Speaker Biographies 2011

PILG 2011 is pleased to introduce a host of experienced and knowledgeable speakers and panellists for the events of December. Below are the biographies for several of our presenters.

Dr. Roni Amit is a Senior Researcher with the African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits University and previously worked as a research and strategic litigation fellow at Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg. She holds a Ph.D in political science from the University of Washington and a law degree from New York University. Her research focuses on rights protection, administrative justice, legal processes and developments in the areas of refugee law and immigration detention.

Adv Heidi Barnes has been a member of the Johannesburg Bar since 2001. She has a BA from the University of Natal, Durban and an LLB and  Masters in Public Law from the University of Cape Town. Adv Barnes practices in the areas of constitutional, administrative and labour law, with a particular focus on human rights. Adv Barnes has litigated a number of the leading socio-economic rights cases in the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. These include: Occupiers of 51 Olivia Road, Berea Township and 197 Main Street, Johannesburg v City of Johannesburg and Others 2008 (3) SA 208 (CC); Residents of Joe Slovo Community, Western Cape v Thubelisha Homes and Others 2010 (3) SA 454 (CC); Abahlali BaseMjondolo Movement SA and Another v Premier of Kwa-Zulu Natal  and Others 2010 (2) BCLR 99 (CC); City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality v Blue Moonlight Properties 39 (Pty) Ltd and Another 2011 (4) SA 337 (SCA).

Ori Ben-zeev has recently completed his BA LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand and is moving on to clerk at the Constitutional Court next year under Justice Skweyiya. He has previously worked at the South African Human Rights Commission. Over the past year he tutored Constitutional Law to first year students and became involved in the Wits Street Law Project, where he ran workshops for the community and engaged with social justice. Ori is passionate about Gender Studies, Equality, Information Law, and Media Law. He is planning to become an advocate specialising in Human Rights.

Jonathan Berger is a senior researcher and head of policy and research at SECTION27.  After serving as the legal education and advice officer at the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality from 1997 to 1999, he clerked for Justice O’Regan of the Constitutional Court.  He holds degrees in architecture and law from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, as well as a master of laws from the University of Toronto. Jonathan is a member of the Medicines Control Council and chairs its expert legal committee.  He is also an honorary research fellow at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.  Until late 2007, Jonathan chaired the board of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project.  In January 2012, Jonathan will begin pupillage at the Johannesburg Bar.

Andy Bester practices as a member of the Johannesburg Bar.  He has been intimately involved in the Johannesburg Bar’s pro bono efforts for several years as member of its Pro Bono Committee.  Andy participated in writing and promoting the Johannesburg Bar’s pro bono rule as well as its recently adopted amended version.  He is currently chairman of the Board of ProBono.Org.

Marissa Beyers, LL.B, LL.B (Cum Laude) is the Pro Bono Coordinator of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces in Pretoria. She was admitted as an attorney in 2008 and practiced at the firm Beyers & Day Inc in Pretoria, where she is still a consultant. She was appointed as the Pro Bono Coordinator of the LSNP in September 2009.

Steven Budlender is an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar and specialises in constitutional and public interest law. He served as law clerk to Arthur Chaskalson, former Chief Justice of South Africa.  He has been involved in a large number of successful high-profile public interest litigation cases including recently as lead counsel on the mud schools case in the Eastern Cape

Lisa Chamberlain is the Acting Head of Programmes at CALS. As an attorney she has been actively involved in the work of the CALS Environment Programme focussing particularly on the impact of coal-mining developments. Her expertise includes governance and administrative justice, public participation processes, and legislative drafting. She is also a sessional lecturer at Wits University where she has taught Administrative Law and guest lectured in the Environmental Law masters programme. Lisa has an LLM from the University of Michigan and prior to joining CALS, she worked at Cheadle, Thompson and Haysom Inc and clerked at the Constitutional Court.

