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2010

NOVEMBER

Rhodes law team wins another African moot competition

A Rhodes Law Faculty team consisting of three penultimate year LLB students, Haruperi Mumbengegwi, Robyn Jones and Rutendo Urenje, and coached by Prof Laurence Juma, emerged the overall winners of the African International Humanitarian Law Moot Competition held in Arusha, Tanzania last week. In addition Haruperi won the award for the best speaker and secured sponsorship to do an internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).


L/R: Rutendo, Haruperi and Robyn

Every year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Regional Delegation in Nairobi – organises the All Africa International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition (IHL) in Arusha. The Arusha competition is modelled on the De Martens and Jean Pictet International IHL Competitions, and brings together undergraduate law students from Anglophone Africa to be challenged on matters of IHL and humanitarian action. Participants are placed in a fictional conflict scenario where they are required to assume the roles of various stakeholders and to demonstrate their legal knowledge and argumentation skills. The final round of the Competition traditionally takes place in one of the ICTR's Court rooms and is decided by a panel of three sitting judges of the Tribunal. In the past, winners have been awarded cash prizes, legal materials, and/or an internship with the ICTR. Teams who go to Arusha also get the opportunity to attend IHL lectures provided by ICRC and ICTR staff and to participate in discussions on topics related to the case studies upon which the competition is based.


The Winning Team

This year, the Arusha competition was in its 10th year and had 11 teams. ICRC organises this event as part of its efforts to disseminate IHL and promote it within academic institutions in Africa. The two teams that were selected to represent the Southern Africa region in this year’s competition were University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University. 

This win follows the other prestigious achievement of Rhodes students in the African Human Rights Competition held in Benin in October this year, where the Rhodes law faculty team of Ingrid Cloete and Fausto Di Palma also emerged the overall winners. Ingrid and Fausto have now been invited to participate in the Commonwealth Lawyers Association Moot competition to be held in Hyderabad, India in February 2011.

"Visiting Professor Appointed as Acting Judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal for two terms in 2011"

Judge Clive Plasket, Visiting Professor in the Law Faculty and member of the Law Faculty Board, has been appointed in an acting capacity to the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein for the first two terms of 2011.


Judge Clive Plasket

OCTOBER

'Investec Rhodes Top 100'

Sixteen law students were recognized as top student achievers in their fields at the ‘Top 100’ Rhodes students award ceremony on Tuesday evening, 12 October 2010, an Oppidan Press project. The project allowed students to nominate themselves or others for a place on the lists of the university’s ‘top 100’ students. Students were encouraged to submit applications within various categories: Arts, Culture and Media; Dean of Students Leadership; Community Engagement; Sports; and General Excellence. Leading figures within the university were then approached to partake in the judging process. Our congratulation goes to the following students for their achievements in their respective categories:


Top 100 - Law Students

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

  • Dominic Hodge(LLB Final Year)
  • Ofentse Malebye(LT 3 - BSocSci (Law))
  • Kathryn Abrahams (LLB - Final Year)
  • Raul Dimitriu (LLB - Penultimate Year)

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

  • Christopher Quinn (LLB - Penultimate Year)
  • Ingrid Cloete (LLB - Final Year)
  • Lee Crisp (LT 2 - BCom (Law))

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

  • Yolanda Itamba (LLB - Final Year)
  • Xolani Nyali (LLB - Final Year)

DEANS OF STUDENTS LEADERSHIP AWARD

  • George Kahn (LLB - Final Year)
  • David Grenville (LT 3 - BA (Law))
  • Garth Elzerman (LT 2 - Customary Law only)
  • Karabo Mohale (LT 2 - BSocSci (Law))
  • Sinal Govender (LLB - Penultimate Year)
  • Rutendo Mudarikwa (LLB - Final Year)
  • Haruperi Mumbengegwi's (LLB - Penultimate Year)

Rhodes Law team win Africa moot competition

The Rhodes Law Faculty team were the overall winners of the 19th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition held at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Benin between 4 and 9 October this year. What an outstanding achievement!


The team comprised Ingrid Susan Cloete and Fausto Riccardo di Palma, and was coached by Prof Laurence Juma, the Faculty representative. Apart from being overall winners, Ingrid Cloete won the best individual oralist award in the Anglophone category.


Ingrid and Fausto


The competition, which is organised by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria in collaboration with the host country, has become the largest annual gathering of law students and lecturers on the continent, and one of the premier events of the African human rights calendar.

