UP Law mourns the passing of former South African Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Danny Titus

Posted on September 20, 2020

UP Law mourns the passing of former South African Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Danny Titus

The Faculty of Law (UP Law) at the University of Pretoria (UP) mourns the passing of former South African Human Rights Commissioner (SAHRC), Dr Danny Titus (63), on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Titus obtained his BA LLB degrees at the University of the Western Cape in 1982 and was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1983.

Titus worked as a public prosecutor in the Department of Justice and left the country in 1987 to continue his studies at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He obtained the Doctorandus Iuris degree (Master's degree, LLM) as well as an LLD (Doctorate in Law) degree at Leiden University in 1993 and returned to South Africa in the same year. His doctorate is titled “The Influence of International Norms of Human Rights on the South African Legal System - With Specific Reference to the Judicial Power.”

In 1993 he also obtained the Certificate in International Relations and Diplomatic Relations from the Clingendael Institute for International Relations at The Hague, The Netherlands.

Titus, who served the SAHRC for seven years, later joined the Afrikaans Language and Cultural Association (ATKV) as an executive director of culture.  In this position, he managed language, cultural heritage and corporate involvement in arts, culture and heritage.

Before he joined the ATKV, Titus was promoted to Professor of Criminal Justice and Human Rights and worked as Deputy Dean at the Unisa College of Law. During this time, he was seconded to the position of Acting Head of the Justice Training College of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Pretoria.

In 2009, Titus was appointed by the State President as a part-time Commissioner to the SA Human Rights Commission for a period of seven years, which term concluded in September 2016.

Between 2012 and 2015, Titus served as an adviser to the United Nations' Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and worked closely with indigenous people in South Africa. According to the SAHRC, his achievements included leading and completing the investigation into the 2011 killing of Andries Tatane, an activist from Ficksburg in the Free State.  ‘This investigation led to the initiation of a fruitful relationship with the police and improved training of officers in managing and regulating gatherings to ensure more peaceful and non-violent protests.’

Titus also led national hearings on access to basic services, land, and the constitutionality of indigenous groups in South Africa, particularly the Khoisan communities (Khoi, San, Nama, Griqua, Koranna) and was appointed to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In 2020, for his contribution to the betterment of South Africa, Titus was honoured by his birth town, Worcester, as the recipient of the Freedom of the Town during the town’s bicentennial celebration.

As a great activist for the Afrikaans language, Titus will also be remembered as an academic, lawyer, historian, linguist and opinion maker, and leaves a legacy of greater understanding and inclusivity across colour boundaries.

UP Law is keeping his daughters and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.

‘Stil, daar gaan ‘n man verby.  Hy groet, en dit is verlaas.’

- Author Elzet Hurter
Published by Elzet Hurter

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