War in peace

“Courage accessed in peace is the beginning of victory”

Kris Valloton



I blog in peace. I am back in Durban after an amazing week last week at RhodesUniversity. And at the risk of repeating what I said last week, we were so honoured to have met and spent time with whom we did and connecting with influencers at Rhodes, which is really something of a womb for future leaders. Friendships were made and alliances were forged and we look forward to seeing Rhodes taking there already valuable work in ADR to the next level. There are amazing initiatives at Rhodes, like the Silent Protest taking place next month which I will write more about soon. I will also introduce you to some of the amazing influencers there….once I get there permission!


It has been so good to be back with my beautiful family, Mike, Che and Luc-Michael. I have initiated some impressive breakfasting with the kids every day before school this year and so the sit down to a feast every morning. My son’s standard is to look around at the spread and go “You do know I am just having like three flapjacks, right?” This morning though he incorporated some bacon and fruit. *proud*


I am about to leave for Joburg where I will be until Friday. We have some amazing connections lined up for ADR Network and are also profiling some influencers for The Influence Project (www.the-influence-project.com).


If you are in Joburg and keen to hook up for coffee, please let me know. You can email me on sheena@mediatorsa.co.za.


Also if you are keen on attending our next Joburg 5 day program, registrations must be in by this week. The Program runs from 11-15 February in Norwood. Email me urgently on sheena@mediatorsa.co.za


You can also send me an email for a full schedule on our other workshops or information on our correspondence programs.


For news on the go follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon


I have an amazing two days ahead, so look out for my next blog.


In conclusion, as peacemakers we do fight, but we never fight people, we fight unjust systems and destructive mindsets and we war with weapons of mass destruction: peace, love, joy, hope, a sound mind and self control

As always, I remain committed to achieving access to justice and peace for all. Victory is certain! No surrender! No defeat!


Until next time, peace!




Bloodless Revolution

Peace on earth hoodiesSurgery at 3Holla!

Do not let the injury or limitation of one thing become an injury or limitation to all things

-7000 ways to listen

I blog in peace. A warm welcome to new subscribers.


The past 8 months have been tumultuous at a personal level. My beautiful Daddy was diagnosed with cancer in August and lost his life in December. Serious issues relating to violence my daughter and I were subject to reared their head when I discovered that my daughter had been in the presence of violence and had witnessed it up until very recently.

In February I broke a bone in my foot and have had extensive corrective surgery to my lower right leg and foot. The surgery was a lot more extensive than envisioned and I am 5 weeks into 8 weeks of being pretty much house-bound, not being able to drive or swim.

It has been a time of soul searching and questioning just about everything I believe.

Do the Christians I know really represent Jesus. Including, or most particularly myself?

Can I, as a survivor of violence, and with the continued threat of violence, really back restorative justice? Do I really believe there is no place for redemptive violence? Do I really believe restorative justice works?

Do I really believe it is possible to dismantle violence and establish peace?

Do I really want to surf?

As a child age 11 months, I was paralyzed by encephalitis from the neck down. I had just started standing when I got ill. My Daddy was overseas on business at the time and my two big brothers and myself were in Pietermaritzburg with our Mother, visiting our Grandparents. 7 babies were struck with encephalitis. 6 lost their lives. 1 lived. Me. I did not move at all for several days. My father rushed back from his trip and when he entered the hospital room, he said my face broke into a smile he would never forget. That was the nature of my relationship with my Daddy.



Over the next 9 years I had extensive surgery and daily physio. Age ten I abandoned a wheelchair and a “special school” to walk with a stick and go to a “normal school”. My physio told me I would never cope without a wheelchair. She told me I would never make it in a “normal school”. I didn’t believe her. I got walking. I went on to become vice-head girl of my school in matric. I think that qualifies as making it.

I did give up stuff though. I had been a very good swimmer. I desperately wanted to swim against kids without disability. But I was pretty bummed at how fast they were. So I gave it up and shifted my focus to public speaking and academics. It was the 80s and my father had started to talk to me about what was going on in South Africa and I started to become very conscious about being part of bringing about peace and justice in our land. I went on to study law, practice for a decade and then entered the world of Alternative Dispute Resolution full time 8 years ago. I had qualified with International Peacemaker as part of the board of the Christian Lawyers Association right at the beginning of practice. Over the past four years my focus has shifted more and more to transformative and restorative methods of achieving justice and establishing peace. But I digress.

My brothers, the one in particular, felt there was more room for improvement in my walking. He often spoke to me about it and at Varsity started taking me to gym and physio. I was committed to getting fit and strong but never that committed to abandoning my crutch. My father would always fiercely defend me as the most courageous person he knew and that I had already achieved the insurmountable by abandoning my wheelchair.

