In a world where the opinions of people are often repressed, protecting human rights, land, and the environment becomes more and more dangerous. 

The world needs more people to turn their outrage into action, to invite their friends and family to participate, to get involved, and demand equality and justice from their governments. 

For over 20 years, Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign has transformed the lives of people whose rights have been wronged. Using the power of their words, Write for Rights supporters have united behind a common purpose: together, we can change lives for the better. 

This year, Amnesty International South Africa is putting our might behind Fikile Ntshangase – respected environmental human rights defender who was gunned down in 2020. 

shot six times and killed for speaking out

Fikile was a mother, grandmother, teacher, and respected activist who loved gardening and looking after those she cared about. 

But on 22 October 2020 in the early evening, Fikile was shot six times and killed inside her home, allegedly by three hitmen known to police in the area. Her body was found by her then 13-year-old grandson. 

Fikile was part of the Somkhele community, living near the Tendele coal mine, owned by Tendele Coal Mine (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Petmin. As Vice-Chairperson of a sub-committee part of the iMfolozi Community Environment Justice Organisation, a community-based organisation advocating for environmental justice in the area, she was a vocal opponent of the open coal mine and its expansion of mining operations in the area. 

Those close to Fikile speak to the intimidation and threats she and other activists received following the growing opposition against Tendele Coal Mining Limited in 2016. This was due to fear that the mining venture would lead to their forced eviction and threaten their livelihoods. 

What does the law say?

Under international and national law, the South African government has an obligation to ensure the protection and safety of its people. But sadly, for many HRDs this is not always the case, leaving those who are fighting to defend their rights and those of others largely without protection. This is all too common for activists in mining-affected communities who face the brunt of the devastating impacts of mining activities.

Without accountability, we will continue to see activists threatened, intimidated, and killed. We all need to fight for justice for Fikile because if there is no accountability for her, there is no accountability for anyone.

I cannot sell out my people. And if need be, I will die for my people.


Sign the petition. 

Add your name to the petition demanding those responsible for Fikile’s killing are immediately arrested and prosecuted.


Signing a petition is a great way to take part in the campaign. But there are other ways to take part in Write for Rights.  Imagine receiving a letter from someone, telling you they believe in you and your fight for justice. That’s what real letters can do: bring hope to people in the direst of situations. When letters arrive in huge numbers, they are also an unmistakable reminder to prison authorities and others that the world is watching.

If you want to lend your pen to this kind of direct action, download our handy letter-writing kit below – featuring template letters, case cards and more. 


Send a Tweet. Call on the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele to ensure those responsible for Fikile’s killing are immediately arrested and prosecuted. 


Minister Bheki Cele @SAPoliceService @LirandzuThemba I call on you to ensure those responsible for #FikileNtshangase’s killing is immediately arrested and prosecuted. Justice delayed is justice denied. #Justice4Fikile #W4R22

how it works

success story

On a Friday night in May 2017, Popi Qwabe and Bongeka Phungula were brutally murdered, sparking outrage across South Africa. Their killers have still not been brought to justice. As part of Amnesty International South Africa’s Write for Rights campaign, we mobilised over 300,000 people to demand justice for the two women. Because of this groundswell of people power, Popi and Bongeka’s murder case was reopened and the National Prosecuting Authority has prioritised the case on the registrar. Learn more about the case here

With your support, we will continue to fight for justice for Popi and Bongeka.