This year’s competition brought together 56 teams (38 Anglophone, 15 Francophone and 3 Lusophone) from 25 African countries. In the six-day event, teams are required to argue a fictitious human rights case in four preliminary rounds. The best teams from each language category proceed to the final round where overall winners are determined. The Rhodes team won all its preliminary rounds, attaining the highest marks in the Anglophone category in beating Nigeria, Ghana and the University of Cape Town (last year’s runners up).
In the final round, the Rhodes team combined with Namibia and Universite de Cocody of Cote d’Ivoire to beat the combined team of Ghana, Lagos and Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin.

The award for the best memorial went to the University of Cape Town, and Rhodes came second. Rhodes was the overall winner of the competition.
Rhodes’ participation was sponsored in part by Schindlers Attorneys.

SEPTEMBER

A very sad goodbye

Professor Emeritus Alastair Kerr SC sadly passed away on Wednesday, 30 September this week. Professor Kerr was appointed Lecturer in Law at Rhodes at the beginning of 1955. His association with Rhodes goes back to 1939, when he enrolled, just before the Second World War, for a BA degree, which he completed in 1941. He had thus been connected with Rhodes for a period of just over 70 years.

After war service in the Navy from 1942 to 1946, Prof Kerr obtained his LLB degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1948. He then spent six years in the then Department of Native Affairs, finally as Assistant Magistrate and Assistant Native Commissioner, Keiskammahoek, before accepting the post at Rhodes. In 1960 he was awarded his LLM by the University of Natal and, subsequent to his promotion to Professor of Law in 1968, he obtained his PhD in 1972 from the same university.

Professor Kerr acted as Head of Department and as Dean on various occasions in his career at Rhodes before assuming both posts in a permanent capacity: Head of Department from 1984 to 1987, and Dean of Law from 1984 to 1990. Early in his career, Professor Kerr served 15 years as Warden of Graham House and later he served on numerous committees of Senate. He was the Senate representative on the University Council for 12 years, was called upon to act as Vice-Principal on various occasions, and even acted as Vice-Chancellor for short periods during Dr Henderson’s Vice-Chancellorate, when the senior office bearers of the university were away from town.

A prolific writer, Professor Kerr’s academic work concentrated on the fields of contract law and customary law. He wrote several monographs, some of which are ranked as the leading works in their fields in South African law, and which have run to many editions. He also had to his name well over 100 publications in accredited journals. He retired towards the end of 1990 after 35 years of active service to the University and the Faculty of Law, and the University bestowed the title Emeritus Professor upon him at that point, later to be followed by the honorary title of Distinguished Fellow of the University.

The thought of retiring to do other things did not ever cross his mind: he retained an office in the Law Faculty, and he continued to research and write daily until just six weeks ago, when he went into hospital. His outstanding contribution to legal education and to the law in general was recognised on two separate occasions. The first was in 1993 when the State President appointed him as Senior Counsel, one of only ten academics in the history of this country to have been accorded such an honour. The second was in 1995, when Rhodes University conferred upon him the LLD degree honoris causa, an honour that had also been bestowed upon his father, Dr Alexander Kerr, in 1961. Alexander was the founding Principal of the University of Fort Hare; an indication of how the Kerr family has been inextricably linked with education in the Eastern Cape for almost a century.

Over and above his service to the University, Professor Kerr has also played a prominent role in the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, both within the local Trinity congregation as well as on various national committees of the Church.

A delicate balance

Tuesday night saw esteemed legal theorist Advocate Wim Trengove grace the stage, in this case the Law Department’s Moot Room, and eloquently provide clarity and insight into what is currently the most controversial issue in South African law.


Adv Wim Trengove SC

Media Freedom versus The Law of Defamation was the talk’s topic, and the speaker delved into the finer points of the balance struck by our Common Law with regard to freedom of expression and freedom of information on one hand, and individuals’ rights to dignity and protection from defamation on the other.

Advocate Trengove went on to discuss the ANC’s controversial plans to introduce a Statutory Tribunal to regulate the media. He also cited several shortfalls with the Common Law as it stands. To highlight these problems he recalled relevant cases and precedents. He proceeded to propose solutions and improvements to current legislation.

The Common Law currently provides a single remedy for defamation: an award of damages. This crude all-or-nothing approach is ineffectual for several reasons. It is unfair on the media because the risk of being sued for damages for negligent reporting is sufficiently high to limit media freedom.

Trengove cited the example of a small Afrikaans newspaper, Vrye Weekblad, which was a fierce opponent of Apartheid and published what turned out to be defamatory statements on a high ranking official of the Apartheid Police. The resulting legal action, in which the plaintiff was victorious, effectively bankrupted the paper, thus ending its contribution to the Liberation Struggle.