In December on the Madiba died, and just a few days before my Dad, the Big O lost his life, I was sitting with him on his bed. I told him all my lawyer jokes, a bunch of other really brilliant jokes and I told him I was going to change the world. He said: “I know you are”. I told him I was gonna learn to surf. He said “I know you are.” I said: “No Dad, you don’t understand, I am not gonna boogie board or body surf, I am gonna friggin stand up surf”. He said: “I know you are”. He was that guy

Two years ago I took up open water swimming. After twenty years out of swimming training and after being back in the pool three weeks I told my family I was gonna swim a mile in the sea. My Dad said: “I know you are” He was always that guy. He completely backed me. Completely. There was no room for doubt.

The past 5 months I have been doing life without him. And serendipitously I find myself having major reconstructive surgery to my foot, just because I broke a little bone. A second shot at learning to walk. A second shot at learning balance. A forced rest. A forced time to heal….from everything.

My brother Gareth sent me the most amazing video of Bruce Lee who was forced to rest when he injured his back. It was amazing because I had learnt through this experience how vital rest is to healing. He talks in the video about one of life’s biggest challenges being to express who you really are. I have been able to search the depths and ask myself profoundly “Who am I”

My beautiful daughter is so strong. So courageous. She said to me the other night: Mommy, this year I have discovered true joy. Up until this year I was numb. I didn’t allow myself to feel anything. The hard part is now I feel pain. But I wouldn’t give it up because I have learnt to know joy you have to be able to feel pain.

She has learnt at 13 what has taken me 4 decades to stumble upon.

So where do I stand on restorative justice. I back it 100 percent. I back non-adversarial dispute resolution 100{db4c0d2959e302539fe96b7aa3161328ff99665e8aefb664444410c6414dd29e}. I am completely opposed to any form of violence. I am completely opposed to the idea of redemptive violence and any systems that mirror it. I think I have a voice in this as four years of being subject to violence nearly stripped me of my life and everything in it.

I also think I have a voice because I practice this stuff. I am seeing results. I am seeing lives change, communities change, schools change. It works.

At the heart of what I do is restoration. At the heart of who I am is restoration. Central to my ability to learn to surf is restoration. As a follower of Christ, central to my faith is the greatest work of restoration in history: the reconciliation of all and all things on earth and in heaven.

And I have learnt how important it is not to let the injury or limitation of one thing, injury or limit all things.

Yeah. I am gonna learn to surf.

As always


Upcoming Training workshops in ADR (mediation and dialogue processes) and Restorative Justice Peacemaking:

12-16 May Jozi

19-23 May Durban

9-13 June Cape Town

7-11 July Winter Schools for Students

Email: training@adr-networksa.co.za


Dispute Resolution Email: sheena@mediatorsa.co.za or Brandon@adr-networksa.co.za

Access to Justice: legalservices@accesstojustice.co.za

Ethical Streetwear: Bloodless Revolution hoodies, beanies and other: A2J@accesstojustice.co.za

Shifting Paradigms



I blog in peace. Today is the second day of our ADR Program at Rhodes University. What a pleasure and an honour to be in such a beautiful town, just steeped in history and widely know as something of a mecca in education. As a mediator and a bridge-builder one of the delights of my job is the people I get to meet. And what an inspiration it has been to be in the company of 17 Academics (one from the University of the North West) from a wide array of disciplines from psychology and commerce to science. Not only have we encountered great minds, but warm engaging personalities with fabulous senses of humour. And as someone with a black belt in funny, the latter always impresses me!

Anyway, on to all things dispute resolution. We are all about shifting pradigms and resisting mindsets that perpetuate unjust systems. Our view is that a strong emphasis on adversarial modes of dispute resolution be it in the courts, workplaces or schools, perpetuates cultures of conflict that exist and actually lead to a downward spiralling of cycles of conflict. Just between you and me, if it were up to me and my karate moves, I would take the entire adversarial system down altogether.

However, it’s not a simple case of the courage and physical prowess of one single mortal, and so I am committed to being part of a movement that seeks to sensitize the whole of society around alternative methods of resolving disputes.


And so we arrived in Grahamstown on Sunday night, single-minded and committed to our view of justice. That is that justice is most fully accomplished where there is a restoration of the template. In other words, both sides of the dispute are restored to something of a peacable state of mind. It’s a big topic and I will write more fully on our concept of justice in the coming months.

In accomplishing the above, I don’t believe adversarial systems are ever the most effective platforms for the accomplishment of justice. Where disputants are pitted against each other, either in court or other adversarial processes, such as disciplinary enquiries, the process simply does not maximise opportunities for learning, growth and behavioural change.

We have found at Rhodes, that even before our arrival, there has been something of a paradigm shift and a move toward reconciliatory processes. Existing applications of mediation already are both significant and effective. We are so encouraged that this organization which is literally pregnant with future leaders, is yearning for a better way and is serious about reconciliatory and other alternative modes of dispute resolution.

