Three Witsies have been awarded National Orders by President Jacob Zuma for their contribution to humanity at a prestigious awards ceremony held on Freedom Day, 27 April 2012.
Prof. Barry Schoub, an internationally renowned virologist from the Wits School of Pathology received the Order of Mapungubwe: Silver; Prof. John Dugard, a former head of the Wits School of Law was honoured with the Order of the Baobab for his immense contribution to human rights law; and Dr Jonathan "Johnny" Clegg, the legendary maskandi music icon and activist, was recognised with the Order of Ikhamanga.
Prof. Schoub got the silver honour for his excellent achievements in medical science and contribution to the field of virology. The Johannesburg-born academic has had an illustrious career and his expertise is reflected in the national and international health bodies that he has served.
At Wits, Schoub was appointed as the first Professor and Head of the Department of Virology in 1978 at the age of 33 and in 1982 became the Director of the National Institute for Virology. In January 2002 Schoub was appointed as the Executive Director of the new National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) which is widely recognised as a major global player in infectious disease intelligence. He is currently the Interim Director of the newly established Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the NICD.
Schoub has served as an advisor for several World Health Organisation-programmes including polio, measles, respiratory syncytial virus and influenza. Schoub was the founding chairman and present chairman of the National Advisory Group on Immunization of South Africa and he serves on several National Advisory Committees. He is widely celebrated as the founding President of the African Virology Association.
Dugard’s contribution is inestimatable. He is the former Dean of the Faculty of Law and founder of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) known for its defence of human rights in South Africa. Dugard is internationally known for his work in international law and as one of South Africa's most tireless campaigners for the legal recognition of human rights in the last decades of apartheid. During his tenure, CALS was primarily engaged in public education and litigation in the fields of human rights, labour law and laws affecting the black community. It is largely due to his directorship that CALS has become a long-lasting and influential organisation for social change.
His expertise and human rights record were recognised politically with his participation in the constitutional talks that brought about a democratic South Africa. He was involved in negotiations of the interim Constitution of 1993 as a member of the Technical Committee for Investigating the Repeal or Amendment of Legislation Impeding Free Political Activity and Discriminatory Legislation. He went on to advise the Constitutional Assembly on the drafting of the Bill of Rights and participated in the negotiations relating to the final Constitution of 1996.
Dugard has acquired a first-rate international reputation in the field of international law. Since 1997 he has been a member of the UN International Law Commission, the body responsible for the codification and progressive development of international law. He was re-elected as a member in 2001 for a second five-year term, receiving the highest number of votes for an African candidate. In 2002 he sat as an ad hoc Judge in the International Court of Justice in a dispute between the DRC and Rwanda and has recently been appointed as an ad hoc Judge in a boundary dispute between Malaysia and Singapore.
Multi-talented Clegg is the founder of South Africa's first inter-racial music duo, Juluka, formed in the 1970s. The Wits graduate and former anthropology lecturer, was honoured for his excellent contribution in bridging African traditional music with other music forms, promoting racial understanding among racially divided groups in South Africa under difficult apartheid conditions, working for a non-racial society and being an outstanding spokesperson for the release of political prisoners. The University conferred an honorary doctorate upon Clegg in 2007 for his dedication to the multiculturalism and social integration of South Africa.
Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Loyiso Nongxa extended his heartfelt congratulations to the luminaries adding that: “The achievements of our academics and alumni bring pride to the University. It is through their achievements that we demonstrate the value of Universities to society and what can be achieved when intellectual capital is harnessed for the greater good of mankind.”
Ten Witsies have in the past received these prominent awards in various categories ranging from the arts to law.