It is also unfair on individuals who have been defamed because a wealthy defendant can simply buy off the claim, leaving the plaintiff’s reputation in tatters. The fact that defamation cases can take several years before going to trial means that, even if a plaintiff is awarded damages, his or her reputation is again injured by the courts’ rehashing of old scandals. With the current system, a plaintiff’s reputation is not necessarily uplifted by a legal victory as media houses are often reluctant to publicise their own defeats.

A subtler and more nuanced balance needs to be found to comply with our enlightened constitution, which states that neither of these oppositional rights must be impinged upon more than is necessary to protect the other. Trengove’s suggestions for improvements to the legislation include the provision of other remedies to wrongful defamation.

Plaintiffs should be able to appeal to have a declaratory statement issued which would clarify that the damaging statement was in fact untrue. Newspapers and other media entities should also be made to issue a retraction of any untruthful statement alongside an apology to the parties concerned. Any newspaper or broadcaster which acts in good faith should be happy to comply with this.

Trengove agrees with the ANC that the current judicial remedy for defamation is both slow and ineffective but argues that the answer lies in reformation of laws rather than the proposed Statutory Tribunal. The ANC’s proposal seems ominous, he said, because it will effectively take such matters out of the courts’ hands.

The 'Eastern Cape Bench and Social Justice' conference

Rhodes University, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, SA 1-3 September 2010

The Rhodes University Law Faculty hosted a conference on 1-3 September 2010 to celebrate the jurisprudence of the Eastern Cape Bench of the past 16 years. The conference honoured the Honourable Judges Somyalo (former Judge President) and Jones who retired in April 2010.

The conference aimed to highlight the contribution of the Eastern Cape Bench to social justice in four areas:

  • Administrative Law
  • Enforcement of judgements and costs orders
  • Social security law
  • Land reform

Invited discussants and speakers addressed relevant topics informed by this Court's work in these four areas – see Conference booklet for abstracts and title of papers. A gallery of photos can be viewed here.

The conference was proudly sponsored by JUTA, Lexis Nexis, Oxford University Press and Professional Provident Society (PPS).


JULY

Please click here to view our Annual Report for 2009 Annual Report for 2009

JANUARY

Graham Glover, Associate Professor in the Faculty, was in January appointed as the managing editor of the South African Law Journal. He joined the SALJ editorial team as notes editor in 2009, but with the departure of the two senior editors at the end of 2009, the new editorial team requested that Professor Glover take over the reins of the SALJ for an initial period of at least three years. This is a prestigious appointment, as the South African Law Journal is commonly considered to be South Africa's leading law journal, and is one with an international readership. In fact, it is the world's second-oldest law journal after the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and is one year older than England's iconic Law Quarterly Review. The Journal was for years run out of the University of the Witwatersrand Law School by first Professor Bobby Hahlo, and then, for a period of over 50 years, by Professor Ellison Kahn. For a period, Professor Robin McKerron, one-time Head of the Faculty of Law at Rhodes, was a member of the editorial team before he came to Rhodes from Wits.

The new editorial team also welcomes Ms Helen Kruuse, another staff member in the Law Faculty, as a member. She had for some few years been the technical editor of Speculum Juris before accepting the invitation to join the SALJ team. The full team of editors from 2010 is Prof Graham Glover; Prof Hugh Corder (UCT); Prof Jaco Barnard (UCT); Prof Marita Carnelley (UKZN); Dr Pamela Andana (Wits) and Ms Helen Kruuse.

The Rhodes Law Faculty team were the overall winners of the 19th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition held at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Benin between 4 and 9 October this year. What an outstanding achievement!
The team comprised Ingrid Susan Cloete and Fausto Riccardo di Palma, and was coached by Prof Laurence Juma, the Faculty representative. Apart from being overall winners, Ingrid Cloete won the best individual oralist award in the Anglophone category.
The competition, which is organised by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria in collaboration with the host country, has become the largest annual gathering of law students and lecturers on the continent, and one of the premier events of the African human rights calendar.
This year’s competition brought together 56 teams (38 Anglophone, 15 Francophone and 3 Lusophone) from 25 African countries. In the six-day event, teams are required to argue a fictitious human rights case in four preliminary rounds. The best teams from each language category proceed to the final round where overall winners are determined. The Rhodes team won all its preliminary rounds, attaining the highest marks in the Anglophone category in beating Nigeria, Ghana and the University of Cape Town (last year’s runners up).
In the final round, the Rhodes team combined with Namibia and Universite de Cocody of Cote d’Ivoire to beat the combined team of Ghana, Lagos and Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin. The award for the best memorial went to the University of Cape Town, and Rhodes came second. Rhodes was the overall winner of the competition.
Rhodes’ participation was sponsored in part by Schindlers Attorneys.

Last Modified: Fri, 15 Jul 2011 14:56:55 SAST