Biography of Judge Navi Pillay
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The appointment of Navanethem Pillay (Navi) as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was approved by the General Assembly on 28 July 2008 and she assumed her functions on 1 September 2008. On 24 May 2012, the UN General Assembly extended her mandate for a further two years. Judge Pillay retired from this post on 31 August 2014.
Judge Pillay, a South African national, was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island.
She also worked as a lecturer at the University of Natal, and later was appointed Vice-President of the Council of the University of Durban Westville. In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Judge Pillay was appointed as acting judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was elected by the UN General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where she served a total of eight years, the last four as President. She played a critical role in the groundbreaking jurisprudence of the ICTR on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In 2003, she was elected as a judge on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where she remained until August 2008.
In South Africa, as a member of the Women’s National Coalition, Judge Pillay contributed to the inclusion of an equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization, as has been involved with other organisations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.
Judge Pillay received a BA and a LLB from the University of Natal, South Africa. She also holds a Master of Laws and a Doctorate of Juridical Science from Harvard University. She was born in 1941, and has two daughters.
Panelists and Facilitators
(In Alphabetical Order)
Advocate Mohamed Shafie Ameermia is a full time Commissioner at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). He is also a Provincial Commissioner who has oversight responsibility for the North West and Free State. He is in charge of two portfolios, namely the right to access to housing and the rights of access to justice. Advocate Ameermia has over ten years of extensive managerial experience at senior level in the public sector on legal and related socio-economic matters. Before joining the SAHRC, Advocate Ameermia served in various senior executive management positions in the Limpopo Provincial Government as well as the Local Municipality of Makhado where he served as the Town Secretary and legal advisor.
He has also served in various professional bodies, which include, amongst others, as a member of the Institute for Municipal Administrators of South Africa until 1999, member of the Association for Conflict Resolution in North America until 2001, and to date, he is an Alumni and Fellow and serves as a board member of the Academy for the Centre of American and International Law and Arbitration in Dallas, Texas, US.
Clare Ballard is an attorney at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), heading the Penal Reform Programme. Clare was appointed in July 2014 having spent several years conducting research in the fields of penology and constitutional law at the Community Law Centre at the University of the Western Cape. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and Cornell University. She is also a former clerk of the South African Constitutional Court.
Darryl Bernstein’s practice focuses on dispute resolution primarily in the corporate and commercial areas. He co-founded the disputes-focused firm Rudolph, Bernstein & Associates in 2008, and previously worked at a leading local corporate firm. He has considerable experience advising on disputes in a broad range of sectors, including banking, insurance, construction and engineering, mining and resources, information technology, labour law and insolvency. He also advises on general corporate and commercial issues.
David Bilchitz is a Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Johannesburg and Director of the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (SAIFAC). Prof Blichitz is also currently Secretary-General of the International Association of Constitutional Law. He holds a BA (Hons) LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand, an MPhil in Philosophy and a PhD in Law from St Johns College, University of Cambridge. He is a committed activist working towards social reform and has published widely in a range of fields relating to fundamental rights including proportionality and fundamental rights, socio-economic rights, business and human rights, gay and lesbian rights, religious rights and animal rights. He is the author of Poverty and Fundamental Rights: the Justification and Enforcement of Socio-Economic Rights and co-editor of a collection titled Human Rights Obligations of Business: Beyond the Corporate Responsibility to Respect?
Max Boqwana is an attorney and Chairman with Boqwana Loon & Connellan practising in the area of Administrative and Constitutional Law. He is a former Chairperson of the Attorneys Fidelity Fund in South Africa and Co-Chairperson of the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA). He also serves as the General Secretary of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL).
Stephanie Boyce of Boyce Attorneys has a number of clients who have fraudulent emoluments attachment orders against them. Stephanie is involved with the administration at the Johannesburg Magistrates Court in trying to weed out reckless lenders and bring them to account.
Danny Bradlow is the SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. He is also an Emeritus Professor of Law at the American University Washington College of Law. His former positions include Head, International Economic Relations and Policy Department, South Africa Reserve Bank and the Chair of the Roster of Experts for the Independent Review Mechanism at the African Development Bank. Prof Bradlow has written extensively on issues around global economic governance, international financial institutions and human rights, foreign interest and human rights and development. His current scholarship focuses on global economic governance, international financial institutions, creative financing for development, and the international legal issues that arise at the interface of large projects and sustainable and equitable development. He holds a BA degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, a JD from Northeastern University Law School, an LLM from Georgetown Law School and an LLD from the University of Pretoria.
Joel Bregman is the Communication and Political Education Coordinator at the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), which is a non-governmental organisation based in Khayelitsha, Cape Town
that focuses on advancing access to basic services and human rights. He has worked with the SJC since 2010 and initially focused on criminal justice research and the Commission of Inquiry into Policing in Khayelitsha. Joel studies History at the University of Cape Town.
Alice Brown, independent consultant, researcher, lawyer and activist, is the Convenor of the annual Public Interest Law Gathering (PILG). Amongst other pursuits, she currently advises and conducts research on a broad range of topics including philanthropic giving, non-profit organizational effectiveness, public interest law and transformation within the South African legal profession. Alice sits on the boards of Section27, Corruption Watch and Keystone Accountability (US). She is also a member of the advisory committee of the Wits Justice Project. Alice served nearly two decades with the Ford Foundation, both in its New York headquarters and in its Office for Southern Africa based in Johannesburg where, from 2005 to 2011, she served as Representative.
