LLM Candidate scoops first prize in the Prestigious South African Law Reform Legal Essay Competition

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Faculty of Law LLM Candidate, Tafadzwa Mavindidze. Photo cred: Vusumzi Tshekema.
Faculty of Law LLM Candidate, Tafadzwa Mavindidze. Photo cred: Vusumzi Tshekema.

By Tanya Sylvia Mugwagwa


Rhodes University Faculty of Law LLM Candidate, Tafadzwa Mavindidze, has been announced as the first-place recipient of the prestigious South African Law Reform Legal Essay Competition (SALRC) prize for 2023. She will attend the annual prize-giving ceremony at the Sun Hotel in Pretoria this week.

The prestigious SALRC essay competition forms part of the Commission’s initiative to engage young legal minds in generating innovative ideas on law reform issues. The competition, which is currently dedicated to the memory of the late Chief Justice Pius Nkonzo Langa, honours a range of legal achievers committed to advancing constitutional democracy in South Africa.

“I initially heard about the competition through my supervisor, who insisted on me submitting an essay for consideration on three separate occasions. Eventually, despite my hesitation, her encouragement gave me the courage to enter the competition and submit an essay that engaged my current research and illustrated why I felt it was an area of law that required reformation and transformation,” said Mavindidze.

She further shared that her award-winning essay, titled ‘“The Inadequately Married: Developing the Putative Marriage Doctrine to assist vulnerable parties in invalid customary marriages’, was inspired by her thesis research.

“The focus of my research is the protection of traditionally married women, who find themselves in unfavourable circumstances due to non-compliance with certain customary and legislative requirements that render their marriages invalid,” she expressed, “The goal of my research is the reformation and development of the putative marriage doctrine to extend its protection to these women and their rights to property.”

In relaying her excitement for her recent accomplishment, Mavindidze shared that winning the competition made her feel reaffirmed and encouraged in relation to the effort and work she’s poured into her research.  

“Sometimes the research journey can be quite tiring, and it can be easy to start questioning yourself and your capabilities. However, I feel like this award is just God’s way of reminding me and reaffirming that this is exactly where I am meant to be and that I am meeting my purpose in my writing and the research I am pursuing,” she reflected.

She further expressed her gratitude to the SALRC stating: “I would like to thank the Commission for the recognition, firstly just by looking at my research and secondly by gracing me with the amazing honour of receiving this award. I want to thank my amazing supervisor, Associate Professor Helen Kruuse, for always being so intentional about my development as an academic, always exposing me to various opportunities and just wanting the best for me. I am very grateful for the supervisor I have had and all the work she has put into making the process as amazing as possible.”

Professor Kruuse congratulated Mavindidze and said: “I am thrilled that Tafadzwa's work has been recognised and rewarded by the South African Law Reform Commission. While one may laud her for championing gender equality and the protection of vulnerable parties, the power of her research lies in her ability to find innovative and creative solutions through comparative work. This prize is thoroughly deserved, and I look forward to seeing Tafadzwa's research influence legal reform in South Africa.”