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7 October 2021
Sleepless nights “worth it in the end” as UWC student wins award at this year’s African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

Lazola Nomkala, a third-year B.Com Law student at the University of the Western Cape clinched the second prize for best oralist in this year’s African Human Rights Moot Court Competition. 

The international hybrid conference held in Stellenbosch last month marked the 30th anniversary of the competition which was renamed the Christof Heyns African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in honour of its founder. 

Making her debut in a moot competition, Nomkala was not only part of the UWC team that made it through to the final rounds, but she was named the second best oralist during the English-language preliminary rounds. 

The competition is the largest annual gathering on the continent of students and lecturers of law. About 60 universities from throughout Africa take part in the simulated court proceedings. Nomkala and her teammate, Kamogela Maila, were in the quarterfinals with teams from Stellenbosch University and the University of Johannesburg, as well as teams from Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda.

Dean of UWC’s Law Faculty, Professor Jacques de Ville, said: "This is a significant achievement and makes the Faculty very proud. A big thank you to all those who assisted Lazola in reaching these heights.”

Read more about UWC’s participation in the competition here

“I found the experience to be special because I had the opportunity to interact with human rights advocates and academics. This was truly inspiring. The whole experience also made the continent seem smaller as I had the pleasure of learning about various countries’ different cultures and ways of life,” said Nomkala. “This also piqued my interest in travelling to other parts of the continent to experience different cultures and philosophies.”

Each team had to argue their case twice; once as lawyers for the applicant and once as respondents. They also worked on written submissions. The preparation was gruelling, said Nomkala. “We had to research various cases and international instruments that were relevant to the hypothetical case. Then we had to write a 10 000-word memorial before the preliminary rounds started. In terms of the oral submissions, we had many drilling sessions with the moot society and our coach to prepare.”

The late nights certainly paid off, and the UWC team performed exceptionally well. Meanwhile, the moot bug has bitten and Nomkala is keen to take part in more competitions, including the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition next year. 

Every argument, every submission is a step closer to Nomkala realising her goal of becoming a human rights advocate. “It is very important to me that I use my skills to help heal the world of the many injustices that exist.

The Moot Court Competition returns to Egypt next year for the first time as the Christof Heyns African Human Rights Moot Court Competition.