New publication brings stories of rural South Africa to public attention

Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT) celebrates 35 years with a book and seven awards

Photo of an office with people

The Port St John’s advice office, a grantee of Social Change Assistance Trust, serves about 130 rural villages. It was established in 1992. Photo: Zeke du Plesis

By Tariro Washinyira

13 November 2019

“Reaching the milestone of 35 years is no mean feat,” says Joanne Harding, Director of the Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT).

To mark this milestone, SCAT is launching a book celebrating its legacy: Rural Voice II: 35 stories for 35 years.

Established in 1984, the organisation promotes access to justice, food security, gender equality, and youth development in rural communities.

Journalist Barry Streek, who died in 2006, was a founding trustee, and SCAT will honour him with the Barry Streek Awards. Recipients will receive R10,000 to spend on a local development initiative of their choice. The seven categories are: ​​​​Resilience, Fundraising Incentive Scheme, Youth Empowerment, Gender and Women Empowerment, Community Involvement, Food Security, and Governance and Management.

Much of the organisation’s workload involves labour disputes on farms, farm evictions, youth unemployment and crime.

Monica Tyalimpi of the Dordrecht Advice Office in the Eastern Cape is quoted in the book sharing how her family was evicted from a farm in 1989. That experience inspired her to fight for the rights of the marginalised.

“My whole family was forced to sleep on the street carrying all our belongings … After our eviction, my father was deported to Lady Frere, the town of his birth. Enroute to lady Frere, he was handcuffed until we reached Oueenstown. I saw my father bleeding from his wrists as the handcuffs were eating through his skin,” Tyalimpi writes.

“I wish I could say everything changed since apartheid ended in 1994 and we are treated with dignity. Sadly the memory of my family’s eviction came back to life one rainy day in 2017. Clients came to the Advice Office with five young children, aged from five to 15. They had been evicted from their home. I remembered the agony of my family’s eviction. I marched with the clients to the magistrates court to have the eviction declared unlawful as the proper procedures were not followed. We were successful in our appeal. The clients, with their young children, returned to the farm.”

SCAT will launch “Rural Voice II: 35 stories for 35 years” at Community House in Salt River at 5pm on Thursday, 14 November.