New chancellor for Rhodes has strong EC linksDate Released: Mon, 25 February 2013 09:59 +0200
SUPREME Court of Appeal judge president Lex Mpati has been appointed as Rhodes University’s new chancellor.
Mpati takes over from Professor Jakes Gerwel, who died late last year.
Although Mpati spends much of the year in Bloemfontein at the SCA, he has deep roots in the Eastern Cape in general and in Grahamstown in particular.
He has retained his home in Grahamstown, where he still spends as much time as possible.
Rhodes vice - chancellor Dr Saleem Badat said Mpati had achieved much in life, despite a disadvantaged background.
“A humble man of great intellect and wonderful integrity, who personifies the Rhodes motto of Strength, Virtue, Truth and the Rhodes slogan ‘Where Leaders Learn’, Judge Mpati is a superb role model for Rhodes students,” said Badat. Mpati was a man of extraordinary moral fibre, he added.
The position of chancellor is both a ceremonial and an advisory one, and Mpati will preside over the university’s graduation ceremonies, award degrees, diplomas and certificates to graduating students and grace special occasions.
Badat said he would also provide wise counsel to the university.
Mpati, who matriculated from Mary Waters High School in Grahamstown in 1967, worked as a petrol attendant and bartender before completing a BA degree in 1982 in legal theory and Xhosa.
He graduated with an LLB in 1984 – Rhodes’ second black LLB graduate.
After graduating, he worked as an attorney in Grahamstown until 1989 when he became in-house counsel at the Legal Resources Centre, where he immersed himself in human rights work in the Eastern Cape.
He was elevated to the bench in 1997, and has been a judge of appeal since 2000, and president of the Supreme Court of Appeal since 2008 – the first Rhodes Law alumnus to be appointed to this position.
Despite his involvement with many other institutions, Judge Mpati has retained a close association with Rhodes.
“He loves Rhodes, and from time to time he comes to address our students."
“He never fails to inspire and exhort them to use their knowledge and skills in the interests of justice and human rights, ino matter what field they end up working in,” said Badat.
In 2004 Rhodes and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) conferred honorary LLD degrees on Mpati. He was a member of the Rhodes Council from 1996 to 2008.
While he has never held an academic position, he has been involved in legal education and training in various ways.
He has acted as external examiner in the Rhodes Law Faculty and moderator of the National Bar Examination. He is a member of the Judicial Education Planning Committee, and is an Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Free State.
Mpati is married with four children.
Source: Daily Dispatch