Rhodes University Faculty of Law participates in the 10th Annual Kovsie Moot Court Competition and named overall winner in the Senior Category

Five students from the Rhodes University Faculty of Law participated in the 10th Annual Kovsie Moot Court Competition that took place from 2 to 4 October. Ms Diana Machingaidze, a penultimate-year LLB student, represented the Rhodes University Faculty of law in the Senior Category and was named the overall winner in that category. The four first-year students who participated in the Junior Category for English teams are Ms Nosipho Nziweni, Ms Blessings Chinganga (first team) and Mr Makomborero Majome and Ms Samantha Chiunzi (second team). Mrs Liezel Niesing was the team coordinator and coach for all five participants.

Rhodes University Faculty of Law Participants. From left: Ms Samantha Chiunzi,Ms Diana Machingaidze, Mr Makomborero Majome, Ms Blessings Chinganga, Ms Nosipho Nziweni.

All teams in the Junior Category had to submit arguments for both the Applicants and Respondents in the matter. This year the junior category saw a record number of 21 English teams who vied for the coveted four positions in the final round. Although our two teams did not participate in the final round, they did the faculty proud with overall well-presented arguments in both preliminary rounds. The members of the Bloemfontein Bar who acted as judges in the preliminary rounds expressed their delight in the particularly high standard in this year’s competition with regard to the heads of argument and oral presentations of the first-year participants from all universities. Adv Manye of the Bloemfontein Bar, who sat as a judge for one of the Rhodes junior teams, invited us to his chambers so that the students could “see where all the work gets done”. He patiently answered the many questions that his starry-eyed guests had to ask about legal practice and he had many wise words of advice for the aspirant lawyers. 

From left: Ms Nosipho Nziweni, Ms Blessings Chinganga, Ms Samantha Chiunzi, Adv Manye (back), Ms Diana Machingaidze, Mr Makomborero Majome.

Participants in the Senior Category were tasked to address the court as counsel for the Amicus Curiae as identified in the competition topic. The topic related to the question of whether or not it constitutes abuse or neglect that justifies severance of parental rights when parents provide an oversupply of unhealthy foods to their morbidly obese children. Furthermore, participants had to argue whether or not pharmacological and surgical interventions in aid of rapid weight loss are in the best interest of the morbidly obese child.

In the preliminary round, held on Friday 3 October, Ms Machingaidze presented her argument to a panel of three judges. Her confident and systematic argument, together with her excellent response to questions from the bench, earned her one of the two places in the final round. On the evening of 3 October, the two finalists received a new set of facts on which they had to prepare oral arguments that were to be delivered at 13:00 the next day in the Supreme Court of Appeal. Needless to say, the finalists and their coaches had their work cut out for them in terms of getting adequate preparation done before the final round.

The new set of facts required the candidates to address the best interests of a 17-year-old kleptomaniac who wishes to consent to an extradition request from a foreign country that wants to prosecute her for stealing valuable national artifacts. Candidates also had to address the court on the ethical responsibility of the minor’s attorney with regard to the mandate received from the minor and to what extent the attorney had to include or exclude parental involvement in the mandate.


Ms Machingaidze impressed the judges with her confident and clear delivery, adept responses to questions and her ready knowledge of the applicable legal principles.

Ms Diana Machingaidze, winner of the senior category, with Mrs Liezel Niesing (coach)

Ms Diana Machingaidze receives the trophy as winner of the Senior Category. From left: Prof Rita-Marie Jansen (vice-dean of the UFS Faculty of Law), Adv Boonzaaier (member of the Bloemfontein Bar and one of two judges in the final round) and Ms Diana Machingaidze.

Rhodes participants at the prize-giving evening: (from left) Ms Blessings Chinganga, Ms Nosipho Nziweni, Ms Samantha Chiunzi, Ms Diana Machingaidze, Mrs Liezel Niesing (Coach) and Mr Makomborero Majome.