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The Citizens’ Justice Network

University of Witwatersrand

Project type Innovation 

Country South Africa 

Support £50,494

Country Engagement Developer Deborah Byrne

“News from rural communities is so valuable and yet so rarely communicated. As a country we want to know what is going on in these places and we want the people who know best to tell us.” — The CJN


winner of the Global Innovation Competition 2015

Start date
August 2015
End date
August 2016
Period: 12 months


Orange Farm is a township outside of Johannesburg in South Africa. Two years ago, a man there was threatened, because people thought he had bribed the police. In response to the violence, a local radio station produced a radio show, explaining how police bail works and that it has nothing to do with corruption. The violence stopped.

People living in rural areas often don’t know the legal system and how it works. They don’t know who to turn to when something happens and they need legal advice. This results in communities taking matters in their own hands and, often, violence breaks out.


The Citizens Justice Network (CJN) is educating people in rural areas about the legal system in South Africa. They do that by training paralegals living in rural communities to become radio journalists and produce their own stories, often in local languages.

With these stories, the CJN investigates and highlights unreported miscarriages of justice in rural South Africa. They find ways to raise them in local and national media, providing a platform to help marginalised communities know their rights and gain better access to the public justice services available to everyone else.

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The CJN was a gold winner of the Global Innovation Competition 2015 and is an initiative of the department of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of Witwatersrand.