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UWC’S Constitutional Lane Honours Its Illustrious Law Alumni

Author: Trish Bam

Constitutional Lane has opened at UWC to celebrate the Faculty of Law’s 40th anniversary. The new feature on campus honours illustrious alumni who have made the move from “Bush to Bench”.

(Published - 19 September 2019)

Constitutional Lane has opened at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to celebrate the Faculty of Law’s 40th anniversary. The new feature on campus honours illustrious alumni who have made the move from “Bush to Bench”. The lane, in front of the law building, is adorned with images of the 32 judges who emerged from the faculty.

The 40th anniversary celebrations will culminate in the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture gala dinner in October.

This week, faculty staff and students gathered in the law building courtyard for a garden party where Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Professor Vivienne Lawack, and Dean of Law, Professor Jacques de Ville, cut the ribbon to open Constitutional Lane.

Both professors urged current students to be inspired by the former UWC staff and scholars who have served the law at the highest level and, in many cases, have changed the face of the judiciary in South Africa. Students were invited to write cards of inspiration and to attach them to ‘Freedom Fence’ -  symbolically depicting the transition of the faculty from Bush to Bench.

When UWC opened in 1960, law was offered as a degree course in the Faculty of Commerce, as it was called at that time. The Faculty of Law opened in 1979 in a prefabricated building. It then moved to the Old Education Building, and finally in 1992 to its own new building to accommodate its growing student cohort and expanding programmes.

Today, the faculty has 2 273 students - 410 of whom are post-graduate scholars – and 104 staff. Eleven staff have a National Research Foundation rating.

The story of UWC’s law luminaries begins with the opening of the University during the dark days of apartheid. At the time, it was a coloured place of higher learning and was known as ‘Bush’ because of its location – an undeveloped area in Bellville.

From the 1960s, UWC students and staff were at the forefront of protests for change, and the cry of ‘Hek Toe’ (to the gate) was standard after meetings in Freedom Square before the crowd moved to the campus perimeter, more often than not to be met by riot police.

The faculty became prominent in the 1990s with the establishment of the Community Law Centre by Advocate Dullah Omar. It received funding from the Ford Foundation and from Omar’s colleagues, Bulelani Ngcuka, Zola Skweyiya, Brigitte Mabandla, Albie Sachs and Kader Asmal. The Centre played a pivotal role in the negotiations preceding and the drafting of the interim Constitution in 1993.

UWC alumni and former/existing staff who have been appointed to the bench include:

  • Chief Justice of Rwanda - Sam Rugege; 
  • Constitutional Court judges - Dikgang Moseneke,  Albie Sachs, Yvonne Mokgoro and Steven Majiedt;
  • Supreme Court of Appeal judges - Mahomed Navsa, and Steven Majiedt; 
  • Judge President of the Free State High Court - Cagney Musi;
  • Deputy Judge President of the Western Cape High Court - Patricia Goliath;
  • Western Cape High Court judges - Robert Henney, Andre le Grange, Taswell Papier, Elizabeth Baartman, Chantel Fortuin, Nathan Erasmus, Gayaat Salie-Hlope and James Yekiso; 
  • Bisho High Court judges - John Smith, Gloria Nozuko Zukiswa Mjali and Yusuf Ebrahim; 
  • Northern Cape High Court judge - Cecile Williams; 
  • KwaZulu-Natal High Court judge -  Esther Steyn; 
  • North Gauteng High Court judge -  John Murphy;
  • South Gauteng High Court judge - Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane;
  • Supreme Court of Namibia judge - Elton Hoff and 
  • High Court of Malawi judge - Sylvester Kalembera.

 

 

Cards of inspiration penned by students and staff were tied to Freedom Fence at the opening of Constitutional Lane for the UWC Law40 celebrations this week.
#UWCLaw40 #BushtoBench #UWCConstitutionalLane

 

 

DVC: Academic, Prof Vivienne Lawak, and Law Dean, Prof Jacques de Ville, opening Constitutional Lane at the UWC Law Building.
#UWCLaw40 #BushtoBench #UWCConstitutionalLane

 

Constitutional Lane features images of the 32 UWC Law alumni who have moved from Bush to Bench and who have changed the judicial face of South African Law.
#UWCLaw40 #BushtoBench #UWCConstitutionalLane

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