OSF-SA turns 15! In May 2008, a series of shameful attacks against mainly black Africans started in Alexandra, Johannesburg and spread to other areas in South Africa (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape). Over a period of three weeks, at least 62 people were killed and about 100 000 people were displaced.

In January 2008, the SA National Police Commissioner was removed under a cloud of charges. In September 2008, President Mbeki was recalled by the ANC, nine months before the end of his second term as President. This was the first time a democratically elected President had been recalled. Kgalema Motlanthe was appointed as President for six months and, by December, a group of people closely aligned with the ANC formed a new party, the Congress of the People (COPE).

In January 2009, the government approved a law disbanding the special investigations unit known as the Scorpions. The fourth national elections were held in April 2009. The ANC won with 65.9% of the vote and in May 2009, Jacob Zuma was elected President of South Africa.

The Criminal Justice Initiative embarked on a project, together with the Western Cape, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape provincial governments, to support the development of complementary approaches to law enforcement in order to promote safety and address crime concerns through operational projects and grant making. It also partnered with Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa to explore how criminal justice transformation efforts in South Africa could be shared with Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.

OSF-SA supported grantees in pursuing cases that promoted rights advancement and impact litigation. It also initiated the Open Society Monitoring Index – a research instrument to monitor the degree of openness in South Africa based on AfriMAP’s work.

The Media Programme continued to fund grantees that worked to defend and strengthen the media environment, to improve civil society’s access to the media, and to improve the quality of media content. Grants were provided to ensure the effective functioning of statutory bodies, including ICASA, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), and the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA). It also provided support for organisations that promoted access to information on issues in the public interest.

Zyda Rylands was appointed the Fifth OSF-SA Board Chairperson.

2008/9 grants: 109