The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) School of Law, in partnership with the Luthuli Museum, recently hosted a Mini-Moot Court Competition for Grade 11 high school learners.

The competition was aimed at creating greater awareness about the justice system and encouraging learners to pursue a career in Law.

Twelve high school learners presented legal arguments to a panel of judges: acting High Court Judge, Professor Karthy Govender; Director of the African Ombudsman Research Centre, Advocate Arlene Brock; and UKZN School of Law lecturer, Dr Freddy Mnyongani.

In preparation for the competition, a team of Street Law Programme students ran workshops with the learners, on the Constitution, human rights, and preparation of legal arguments. Academics from the School of Law also lent support.

Learners were trained to argue a hypothetical case in which a disgruntled learner (the applicant) takes on a school governing body, challenging the constitutionality of the school’s code of conduct. Some learners were tasked to stand as representatives for the applicant, arguing that the code of conduct was unconstitutional and violated the learner’s right to equality as well as education while others represented the school.

The overall winner was Ms Ayanda Dlamini from Stanger High School. She thanked the School of Law for helping her gain new knowledge and opening her mind to the prospect of a career in Law. ‘The experience was overwhelming and amazing, I never thought I could stand in front of people and deliver an argument like I did in this competition. I learnt so much and developed skills I never knew I had,’ she said.

Dlamini was awarded a R20 000 bursary by the Dean of the Law School, Professor Managay Reddi, to undertake LLB degree studies at UKZN. She will also go on to deliver an address at the Annual Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Lecture to be held at UKZN in November 2018.

Stanger High School educator, Ms Preetha Pillay, expressed her gratitude to both the Luthuli Museum and UKZN. ‘Thanks to this initiative our learners have developed tremendous essay writing and oral presentation skills,’ she said.

The prize for the best overall team went to Ms Sthokozile Khumalo and Ms Snethemba Mbokazi from Mathubesizwe High School.

All participating learners have submitted legal essay entries to the Department of Basic Education to be considered for selection to the KwaZulu-Natal provincial team that will go on to compete in a national schools moot competition.

Dr Albertina Luthuli, daughter of the late Chief Albert Luthuli, was a special guest of honour seated in the gallery. Chief Luthuli fought selflessly for human dignity, political freedom and social justice. He was also a professional educator who advocated for education to be made available to all Africans. UKZN embraces the legacy of Luthuli and is proud to be involved in all initiatives that promote and keep alive the values and principles he espoused.

Words: Sejal Desai

Photograph: Supplied