Kegomoditswe Mophulane (Kego) is a feminist activist who is passionate about using the law as a tool for social change. Kego holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and her passion lies in constitutional law and human rights. Her passion for access to justice issues was nurtured during her final year of studies where she interned at the UJ Law Clinic in Soweto. It was also during this period that Kego volunteered at LvA’s Diepsloot Centre. Kego formally joined the LvA family as a Junior Legal Officer at our Orange Farm Centre in January 2021. Before joining LvA, Kego served her articles of clerkship with Charmain Gibbens Attorneys.
In my experience, there is often a shift that happens between the first year of legal studies, when one believes that the law can be used as a “vehicle for social change”, and the final year, when the Big 5 now loom large in our imaginations. Was that your experience? If not, how did you find your activism so early on in your legal career?
This was also my experience, however when I interned at the UJ Law Clinic in Soweto, I realised that there were a lot of people who were either not informed about the law or could not afford to seek legal assistance. I saw first-hand how poverty disempowered community members who wished to exercise their rights and to make use of the protections afforded to them by our Constitution. Essentially, my passion for human rights and desire to empower impoverished and marginalised communities was the driving force behind my career choices to date.
I know that you are currently immersed in Shanthini Naidoo’s Women in Solidarity – the story of Joyce Sikhakhane-Rankin, Rita Ndzanga, Shanthie Naidoo and Nondwe Mankahla and their refusal to testify in the “Trial of the 22”. What parallels can be drawn between these women’s stories and the challenges faced by black women today?
These women sacrificed so much to ensure South Africans dismantle the oppressive state. They refused to be silenced and as consequence, they were brutally assaulted and tortured. Their resilience and bravery brought us here. After decades, they still live with physical and mental scars from the abuse suffered at the hands of law enforcement. Are we any different from them? President Ramaphosa declared gender-based violence a national crisis in 2019. Yet, women continue to be abused, raped and killed. Those who survive the gruesome sexual assaults and rapes are met with hostile police officials and community members who subject them to secondary victimisation. We are constantly blamed for the atrocities we face. Our rapists and abusers attempt to silence us every chance they get. If they do not murder us, they silence us through legal means. The women in the Trial of the 22 are us and we are them. We are as resilient and brave. We will conquer. We will dismantle the patriarchal system.
What do you find compelling about LvA’s model?
The idea of contributing to justice drew me to LvA. We have heard many stories about the justice system failing women and girls. LvA works to ensure that stakeholders execute their duties as required by the law and holds them accountable for misconduct. Additionally, our integrated approach cares for victims holistically as it provides support with the legal aspects of the case, while also providing for the trauma that comes with GBV.
What is your vision for LvA?
I would want to see LvA grow and establish offices nationwide. That we would continue holding stakeholders accountable and instilling hope in victims, reminding victims of gender-based violence that they are important too. Perhaps making our mark will bring the country a step closer to a world where LvA’s services are no longer needed.