A Vexing Issue for South Africans

Homelessness is at crisis levels in many South African cities. To turn this around, we must not only address the causes of homelessness, but also understand how homelessness affects the wellbeing of the rest of society, residents and non-residents alike. 

​​Numerous studies have shown that housing and meaningful employment are the two most important factors in ending homelessness. We need to create permanent, sustainable solutions that work for the individual and the city. 

In Episode 6 of the Cornerstone Critical Dialogues, host Ryan Fortune will speak to Jean Knighton-Fitt, the director of U-Turn, a charity that helps people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing them with safe, stable accommodation and support from a network of support workers and caseworkers who set practical goals to improve their quality of life. 

Joining them in the studio will be Malixole Sikhungo, a U-Turn graduate and lawyer, and Leo Mapira, a full-time lecturer at Cornerstone’s Department for Sociology and Community Development. 

Listen to the show on Bush Radio 89.5FM at 7pm this coming Thursday evening, watch a livestream on Cornerstone’s Facebook page or Youtube channel, or listen to the podcast on Anchor, Spotify, Deezer or Google Podcasts.

An edited version of the programme is also available for viewing on Cape Town TV at 1pm the following Tuesday (16 November), and repeated at 10pm the following Thursday (18 November). 


Jean-Ray Knighton-Fitt

U-turn Director

Malixole Sikhungo

Lawyer and U-Turn graduate

Leo Mapira

Development Sociologist & Lecturer
Jean-Ray Knighton-Fitt
Jean-Ray was previously a director of City Mission, where he worked with street children. He has considerable experience working in the homeless sector.
He completed a theology qualification at Cornerstone Institute in 1995. He then worked in IT before joining City Mission in Cape Town in 2000. Working his way up, he became acting CEO of City Mission in 2005 and CEO in 2006. During his time there he held several portfolios, including managing City Mission’s work with children living on the streets in the Claremont and Cape Town CBD areas in 2004 and 2005.
He was also board treasurer of the Western Cape Street Children’s Forum at the time, and has been a member of several other boards since, including the City Mission World Association.
In 2007, he moved to Westville Baptist Church in Durban where he was charged with setting up the Church Alliance for Social Transformation Trust (CAST).
For the next 13 years, he grew CAST until it operated developmental services in 17 locations across five cities. He decided to step out of that ministry in mid-2020 and return to Cape Town.
Malixole Sikhungo
When Malixole joined U-turn he was homeless, unemployed, had not finished his schooling and was struggling with addiction. He overcame enormous challenges to complete his matric and follow his dream of studying law.
In June 2021 he completed his law degree and is now looking to complete his articles in commercial law. He is able to speak to the issue of homelessness both as someone who experienced it and from a legal perspective.
Leo Mapira
Leo is a development sociologist with a passion for engaged scholarship and applied research. Leo’s areas of expertise include industrial development, community development and industrial/labour relations.
He served in various roles before joining Cornerstone, including tutor, lecturer, researcher and academic advisor.
He holds a master’s degree in industrial sociology from the University of Cape Town. He is currently completing his doctoral studies in industrial sociology at the University of Cape Town.
When not teaching, researching and studying, Leo practices playing the mbira or African thumb piano.
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