Rhodes University has appointed the Honourable Justice Lex Mpati as its new Chancellor. The announcement was made on Friday.
The position became vacant when former Chancellor, Professor Jakes Gerwel, died last November.
A Rhodes alumnus, Mpati is President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, a post he has held since 2008.
Although he was born in Durban, Mpati has deep roots in Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape.
He went to school in the Eastern Cape – first at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Fort Beaufort and then at Mary Waters High School in Grahamstown, where he matriculated in 1967.
After leaving school he worked as a petrol attendant, works clerk, furniture salesman and barman until 1980.
It was his experiences of injustice as a petrol attendant that motivated him to study law in an effort to make a difference.
Mpati enrolled at Rhodes in 1979, under a special permit (required then by black students), and graduated in 1982 with a BA degree in Legal Theory and isiXhosa.
He graduated with an LLB in 1984. He was only the second black student to graduate with an LLB from Rhodes.
He then worked as an attorney in Grahamstown and served as the Secretary of the Grahamstown Side-Bar Association between 1985 and 1987.
He was extensively involved in human rights issues throughout the Eastern Cape.
Mpati has a great passion for rugby.
He played rugby for and captained Old Collegians Rugby Football Club in Grahamstown, and represented South Eastern Districts Rugby Union at provincial level.