Earlier in her career, Alice was a practicing attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where her work and publications addressed the legal aspects of housing conditions and environmental degradation in African American communities. Alice earned a BA degree from Dartmouth College and a JD from New York University School of Law. She has been a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law, a fellow at the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program and a Visiting Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Susie Brownlie is an environmental assessment practitioner with a focus on biodiversity-inclusive impact assessment. She has an MSc (with distinction) in Environmental Studies awarded from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1982. Susie has worked in both the private and public sectors, and has been a private consultant since 1992. In addition, she teaches at UCT and the University of the Free State. Internationally, Susie is a member of the Advisory Group of Business and Biodiversity Programme (BBOP), and is past co-chair of the Biodiversity and Ecology Section of IAIA. In South Africa, she has been involved in many aspects of quality assurance in environmental assessment, and has been involved in biodiversity offsets since 2007. She has played a key role in drafting guidelines and draft policy on biodiversity offsets in provinces and at the national level.
Lisa Chamberlain is the Deputy Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg. She is also an environmental justice activist, practicing attorney, academic and part-time musician. She has a BA LLB from Wits and an LLM from the University of Michigan. Lisa’s areas of expertise include governance and administrative law, access to information, legislative drafting and environmental justice particularly relating to mining development and public participation processes. As a senior lecturer at Wits Law School, Lisa teaches administrative law, bill of rights, environmental governance, sustainable development and human rights in the marketplace. She is passionate about making human rights real and ensuring that decision-making about natural resources is responsible, accountable and transparent. Prior to joining CALS, Lisa worked in the public sector department at Cheadle, Thompson and Haysom Inc and clerked at the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
Michael Clark is a legal researcher at the Centre for Law and Society (CLS) at the University of Capetown. His work focuses largely on protecting rural land rights and strengthening security. Previously, Michael worked as a legal researcher and advocacy officer at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), where he conducted research on pertinent legal issues in the field of socio-economic rights and related enabling rights. Michael obtained a LLB from Stellenbosch University.
Cassim Coovadia is the Managing Director of the Banking Association of South Africa and the Chairperson of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre. He has been active in the financial services sector for many years, and has contributed to numerous articles and publications on housing finance, civil society, local government and the role of civic organisations in governance. Mr Coovadia played a central role in the negotiations leading to the signing of the Financial Sector Charter and has since been instrumental in the implementation of agreements reached in the Charter. He has considerable experience in housing finance, SMME support, local government restructuring and the financial environment in the SADC region. He serves as a Council member of the University of the Witwatersrand as well as on numerous boards and initiatives. Mr Coovadia played a critical role in the conceptualization and establishment of Community Bank in South Africa and is passionate about the area of access to financial services to the broad spectrum of people in South Africa.
David Cote was appointed as Coordinator of the Strategic Litigation Unit at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) in 2008 and has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in all
levels of courts. David is a graduate of the University of Ottawa (LL.L/LL.B National Programme), the University of Cape Town (LL.M) and the University of South Africa (LL.B). His areas of interest include administrative law, refugee law, public interest litigation and international criminal justice.
Tracey Davies heads the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) – Corporate Accountability and Transparency Programme, which is aimed at improving corporate compliance with environmental laws in South Africa, and compelling greater transparency around corporate environmental liability. Tracey is qualified as an attorney in South African and as a solicitor in the United Kingdom, where she spent five years working in criminal and commercial litigation before joining the CER as a senior attorney in 2013. Tracey holds a BA LLB from the University of Cape Town, and an LLM from New York University School of Law.
Nikhiel Deeplal is an ambitious 22 year old who always sees light at the end of the tunnel. He recently completed his law degree at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) and is currently completing a Masters in International Trade Law. He also has a certificate in International Affairs from the Symbiosis International University in India. He has sat on the UKZN SRC as well as lead in various other organisations, including being the Vice President of the Common Wealth Law Students Association. In 2014, he was elected as the National Chairperson of Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) which he considers to be one of his greatest and most important achievements to date. He has participated on various panels as well as presented papers at international conferences. Nikhiel was most recently invited to present a paper on international law at The Hague University.
Simon Delaney is an attorney with his own law firm, assisting social justice movements and non-governmental organisations to enforce their rights to freedom of expression, information and assembly. He consults to the Right2Know Campaign, FXI and others on the right to protest. He also works with the Decriminalisation of Expression Campaign that aims to rid Africa of criminal defamation and related laws restricting free speech and media freedom.
Sushila Dhever is a partner in the labour, employment and human rights department of the Johannesburg office of Fasken Martineau, and heads up the Pro Bono group. She has expertise in human rights and constitutional impact litigation.
Sushila also has extensive experience in children’s rights, gender law, housing policy and rights, land rights, legal advocacy and law reform, as well as assisting refugees from sub-Saharan Africa. She is passionate about restoring dignity to disadvantaged individuals and communities in South Africa and ensuring equal access to the law. As such, Sushila coordinates regular legal clinics in the townships of Soweto and Lenasia. The clinics service indigent communities from Orange Farm, Grasmere, Walkerville, Sebokeng and Lawley and facilitate access to justice these communities.
