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PEOPLE OF THE YEAR 2023

Community Champion of the Year runners-up: Thapelo Mohapi, Portia Marinana and Avril Andrews

Community Champion of the Year runners-up: Thapelo Mohapi, Portia Marinana and Avril Andrews
Abahlali baseMjondolo general secretary Thapelo Mohapi. (Photo: Leon Sadiki)

The heroes who lead the way and go beyond the call of duty to uplift their communities.

Thapelo Mohapi

Thapelo Mohapi is the general secretary of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers’ movement that so angers the ANC in eThekwini. According to Amnesty International, Mohapi has been in hiding since 2021 because of threats against his life. Since Abahlali’s inception in 2005, at least 24 of its leaders have been killed, with four dying last year alone. In their eKhenana Commune in Cato Manor, Durban, Abahlali members have not only faced a battle to receive basic services, but also police brutality and forced evictions.

Portia Marinana

Government workers who are willing to go beyond the call of duty are few and far between. But Portia Marinana, a social worker in the paediatrics department at Dora Nginza Hospital in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, did exactly that. She made headlines in June when her diligence led to the discovery of a seven-month-old baby boy who had been kidnapped when he was just four days old. Along with colleague Kaamilah Eagles, the senior administration officer for late registration of birth at the hospital, she traced the mother to New Brighton. The baby was reunited with his family and the kidnapper was arrested.

Avril Andrews

Avril Andrews lost her son Alcardo in 2015 when he was fatally shot in Hanover Park, a gang-ridden area in Cape Town, after rejecting a demand from local gang members to take part in a crime. In the wake of his death, Andrews started a foundation in Alcardo’s name that provides an after-school programme, feeding scheme and other community initiatives. She also started Moms Move for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation in the Western Cape, which supports family members of victims of gang violence – mainly mothers – to fight for justice. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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