Zandile Nhlengetwa of South Africa
A survivor of the political violence that affected her home province of KwaZulu-Natal, Zandile Nhlengetwa is known in her community for her ability to bring calm and stability to potentially volatile situations. She is a community project coordinator for the organization Survivors of Violence, where she designs peacebuilding intervention strategies for communities that have experienced high levels of violence, both during apartheid and now in the post-conflict era when criminal violence is prevalent. Her work includes conducting trauma healing workshops for survivors and developing income-generating programs to alleviate the effects of poverty, as well as facilitating dialogue with traditional leaders to promote development in the province.
After the loss of family members to violent incidents, Nhlengetwa has reached out to young men in prison to help them break the cycle of violence. She and a network of families that have children in prison conduct campaigns to raise awareness about youth violence and drug abuse, and advocate for sentence reductions for convicted youth. She also joined with other women who lost husbands during violent conflict to form the Harambe Women’s Forum. The group initially supported one another financially and emotionally; today their activities encompass community healing forums and the development of community-based structures to prevent violence and promote reconciliation. After the end of apartheid, Nhlengetwa assisted in the successes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by counseling victims before and after they testified and setting up community assistance programs to support victims. A teacher by profession, Nhlengetwa also develops education and counseling programs for street children through the Department of Specialized Education at the University of Witwatersrand, and works with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to assist community members living with HIV/AIDS.
Nhlengetwa was a Woman PeaceMaker in 2008.