We sadly said goodbye to Adam and Hilton today. Our bed and breakfast feels a little empty right now. But the good news is, we get to spend three more days with the beautiful people at Rhodes. And we get to dine at the French Quarter tonight! Adam and Hilton who? Just kidding guys, you know we love you!

To find out more about our Correspondence Programs or Workshops, please email adr@mediatorsa.co.za

For information on mediation or arbitration processes, send an email to info@mediatorsa.co.za

To engage with me further, email me on sheena@mediatorsa.co.za or follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon


Until next time, peace!

Sheena Jonker





Pulling Tomorrow into Today

“Without a vision the people perish, but without courage, dreams die”

Rosa Parks



As usual I blog in peace. I had hoped to get to get out my first 2013 blog earlier in 2013, but as it turns out, today will have to do. So first up, happy 2013 to you all! I wish for all of you that 2013 is marked by courage, commitment and intention. Today Che (12) and Luc-Michael (7) had their second day back at school so I treated them to breakfast for kids of a King. So Luc-Michael checked out the sliced melon and goes: “No way! I am not eating carrots!”


I got back into the swing of things with a trip to Johannesburg last week. We continue to spread the message of access to justice and alternative dispute resolution processes. And so we had amazing meetings with senior members of the legal profession, key role players in commerce and construction and other business leaders.


Our programs, both the correspondence and research-based program as well as our five day workshops continue to grow in momentum and favour, and we have initiated the process of registering ADR Network SA as a higher education institution with the qualifications authority. We will keep you updated on our progress with that.


Next week we are honoured to be conducting our five day workshop in Grahamstown at RhodesUniversity. On Monday and Tuesday I will be accompanied by my amazing (no really!) colleagues, Adam Bright and Hilton Mundell. I always look forward to those times when I am kept on my toes with random switching of my ipad to Greek, getting my facebook and twitter accounts hacked with amazing messages about Hilton and Adam and landing up on facebook looking like I am not concentrating during Adam’s training. My message to Adam and Hilton this week is simple: expect the unexpected!


On a serious not though, we value what Adam and Hilton bring to the program. They have done profound work around instilling a culture of honour in the way we approach dispute resolution and an authentic internalization of the communication styles and transformative styles they model assist us in producing master mediators and arbitrators.


We are really looking some brilliant minds at Rhodes and are also excited to be joined by Prof Collins Miruka all the way from the University of the North West. More about that next week.


We have had some insight into two rather significant cases in the last week and will be contributing some of our expertise and efforts in activating for access to justice. Whether we do that via assisting in fund raising efforts or via activating for both matters to go to ADR processes (which naturally is our ultimate plight) we intend to be unrelenting in our fight to ensure that access to justice is never a product of affordability.


I must state here that our fight is never with individuals. We are peacemakers after all. Our fight is against unjust systems and mindsets that perpetuate those. The adversarial process is not limited to courts. Adversarial type disciplinary processes exist in schools and workplaces alike. Our view is that learning is never maximized when there is a bent on punishment. Restorative, reconciliatory processes underpinned by a commitment to truth and accountability maximize learning. While the bent should never be on punishment we are committed to holding poor-choice-makers accountable for cleaning up their own messes. This does not mean that relationships never come to an end or that workers are never dismissed or that learners are never disciplined. Interestingly the word discipline has its roots in words that mean to teach or to guide.


So we continue in our efforts to sensitize society as a whole to the substance and benefits of alternative dispute resolution processes. And we are seeing growing awareness opening up in every sector-including family disputes, commerce, labour, medical disputes and the list goes on.


On the other hand we continue in our efforts to skill up and inspire others to reach for excellence in ADR skills and expertise.


As always our view is that esteeming accesses to justice and excellence in skills will naturally take care of case management issues. It is only a matter of time before justice looks more restorative and reconciliatory and we are committed to being a part of pulling tomorrow into today.


May I just mention one of our graduates, Butiki Rantso who is tireless in assisting us in activating for change and has recently attracted over 100 trainees to our programs as well as helping us to open up new sources of ADR processes in workplace dispute resolution. Sir, we value your friendship, your courage and your commitment.


A final, last but not least mention: my husband Mike, brilliant, committed and HANDSOME! He has always backed me and been my biggest fan. It is amazing what one is capable of when someone who loves you backs you. He is always there, listening, encouraging, providing capital when we have wanted to expand. He was there with me in the sea when I did my first open water swim. Without him I could not get through the breakers-both literally and figuratively. I am so blessed!


That’s all for today. Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me on sheena@mediatorsa.co.za or follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon.


For information on either our correspondence or five day program including a workshop schedule, please email adr@mediatorsa.co.za.


Until next time, peace!


Sheena Jonker