New HOD of Public Law at UP continues to blaze the trail for black women in legal academia

Posted on August 03, 2021

As of 1 August 2021, Prof Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango has become the first black woman professor and head of department in the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. Appointed last year in the Department of Jurisprudence, Prof Dyani-Mhango has now joined the Department of Public Law as Professor and HOD.

Prof Dyani-Mhango has a strong background in the field, having conducted research, taught and supervised in the areas of public international law, international criminal law and constitutional law for over 16 years – including during her time at the School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand. In addition to an extensive body of publications Prof Dyani-Mhango career highlights feature a clerkship at the Constitutional Court, admission as an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa, an NRF-rating (C3) as an established researcher and membership of the Governance Committee of the Law and Society Association.

Reflecting about Public Law as a discipline, Prof Dyani-Mhango touched on how South Africa in recent years has been faced with politically charged and controversial issues that have a bearing on Public Law, such as the implication of a sitting president in corruption, failure of the government to abide by its international obligations and many other issues. “What is the role of Public Law? Student protests, #FeesMustFall #RhodesMustFall and the calls for the decolonization of the curriculum have also challenged the way and what we teach our students especially in courses such as Constitutional Law. These are just some of the issues that need to be explored in the courses that fall within the Department of Public Law.” She said.

Her vision for the Department of Public Law is guided by the vision of the University and the Faculty of Law and her approach will be to lead in a transparent, open, and efficient manner guided by the values, policies and processes of the Faculty and the University. “My vision is not to reinvent the wheel but to make sure that the Department continues to play an important role within the Faculty by pursuing internationally and nationally recognised excellence in teaching and research.” Said Prof Dyani-Mhango

Prof Dyani-Mhango said that her Department is fortunate to house courses such as Constitutional Law and International Law, which raise important issues that affect the country and boost the Department’s standing in the continent and globally. “It is therefore critical for the Department of Public Law to play a leading role in creating space for intellectual conversations on these issues.” She said

She has committed to use her first term as HOD to enhance what is already working for the Department, to work towards filling any gaps, and most importantly engage collaboratively with the colleagues in the Department to bring new ideas that will take the Department to even greater heights.


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