Sylvester Stein Fellowship awarded to WJP journalist

The Canon Collins Trust is pleased to announce the Sylvester Stein Fellowship, a new award made in memory of the renowned author, journalist, anti-apartheid campaigner and friend of the Trust who died in December, aged 95. Funds raised from Sylvester’s funeral were donated to CCELAT and have been topped up by the Trust to make an award of just over £3,000 to a senior journalist at the Wits Justice Project (WJP), our partner organisation in Johannesburg.

Ruth Hopkins, an award-winning journalist who has worked for the WJP for many years, will be using the Fellowship to travel to the United States in order to conduct research and compare criminal justice issues in South Africa and the US, analysing how race, demographics and the unequal distribution of wealth affects the systems in both nations.

During the months of March and April 2016 Ruth will be a visiting journalism fellow at two different organisations in the US, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery and the Marshall Project in New York. The EJI is a non-profit that strives for equal justice for all by drawing attention to the race bias underlying America’s criminal justice issues, through legal representation of those who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. The Marshall Project, like the WJP, is a non-profit non-partisan journalism organisation whose mission it is to raise public awareness around issues of criminal justice and the possibility for reform. By spending time working alongside these two outstanding organisations, Ruth hopes to uncover instructive similarities and differences that will help to inform her approach to investigative journalism and legal activism in South Africa.

 “The Sylvester Stein Fellowship will allow me to investigate the critical intersection of race and the criminal justice system in the United States, as well as the momentum for criminal justice reform that is shaping in politics and society. I hope to bring back to South Africa ideas on criminal justice reform and to ignite a debate in society about the role class and race play in our criminal justice system.”

Sylvester’s wife, Sarah, and daughter, Lyndall, were delighted to hear about the establishment of the Fellowship, announced last week at a commemorative event at the South African High Commission, honouring Sylvester and fellow anti-apartheid activists, Indres Naidoo, and Mohammed Ismail Dinat.

Ruth feels honoured to be undertaking this research in Sylvester’s name, and is determined “to do justice to Sylvester Stein’s important legacy of brave and uncompromising journalism.”