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CALS Quarterly Issue 16

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Read the latest issue of our quarterly newsletter for our most recent highlights and reflections

Just this month, we said a fond farewell to our friend and colleague, Judge Ramarumo Monama. Long before he was a judge of the High Court, Ramarumo Monama was one of the five founding staff members of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies – along with Prof John Dugard, Halton Cheadle, Louise Silver and Connie Raubenheimer. Back then, the main purpose of the Centre was to promote research into areas of law affecting the Black community under apartheid and to use the law to further access to justice and promote human rights. 

While the Centre was first established as a research unit within Wits University, CALS staff soon began to take on a number of other activities – providing legal advice, litigating, lecturing, training judicial officers and engaging with the media. One of the projects Judge Monama led during his time at CALS focused on the commissioners courts, also known as the “pass courts”. His work examined the procedural irregularities of the courts and tested the feasibility of providing free legal assistance to those charged under the restrictive “pass laws”. That research captured the attention of the media and resulted in a legal aid scheme which transformed the nature of proceedings at the pass courts. 

Though much has changed since that time, with the advent of democracy and a constitutional dispensation, CALS remains committed to advancing human rights and social justice through the same methods available to our predecessors: research, teaching, advocacy and strategic litigation. The last few months have seen our staff litigating everywhere from the High Court to the Constitutional Court and even to courts in foreign jurisdictions; producing impactful community-led research; helping to launch new civil society coalitions to strengthen the social justice sector; and constantly engaging in advocacy work. Read on for more about these and other recent highlights. 

Our team has grown over the years to thirty full-time staff members who are ably assisted by groups of interns. This year, we welcomed two new candidate legal practitioners and Bertha Justice Fellows, Nokuthula Ndlovu and Thuto Gabaphethe. We have also been joined by former Human Rights Commissioner, Mohamed Shafie Ameermia, who is providing our Home, Land and Rural Democracy programme with strategic guidance. We are pleased to have a number of interns working with us at the moment, including: long-term finance intern Thabisile Mdletshe, legal intern Jessie Ditshego, and two of the winners of last year’s Public Interest Law Moot Court Competition, Winnie George and Thabo Gabriel Mathule. 

As we say farewell to Judge Monama, we remember his bravery in the face of an unjust system and we hope to honour his legacy in all that we do. Click the image below to read more about our recent highlights.