Jackie Dugard is an Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, School of Law where she lectures on Property Law. She was a co-founder and the first Executive Director of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), where she is currently Chair of the Board of Directors. With a background in social science and law, Jackie is a human rights activist and scholar, and has published widely on the role of law and courts in affecting social change, as well as on socio-economic rights, access to courts, protest and social movements. Jackie has recently co-edited, with Malcolm Langford, Ben Cousins and Tshepo Madlingozi, the book Symbols or Substance? Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa (2014, Cambridge University Press). She is also on the editorial committee of the South African Journal on Human Rights.
Carina du Toit: Carina has been in the employ of the Centre for Child Law since 2005. She has a BA (Law) LLB from the University of Stellenbosch and an LLM from the University of Pretoria. She is an admitted attorney with right of appearance in the High Court of South Africa. Carina’s main duties at the Centre entail the management of strategic public interest litigation in the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court. Carina further specialises in cases arising from (i) parental abduction and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, (ii) separate legal representation for children in high conflict family law matters and (iii) the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act. Carina lectures in the LLB elective on Child Law at the University of Pretoria and is the co-ordinator of the module on Aspects of Constitutional and International Law relating to children in the LLM in Child Law.
Dugan Fraser works as the Programme Director at the RAITH Foundation where he is responsible for programme strategy development and implementation, reporting to the Executive Director. He was previously a monitoring and evaluation consultant with many
years’ experience in the governance and human rights sectors, working with government departments, donors and non-governmental organisations. Dugan is particularly interested in supporting programme improvement through the collection and use of evidence. He has a MA in the Sociology of Development from the University of the Witwatersrand and sits on the boards of the SA M&E Association, the Social Justice Initiative and Action Volunteers Africa.
James A. Goldston is the Executive Director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, which advances the rule of law and legal protection of rights worldwide through advocacy, litigation, research and the promotion of legal capacity. A leading practitioner of international human rights and criminal law, Goldston has litigated several ground breaking cases before the European Court of Human Rights and United Nations treaty bodies, including on issues of torture, counterterrorism and racial discrimination. In 2007-08, he served as coordinator of prosecutions and senior trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.
Prior to the Open Society, Goldston was the legal director of the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre; director general for human rights of the Mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and prosecutor in the Office of the United States for the Southern District of New York, where he focused on organized crime. Goldston graduated from Columbia College and Harvard Law School and has taught at Columbia Law School and the Central European University.
Odette Geldenhuys is a senior associate in the Pro Bono Practice at Webber Wentzel. Her expertise is broadly in the field of public interest law, and she has an overarching career interest in access to justice. As a documentary filmmaker and a participant in the independent film industry, she has also advised on aspects of entertainment law. She founded ProBono.Org as the first pro bono clearinghouse in South Africa in 2006 and prior to that she was responsible for implementing the Justice Centre model for Legal Aid South Africa. Odette has held a leadership position with the Legal Resources Centre and a project officer position with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Odette has a Sociology Honours and an LLB degree from the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand, respectively.
Donna Gewer is a partner in the dispute resolution department at Bowman Gilfillan and has been with the firm since 2003. Donna specializes in commercial and corporate litigation and arbitration and has experience in handling complex and substantial disputes. She acts regularly on behalf of major local and international corporate clients, listed companies and state-owned companies. Donna was recently one of the contributors to the Allen & Overy Global Litigation Survey. The ground breaking survey assesses ten key indicators of the litigation process in 137 legal systems. The globalisation of business has meant that commercial counterparties come from increasingly diverse jurisdictions and parties need to have a broader awareness of legal risk.
Leanne Govindsamy is an admitted attorney of the High Court. She worked as a law clerk to the late Justice T. Madala at the Constitutional Court of South Africa and later completed her articles at Cheadle, Thompson & Haysom Inc., where she practiced as senior associate in the labour, media and litigation departments. Currently, Leanne is the Head of the Legal & Investigations Unit at Corruption Watch. Leanne holds an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and an LLM (summa cum laude) from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S. She has completed internships at two non-governmental organisations in India, working primarily in the human rights field. Leanne is currently enrolled in a Master’s degree program in Anthropology at Wits and is focusing on understanding corruption in the police.
Sipho Gumedze is a Swazi human rights lawyer, and a member of Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland) who regularly represents clients seeking to vindicate freedom of expression rights in Swaziland. Sipho has, himself, been a victim of the suppression of free expression in Swaziland. In August 2014, Sipho participated at a protest march at a civil society conference held to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. The march called for an improvement in Swaziland’s respect for human rights, and Sipho was photographed holding a banner advocating free speech. As a consequence, the Prime Minister, speaking during a parliamentary debate, called for Sipho and a colleague to be “strangled” on their return to Swaziland, and blamed the pair for undermining Swaziland’s official position at the Summit.
Professor Adam Habib is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), a position he had held since June 2013. He is an academic, an activist, an administrator and a renowned political media commentator and columnist who is well-published and recognized as a key leader in higher education and political studies in South
Africa and internationally. A professor of Political Science, Prof Habib has more than 30 years of academic, research, institutional and administrative expertise. His experience spans five universities and multiple local and international institutions, boards and task teams. His professional involvement in institutions has always been defined by three distinct engagements: the contest of ideas; their translation into actionable initiatives; and the building of institutions.
