South Africa is a multicultural country rich in history and resources and now, after the long struggle to end apartheid, with a progressive constitution. Though considerable progress has been made since independence in 1994, after years of apartheid, the country still faces significant challenges such as inequality, poverty, unemployment, crime, drug abuse, xenophobia, corruption, intolerance, environmental decay and gender based violence among others.
Giraffe Heroes South Africa (GHSA) finds and documents stories of brave South Africans of all races, age, sex and gender already acting to combat these challenges for the good of the country and beyond. .These "Giraffe Heroes" include refugees and immigrants who contribute towards sustainable peace and development in South Africa. All Giraffe Heroes are compassionate risk takers and most of them are largely unknown.
By telling the stories of these Giraffe Heroes, GHSA inspires many others to strive for change.
GHSA speeches, trainings and other tools in civil engagement will help activists succeed. And GHSA’s school curriculum can help young people build lives as courageous and compassionate citizens.
Though completely independent, Giraffe Heroes South Africa is inspired by the Giraffe Heroes Project in the USA and its affiliates in Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, India, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Argentina.
Giraffe Heroes South Africa, like all other Giraffe Heroes programs around the world, does not take sides with any one political party or racial, religious or ethnic group. Rather it finds and celebrates the work of those citizens whose lives rise above party, ethnicity, gender, sex, race, and class lines - people whose work is dedicated to the betterment of the lives of all those who live in the country without discrimination.
GHSA serves everyone and is a powerful means for harnessing the problem-solving ideals and efforts of every citizen.
Giraffe Heroes are chosen by a jury of citizens from nominations received from all over the country. The main criteria for being a Giraffe Hero is ability to courageously stand and take action that serves a common good and brings hope.
A Welcome by the Director
It is with great pleasure to welcome you all to the official page of the Giraffe Heroes South Africa.
Let us work towards creating the South Arica that we all want, taking into account what Tata Nelson Mandela, a great revolutionary and liberator of our time taught us,’ What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived, but what difference we have made to the lives of others.’
The mission of GHSA is to find and tell the stories of people who ‘stick their necks’ out to make South Africa a better place to live and to give them tools to succeed. When we publish these stories over traditional and social media other citizens are inspired to take action too. This story telling strategy is simple- but it has worked in every culture for thousands of years and it works here too.
Most of the Giraffe Heroes GHSA honors are social, economic, democratic and environmental rights activists, standing against crime, violence, poverty, hatred, marginalization, injustice and inequality. All are doing something positive for the community. You can read their stories below.
We have just started. There are many more Giraffe Heroes in South Africa, working courageously to build a peaceful and prosperous nation. Now their stories need to be told to the nation and the world at large so that they can inspire all of us to renew our hope and to step forward to help meet the severe challenges faced by humanity.
GHSA finds and documents these silent heroes who have contributed so much and who can inspire present and future generations through their work.
We are open for nominations and would be happy to receive them. Do you know of a South African citizen or a refugee who is sticking her or his neck out to serve this beautiful country and all those who live in it? Contact me on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to submit your nomination.
We look forward to celebrating that hero, confident that his or her courage will inspire others to stick their necks out too, like a giraffe.
Danmore Chuma is a radical educationist, journalist and an award winning Giraffe Hero frontline human rights defender. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Giraffe Heroes of South Africa
Brown Lekekela, a community volunteer and human rights defender, fights for gender justice and children's rights in Diesploot, 21 km north of Johannesburg. In 2013 he opened the Green Door Shelter to give a place of safety, counselling and referral to victims of gender based violence. Male perpetrators of violence against women are threatened by his work but Lekekela braves the risks. More
Rethabile Mosese, a human rights attorney, fights for gender justice by providing free legal services to victims of gender-based violence in Diepsloot, an informal settlement north of Johannesburg. In 2015, Mosese joined the nonprofit organisation, Lawyers against Abuse (LvA), giving up working in a highly paying corporate world in order to serve her fellow women in a remote community ravaged by crime, with limited basic services. More
Thabiso Zulu, an anti-corruption campaigner and whistle blower, is passionate about serving the poor and the vulnerable. Zulu has exposed massive corruption, the looting of municipality resources, poor service delivery, police brutality, and politically motivated killings of activists by politicians in KwaZulu Natal. As a result, Zulu has been arrested, tortured, had those close to him killed, More
Nkosikhona Swartbooi is a fearless campaigner for justice and equality in South Africa. An experienced activist and strategist, he's campaigned for safe and decent housing for all, protested unlawful evictions, exposed corruption in South Africa’s rail agency, and raised awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic. He's been arrested, threatened, and attacked; today he lives in a safe house away from his family. More
