Having always been guided by a strong sense of what is fair and just from a young age, Anjuli Maistry has gone to become one of South Africa’s most valuable lawyers whose efforts are geared towards the most vulnerable members of our society and the future of our country — children.
After spending seven years working closely with refugees, advising and assisting them on breaches of their rights in South Africa (which included complaints related to hate speech, birth registration, statelessness and social services) she knew for sure that human rights was the sector she would be applying her legal expertise to. “My early experiences of consulting with refugees, evictees and land claimants confirmed my commitment to driving social change and justice in South Africa,” she says.
Currently working at the Centre for Child Law, she has previously worked for Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Women’s Legal Centre and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). She completed her articles at the LRC where she trained under lawyers with extensive experience in constitutional rights litigation.
Whilst working at LHR, Maistry focused on refugee rights and environmental rights. As an environmental rights lawyer, she worked to ensure respect for the rights of communities affected by mining, which included access to water and clean air. At the SAHRC, she investigated complaints of human rights violations by members of the public.
At the Centre for Child Law she plans to continue work that addresses the legal loopholes that prevent the disadvantaged access to documentation and education. She’s currently litigating strategically to ensure that children’s constitutional rights are protected and promoted.
Like many young women, Maistry says it has always been difficult to have her voice or ideas heard, but pressing against this has made her more assertive. She feels very strongly about using human rights as a vehicle to make the lives of others better. “It is only the accident of birth that means I am the one assisting rather than being assisted,” she says. The human rights sector has changed her life far more than it has of those whose cases she’s been involved in solving.
She has a sizeable book collection which she enjoys reading from in her spare time. She also enjoys eating out at different Johannesburg restaurants or when traveling, which she also enjoys. — Welcome Lishivha