Prof Habib served as the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation, Library and Faculty Coordination at the University of Johannesburg. He has also served as the Executive Director of the Human Sciences Research Council and as a Research Director of Governance and Democracy. Prior to that, he served as Professor in the School of Development Studies at the University of Natal and as the Research Director of the Centre for Civil Society.
Pro Habib holds qualifications in Political Science from the University of Natal and Wits and earned Masters and Doctoral degrees from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Transformation, democracy and development are fundamental themes of Prof Habib’s research.
Prashianne Hansraj is a Candidate Attorney with the Strategic Litigation Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). Prash obtained BA and LLB degrees from Rhodes University and a LLM degree from the University of London SOAS.
Moray Hathron is a Partner and the Pro Bono Practice Head at Webber Wentzel. An expert in the areas of civil and socio-economic rights, Moray has extensive experience in land reform practice, the law relating to traditional authorities, the right to housing and gender equality, and assisting non-profit organisations. Moray’s expertise also extends to administrative and constitutional law. He has been involved in litigation in the Magistrate’s Court, the Labour Court, the Land Claims Court, the High Court and the Constitutional Court as well as in negotiations with government at municipal, provincial, national and ministerial levels.
Prior to Webber Wentzel, Moray spent 15 years with the Legal Resources Centre and was a director of the Rural Housing Loan Fund (a not-for-profit company, incorporated for the purpose of provision of wholesale finance to lenders for low-income rural housing) from 1998 to 2012. Currently he is a director of the Treatment Action Campaign and a council member of Sedibeng College.
Mark Heywood is the Executive Director of Section27, a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect and advance human rights. The organisation focuses on five work areas: the right to health; implementation of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and TB; the right to basic education; the right to food; and accountability and good governance. Mark is also a national executive member of the Treatment Action Campaign, an activist movement formed in 1998 that fights for the rights of people living with HIV (PWAs).
Robyn Hugo is an attorney who heads the Pollution and Climate Change Programme at the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER). This Programme focuses largely on air pollution providing, amongst other services, expert legal support in a collaborative campaign with partners to push back South Africa’s dependence on coal. The CER is a non-profit law clinic that aims to advance the realisation of the constitutional rights to an environment not harmful to health or wellbeing. Before joining the CER in October 2011, Robyn worked in private practice at a corporate firm in Johannesburg. She has a BA LLB from the University of Stellenbosch and an LLM in Environmental Law from the University of Cape Town.
Daniella Ikawa is the Coordinator of the Strategic Litigation Working Group at the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) and an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University Human Rights Master’s Program (U.S.). A Brazilian lawyer, Daniella obtained her LLM from Columbia University Law School where she was nominated a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar for her academic accomplishments. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). Before joining ERCR-Net, Daniella worked for Conectas Human Rights (Brazil) and PILnet (U.S.) and taught at the Central European University (Hungary) and PUC-Sao Paulo (Brazil). She was also managing co-editor of Sur-International Journal on Human Rights and has published over twenty books and articles on human rights in the U.S. and Brazil.
Mazibuko K. Jara is the board Chairperson of Oxfam South Africa. He works as the Executive Director of Ntinga kaNdoda, a rural movement in Keiskammahoek in the Eastern Cape. Mazibuko is the Interim National Secretary of the United Front. He was the founding Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign and previously worked as the National Director of the then-National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality that secured sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination in South Africa’s Constitution. Mazibuko
worked for seven years as the spokesperson and chief strategist of the South African Communist Party from which he was expelled in 2010. He was the Deputy National Secretary of the Young Communist League from which he was expelled in 2005.
Caroline James is a lawyer in the Freedom of Expression Programme at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. The Programme works to support litigation in southern Africa that challenges laws that criminalise or otherwise limit free expression. Caroline has worked on a number of cases in Swaziland in which activists have been charged with criminal offences after speaking out against government officials, and is currently working with various media freedom groups in Botswana and Zambia. She has BA and LLB degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand.
Nomalungelo James is based in the Eastern Cape where she is a community health care worker and activist. In March 2015, she testified before the South African Human Rights Commission public hearing on emergency medical services (EMS) in the Eastern Cape. Her testimony focused on the lack of adequate EMS in that province.
Deputy Minister John Jeffery: Mr Jeffery is the Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Development of South Africa, a position he has held since 9 July 2013 and was re-appointed to on 26 May 2014. He has been a Member of Parliament for the African National Congress (ANC) since 1999 and he is also a member of the ANC National Executive Committee, the Legislative and Governance subcommittee and the ANC Political Committee in Parliament. From 1999 to 2005, Mr Jeffery was a Parliamentary Counsellor to the Deputy President. He earned BA and LLB degrees, along with a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Law, from the University of Natal.
Paul Kasonkomona is a renowned HIV activist in Zambia. In April 2013, Kasonkomona was arrested after speaking on a television programme where he called for the decriminalisation of homosexual activity as a way to enhance HIV treatment measures. Kasonkomona was charged with “soliciting for an immoral purpose,” and detained overnight before being released on bail. He brought a challenge to the constitutionality of the offence on the basis that it unjustifiably infringed the right to freedom of expression. The High Court ruled that the right did not extend to conduct criminalised under “soliciting for an immoral purpose,”
and referred his criminal trial back to Magistrates Court which then acquitted him on the criminal charge.
