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Marine Conservation Drives UKZN Duo

December 02, 2016

Ocean Heroes ready for action with Dr Thea van der Westhuizen and Mr Wade Krieger (centre).

Winning the annual Ellie Newman Moot Court competition, beating 320 participants by showcasing outstanding legal skills, is a sure sign that fourth-year Law student Mr Elisha Kunene is equipped for success in the legal profession.

Kunene competed in the Moot final - hosted by the School of Law in Durban - alongside finalists Ms Jolene Thompson, Mr Andile Mabaso and Mr Connor Alexander.

The finalists displayed their legal prowess in front of judges, Law School academics Professor Karthy Govender, Ms Lindiwe Maqutu, Professor Tanya Woker and Mr Vishal Surbun as well as family and friends.

A highlight at the final was third-year Law student Mr Andile Mcineka being awarded the Yunus Mohammed Public Interest Law Award by Madam Justice Dhaya Pillay for his article: “Winnie Getting the Short End of the Stick”, which was published in The Sunday Tribune.

The award recognises Mcineka’s valuable contribution to knowledge in the field of public law.

‘There was depth in his argument; he drew on judgments in a coherent manner; it was a pleasure interacting with him…’ these were some of the comments made by the judges on Kunene’s performance before his announcement as the winner which was greeted with resounding applause and a standing ovation from the audience.

‘Winning the Ellie Newman award means the world to me. It’s literally a dream come true. My time in ‘varsity has been quite difficult in a number of ways but I was determined to finish strongly and I sort of viewed this year as a rebuilding period,’ says Kunene.

‘Earlier in the year a good friend of mine and I won the Southern African National Debating Championships and I ranked first in the country. So I really feel like God is with me on this winning streak.’

The great debater who used his skills to coach school debating teams to generate funds for his university tuition got academic merit scholarships from UKZN for his first and second year. However, monetary challenges nearly saw Kunene being financially excluded in his second year.

‘In a remarkable turn of events I was able to stay and complete my studies thanks to a generous intervention by Norton Rose Fulbright. The firm and I parted ways this year but I will always be grateful to them and to everyone else who have contributed to keeping me going,’ he said.

Looking to the future, Kunene said: ‘I have been granted the great privilege of being accepted to clerk for Justice Raymond Zondo at the Constitutional Court next year.’  His long-term plans include becoming an advocate.

Thandiwe Jumo
School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic, Dr Thea van der Westhuizen and masters student Mr Wade Krieger will contribute to marine conservation, promotion of youth development and awareness creation on the importance of ocean sport racing to the community through participating in the Ocean Heroes happening at North Beach, Durban on 4 December, however if better conditions prevail it will be on 3 December.

Ocean Heroes, an initiative founded by Krieger in 2014 encompasses elite ocean athletes participating in swimming, running, ocean paddling and board paddling thus creating awareness around Clean Oceans; Water Safety, Youth Development and the Upliftment of Surf Lifesaving.

‘Some athletes that participate in Ocean Heroes have achieved incredible results in sport and as a result have overcome adversity. Their stories are relevant to the challenges of youth and can be a vehicle to inspire the community,’ said Krieger.

Through their shared interest in entrepreneurship, water sports and marine conservation Krieger and van der Westhuizen have raised over R100 000 through community projects for these worthy causes.

‘We have raised money for the cleaning of Umgeni river and surrounding estuaries from plastic pollution. We also are involved in a project called Paddle for the Planet and have raised awareness in over 23 different countries around the world for cleaner oceans as well as installed the first prototype river cage to remove plastics that harm marine life right here in Durban,’ explained van der Westhuizen.

She added that their combined vision was inspired by the need to create change through youth programmes and community initiatives to encourage South Africans to take action and responsibility of preserving the environment.

For more information or to participate in Ocean Heroes visit: or their Facebook page:
Thandiwe Jumo

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