Wits Justice Project

The Wits Justice Project (WJP) is a programme of the Journalism Department at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg South Africa.

The WJP explores new notions of journalism and social responsibility by bringing together a rare combination of investigative reporting, education, law, and advocacy. In its work, it is pushing the boundaries of journalism, encouraging reporters to tackle human rights issues and makes use not just of publication, but of the courts and partnerships with activists and advocates. This is exploratory work at the cutting edge of activist public service journalism.

How we work

The WJP uses journalism, law, research, education and advocacy to expose miscarriages of justice and abuse in the criminal justice system. While not abandoning the core journalistic values of objectivity, fairness and accuracy, we are pioneering “transparent activism” to promote the foundational values enshrined in the South African Constitution and in international and human rights law.

Our goal, as an independent, non-partisan organization, operating in both the academic and civil society space, is to improve the criminal justice system in South Africa. We use the results of our investigative journalism to inform and uplift our efforts in changing public discourse and the policy environment. We use our credibility and access to bring together relevant – but oftentimes disparate and disengaged – stakeholders to search for solutions to systemic breakdowns along the criminal justice continuum.

Our editorial guidelines

The WJP editorial guidelines were developed to protect our journalists and uphold the integrity of our work. As journalists working in South Africa, the members of the WJP are bound by the South African Press Code. The WJP editorial guidelines are there to reinforce the ethical standards by which we work. You can read our editorial guidelines here

Our annual reports

Read our 2013 annual report here 

Read our 2014 annual report here

Read our 2015 annual report here

Our awards


Paul McNally, MTN Radio Awards, 3 awards: News and Actuality Presenter (community and campus radio), Best News and Actuality Show (The Science Inside), and Best Radio Documentary for his story Farouk Meyer and Oscar Pistorius

WJP awarded gold at the Making All Voices Count Global Innovation Competition, for the Citizen Justice Network project


Carolyn Raphaely, Standard Bank Sikuvile Award 2014 runner-up for her story Paraplegics Hellish Ordeal in Prison

Ruth Hopkins, Webber Wentzel Legal Journalist of the Year Award for her two articles – Presumed innocent, rotting in jailand Seven years stuck in jail


The WJP was awarded Wits University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Academic Citizenship Team Award in October 2013.

Paul McNally won the Webber Wentzel award for Legal Journalist of the Year (Radio) for his story Drug withdrawal in remand detention, which aired on Thetha FM (100.6)


Ruth Hopkins, Webber Wentzel Legal Journalist of the Year (Print) for:

Sister probe TB scourge in prison,

SA prisons: hotbed for spread of TB inside and outside,

Incarcerated since 2007 – but trial hasn’t progressed, and

Who is watching the lawyers?

Carolyn Raphaely, Webber Wentzel Legal Journalist of the Year, runner-up (Print) for:

Raped inmate sues prison service,

Beaten and shot… life in our prisons, and

How can we escape prison overcrowding?


Carolyn Raphaely, Webber Wentzel Legal Journalist of the Year (Print) for:

Justice should be bling, but the police should not be,

In the belly of the beast,

Who killed Leon Booysens, and

Toxic meltdown at forensics labs

Click here to visit our regularly updated blog.

Contact us

Wits Journalism Department: 011 717 4028

Project Coordinator:
Simoniah Mashangoane
011 717 4679

Senior Journalist:
Ruth Hopkins
011 717 4087

Senior Journalist:
Carolyn Raphaely 

011 717 4684