Sher-Muhammad Khan is a Junior Researcher at Section27. He joined this public interest law centre in January 2014 after a research consultancy at Doctors Without Borders (MSF South Africa) where he worked on patent law reform and access to medicines. Sher-Muhammad holds an LLB (Honours) from the University of London. He currently works on the Competition Commission’s Market Inquiry into the private health care sector, reform of patent laws and access to medicines.
Jonathan Klaaren is a Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. He teaches, researches and writes in the areas of human rights, law and sociology, having written over 40 peer-reviewed publications and co-written several books. His current research interests are in the legal profession, regulation and human rights, transparency and sociolegal studies in Africa. He has served on a number of editorial committees and boards including those of the South Africa Journal on Human Rights, Law & Society Review, and Law & Policy. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Yale University and professional law degrees from Wits and Columbia University. He served as Dean of the Wits Law School from 2010 to 2013 and as Director of the Mandela Institute from 2005 to 2007. Beyond the Wits Law School, he holds an additional appointment as a Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Humanities and works with the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER).
Silomo Khumalo is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. He has a BSS in Legal Studies and Sociology, an LLB and a Bachelor of Social Science Honours (BSSH) in Public Policy which he has recently completed. Silomo, who is visually impaired, is an avid cricketer and is passionate about the right to education. Previously, he worked with Section27 in advancing the rights of learners with disabilities in KwaZulu-Natal and Silomo is currently a Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) Research Fellow at that public interest law centre.
Michael Leonard is a visiting attorney at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). Before coming to SERI, Michael was an attorney at a law clinic in New York City, where he represented low-income people and community groups in eviction proceedings and public benefits matters. Michael holds a JD from the City University of New York School of Law and a BA in Political Science from Fordham University.
Lynette Maart, appointed as Black Sash National Director in September 2013, has extensive experience working in various capacities in the not-for-profit and heritage sectors. She has served as the Deputy Director: Programmes and Organisation Development of the Robben Island Museum (1998 to 2004) and prior to that she worked as senior Organisation Development consultant at the Community Development Resources Association (CDRA) with clients in the land, urban development and heritage sectors including South African National Gallery and the Robben Island Museum.
Most recently, Lynette has worked as an independent consultant with clients in community philanthropy such as the Community Chest and Breadline Africa. She has conducted external evaluations for international donors including, amongst others, Comic Relief, HIVOS (BRC and Groundwork), the French Catholic Committee against Hunger and for Development (SPP), REAP and the Shuttleworth Foundation.
Lynette worked as Project Manager for the St. George’s Cathedral Crypt Memory and Witness Centre between 2007 and 2013. During her tenure two exhibitions were produced: Glimpsing of Hope, Marching for Peace (focusing on the September 1989 peace march led by Archbishop Tutu in Cape Town) and An African Tale to the Mother City (which looked at housing and land struggles in the Western Cape from Modderdam to Khayelitsha). Three publications were produced with the two exhibitions. Lynette is a part time lecturer on the Stanford University Sites of Memory Course.
Princess Magopane is passionate about social justice, human rights and the transformation of the legal profession. She was admitted as an attorney of the High Court in mid-2015, after completing her articles of clerkship at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI). She has extensive litigation experience across the entire court spectrum, having been involved at various statutory tribunals and the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. She holds a BA degree in English Literature, International Relations and Law and an LLB degree, both from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She is currently serving as a law clerk to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at the South African Constitutional Court.
Faathima Mahomed began work as an attorney at the Legal Resources Centre, Durban Regional Office in 2013. She previously worked in the chambers of Justice Z.M. Yacoob at the South Africa Constitutional Court. Faathima holds a B.Proc, LLB (post-graduate) and LLM (Constitutional Law) degrees. Faathima’s practice includes cases that impact upon the protection of informal street traders, housing and local government, children’s rights, land, equality and non-discrimination (including disability rights), social security and access to administrative justice. Faathima also provides training workshops to non-governmental organisations in the greater Durban area.
Advocate Bokakantla Joseph Malatji currently serves as a Commissioner for the South African Human Rights Commission and is responsible for issues stemming from Disability, Older Persons and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. Advocate Malatji was the first blind student to be admitted to the University of the North in 1971 and the first black blind person to be admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court in 1977.
Mluleki Marongo is a junior researcher at Section27 whose research area is the right to access to health care services and constitutional literacy. He earned a LLB degree from the University of Fort Hare where he was a prominent student leader in Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ). Immediately after completing his degree in 2014, Mlu was awarded a SLSJ Section27 Research Fellowship.
Owen Maseko is a Zimbabwean visual and installation artist. In 2010, he exhibited paintings depicting the Gukurahundi military offensive against supporters of Joshua Nkomo in Matabeleland in the 1980s. Less than 24 hours after the exhibition opened Maseko was arrested and charged under the Public Order and Security Act in Zimbabwe for undermining President Mugabe’s authority and “causing offence to persons of a particular race or religion.” He was detained for four days and interrogated. In April 2015, after the criminal trial had been postponed pending determination on whether the offences infringed on freedom of expression, the Supreme Court ordered that the exhibition be removed, however, Maseko intends to continue exhibiting the work. Maseko was the second runner up to the “Freedom to Create” prize in 2010 for the Gukuranhundi exhibition.
