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F.J. VAN WYK: Alumnus with a decades-long commitment to UWC

Author: Dean's Office

UWC alumnus Frederick Johannes van Wyk recalls his time as one of the first students to study law at UWC

(Published 8 October 2020)

Frederick (nickname Frikkie) Johannes van Wyk was born on 28 June 1953 in Loubos, a small settlement near Hakskeenpan in the Kalahari. His father was the principal of the primary school which he attended. He thereafter attended the Carlton Van Heerden Secondary School in Upington (270 km. from Loubos) where his uncle was the principal. He completed matric in 1970, and was the top student in his class. In 1971, Van Wyk was one of the first students to study law at UWC. He describes his experience at hostel as follows:  

‘Had a fantastic time whilst on hostel for 5 years, making lots of new friends from Namibia and other regions of RSA. The camaraderie was great and we lived and respected one another as members of one big family of 100 students. In 1971 there were only two hostels; one for the theology students and one for the other students like me.  The ground floor accommodated 20 female students and 80 male students occupied the first and second floors. The entrance door to the female students was locked every night at 22:00 on weekdays and 24:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Often some of the female students from downstairs came to visit us in our rooms when one of our clever senior male students released them from detention after the 10 pm lockdown! Luckily our hostel superintendent Pa Martin never became aware of our doings. Hostelites once staged a food boycott whereafter food quality improved and food was served in ordinary plates instead of metal trays. Friday and Saturday nights were dance (and drink) nights for hostelites at the cafeteria on campus. Studying law compelled me to study Latin which I always did before I went to the dance to relax.’

Van Wyk studied BA (law) and LLB at UWC from 1971 to 1975. After his studies he joined the law firm Sonnenberg, Hoffman and Galombik in Cape Town as candidate attorney. He was admitted as an attorney on 8 February 1978 and immediately commenced practising as a professional assistant at attorneys O.A. Karjieker & Co in Athlone, whereafter he moved to attorneys Ben van der Ross & Associates and was tasked to open and man their branch office in Paarl. He opened his own business, Fred van Wyk Attorneys, in March 1983. He describes the first years of running his own business as ‘tough’, and attributes his success over the last 40 years to ‘the will to succeed’. 

Van Wyk employed his first UWC article clerk in around 1988, whereafter he employed 8 more UWC candidate attorneys over a period of 15 years. At the time he was the only black attorney who had a full time office in Paarl and he says that he ‘felt morally obliged to ensure that the students from UWC became qualified attorneys’. His eldest daughter Marlese was the last candidate attorney at his law firm, and she still works there. He says that he taught his candidate attorneys ‘to always be honest, give honest practical legal advice to our clients, never to be afraid to ask if you are not 100% sure and never waste a clients’ money by prolonging a case without reason’. His motto was ‘always to build strong interpersonal relationships with clients’.

During the 1980s Van Wyk defended many political activists, mostly in arson and public violence trails. Presently he specializes in estate planning, administration of estates, property transfers and matrimonial matters. Van Wyk acted as Commissioner in the Paarl Small Claims Court for 20 years until his resignation in December 2018. He was the Deputy Chairman of the municipal valuation court in Drakenstein Municipality for several years and is currently the Chairman of the Drakenstein Valuation Appeal Board. Since 1990 he has been a Member of the Johannesdal Land Division Committee which is tasked with the allocation and transfer of land to the rightful owners.

Van Wyk has been married to Johene Arendse, a UWC alumna and also an ex-UWC hostelite, for 42 years.

The UWC Law Faculty is extremely proud of the achievements of Mr Van Wyk and very grateful to him for his continuing commitment to the UWC Law Faculty.​​​​

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