Poor Mandisa Shandu

Mandisa Shandu has always sought to learn more and do more and she uses her education, her skills and her resources to give better spaces to the poor and marginalised.


The incredible South African was selected as one of the esteemed Top 200 Young South Africans in 2016 and rightfully so.

Mandisa Shandu graduated in 2011 from UCT where she completed B.SocSci (political science) and LLB degrees. She completed her articles at ENS Africa, and was admitted as an attorney in February 2013. Wishing to follow her interest in public interest law, she joined Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) as a legal researcher.

NU is an NGO which works closely with organisations in Khayelitsha and promotes understanding, engagement and collaboration on social justice issues in order to foster active citizenship and leadership in South Africa. Mandisa is also a member of the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) secretariat, which is a community-based organisation working in Khayelitsha’s informal settlements.

Both the SJC and NU were among the five complainant organisations that launched the request to establish the Commission of Inquiry into Policing in Khayelitsha.

Now as a 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.

“Ndifuna Ukwazi is an activist organisation and law centre that promotes the realisation of Constitutional Rights and Social Justice – through legal, research and organising support to working class people, communities and social movements.”

“We work to advance urban land justice – that is the protection and promotion of access to affordable, well located housing in Cape Town; building inclusive and sustainable mixed use and mixed income communities; and supporting tenant rights and security of tenure in both private and public housing.”

“We also specialise in community based social auditing of service delivery; access to information and procurement monitoring at the local government level; budget analysis and advocacy; and activist education.”

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.”

Sources: YSANdifuna Ukwazi
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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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