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The final rounds of the PIL Moot Court Competition

- Lee-Anne Bruce

On 15 and 16 April, CALS hosted the final rounds of this year's Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition in partnership with the Student Litigation Society

CALS has been extremely proud to work with the Student Litigation Society on the first annual Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition since September last year. After two rounds of written submissions on our hypothetical constitutional case, the final four teams were selected and given the opportunity to receive coaching from practising human rights lawyers and masterclasses from advocates who have argued before the Constitutional Court. We thank all the mentors who participated and especially Lerato Phasha, Emma Webber and Salim Nakhjavani for generously giving their time. Last week, the four remaining teams travelled to Johannesburg and came together for the semi-finals at the Women's Jail at Constitution Hill. 

The semi-final split saw Zakhele Nkosi, Sanelisekile Sundu and Boitumelo Ramatsetse (representing Mandela University) arguing for the applicants up against Samantha Smit, Winnie George and Thabo Gabriel Mathule (representing the University of Johannesburg) arguing for the respondents in court room one – presided over by our guest judge Stuart Wilson. Over in court room two, Christopher Tobaiwa, Tswelopele Ramokoka and Cwenga Chris Gogodla (representing Rhodes University) squared off with Tendai Mikioni, Benevolio Mgcini Tshuma and Zilungile Mbali (representing the University of Fort Hare) both arguing for the respondents – presided over my our guest judge Umunyana Rugege. You can check out some of the action from court room one at the link below. 

After the scores had been tallied for the day, it was time to announce the two teams heading into the finals. Catch the announcement and an address by guest judge and executive director of our sister organisation SECTION27, Umunyana Rugege, below. 

We were beyond excited to be able to host the finals of the Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition the following day on 16 April at the Constitutional Court itself. Finals day saw the team from Rhodes University arguing for the applicants going up against the team from the University of Johannesburg. The finals were overseen by our esteemed guest judges: Judge of the High Court Thina Siwendu, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, advocate Gina Snyman and director of the Centre for Child Law Karabo Ozah. We were fortunate to open with an address from Tembeka Ngcukaitobi on the past, present and future of public interest litigation. Listen to the welcome and finals session below. 

After the fierce competition was over, it was time to annouce the winners of the first annual Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition. The awards and closing can be found here. Awards were handed out as follows: 

  • In first place was the team from the University of Johannesburg: Samantha Smit, Winnie George and Thabo Gabriel Mathule. Winnie George and Samantha Smit also took home prizes for best orator and runner up best orator respectively. 
  • In second place overall was the team from Rhodes University: Christopher Tobaiwa, Tswelopele Ramokoka and Cwenga Chris Gogodla. The team also took home the prize for best heads of argument. 
  • In third place was the team from Mandela University: Zakhele Nkosi, Sanelisekile Sundu and Boitumelo Ramatsetse. 
  • In fourth place was the team from the University of Fort Hare: Tendai Mikioni, Benevolio Mgcini Tshuma and Zilungile Mbali. 

We are extremely proud of everyone who participated in this first PIL Moot and send our deepest gratitude goes to everyone who made this possible, from organisers like Busisiwe Kamolane at CALS and the team from the Student Litigation Society; to our hosts at Constitution Hill; our funding partners at the Bertha Foundation; and the many markers, mentors and judges from our partner organisations. We could not have done this without you. Finally, we would have had no competition at all without the participation of the many students who put themselves forward from the very first round. Thank you and please do come back again next year!