Morgan Courtenay is an attorney and the project lead for the Basic Services, Housing and Eviction Programme at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies. After serving his articles at the University of Pretoria Law Clinic and being an active part of their civil and criminal litigation as well as head of the clinical legal education unit between 2008 – 2010; he moved to the Centre for Child Law as an attorney with particular focus on children’s right strategic litigation. He holds a LL.B degree from the University of Pretoria and currently is completing his Masters degree in Criminal Law at the University

Simon Delaney, BA LLB LLM (with distinction) is National Director of ProBono.Org, Johannesburg, South Africa. A public interest litigator for almost a decade, he has litigated media freedom cases in the Constitutional Court and access to housing and water rights cases in the Supreme Court of Appeal and High Court. Simon started the law clinic at the Freedom of Expression Institute and opened pro bono departments at the South African offices of Norton Rose and Eversheds.

Irene de Vos obtained an LLB and LLM at the University of Pretoria.  Her LLM focuses on post-colonial jurisprudence and the potential for transformative constitutionalism within this context.  Thereafter she clerked at the Constitutional Court for Chief Justice Pius Langa.  She was a legal consultant at a public sector law firm for a year before joining the Johannesburg Bar in 2010.  This year she was privileged to have worked on two Constitutional Court cases concerning housing rights.

Kathleen Dey studied Social Work at the University of Cape Town, graduating in 1987. Her first social work job was with the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reconciliation of Offenders (NICRO) where she worked mainly as a parole officer but also developed their first volunteer training programme in 1989. In 1990 she took up a position at Groote Schuur Hospital in the Psychiatry Department’s Out Patient Unit. Thus began five years of rotation through various psychiatric units including the Eating Disorder Unit, Anxiety Management Programme, Alcohol Rehabilitation, Adolescent Unit and Emergency Psychiatry. In 1994 she went to live in Knysna where she ran a small private practise treating child survivors of rape and sexual abuse and volunteered for the local Black Sash’s Violence Against Women Project as a volunteer coordinator. She then returned to Cape Town to take up the post of Counselling Coordinator at the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust where she moved on to become first Operations Manager and then Director, the position she currently holds. Her work at Rape Crisis involved extensive experience in the field of rape, volunteer training and coordination, community development work and the development of ongoing government civil society partnerships.

Nick Ferreira is an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar and specialises in constitutional law. He is a research fellow at the Wits Centre for Ethics. Nick has masters and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. On returning to South Africa, he clerked for Justice Cameron at the Constitutional Court.

Beth Goldblatt is a Visiting Fellow of the Australian Human Rights Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) where she directs the Gender, Rights and Development project. From 1996 – 2008 Beth worked at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, after working as an attorney. While at the Centre she was involved in research, litigation, advocacy, teaching and law reform on a number of issues relating to women’s rights, equality, sexual orientation, social and economic rights with a focus on social security, transitional justice and family law. She is an editor of the South African Journal on Human Rights. Beth has held posts at the University of Sydney and UNSW where she is now a casual lecturer and is working on a PhD. She teaches Gender and Law, Public Interest Litigation, and will be bringing a group of students to intern in South Africa as part of a human rights experiential learning program.

Meetali Jain is a human rights/constitutional lawyer who formerly taught in the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University Washington College of Law in Washington DC.  She worked in the areas of immigration, post-9/11 government policy, workers rights, housing, health and education.  She now directs the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative (CLASI), which trains law students from UCT, UWC, and soon from Stellenbosch, to facilitate constitutional literacy classes and workshops in high schools and various communities.  She will also be teaching a new seminar on Public Interest Lawyering at UCT Law in 2012.  Meetali previously clerked for Justice Yvonne Mokgoro on the Constitutional Court, and for a federal court in the United States.  Her research interests include the transformation of legal education in South Africa, pedagogies of clinical legal education, critiques of human rights discourses and legal practice, and comparative constitutional law.

Raylene Keightley is a former Director of CALS and held this position at the time that CALS (together with CASAC) instituted proceedings challenging the President’s decision to extend the term of the Chief Justice. Ralyene is presently back in full time practice at the Johannesburg Bar and is a visiting associate professor in the School of Law.

Sheldon Maghardie is an attorney and heads the Stellenbosch office of Lawyers for Human Rights. His practice focuses primarily on rural and peri-urban eviction litigation and the protection and enforcement of the rights of farm workers and migrant labourers. He is a graduate of the University of Natal and has practiced as an attorney in both the private and public interest sector.

