UP Law students win 29th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

Posted on December 18, 2020

The University of Pretoria (UP) Moot Society team, in the Faculty of Law, along with their co-team members from Makerere University (Uganda), were recently announced as the overall winners of the 29th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition (AHRMCC). 

“I am pleased to announce that after eight long months of hard work and sleepless nights, the UP Law team was announced as the winners of the 29th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition after having won the final round on 5 December 2020,” said an elated coach Phenyo Sekati, a third-year BCom Law student at UP.

“Additionally, the team also ranked second for the Best Written Memorial category, and ranked first in the preliminary rounds of the AHRMCC,” she said.

Oralist Dinendri Pillay, a second-year LLB student at UP, said participating in the competition had been a significant milestone in her legal journey.

“It has been a remarkable experience to observe my teammates and I grow under the insightful guidance of our coaches. I am ever grateful to be part of the prestigious UP mooting community who made sure that our skills were refined to the highest standard of excellence,” she said.

Pillay said the competition had reignited her passion for advocating for human rights in Africa, particularly in areas such as freedom of expression on the internet regarding sex work and pornography.

“Interacting with our Ugandan teammates for the final was particularly enjoyable as we learnt from their unique mooting culture. I am extremely thankful for friendships forged and knowledge gained and I am honoured to have spoken before the esteemed judges in the finals.”


Front: Team coach Phenyo Sekati; Second row: Team oralists Thuwaybah Moses and Dinendri Pillay; Back row: Assistant coach Kiranteba Coetzee and team researcher Antonie Ackerman.

Oralist Thuwaybah Moses, who is a second-year BCom Law student at UP, shared similar sentiments, further stating that the AHRMCC had been a tough, yet rewarding experience.

“Hearing that my team and I placed first is one of the highlights of my life. However, there is no one reason for why this eight-month journey was so fulfilling. Rather, it is a culmination of countless things such as my hardworking, lovable, and quirky team. The cheeky banter at the start and end of every training session never failed to get me chuckling. COVID-19, online learning and the mountain of work that needed to be done in preparation for the competition certainly made this experience incredibly challenging. However, I never doubted that I could lean on the support and encouragement that I had received, not just from my team, but the Moot Society as whole. I am extremely grateful for all I have learnt, all I have achieved and all the amazing people I have met. I will always look back on this time fondly.”

Quoting Steve Jobs, team researcher and third-year LLB student Antonie Ackerman noted: “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

Ackerman said it was important to approach a moot competition with passion and dedication as candidates are required to make sacrifices, socially and academically, throughout the competition.

“If nothing else, this competition has given me a great deal of confidence and it has shown me that great speakers are cultivated through hard work and that they are not just gifted with talent alone. I have also come across some amazing individuals that formed our team, and who I am now proud to call my friends. It is an experience that I will always cherish and that I would recommend interested candidates to partake in,” said Ackerman.

Assistant coach Kiranteba Coetzee, who is a third-year LLB student, said while they had spent may sleepless nights on their journey to mooting gold, he had found that making friends along the way had been a far more significant experience than reaching the destination.

“To laughs, criticism, tears, growth and admiration, I salute you, my comrades in moot,” he said.

Coach Sekati thanked the UP Moot Society and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Law for its support and assistance in securing venues for the moot proceedings. 

Sekati also thanked  assistant coach Coetzee and researcher Ackerman, “for their exceptional work, support and continued dedication towards the team's success”. 

“Finally, to the winners, Thuwaybah Moses and Dinendri Pillay, your hard work, passion and resilience has finally paid off and it has truly been an honour to coach such brilliant and talented young women. Your futures are undoubtedly bright, and I have no doubt that you are well on your way to making significant changes to the world of human rights and public interest law,” she said.

Sekati said the team was also honoured to be the winning team of the first virtual rounds hosted by the Centre for Human Rights.

“Moreover, we are grateful for the opportunity that the competition has given us to not only expand our knowledge on human rights laws and violations in Africa, but to also collaborate with universities across Africa amidst a global pandemic,” she added.

- Author UP Law

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