The School of Law celebrated the huge achievement of 17 of their LLB candidates graduating cum laude.

The distinguished graduates are Mr Waris Asmal, Mr Dale Adams, Ms Primarashani Chetty, Mr Aston Gevers, Ms Denisha Govender, Ms Moshina Ismail, Ms Ayesha Bibi Khan, Mr Shivaal Maharaj, Ms Cassidy Manthey, Ms Zamanguni Mazubane, Ms Celeste Moodley; Mr Darshan Moodley, Ms Kiyura Naidoo, Mr Siphesihle Nene, Ms Tahlia Pillay, Ms Arlina Ramothar and Ms Sybil Ramsamy.

Asmal says she was inspired to read for a Law degree after seeing how lawyers have an ability to bring about change in society, fight for socio-economic rights and ensure that the powerful in society are held to account through the rule of law.

‘Every day of my LLB degree was an opportunity to better understand the law and become more knowledgeable,’ said Asmal. ‘I plan on becoming an attorney and being happy. I want to consider a wide variety of career options with happiness being my goal. My passion is the law and my degree allows me to pursue my passion in a career.’

Law runs in the family for Gevers as his big brother, Christopher, is an International Law lecturer at UKZN’s School of Law. Gevers said the experience of participating in the Ellie Newman Moot Court final motivated him to follow Law.

‘I am currently working as an assistant at Chambers in Durban, while doing a Master’s in Environmental Law. I aim to run an advocacy practice in the future; hopefully specialising in environmental litigation,’ said Gevers.

From law not being her first option or even her second to graduating cum laude, Govender has come a long way.

‘Having pursued two other degree options – Chemical Engineering and Psychology – I researched and considered all my options. Law came up as a viable alternative and I decided to give it a shot. I’ve never looked back. The discipline of Law is diverse – similar to the country we live in – this means that no two days are the same. There will always be different clients, different areas of Law to be explored and different lessons to be learned,’ she said.

As a new candidate attorney at Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, Ismail is looking forward to using her LLB to broaden her horizons.

‘I have many fond memories of University but the one that stands out occurred during January 2017 when I was invited to attend the law firm, Bowmans, Selection Day. It was a tough two-day process but finally, my hard work and resilience was recognised and I was signed to one of the best law firms in South Africa. I was grateful then and I am more appreciative now that I am in an environment that recognises excellence and invests in students at such an early stage,’ said Ismail.

Also as a new candidate attorney at Bowman Gilfillan, Maharaj who achieved merit certificates in four of his legal modules, plans to specialise in labour law.

‘People I care about have not been able to reach their full potential because of unjust practices. This really ignited a passion in me to develop a holistic legal education as well as experience so that I can one day give back to the society that helped shape me. The Law School is full of dedicated and captivating lecturers that ignited a true passion within me for law and social justice which made studying Law a challenging but very rewarding,’ he said.

Being awarded the Barend van Niekerk Prize for the Best Jurisprudence student and the James Scott Wylie Trust Bursary for being a top performing third-year student at the 2018 School of Law Student Awards are some of Mazubane’s achievements; with graduating cum laude being the cherry on top.

‘I honestly gained so many experiences and opportunities through this degree. I am the first person in my family to graduate with an LLB and to complete a degree cum laude. I am currently pursuing a full thesis LLM degree and also clerking for Judge Malcolm Wallis. Furthermore, I am a graduate teaching assistant at the School of Law and a Moot Court Judge.

‘In 2020, I am signed to serve my articles of clerkship at one of the best law firms in the country and in Africa. I would have never have had these opportunities without obtaining my LLB degree. I believe that the sky is the limit in terms of what the future holds for me,’ said Mazubane.

Moodley says getting the opportunity to share what she has learned with others through tutoring has been the best part of her LLB degree journey.

‘The most life-changing experience during my LLB study was being a Constitutional Law tutor. Through this experience, I was able to challenge myself to another level personally and academically. It helped me fulfill my lifelong passion of serving others and I was able to contribute towards students’ self-development. My short-term plan is to obtain my master’s and then move on to articles at Webber Wentzel. Once I qualify as an attorney, I will be fervently working towards advocacy, particularly in International Criminal Law,’ she said.

For Darshan, who is currently a candidate attorney at Adams & Adams in Pretoria, graduating cum laude was a sign that he has a bright future.

‘I had an amazing experience studying at UKZN as I met many incredible people. My family is extremely proud of my achievements. I haven’t told them, but they were the driving force behind my successes and I am eternally grateful to them for that. My mother deserves a special mention for all the sacrifices she has made for me throughout my life.’

Naidoo said competing and advancing to the second round of the Ellie Newman Moot Competition, serving as a Constitutional Law Tutor, receiving seven out of eight Dean’s Commendations during his four years and now graduating cum laude are achievements that have made his academic journey memorable.

For Nene, an LLB degree has opened up a world of endless opportunities as his short-term plans include finishing his Practical Vocational Training, writing, as well as taking conveyancing exams to be admitted as a Legal Practitioner and conveyancer.

‘My long-term plans are to practice Law as a conveyancer and commercial law specialist and obviously to grow and develop my career but for now, I am still searching for articles,’ he said.

Pillay is a top achiever, something she has always been as she was the DUX student in her matric year, received Dean’s commendations for five out of eight semesters during her university studies as well as a merit pass twice in her final-year of study.

‘My experience at UKZN has exceeded all expectations. The educative exposure to the different areas of law that I received was incredible, and I could not have asked for better lecturers. I recently became a Candidate Attorney at Legal Aid South Africa and will be doing my articles of clerkship with them,’ she said.

For Ramothar her belief in always working hard to do well has not only resulted in her graduating cum laude but also successfully juggling working part-time and studying.

‘Whilst studying, I also worked part-time as a photographer, ground staff member and cashier. The constant factor throughout my studies and work has been the support I received from my family and best friend. I plan on being an attorney, specifically working in the corporate field. The qualification has already assisted me in achieving this goal as it established the basis for me to begin working as a Candidate Attorney at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc,’ said Ramothar.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo 

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan