By Samukelisiwe Cele
Judges were impressed by the participants' excellent advocacy skills in the Luthuli Museum and University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Schools Moot Court Competition.
Hosted by UKZN’s School of Law in partnership with the Luthuli Museum, the annual competition offered Grade 11 pupils an opportunity to argue a constitutional matter in the KwaDukuza Magistrates Court.
This community outreach initiative aims to create greater awareness among schools and communities about the justice system, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It will also prepare learners from Groutville and Stanger to participate in the Department of Basic Education’s Schools’ Moot competition, and aims to encourage gifted young learners to consider pursuing a career in law.
The finalists were Grade 11 Fairbreeze Secondary School students, Thusi Poullinate and Lusanda Ngisu. Poullinate represented the respondent and won the competition, while Ngisu represented the appellant. They argued a hypothetical case in which a 17-year-old pregnant learner challenged school policy on violation of her rights before judge Rakesh Maharaj (Attorney at Rakesh Maharaj & Co), Control Prosecutor, Masithembe Fanaphi and Magistrate of the Court, Rose Sepang.
“They performed better than some prosecutors. They are still in Grade 11, but they were brave enough to challenge us,” said Sepang.
Maharaj commented: “Both finalists spoke exceptionally well and impressed us with their knowledge.”
“They made clear points and we were able to engage with them,” said Fanaphi. “This kind of setting can be intimidating but they were well prepared.”
Academic in the School of Law, Dr Janine Hicks congratulated the participants and acknowledged Street Law students, who had dedicated 25 hours to conduct training sessions on legal content and court procedures in preparing a team of eight learners to participate in this year’s programme.
“UKZN has a proud relationship and partnership with the Luthuli Museum to honour the legacy of Inkosi Albert Luthuli. This programme enables our final-year Street Law students to connect with a passion for social justice issues and provides them with a life-changing opportunity. The Dean of the School of Law has provided a bursary of R20 000 for the winning student, should she opt to study law at UKZN.”
One of the final-year LLB students who co-ordinated training, Shria Naidu said, “The programme has been an enriching learning experience for us too. We hope that we have inspired a lasting passion for legal studies in them”.
Luthuli Museum public relations officer, Zinhle Nyembe said the annual collaboration with the School of Law works well. She added that the university’s Law Clinic continues to play an important role in providing the youth with legal education and motivating them to pursue a legal career.
“Our Moot Court competition started in 2014 in partnership with UKZN, but for the past three years we were only able to work with one school because of Covid-19. Next year we aim to train more schools for this competition,” she said.