Attorney, Ndifuna Ukwazi
Mandisa Shandu has always sought to learn more and do more, and uses her education, her skills and her resources to give better spaces to the poor and marginalised.
Co-director and attorney at Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), Shandu heads the organisation’s law clinic, which she founded in 2015. Through her work, she seeks to advance urban land justice in the City of Cape Town through providing legal, advocacy and related support to communities and social movements.
She leads a staff of young and dynamic lawyers, researchers and organisers in a campaign that seeks to create a more integrated Cape Town, through the expansion and protection of well-located and affordable land and housing in the city.
Shandu’s personal vision for South Africa is equality and spatial justice, where all people are afforded dignity and equal access to housing, educational and employment opportunities.
“I have always been inspired by great South Africans — activists, artists, lawyers, academics and other influencers — who committed themselves to the liberation struggle and paved the way for the South Africa we know today,” says Shandu.
“But we have to accept that the work is not yet done. Whereas in the past, injustices were caused by the apartheid segregationist laws of the time, today’s injustices continue to happen in spite of our Constitution, progressive laws and policies.”
At Ndifuna Ukwazi, Shandu also uses educational workshops and community meetings to train activists to better understand and use the law as a powerful tool to boldly assert their citizenship and activate their constitutional rights.
Appropriately, Shandu’s favourite quotation is Cornel West’s “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” — Linda Doke