Community Outreach

International Association of Women Judges’ Mentorship Project Launched at UKZN

UKZN Law students will benefit from a prestigious mentorship programme initiated by the South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges (SAC-IAWJ).

The programme aims to educate, nurture and empower Law students – with the priority being women – in South Africa.

The KwaZulu-Natal mentorship programme was initiated by the provincial co-ordinators of the SAC-IAWJ: KZN, and regional magistrates Ms Pearl Andrews and Ms Nomfundo Sipunzi.

Formed in 2004, the SAC-IAWJ membership comprises judges and magistrates who work to bring together female and male judicial officers, who embrace the objectives of the International Association of Women Judges.

The SAC-IAWJ is committed to the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights and equality before the law as enunciated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996.

Andrews said the aim of the mentorship programme was to foster a mutually beneficial professional relationship between experienced and knowledgeable members of the judiciary and legal professionals who guide those being mentored (LLB students) to assist them achieve personal career goals. It will also provide a contextual understanding by the involved students of the functioning of the South African courts and related aspects.

Said Andrews: ‘The mentorship programme is intended to afford mentees the rare opportunity to observe, implement and experience theoretical legal knowledge gained and applied in practice. The mentorship programme will also develop the legal writing and communication skills of mentees.’

The SAC-IAWJ mentorship programme was inaugurated in 2015 in various provinces, while the KwaZulu-Natal programme was launched at the UKZN School of Law in July this year.

The KZN programme benefits 41 Law students from UKZN at third- and fourth-year level as well 15 Law students from the University of Zululand.

Delivering the welcome address, the Acting Dean and Head of the UKZN School of Law, Mr Adrian Bellengère, commended the SAC-IAWJ for the programme aimed at shaping Law students into well-rounded legal practitioners of the future. Bellengère highlighted the importance of collaborations between the legal fraternity and institutions of higher learning.

The KZN launch event was attended by Madam Justice Connie Mocumie of the Supreme Court of Appeal and former President of the SAC-IAWJ, who presented on issues around integrity, righteousness, and giving back to communities.

Third-year UKZN Law student Ms Sarika Naidoo was delighted to haveAndrews as her mentor. Said Naidoo: ‘It is truly a blessing to have Ms Andrews, a regional magistrate, as my mentor. Through her, I now have access to a court room and I’m able to observe proceedings – this is truly a privilege.’

Naidoo says she’s determined to contribute to the development of the community at large and make a difference. ‘I firmly believe that every single thing that I learn throughout this programme will help develop and mould me into a competent individual capable of being a driving force of change in South Africa.’

Words: Hazel Langa and Sarika Naidoo

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal

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