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Law Academic to Serve on Magistrates Commission

March 10, 2017

Mr Maropeng Mpya.

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
Law Lecturer Mr Maropeng Mpya has been selected by the Society for Law Teachers of Southern Africa Association to serve as its representative at the Magistrates Commission.

The Magistrate Commission is a constitutional structure aimed at overseeing the entire magistrate judicial structure, which includes training, appointments, and discipline of magistrates.

Commenting on his appointment, Mpya said: ‘As a representative of the Society for Law Teachers of Southern Africa I represent academia’s contribution to the Magistrates Commission.

‘To serve on this Commission means one is contributing to the national building of an excellent judicial system and more importantly ensuring that all South Africans acquire the full benefit of competent magistrates and a dignified legal system.’

Mpya will serve on the Commission for a three-year term within the Ethics sub-committee as well as the Legislation sub-committee.

‘I will use my legal skills to help strengthen and enrich the Commission in its dealing with Magistrates. Further, my role in the Commission is to increase public confidence in the judiciary and justice in general,’ he said.

Thandiwe Jumo

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