On Wednesday, 13 April 2016, the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria honoured its top performers for their academic tenacity during the 2015 academic year.
In his welcoming speech, Dean André Boraine pointed out to the audience of donors, staff and students that ‘[T]he Faculty of Law annually hosts the Recognition of Achievement Function [link to programme] to pay tribute to our students who have shown exceptional academic achievement in the preceding year. Thus this event remains one of the highlights on our calendar, celebrating excellence in academia – which is the core function of the University of Pretoria and the Faculty of Law – and acknowledging the achievement of our students – from a total of 1 500 LLB, 450 LLM/MPhil and 150 LLD/DPhil students only a 130 students are receiving awards tonight’.
After congratulating the students and thanking the donors and staff for their continuous input and efforts, contributing to the Faculty’s outstanding reputation and ranking, in particular on the African continent, Dean Boraine introduced Advocate Thuli Madonsela, the South African Public Protector, as the keynote speaker of this event. [Link to speech delivered on 13 April 2016].
At the start of her address, with an analogy to George Orwell's Animal Farm, Advocate Madonsela said that ‘[I]t is always rewarding to witness the talent we have among our young people. Later on she pointed out that “[c]ertain values in the Constitution have been designated as foundational to our democracy. This in turn means that as pillar stones of this democracy‚ they must be observed scrupulously. If these values are not observed and their precepts not carried out conscientiously‚ we have a recipe for a constitutional crisis of great magnitude. In a State predicated on a desire to maintain the rule of law‚ it is imperative that one and all should be driven by a moral obligation to ensure the continued survival of our democracy.
Advocate Mandonsela also motivated the achievers by saying that ‘[W]e count on you as young people, as lawyers and as members of our society, to play your part as earnestly as possible in preserving the legacy; you are taking us to the society envisaged by the Constitution. As the Public Protector SA Team we pledge to work with you and other patriots, including those in government, in partnership for good governance to deliver the constitutional dream of a democratic society where every citizen’s potential is freed and quality of life is improved. We can do so by playing our part as private citizens to advance the Constitutional Dream, including social justice and the rule of law while ensuring that state actors exercise control over state power and public resources in a manner that is accountable, has integrity and is responsive the rights and needs of all. You are indeed the one’s we have been waiting for. The future of our country, continent and world is in your hands.'
Deputy Dean Anton Kok concluded the formalities by thanking all those involved in the event, and in particular lauded the achievers with these words: 'To our best and brightest students being honoured tonight - our future lawyers and leaders, politicians and poets and public protectors and upholders of the role of law - thank you for your commitment to hard work, to excellence, to your work ethic, to taking pride in seeing through challenges. Well done! To the students who completed their LLB studies last year and who are graduating tomorrow, well done!'
The Recognition of Achievement Function is annually held on the eve of the Faculty’s Autumn Graduation.