Former deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke has chosen the University of the Western Cape as a recipient of the fees he received for chairing the arbitration into the Life Esidimeni tragedy that resulted in the death of 144 mentally handicapped patients.
Judge Moseneke visited UWC on Monday to fulfil the pledge he made in March this year when he handed down a scathing judgment against senior Gauteng officials who had made the decision to relocate thousands of patients in what he had described as “cruel, inhumane and degrading”.
In his judgment, he had promised: “I have been suitably encouraged to donate all my arbitrator’s fees to chosen law schools that will hopefully help nurture young women and men committed to the high values of our Constitution and to the calling to defend the vulnerable against the abuse of the high and mighty.”
On Monday, at a ceremony attended by UWC Rector Prof Tyrone Pretorius, the DVC: Academic Prof Vivienne Lawack and Law Faculty Dean Prof Jacques de Ville, Judge Moseneke committed around R400 000 to law students who excelled in their final LLB year of their LLB and the LLM degree.
In turn, the university pledged to match Judge Moseneke’s donation to assist in promoting excellence within the law faculty. Judge Moseneke said the university’s law faculty was his first choice of institutions to whom he wanted to donate his fees.
This, he said, was not only due to the faculty’s contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle but also because of the number of judges, advocates and lawyers that this university has produced and who have done well in society.
UWC is one of three institutions chosen by Judge Moseneke.
“I hope to encourage young people from the Western Cape in particular to assume their role in continuing to be socially conscious lawyers, who will continue to uphold the rule of law and social justice.
“The target of this is excellence, it is not a bursary. This is an attempt to identify and encourage excellence - hard work and commitment to achieve outstanding results,” Judge Moseneke said.
Prof Pretorius said that while UWC was immensely grateful for the former deputy chief justice’s generosity, it was deeply regrettable that it had to stem from such a tragic event in South Africa.
“The unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of 144 patients and the abuse of many more should never have happened. Our Constitution demands that the most vulnerable among us should receive the highest level of care and protection. This we expect particularly from our government and its officials.
“We are humbled by Judge Moseneke’s generosity and we will ensure that his gift is used in the most appropriate way.”
Prof Pretorius also said that Judge Moseneke’s act of kindness spoke to the character of a person who was deeply committed to his country and the upliftment of its people.
Prof de Ville said the UWC Law Faculty was extremely grateful for this unexpected donation from Judge Moseneke.
“The Law Faculty is moreover very proud of its association with Justice Moseneke, whose involvement in the Faculty as Extraordinary Professor further enhances its stature.”