“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” — Toni Morrison

Abongile Nkamisa


Legal Services

Organisation / Company

Open Secrets


Abongile Nkamisa, 28, works with a team of lawyers at Open Secrets, collaborating closely with the investigations and campaigns teams to support investigations and advocacy. The aim is to hold corporations, individuals and state institutions accountable for economic crimes. By developing robust legal strategies, accountability is built and contributes to litigation efforts. This integrated approach ensures that litigation efforts are well-informed and effectively targeted, enhancing the fight against economic crime to make a meaningful difference in promoting justice and transparency. One of Abongile’s achievements she is most proud of is being selected by Women in Law South Africa as the winner of the Student Change Maker Award in 2019 in recognition for her contributions to Walter Sisulu University and for her support to rural schools in Eastern Cape. Another highlight of her career was clerking at the constitutional court for Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga. Other achievements include being editorial assistant for South African Constitutional Law and serving her articles at the social justice law organisation, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. Abongile says her journey has taught her that the essence of meaningful work is its effect on the lives of others.


LLB, Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha
LLM in Administrative and Constitutional Law
LLM in Public International Law, University of London (in progress)


Winning the Student Change Maker Award in 2019, hosted by Women in Law South Africa, was a profound moment in my life. It recognised my contributions to my alma mater, Walter Sisulu University, and for my activism in supporting rural schools in Eastern Cape. Clerking at the constitutional court for the esteemed Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, I had the privilege to learn the intricacies of our legal system from one of the brilliant minds we have ever had. Additionally, being selected as an editorial assistant for South African Constitutional Law working alongside some of the most prominent lawyers the South African legal profession has to offer, and having served my articles at a leading and one of the biggest social justice law organisations, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. CALS has a rich history and has produced some of the most effective lawyers this country has seen. While at CALS I witnessed the profound effect of law on social justice. Each challenge and triumph taught me the importance of remaining teachable, open and loving to others. True achievement lies not just in accolades but in continual growth, empathy and commitment to justice. This journey highlights that the essence of meaningful work is its effect on the lives of others, fostering a deeper connection to humanity and justice.


I’ve been incredibly lucky to have amazing mentors who genuinely cared about my growth, especially those who listened when I shared my plans. From my early school days to practising law, I’ve been guided by mentors with different styles, passions and insights, leaving a lasting effect on me. Their teachings went beyond just sharing knowledge; they encouraged curiosity, sparked a love for learning and showed me the power of ideas. I owe a lot to the people who support me — the mentors who guided me, the friends who comforted me in tough times, and the family whose love keeps me strong.