Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholar receives annual FIA Foundation-sponsored award
Road safety advocate Zoleka Mandela, together with Winnie Mandela, and South Africa’s Minister of Transport, have presented the annual Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholarship and launched a Road Safety Empowerment Programme.
Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholars are chosen annually by the South African Department of Transport to attend the Delft University Road Safety Course in the Netherlands through the support of the FIA Foundation. As part of the FIA Foundation’s Road Safety Leadership Initiative, scholars attend a two-week intensive course focusing on the safe system approach, effective advocacy, partnership building and fundraising.
Established in memory of Zenani Mandela, the great-granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, who lost her life in a car crash in 2010, the scholarship is supported by her mother Zoleka Mandela. “Zoleka has given a face to road crashes. With strength like her grandmother Winnie, Zoleka wants to be the last person to feel the pain of losing her child,” said South African Minister of Transport Honourable Dipou Peters, MP. The event was hosted at Winnie Mandela’s home in Soweto.
Zoleka has been a tireless advocate for road safety. “It is the poorest children who travel on the most dangerous roads and breathe the dirtiest air,” she said. She emphasized low-cost, high-impact strategies to protect children: “We need safe crossings, footpaths, helmets for children, speed management, and strong enforcement.” These strategies are presented in Step Change, a joint report by the FIA Foundation and Amend focusing on strategies to keep Africa’s young pedestrians safe. They are also being implemented as part of the Safe Routes to School project recently launched in Durban, South Africa.
Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholars are bringing these best practices back to their home country. This year’s recipient had never travelled outside of Africa, and found the experience particularly beneficial in learning about youth road safety initiatives in other countries. The Minister said, “This training will help our honoree expand upon his road safety work with young people in South Africa, collaborating with all levels of government. He is currently working with Youth on Road Safety (YOURS) as an ardent activist, educating young people about road safety.”
A prior recipient implemented lessons from Delft University in his province of Eastern Cape. Engaging with the community, he began a walking school bus where we pay women a stipend to walk children to and from school. Thanks to this program, over 300 women have helped keep over 5,000 students safe on the roads.
The Scholars’ work is reflected in the Department of Transport’s dedication to youth. According to the Minister, “64% of those affected on our roads are young people. As they are population with the highest injury and fatality rates on our roads, we must start with them to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal and the Decade of Action. We are committed to halving our 14,000 fatalities on roads by 2020. If we don’t do anything by then, fatalities on roads will exceed the HIV/AIDS death toll.”
To help reach that goal, the Zoleka Mandela Foundation and South African Department of Transport launched the Road Safety Empowerment Programme at the event. The programme targets low-income areas with poor infrastructure. By training teachers to conduct road safety education in schools which would otherwise not receive road safety programming, the initiative focuses on the most vulnerable youth to build positive behaviours at an early age. “We will train 4,500 teachers to reach 1,000 students each,” said Theirry Bashala, CEO of the Zoleka Mandela Foundation. “Zenani Mandela Road Safety Scholars will be connected to this programme so they can apply best practices they learn at Delft University. With their help, we will go beyond training, to improve infrastructure, reduce speeds around schools, and increase enforcement,” he added.
FIA Foundation US Manager Natalie Draisin was honoured to attend the event. “Today, we are focusing on our future – our children. They are at the centre of our Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility, which strives for a safe and healthy journey to school for all children by 2030. However, we cannot make this promise to our children unless we have leaders who can deliver on that goal. This is why the FIA Foundation is delighted to support this scholarship. The efforts of the Zoleka Mandela Foundation are inspiring young leaders to commit to making our roads safer. It is life-saving work, 90% of road fatalities occur in low and middle income countries, but this is paving the way for others to join in reversing that trend,” she said.
See details of the Delft / FIA Foundation Road Safety Course here: