Highlighting violence against South African women

At just 26, Robin-Lee Francke is no stranger to violence against women, having been pistol-whipped, beaten and shot at in the course of her work as a crime reporter in Cape Town, South Africa.

Her award-winning journalism for the Daily Voice newspaper earned Robin-Lee a place on the 2019 Thomson Foundation summer course – and a chance to highlight violence against South African women on a global platform.

The Guardian in London published two of her articles on the subject during her one-week work placement, which coincided with thousands of women marching on the South African parliament in Cape Town over government inaction.

Back home, Robin-Lee is part of an all-female reporting team. Her stories include the safeguarding needs of young people trapped between gangs and the law, and a former drug addict turned addiction counsellor's drive to reintegrate drug users back into society.

Robin-Lee says the course changed the way she sees stories. She finds it easier to consider subjects from different angles and it has helped her develop a stronger eye for images.

The summer course had me buzzing with excitement every day.

Robin-Lee Francke

It also helped her realise the extent of her potential as a journalist. "It had me buzzing with excitement every day," she says.

For her, attending the London summer course was an entire "bucket list experience", as it combined leaving her home country for the first time with the opportunity to learn new skills as a young journalist.

Months later, she is still regularly referring to her notes, determined to put into practice what she had learned on the course.

She wants to use her work to make a difference and serve the public interest. Her editor describes her as "going places" and possessing "that winning quality of being passionate about both her job and her community."

"The Thomson Foundation course is a gem to someone like me," she enthuses.

Annual review



This is the theme of our 2019 annual review, a testament to our alumni and competition winners who report fearlessly from some of the world's toughest datelines.

Download it here.


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