Gilbert Marcus is a senior advocate at the Johannesburg Bar and a specialist in human rights and constitutional law. He is one of the country’s most respected advocates and has represented clients in some of the country’s seminal political trials under apartheid, as well as in path-breaking Constitutional Court cases.

Ronaldah Lerato Karabo Ngidi is an attorney with the Centre for Child and an extra-ordinary lecturer in the Department of Private Law.  She obtained her LLB and LLM degrees, as well as a Certificate in Advanced Labour Law from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.  She started her legal career as a candidate attorney at the University of Pretoria Law Clinic, in 2005, where she remained after her admission as an attorney. She joined the Centre for Child Law in 2007, as an attorney, and remains in that position to date.

Wessel le Roux is Professor in Public law and jurisprudence at the University of the Western Cape, where he has been teaching since January 2011. Before moving to UWC, he taught for 14 years in the Department of Public Law at Unisa. At Unisa he led the Migration and Citizenship Rights Network (MiCRiNet) and headed the VerLoren van Themaat Centre for Public Law Studies. His research focus in general on the impact of migration on post-apartheid conceptions of democracy and citizenship. During the past year he published work on the voting rights of foreign nationals and on detentionless deportations as an under- or unenforced ideal embodied in the South African Immigration Act.

Yongama Njisane is a Senior Investigator within the Enforcement and Exemptions Division of the Competition Commission. Having worked with the Competition Commission since 2007he has acquired expertise in the economic assessment of mergers and acquisitions, prohibited practices and abuse of dominance. He has also presented in various conferences including the Joint Conference on Competition Law, Economics and Policy inSouth Africa.He is currently completing a Master of Commerce in Economicswith the University of KwaZulu Natal, specialising in merger control and public interest in South Africa.

Tammy O’Connor is the advocacy and training outreach officer for the Freedom of Information Programme at the South African Histroy Archive. An Australian lawyer, she has worked in private practice and as in-house counsel for government. Tammy is on the drafting team for the draft model law for African Union member states on access to information.

Candice Pillay is a partner in Eversheds South Africa’s personal injury department. She specialises in personal injury litigation, including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, public liability and claims against the state. She is admitted to practise law in South Africa. She holds a BProc, an LLB and a BA (Hons) degree. Candice also co-ordinates the firm’s pro bono activities and has partnered with Probono.org in a signature project involving claims against the police arising from police brutality and unlawful arrest.

Sarah Pudifin is an advocate at the Durban Bar, having served her pupillage there in 2011.  She completed a BA (Hons – Philosophy) LLB at UKZN in 2007, graduating summa cum laude as the top law student.  Thereafter she clerked at the Constitutional Court for Justice Albie Sachs, and went on to gain her LLM and MPhil from Gonville and Caius college at Cambridge University.  Her MPhil thesis focussed on South African public opinion on prostitution.  She intends to specialise in constitutional and administrative law and plans to continue her academic research in these areas.

Gabriella Razzano is a legal researcher at the Open Democracy Advice Centre and a research associate with the University of Witwatersrand, School of Law. She formerly clerked with Justice Yacoob of the Constitutional Court. She has a particular focus on access to information and freedom of expression issues, and has served as an active member of the Right2Know Campaign, Coordinating Committee Member of the National Information Officers Forum and is an Honourary Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Public Sector Lawyers Association.

Linda Stewart (BComm, LLB, LLM, LLD, Professor of Law, NWU) http://independent.academia.edu/LindaStewart has a research focus on rights that are concerned with the material dimensions of social welfare (and especially those rights placing budgetary obligations on government) and the utilisation thereof to alleviate poverty. Within this area she particularly directs her research to the construction, interpretation and limitation of these rights domestically but also regionally and internationally, concentrating on vulnerable members of society such as children and the urban and rural poor. Some of here recent publications include:

