Other PILS Research

2020 Social Justice Sector Review Report

Social Justice Sector Review Report: Critical Reflections on the Social Justice Sector in the Post-Apartheid Era

This study was initiated and resourced by the RAITH Foundation in the third quarter of 2019. The aim of the study was to provide a review of the Social Justice Sector in South Africa from 1994 to 2020, as the democratic South Africa celebrated its first 25 years of existence. A Reference Group was established, comprising of leaders in the Social Justice Sector, some of whom were RAITH grantees, while others were not. The purpose of this group was to provide thought leadership to the Review by guiding the work undertaken by the three consultants who undertook the work of the Review. The group also engaged with the findings and recommendations of the report. Their role in shaping this study is critically important, both from a participatory and methodological point of view, but also as a pathway for future actions arising from the report. The actual work of the review was undertaken by a panel of independent consultants.

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its more immediate impact in South Africa from March 2020, much of the initial planning was affected. The aims and objectives of the Review remained constant and it evolved to include sections that tried to understand how the sector could act with the greatest relevance in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The report, funded by the RAITH Foundation and authored by Isobel Sarah Frye, Yasmin Turton, Mondli Hlatshwayo can be downloaded here:

Social Justice Sector Review Report

2023 Public Interest Law Organisations in South Africa

Public Interest Law Organisations in South Africa: Models, Impact and Sustainability

The central purpose of this study was to analyse the working models of public interest law organisations (‘PILOs’) in South Africa and their impact, and to explore what additional support they require in order to build resilience and maximise their contribution to social justice.

In this study the focus was specifically on those PILOs that have the capacity to conduct public interest litigation, that is to conduct court proceedings, though this is unlikely to be their only law-based strategy for social change as most PILOs also engage in advocacy and research. PILOs are required to be registered as law centres in terms of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (“Legal Practice Act”).

The study sought to build on previous donor-supported studies of the sector, and emerging academic literature. This category of litigating PILOs excluded those organisations that may frequently engage in public interest litigation as litigants (parties), although they do not themselves have the legal capacity to conduct litigation.

South Africa’s PILOs and the organisations that support them make a vital contribution to realising access to justice and advancing the commitments of the Constitution. There is a need for closer and more sustained studies of how the activities of PILOs – research, advocacy and litigation – and their models of litigation contribute to success and impact.

The report, funded by the RAITH Foundation and authored by Jason Brickhill can be downloaded here:

Public Interest Law Organisations in South Africa_ Models, Impact and Sustainability – Jason Brickhill, 2023