Dale McKinley is an independent writer, researcher and lecturer based in Johannesburg. He is a long-time political activist and has been involved in social movement, community and political struggles for over three decades. He was a co-founder and past leader of one of the largest post-apartheid social movements, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and is presently the Gauteng coordinator/spokesperson for the Right2Know campaign and a member of its National Working Group. Dale holds a PhD in Political Economy/African Studies from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and is a regular speaker at various NGO, academic, social and political conferences and events. He occasionally lectures at university level and is the author of four books (on the ANC, political dissent and state repression in South Africa, access to information, and post-1994 oral histories). He has written and published numerous book chapters, over 20 research reports and journal/magazine articles on various aspects of South African and international political and socio-economic issues/struggles as well as human rights.
Patrick Mdleshe works as a field research for Section27. In that position, he has worked extensively on supporting provincial AIDS councils and he is currently the deputy chairperson of the KZN Provincial AIDS Council. In addition, Patrick serves as Chairperson of the Provincial AIDS Council Civil Society and has been instrumental in promoting and amplifying civil society voices in different provinces. He is also a long standing member of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Since joining in 2001, Patrick has helped to strengthen the TAC in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and, having risen through the ranks, he was appointed TAC KZN Provincial Chairperson in 2010, a position he holds to this date. Moreover, he has served on the National Council of TAC since 2003. Patrick served in SANAC as a Law and Human Rights Sector Leader from 2012 to 2014 and currently is a board member of the local government work (LGA) and a special advisor to Amnesty International South Africa. He has served on the South African AIDS Council since 2012.
Bonita Meyersfeld is the Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and an Associate Professor at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She is an editor of the South African Journal of Human Rights and the founding member and chair of the board of Lawyers Against Abuse. Bonita teaches international law, business and human rights and international criminal law. She obtained her LLB from Wits and her Masters and doctorate from Yale Law School. She is the author of Domestic Violence and International Law, Hart Publishing (UK) (2010). Bonita has worked for a long time and very closely on the mechanisms to reform financial institutions, pension funds and money market funds in order to ensure that profit, development and human rights are concept that co-exist. Bonita has published extensively in the areas of financial institutions and human rights, pension funds, responsible investing and business, human rights and gender. In her current position as the Director of CALS, she has created a new Programme on Business and Human Rights to deal with these issues at a local level.
Peacemore Mhodi is a Research Associate at the South African Human Rights Commission. His research focus at the Commission is on access to justice and housing. With LLB and LLM degrees in Constitutional Theory, Law and Litigation (University of KwaZulu Natal), Peacemore has a passion for research and publishing in the field of constitutionalism.
Fundi Moyo is an advocate in the Strategic Litigation Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). Before joining LHR, Fundi practiced as an advocate in Bisho and served as a law clerk to the South African Constitutional Court in 2014.
Osmond Mngomezulu is an attorney in the Environmental Rights Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). He completed his articles at the University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic before gaining experience at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) and ProBono.Org. Osmond’s work involves providing legal support to non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and voluntary associations of communities in order to protect and advance environmental rights. He believes in using law as an instrument for achieving social justice and the transformational imperative of the South African Constitution.
Seth Mbuyisa Mnguni is the Chairperson of the Association of Community-based Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA). He is also the coordinator and founder of the Ntsu Advice Office in Mabopane, Pretoria. Mr Mnguni has made submissions to the National Assembly on the Legal Practice Bill and, in 2012, participated in the development of the Kampala Declaration, which called for the recognition and regulation of community-based paralegals. He has facilitated the formation of the regional Paralegal Association for the Greater Pretoria area, and established working relations with magistrate courts, university law clinics, private attorneys and others.
Lwazi Mtshiyo is currently a Candidate Attorney at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) where he previously worked as a research and advocacy officer. His work focuses on land tenure, property and housing law, criminal defence and the right to education. Prior to joining SERI, Lwazi worked for the South Africa Human Rights Commission, Black Sash and the South African History Archive (SAHA).
Caroline Ntaopane is an environmental and women’s rights activist who works as the Mining and Extractives Project Officer of ActionAid South Africa. Her work in ActionAid aims to strengthen the position of women and protect their rights in the context of large scale development and exploitation of natural resources. An environmental activist since 2001, Caroline has led a number of organisations in the promotion of environmental justice and the protection of the human rights of communities. She has served as the board Chair of the South African Climate Change Action Network and is one of the founders of the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance (VEJA), which brings together environmental, religious, and human rights groups, labour unions, and others and has organised mass demonstrations around environmental injustice.
Caroline has worked tirelessly to advocate for better environmental laws in South Africa and in many countries outside of the RSA. She worked for the Group for Environmental Monitoring as well as the Benchmark Foundation where she was a leader of the Community Monitoring School. Caroline has completed a short course on Environmental Law, Journalism and Communications.