Cheryl Hlabane empowers women to realise their full potential and to be treated as equals in a society rocked by gender-based violence. A former businesswoman who forsook the corporate life for one of women’s advocacy, Hlabane manages the Frida Hartley Shelter, taking in women and their children who have endured neglect, abuse, trauma, and homelessness. Hlabane has had her reputation tarnished and her life threatened. More
When COVID 19 hit South Africa, Mondeka Mabibini put herself in the frontlines, raising awareness and providing food and protective clothing to those in need. . She's launched other projects, including a reading club and an organization to supply shoes to poor students walking miles to school without them. ‘I have a passion for community work,’ says Mabibini, ‘especially with regards to children and youth.' More
Veteran freelance investigative journalist Raymond Joseph has published over 50 articles as part of an ongoing anti-corruption investigation unearthing massive graft by the South African Lotteries Commission (NLC) . Besides the financial and time constraints, Joseph has been threatened, defamed, and is facing lawsuits, as well as being harassed and threatened in Parliament. More
When COVID-19 broke out in South Africa, Ebrahim Abrahams, a teacher in Kewtown, started using the money he’d saved to buy a car for his daughter as a graduation present to feed the poor and hungry. For him and the family members and community volunteers who help him, that means spending long evenings in dangerous neighborhoods and exposing themselves to the virus as well. . More
Axolile Notywala devotes his life to fighting injustice and inequality in South Africa. As General Secretary of the Social Justice Coalition, he stages protests, coordinates with other organizations, and challenges the government in advocating for accountability, inclusivity, and better living conditions for people in underprivileged communities. He has been arrested and assaulted by police many times. More
Songezo Mazizi has continually fought for justice, particularly students’ rights. As a student at the University of the Western Cape, he led the Fees Must Fall campaign, which .successfully advocated for more government funding of schools and students. As a result of his activism, Mazizi was suspended from university, arrested and beaten by police. He continues to be a force for justice. More
Oswald Kucherera, an activist in South Africa, fights for justice half a world away. In his quest for a just world, he leads the Free West Papua Solidarity Campaign, the only such project in Africa, raising awareness of the West Papuan genocide and the demand of the people there for freedom and independence from Indonesia. He continues on despite financial challenges and threats. More
Abdikadir Khalif Mohamed, a refugee from Somalia to South Africa, has defied threats and financial constraints to serve his community and his new home. Through the Somali Association of South Africa in the Western Cape province, an organization which he leads, Mohamed promotes social cohesion, integration, and a culture of self-reliance among immigrants, refugees, and local South Africans. More
Georgia McTaggart, of Cape Town, founded Help Up to protect the environment and create economic opportunities for the poor. Through Help Up, McTaggart organizes clean ups in and around Cape Town, removing unwanted plastic waste that pollutes the environment. McTaggart and her team face risks of falls on slippery river banks and of contracting water-borne illnesses. More
Melita Ngcobo fights against local South African governments that are essentially destroying poor neighborhoods in what is called “reblocking.” In some cases, already poor people, without notice, see their homes—often shacks—demolished and are forced to live in thoroughly unsafe areas. For her efforts, Ngcobo has been attacked, wounded, and jailed. . More
Christopher Koitsioe, a former Staff Sargeant and evangelist, fearlessly stands against the forced evictions and mistreatment of residents of Marievale by the South African Defense Force to pave way for a military base. He's been arrested and his house firebombed. In spite of threats, Koitsioe soldiers on. More
Merlin Ekwanza Mosoko uses sports to build social cohesion in the Cape Flats, a region in northern Cape Town rocked by violence, division and teen pregnancies. He starts basketball teams targeting young people to keep them away from drugs and gang violence, to teach life skills and to keep kids in school—promoting a better future. More
Starting at age 15, Rushda Booley sacrifices her personal savings and time to inspire and mobilize young people to giving back to the community. As Director of Charity Week, she leads a group of volunteers in raising funding to support humanitarian efforts and emergencies in South Africa and the world. More
Michel Hatungimana is a kind man—and a warrior. He has helped over 150 refugees from his native Burundi with food, and accommodation. He risks his safety to rescue hijacked Burundian commercial drivers. Recently he’s taken on the dangerous role of peacemaker during the upsurge in violence against immigrants in South Africa. More
Neliswa Dludla, a trained Maths teacher, turned down a formal teaching job, opting instead to develop the literacy and numeracy skills of young learners in her poor community to prepare them for a successful career and to keep them out of drugs and crime. She faces risks, including from criminals and gangs. More
Qaba Mbola, a social justice activist and an Ashoka Fellow, sticks his neck out to lead efforts towards poverty alleviation, social cohesion, combating crime and drug abuse in South Africa, especially through his Ujamaa community project in Khayelitsha, an informal settlement South East of Cape Town. More