowship award
The 2018 Fellowship was awarded to Carolyn Raphaely to enable Thembekile Molaudzi to attend an Innocence Network Conference in the US. Raphaely is a senior journalist at the Wits Justice Project (WJP) in Johannesburg who cut her journalistic teeth exposing the pitiful conditions experienced by migrant workers living in employer-provided housing in the Western Cape. She is currently concerned to right the wrongs in South Africa’s justice system by drawing attention to the mostly ignored plight of people behind bars. One such case, was that of Thembekile Molaudzi, who was wrongfully convicted for the murder of a policeman and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 11 years behind bars before he was able to prove his innocence and have his wrongful conviction overturned.
Raphaely was contacted by a ZonderwaterPrison warder who had listened carefully and sympathetically to Molaudzi’s protestations of innocence and who had then contacted the WJP. Eventually Molaudzi made legal history with the Constitutional Court, which overturned his life-sentence and conviction for the murder of the Mothutlung policeman. They ordered his immediate release.
Molaudzi was able to attend the Innocence Network conference with Raphaely in 2018 where he was able to begin some of the process of healing through talking to others who had been similarly imprisoned. He found he hadn’t suffered alone and was part of a large number of men and women who understood what he had experienced.
Molaudzi had met many wrongfully convicted people in the prisons where he had served his sentence and knows there are countless people behind bars in South Africa who shouldn’t be there. He now supports several wrongly accused detainees helping them to get justice. The WJP continues to pursue wrongful conviction cases.
2017 Sylvester Stein Fellow- Khutso Tsikane
The 2017 Sylvester Stein Fellowship was awarded to Khutso Tsikane, community radio broadcaster and news editor at Wits Radio Academy. She writes: "The Sylvester Stein Fellowship gave me an opportunity that would have otherwise not been available to me. The opportunity to meet and learn from a group of young women across Africa is invaluable and the connections that were made were lifetime connections that will yield positive collaboration results."
A talented journalist and editor, Khutso has experience working across a variety of media to produce content that raises awareness of pertinent social issues, and advocating for African growth, women's empowerment and community development. Currently, Khutso produces weekly talk shows for Wits Radio Academy, exploring topics ranging from law and education to news and current affairs, which are broadcast on a number of community radio stations.
Khutso plans to implement a project that will create a network of community radio stations which are citizen-focused and provide vital educational and rights-based material to community radio listeners. In particular, she hopes to use the platform of community radio to engage marginalized groups within South African society, with a focus on rural women.
"Being able to effectively communicate and implement the community radio network requires an understanding of leadership theories that are relevant and applicable to organizations which are led by 'Ubuntu' and African values. Many of the communities I work in are deeply gendered and patriarchal and have no room for gender equality which means that some projects we have implemented proved unsustainable. The high prevalence of femicide and gender based violence in rural South Africa necessitates dialogues and interventions which are possible through community media. The role of rural women in development is also an area that is overlooked and can be engaged with through community media.”
2016 Sylvester Stein Fellow- Ruth Hopkins
In March 2016, the Canon Collins Educational & Legal Assistance Trust was pleased to award the inaugural Sylvester Stein Fellowship to Wits Justice Project (WJP) journalist Ruth Hopkins. Ruth was honoured to undertake this research in Sylvester’s name, and felt determined “to do justice to Sylvester Stein’s important legacy of brave and uncompromising journalism.”
An award-winning journalist who has worked for the WJP for many years, Ruth used her Fellowship to travel to the United States in order to conduct research and compare criminal justice issues in South Africa and the US, analysing how race, demographics and the unequal distribution of wealth affects the systems in both nations. She spent time as a visiting journalism fellow at two different organisations in the US, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery and the Marshall Project in New York.
By spending time working alongside civil society organisations addressing criminal justice reform in the US, Ruth uncovered instructive similarities and differences that helped inform her approach to investigative journalism and legal activism in South Africa.
Upon returning to South Africa, Ruth reflected: “In contrast with what I witnessed in the US, I came to realise that South African laws, in themselves, are not disproportionately cruel. However, the SA criminal justice system is disproportionately punitive towards the poor. Not because its laws set out to achieve that, but because poverty has a domino effect: people don’t have access to quality education, don’t know their rights and are dependent on an overstretched and under resourced legal aid system.”
Show your support
You can help support pioneering and courageous journalism in southern Africa by making a donation to the Sylvester Stein Fellowship fund.