Egon Osmond was voted Human Rights Attorney of the Year in 2011 by the Cape Law Society. Egon is the first South African lawyer to successfully prosecute a complaint against the State of South Africa in the United Nations. The matter arose out of the torture of 231 prisoners at the St Albans Maximum Correctional Facility in Port Elizabeth during 2005. Egon’s experiences have convinced him that the legal profession has a vital role to play in the prevention and control of the abuse of power by the executive authority. He is passionate about using the justice system to hold state officials and institutions accountable where they abuse their powers and believes that an independent judiciary is an indispensable requirement for the maintenance of a constitutional democracy in South Africa. Egon serves on the Human Rights and Constitutional Law Committee of the Cape Law Society as well as on the Section 11 Human Rights in Correctional Services Committee of the South African Human Rights Commission.
Elroy Paulus is the National Advocacy Manager and media spokesperson at Black Sash, where he has worked since 2007. He is a human rights activist with extensive experience in advocacy issues related to social assistance. Prior to the Black Sash, he worked for, amongst others, the Fair Share University of the Western Cape School of Government and the COSATU Parliamentary Office. Elroy also served as the National Community Monitoring and Advocacy Project (CMAP) Coordinator funded by the European Union and Open Society Foundation (South Africa) to help build “a culture of accountability – rights with responsibilities – within communities and government”. Elroy has post graduate qualifications in medical technology, specializing in Chemical Pathology, and during 2013 – 2014 he was seconded to the Department of Health to work with ward-based primary health care outreach teams at a national level.
Kristen Petersen recently joined the Community Law Centre at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) as a researcher for the Civil Society Rights Initiative (CSPRI) project that is a research and advocacy effort focusing on prisons and places of confinement. Kristen is an admitted attorney with an LLB from UWC and an LLM in Human Rights Law from the University of Cape Town. Prior to joining CSPRI, she worked for the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services as the Assistant Director: Policy & Research, focusing on conditions of incarceration and treatment of offenders in correctional facilities in South Africa. Kristen previously worked in the legal services department of the South African Human Rights Commission.
Karabo Rajuili is the advocacy coordinator at the M&G Centre for Investigate Journalism (amaBhungane). The advocacy mandate of amaBhungane seeks to secure information rights and mitigate threats to the free flow of information in the interest of investigate journalism and, wherever possible, to wider media and public through analysis, advice, lobbying, campaigning and litigation. Karabo serves on the National Working Group of the Right2Know campaign, of which amaBhungane is a founding member. Karabo holds a BA (HONS) in Political Science from the University of KwaZulu Natal and is an alumnus of the International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI) through which she completed a graduate course in Public International Law at Lieden University. Presently, she is pursuing an MPHIL in Justice and Transformation through the University of Cape Town.
Bhavna Ramji is an attorney at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). Her work focuses on property and housing law, farm workers’ struggles and criminal defence.
Mathilda Rosslee’s passion lies in proactive financial education and legal assistance as remedial service. Since January 2008 Mathilda has overseen the coordination and implementation of the Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic (LAC) Financial Literacy Project (FLP). The purpose of this project is to raise awareness and empower high school learners and other individuals in the community with information on the National Credit Act 34 of 2005, the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 and basic financial planning skills. In conjunction with this work, Mathilda provides paralegal assistance in approximately three hundred debt related matters. Mathilda’s efforts in demonstrating against credit exploitation in South Africa has led to the Legal Aid Clinic’s involvement in the Emoluments Attachment Order case, University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic and Others v The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services & Others, Case No: 16703/14, currently before Honourable Justice Desai. Fifteen of the sixteen applicants are Mathilda’s clients, providing her with an in depth understanding of each of the individuals’ matters.
Lauren Royston is Director of Research and Advocacy at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). She has nearly twenty years of experience in the urban development sector in South Africa. A development planner by training, she has worked extensively on housing, urban land, tenure security and integrated development planning in community advisory, policy development, research, writing, implementation support and management capacities.
Dr Moses Simelane is a Director with the Department of Basic Education. In this position, he manages, monitors and supports the implementation of the inclusive education policy. He provides strategic leadership in the implementation of the inclusive education policy (White Paper 6). Dr Simelane has extensive experience in the South African education system dating from the early 2000s.
Emilia Siwingwa is the Programmes Director of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Lawyers’ Association. A lawyer by profession, Emilia is admitted to practice law in the United Republic of Tanzania. Through membership or committee/board affiliation, Emilia also works closely with the Tanganyika Law Society, East Africa Law Society, Pan African Lawyers Union and the Africa Committee of the American Bar Association.
Henk Smith is an attorney in the Cape Town office of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC). He has been with the LRC for 20 years and was the lead attorney in the ground-breaking Richtersveld land restitution matter that spanned over a period of 11 years. Henk’s main areas of focus are land reform, customary law, rural democratization and the assertion of the rights of communities affected by the extractive industries. In addition to his work in South Africa, Henk has provided support to organisations conducting public interest litigation in countries throughout southern Africa.
Louis Snyman obtained an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and completed his LLM in Environmental Law. His thesis focused on the impact of coal mining on agriculture and environmental sustainability in South Africa. Louis completed his articles with Warburton Attorneys. Prior to this, he worked on a part-time basis for the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) as a research assistant. Louis completed an environmental law internship through the Association for Water and Rural Development and attended the School for Legal Practice in Johannesburg. During this period, he also worked at the Wits Law School as a Research and Teaching Associate.