  • Stewart ‘Resource constraints and a child’s right to legal representation in civil matters at state expense in South Africa’ 2011 (19) International Journal of Children’s Rights 1-26
  • Stewart ‘The Grootboom judgment, interpretative manoeuvring and depoliticising children’s rights’ 2011 SAPL
  • Stewart ‘The politics of poverty: Do socio-economic rights become real only when enforced by courts?’ 2011/2012 DPCE: Una costituzione al lavoro (forthcoming)
  • Stewart ‘The limits of adjudication: the realisation of the right to water as a socio-economic right in South Africa and Botswana’ in Murray C The Internationalization of Constitutional Law (Pulp, Pretoria 2012) (forthcoming)

Linda strongly believes that social platforms and social networking open new avenues for academics to actively engage with societal issues and to break from the academic culture of only engaging with their peers through academic journals and other exclusive academic publications. Visit her at TWITTER: Linnewho: https://twitter.com/#!/Linnewho; and FACEBOOK: African Network of Constitutional Lawyers: https://www.facebook.com/pages/African-Network-of-Constitutional-Lawyers/197708353626976.

Bio-Zeenat Sujee is an admitted attorney and currently employed as such at the Legal Resources Centre (“LRC”). Bio-Zeenat completed my LLB degree at the University of the Witwatersrand and thereafter completed articles at the LRC. In 2008, Bio-Zeenat attended and completed the Public and Development Management Housing Policy course funded by Urban Landmark. Bio-Zeenat was involved in the constitutional court matters of Fatima Gabie Hassam v Jacobs NO and Others 2009 (5) SA 572 (CC), which dealt with the recognition of Muslim marriages and the rights of women in a polygamous Muslim marriage to inherit under the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. Bio-Zeenat was also, involved in the matter between the Trustees of Biowatch v Registrar of Genetic Resources and Others 2009 (6) 232 SA (CC), which dealt with an appeal against costs awarded against civil society organisations.

Stuart Wilson is co-founder and Director of Litigation at the Socio-economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI). He is also a practicing advocate and a Member of the Johannesburg Bar. Prior to joining the Bar and SERI, Stuart ran the Litigation Unit at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS). At CALS and SERI, Stuart has been responsible for litigating many of the leading socio-economic rights cases to come before the courts in recent years. Stuart appears regularly as counsel at all levels of the courts system. His practice encompasses constitutional law, administrative law, defamation, property law, labour law and criminal defence work. He has particular expertise in land and housing law. Stuart is also a part-time lecturer and Visiting Senior Fellow at Wits Law School, where he teaches undergraduate courses in Constitutional Law and Property Law. He writes and publishes on constitutional law, property law and the intersection between law and society. His present research interests are in assessing the social and legal impact of public interest litigation, especially where driven by the organised urban poor.

Nicola Whittaker is the head of the Detention Monitoring Unit and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). In this role, she litigates on behalf of asylum seekers and other migrants who are in immigration detention. She is also involved in advocacy around alternatives to immigration detention. Nicola is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa and holds a BA and LLB from Wits and an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the University of Pretoria. Prior to joining LHR, Nicola was an associate at Van Hulsteyns Attorneys based in the litigation department.

S’bu Zikode is the former President of Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA. Prior this he was the President of Abahlali and a chairperson of the Kennedy Road Development Committee before before becoming  its president. He was born and raised in Estcourt by a single mother, who worked as a domestic worker. In December 2009 Bishop Rubin Phillip conferred the Order of the Holy Nativity on him. He was the first non-Anglican to be honoured in this way. In 2010 he was listed by the Mail and Guardian as one of ‘two hundred young South Africans that you have to take to lunch. He has written a number of widely published articles on popular politics and the struggle for just cities. As a result of his political work he has lost two jobs, been arrested and assaulted. In September 2009 S’bu’s home and other leaders were looted and attacked by the armed mob associated with the ruling African National Congress. S’bu and other leaders were forced to hiding, after the Kennedy 12 were arrested and charged with serious crimes including murder. The 12 were acquitted on the 18 July 2011 by the Durban Regional Court after the state failed to produce evidence before the court. S’bu continued to receive death threats from local ANC leaders and supporters. S’bu has strongly campaigned for the Right to Housing in the United States National Tour under the theme ‘Housing is a Human Right’. His calling includes safe and dignified housing for all in our cities.