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5 April 2023
UWC excels in prestigious law essay competition
The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Faculty of Law is proud of its alumnus Wesley Justin January who was announced as the runner-up in the SA Law Reform Commission’s Essay Writing Competition (LLB category) sponsored by Juta & Company. 
UWC alumnus Wesley January (Candidate
Attorney at Webber Wentzel) was announced
as the runner-up at the SA Law Reform Commission’s
Essay Writing Competition (LLB category)


In preparing his essay 'A Call for Reform on the South African Critical Skills Work Visa', Wesley was supervised by Kim Loedolf, a lecturer at the UWC Department of Criminal Justice and Procedure, with the advice of Yossi Witkowski, an Australian immigration lawyer and UWC alumnus.

Wesley says he saw the essay competition advertised on campus, which immediately piqued his interest. He explains that the essay is based on the paper that he submitted as part of his final-year research paper. In short, the essay relates to issues pertaining to the Critical Skills Work Visa that Wesley identified while working in the immigration industry; and how these issues can be resolved in adopting some of the approaches that were previously in place and others that are currently being implemented in Australia.  

The Critical Skills Work Visa came about in 2014 when the Immigration Amendment Act came into effect. Before adopting the Critical Skills Work Visa, South Africa had the Quota Visa and Exceptional Skills Visa, the former having imposed an annual limit on the number of visas that could be issued in respect of each occupation deemed to have been skilled. 

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Wesley writes that “the inception of the Critical Skills Work Visa necessarily detracted from mechanisms which are necessary to control the process resulting in a more relaxed immigration system. These changes include the abolition of a quota system and removal of the Minister of Home Affairs’ duty to determine critical skills annually.” 

“The major problem with having such a relaxed immigration system without the necessary control mechanisms is that it has the potential to compete with the unemployment crisis that we find ourselves in as a country defeats the objectives of the Immigration Act, or shall I say particularly that the contribution of foreign labour in the South African labour market does not adversely impact on existing labour standards and the rights and expectations of South African workers.”

Wesley says there is a serious need for reform on the Critical Skills Work Visa and submits that the recommendations, as set out in his essay, will assist Parliament and the Department of Home Affairs to balance the need for skilled labour against the unemployment crisis in South Africa.

Wesley is proud of his achievement, and so is UWC lecturer Kim Loedolf, who was an integral part of his academic journey. She says: “I have had the privilege of lecturing Wesley in his first year and then supervising him in his final year. Wesley is one of the great legal minds of our time, and his accomplishment in the essay writing competition confirms this. Well done, Wesley, on a well-deserved achievement. Keep making UWC proud!"
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