Sasha Stevenson is an attorney at Section27. Her work areas include the right of access to health care services, the right of access to food, and children’s rights to basic nutrition. Her health care work centres on the crisis in the Eastern Cape health care system, migrant health, and the path to National Health Insurance. She has also been involved in the establishment of the Stop Stockouts Project, a civil society initiative to monitor and address medicines stockouts throughout the country.
Sasha obtained a BA (Law and Politics), a BA (Honours) (Law and Politics) and an LLB from Rhodes University. She completed he articles at Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys, suspending her articles for a year to serve as a law clerk to the late former Chief Justice Pius Langa at the Constitutional Court. Sasha spent most of her time at Bowman Gilfillan in the Public Employment Law Team. From March 2011, Sasha worked for six months in the Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Court, The Hague. She then went on to the University of Cambridge where she obtained an LLM with a focus on human rights law. While at Cambridge, Sasha was awarded a Pegasus Scholarship that enabled her, before returning to South Africa, to work for three months in a number of top barristers’ chambers in London.
Zeenat Sujee is an attorney with the Basic Services Programme at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS). In this capacity, she has worked on cases involving evictions and access to water and sanitation. Prior to joining CALS, Zeenat worked with the Legal Resources Centre on a number of important Constitutional Court matters dealing with different aspects of law including the recognition of Muslim marriages, the rights of women in a polygamous Muslim marriage and an appeal against the awarding of costs against civil society organisations acting in the public interest. Zeenat has completed the Public and Development Management Housing Policy course funded by Urban Landmark and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Professor Stephan Terblance is professor of Criminal and Procedural Law at the UNISA Law School. He has authored many publications on sentencing, including the leading textbook authority on the subject, Guide to Sentencing in South Africa. He has also researched and written extensively on the use and effect of mandatory minimum sentencing.
Mandeep Tiwana is the Head of Policy and Research at the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS. Mandeep specialises in legislation that affects core civil society freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Issues pertaining to human rights and social justice have always been at the core of Mandeep’s life and work, having worked within these remits in India prior to joining CIVICUS. Mandeep has also worked with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international NGO based in New Delhi, on campaigns related to criminal justice sector reform. On joining CIVICUS in May 2008, Mandeep became engaged in advocacy that seeks to protect and expand the impact of civil society internationally. He has also worked extensively on the development of legal instruments and other intergovernmental initiatives concerning core civil society rights. He holds an LL.M in Law in Development from Warwick University in the U.K., and completed his LL.B and BA degrees at Panjab University, India.
Jacob van Garderen is the National Director of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and a member of the Johannesburg Bar. During his nearly 17 years at LHR, Jacob has also headed the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme and Strategic Litigation Unit. Before joining LHR, he worked at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.
Toerien van Wyk is the Coordinator of the South African History Archive (SAHA) – Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP). FOIP is dedicated to extending the boundaries of freedom of information in South Africa by creating awareness of the right to information, empowering people to use and understand the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA) and increasing compliance with PAIA. Toerien is an admitted attorney who holds an LLB degree from the University of South Africa and has experience in many facets of human rights law. She is currently pursuing an LLM in Human Rights Law through the University of Johannesburg.
Professor Lee Wallis, Head of Emergency Medicine, Western Cape and involved in drafting national regulations on emergency medical services (EMS) which deal with health system needs and the functioning of the emergency medical services system in the Western Cape.
Dr Brian Watermeyer is a Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University. He is a registered clinical psychologist, with extensive experience as a university academic and researcher, clinical trainer and supervisor, corporate and governmental consultant, psychotherapist and in-service trainer. Dr Watermeyer’s field of research and training expertise is that of disability inequality and transformation. He has a severe visual impairment.
Advocate Catherine Welsch was a member of the Johannesburg Bar Council until 2014. She believes that all practitioners should do pro bono work to assist those in society who cannot afford legal advice. She is currently working as an independent Family and Criminal Advocate and has assisted with a number of matters at ProBono.Org Family Law Clinic. She is dedicated to providing counsel for disadvantaged women and children and in her capacity as an advocate she has “watched” a number of rape cases and has become familiar with the role that can be played by legal observers. Her most notable case, related to the murder of Brenda Hedges by the estranged husband of the deceased’s daughter. In this instance, Catherine worked tirelessly on the watching brief for over a year to ensure that the accused was arrested, prevented from being released on bail and the matter brought to trial. The accused was handed down a life sentence on 17 April 2015. Catherine received a Bachelor of Laws from UNISA.
Wilmien Wicomb is an attorney in the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC). Her practice specialises in issues of customary law and community governance systems, as well as related access to natural resources issues. She has also litigated on traditional leadership disputes with the intention of asserting necessary democratic principles of customary law. She also works closely with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and, in particular, it’s Working Group on Extractive Industries. Prior to studying law, Wilmien completed a Master’s degree in Philosophy, specialising in post-structural theory and complexity. She has published papers on the theory of complexity, difference and equality and customary law as systems theory.
Nomzamo Zondo is a practising attorney and the Director of Litigation at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI). Her work focuses on the right to housing and adequate shelter, the rights of informal traders in the Johannesburg inner-city and the rights of protesters. Ms Zondo is the attorney-of-record in the Dladla matter, in which residents of alternative accommodation provided by the City are challenging the lawfulness of the rules in the accommodation. She holds a LLB degree from the University of the Witwatersrand.