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CALS staff recognised in M&G 200 Young South Africans

- Lee-Anne Bruce

CALS Acting Deputy Director, Palesa Madi, and Stanley Malematja from Right2Protest appear on this year's list of the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans

CALS is very pleased to announce that our Acting Deputy Director, Palesa Madi, has been named one of the Mail & Guardian's 200 Young South Africans for 2020 in the civil society category at last night's virtual reveal. We also send our warmest congratulations to Stanley Malematja from the Right2Protest Project, which is housed at CALS, for making the list in the Law and Justice category. Palesa and Stanley were both profiled by Max Dylan Lazarus for the Mail & Guardian and you can read more about them in the pieces below which first appeared here, or watch the full announcement of this year's honourees here

Palesa Madi 

In reflecting on her recent achievements, Palesa Madi makes a point to note the room for self-improvement, “Although I am proud of the last three years of my life – having raised a three year old, lectured, and being appointed as acting deputy director at one of the largest and oldest human rights centres in the country – I did not take enough time for myself to pause and reflect.“

One can forgive the lack of reflection time when considering her other outputs, including co-editing and publishing a first-year textbook, “I felt proud lecturing using the textbook, inspiring law students to use the law as a tool to advance social justice. I also feel proud having contributed to the book because through it, young people can then see for themselves the various non-traditional career paths in law such as academia and human rights law.”

Along with a prodigious level of productivity, Madi goes to great length to emphasise the importance of introspection, vulnerability and mental health, saying “The state of one’s mental well-being is at the core of the daily decisions we make, our mental state shows itself in how we treat ourselves and others and it affects your outlook of the world.”

“While it’s important to draw inspiration from others’ success, it’s even more important to look within to ascertain one’s own passions, interests and talents. Once you know what sets your heart on fire, you must do all you can to excel at that passion and to build wealth from that passion.”

This translates into her work for the Centre for Applied Legal Studies: “I want to see a better functioning state and government, where human rights are equally protected and where state resources are used to serve the country and particularly those that are most vulnerable.”


Stanley Malematja 

As an attorney at the Right2Protest Project, Stanley Malematja is committed to using the law to make a change in the lives of the most marginalised people in South African society. His goal is clear: “The respect, protection, promotion and realisation of human rights. Poor service delivery must be an issue of the past.”

Malematja’s achievements have been accomplished through hard work and no shortage of talent. This was entirely evident during his studies, when he was named as the overall winner at the 6th Annual Child Law Moot Court Competition in 2015, and when he received the prestigious Danie en Chrissie Dörfling Floating Trophy from the University of Johannesburg for the next year’s edition.

Now, as a sessional lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand, and through his work at the Right2Protest Project at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Malematja is committed to changing paradigms surrounding protests, and helping them to become more effective.

This is achieved by providing legal assistance to community groups and protesters across the country, running workshops on how to protest peacefully and legally, filing bail applications for arrested protesters, and referring matters to member civil society organisations when cases go to trial.

“Peaceful protest actions must be seen as an effective method of public participation, key to any democratic state, as opposed to being perceived as an anti-government movement,” Malematja says.

With global events in 2020 illustrating the necessity and effectiveness of peaceful protest movements to enact real change, the work that Malematja and Right2Know do could not be more relevant and important.