By Tholakele Thabane

Patricia Rabanye, 41, is a dedicated community activist from Khutsong in Carletonville, West Rand of Gauteng. She has spent her life fighting for the rights and development of her community.

Rabanye has recently travelled to Paris, France, where she was a speaker representing the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) at a conference hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on 23 May 2023.

“I’ve always wanted to be outside the country, experience how it is to be where you are foreign to the food and culture, we usually have visitors from outsiders as the sinkholes are the celebrities in the community not us,” Rabanye said.

Her speech focused on issues that affect South African women, particularly those who reside in mining affected communities. These include the discrimination against women to hold positions in mines, inability to find recourse when women face sexual harassment, among others.

Rabany’s passion for activism began at the age of 14 when she attended community meetings. She is versatile and deeply involved in various projects and struggles within Khutsong. “This is what I love, I love doing everything for my community hence I’m all involved,” said Rabanye.

She finds her motivation from advocating for her community. Rabanye is a branch coordinator and she joined MACUA in 2015. In the following year, 2016, she became an official MACUA member, and started attending workshops, marches and approaching the mine and growing as an activist. She became a branch secretary in 2018/2019 then a branch coordinator in January 2023.

“MACUA has helped me grow because of the diversity with cultures, languages, and just how they treat us, mostly it has been the fact that activism is vast and really a passion there,” said Rabanye.

She also holds various positions in local committees: Ward Committee with a portfolio of public safety, Deputy Chairperson of People in Parks, Deputy President of Abanikazi Bendawo, project manager at Muduoane Community Development Centre and a secretary at Kananelooline ICT.

Rabanye’s motivation is simple yet powerful— to fight for the development of her community without fear of victimisation or silencing. She strives to work collaboratively with stakeholders, maintain a non-partisan position, and empower community members by educating them about their rights, responsibilities and collective power.

She has always been inquisitive about politics. She was always eager to learn from what adults discussed in meetings. At her tender age, she often wondered why the complaints are always directed to one person, the councillor.

“I was interested in finding out if one person can attend to everything the community complains about, because the ward councillor would attend the meetings and make sure the problem is attended to, I wanted to be part of the meetings and feedback,” recalled Rabanye.

Throughout her journey, Rabanye has achieved significant milestones, including building working relationships with government departments and securing training opportunities for community members. Her experience as a Community Liaison Officer Coordinator (CLO) in a municipality’s housing project and her membership in MACUA/WAMUA have equipped her with the skills and knowledge to effectively advocate for her community’s needs.

Rabanye’s story is a testament to the power of dedication and passion. Her unwavering commitment to her community has inspired countless individuals, and her work continues to drive positive change in Khutsong. As a true champion of community development, Rabanye is a shining example of what can be achieved through tireless advocacy and leadership.

“My motivation is simply fighting for the development of my community and being their voice without fear of being victimised or silenced, my community deservesbetter than what they see or what they are promised,” said Rabanye.