Welcome to Bertha Justice Fellows, Candidate Attorneys & New Staff – 2019



The Bertha Justice Fellowship Program is training the next generation of human rights and movement lawyers in pursuit of social justice. Funded by the Bertha Foundation, the Program provides two-year fellowships to emerging lawyers at the best public interest law
centers around the world, where Fellows get practical experience working alongside renowned professionals. The Program will train 1,000 lawyers – who are motivated to work alongside activists and storytellers- in the next ten years.
Petra Marais (Cape Town): Petra obtained both her BComm (Law) and LLB from Stellenbosch University. During her LLB-degree she spent a semester at KU Leuven in Belgium as a law exchange student with a focus on criminal justice and discrimination law. At KU Leuven Petra participated in several Moot Courts regarding the role of restorative justice in South Africa.
Petra came back to South Africa in the beginning of 2018 to start with an internship at the LRC Cape Town office.  During her internship she was exposed to different focus areas in the LRC and how the LRC uses the law as a tool to fight inequality in South Africa. Petra is especially passionate about sexual and reproductive health rights and refugee law within an intersectional context. Petra’s biggest aspiration as an advocate for human rights is to challenge the institutionalised stigma surrounding sexual minorities and asylum seekers in South Africa.
Saadiyah Khan (Durban): I completed my LLB from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal with summa cum laude in 2017. In 2018 I began a Masters Degree in Child Care and Protection at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and I intend to complete the dissertation component in 2019. 
I chose my Masters degree because I have an interest in protecting the rights of children, indigent people and people who are in vulnerable positions.
Furthermore when I was an undergraduate in University I often volunteered at the UKZN Law Clinic and their outreach programmes. I also volunteered at the Family Advocate’s Office in 2018. 
I am excited to join the LRC because the work done by the LRC corresponds with many of the areas of law I am interested in.
Ona Xolo (Makhanda/Makhanda): Ona completed her LLB degree in 2018 at the University of the Free State, during which time she interned with both the SASLAW Pro Bono office at the Labour Court as well as with the LRC in late 2018. She joined the Legal Resources Centre Makhanda Office as an official Candidate Attorney in January 2019. Her main areas of interests include; constitutional rights to education, equality and discrimination as well as security of land tenure.
Refilwe Chulu (Johannesburg): I was born and raised in Mmabatho, I attended North West University  (LLB) from 2013 – 2016. I registered as a candidate attorney in 2017 and worked at a small commercial law firm in Sandton.  In 2018, I worked as a law researcher at the Constitutional Court for Acting Justice Goliath.  I am currently in the Johannesburg office working as a Candidate Attorney.  My interests are refugee law and international humanitarian law in armed conflict.


Lauren Nel: I am an admitted attorney who comes from a background of commercial litigation, company law and labour law. I have obtained my BA Law degree, LLB Law degree, a Masters degree in International Law and post graduate diploma in labour law. My main reason for studying law was to equip myself with the necessary tools to seek justice and protect vulnerable individuals whose  voice is not heard. I hope that through education and information, environmental law can be highlighted in all aspects of the law with an awareness created that our wealth lies in the environment that is protected and enjoyed and not in short term commercial gain

Whitney Stevens: My name is Whitney and I am a candidate attorney in the Constitutional Litigation Unit.  I obtained a BCom (Law) and LLB degree from the University of Johannesburg in 2013 and 2015 respectively. I am currently a part-time LLM student at the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Corporate and Commercial Law.  Prior to joining the LRC, I was appointed in the Estates and Trusts Division at Silica Holdings (Pty) Ltd.  I hold a strong interest in both Commercial Law and Human Rights, and would like to venture into Commercial Law, and the Business Human Rights sector.

Nelson Kesa: I completed my LLB degree at UNISA in 2016. As a student, I was involved in activities such as the Moot court wherein we were the first group to participate in the first ever moot court at UNISA Florida campus. I have also been involved with a local NGO in my community which focused on providing tutoring at a local high school as well as access to legal services through collaboration with various legal institutions. In 2018 I was accepted at ProBono.Org to complete a legal internship where I was exposed to client consultations, property matters, evictions, deceased estate and community engagements to mention a few. I do not have a particular field of interest as I am looking forward to learn as much as I can within all the different departments at LRC. I believe that as long as the work I am doing benefits a person in need, I will be satisfied with my contributions