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The Free State Centre for Human Rights is a criticalinterdisciplinary, and contextually engaged research, advocacy, and legal-practice institution, focusing in its work on the relationship between human rights and transformation.

Established in January 2016, the Centre’s genesis was the 2007 incident of racial discrimination at the Reitz student residence on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. Following this incident an agreement was reached between the UFS and the South African Human Rights Commission that a centre for human rights would be established, with the mandate to work toward the transformation of the UFS campus and campus community.

Given this background, the Centre’s broad focus is not on human rights in the abstract, but on the relationship between human rights and our actual mandate, transformation.

This relationship is approached from a critical perspective, that is, one that recognises its double-handed nature; the fact that human rights, in whatever context, relate both positively and negatively to transformation, can both enable and hinder transformation.

This inevitably means that the Centre’s work and its research community is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on a range of different disciplines and combining insights and wisdom from a variety of disciplines. The Centre participates in its research and other activities with the whole UFS community, be it through teaching in the Centre’s Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Human Rights; co-supervision of postgraduate students; participation in research projects; or simply involvement in the Centre’s research discussions and events.

Although the Centre is primarily an academic research institution, its work is contextually engaged. Apart from its Research and Postgraduate Division, coordinated by Dr Gerard Kamdem Kamga, the Centre consists of an Advocacy Division, coordinated by Dr Annelie de Man, and a Legal Services Division, coordinated by Dr Rita Ozoemena. The Advocacy Division engages in transformation-related human rights advocacy on the UFS campus, working primarily with students in the university’s student residences. The Legal Services Division operates as a Free State-focused public interest strategic litigation unit, partly in cooperation with the UFS Law Clinic.

All of the Centre’s work is geographically located: research, advocacy, and litigation focus on issues on the UFS campus and in Bloemfontein, the Free State Province, and Lesotho.

The Centre is headed by Prof Danie Brand ( 


Core staff

Extraordinary professors

Research fellows

Postdoctoral fellows

Advisory Board


Prof Danie Brand

Judge Dennis Davis

Prof Natalia Angel Cabo

Dr Bright Nkrumah

Prof John C Mubangizi (Chairperson) (Dean, Faculty of Law, University of the Free State, ex officio)


Ms Mawanda Mokoena

Prof Serges Alain Djoyou Kamga

Dr Georgia du Plessis

Dr Claire Westman

Judge Cagney Musi (Judge President, Free State High Court, ex officio)

Division coordinator (Advocacy)

Dr Annelie de Man

Prof Karl Klare

Prof Beatri Kruger

Dr George Fordam Wara

Prof Corli Witthuhn (Vice-Rector: Research, University of the Free State, ex officio)

Division coordinator (Postgraduate programmes and research)

Dr Gerard Kamdem Kamga

Prof Gracienne Laauwers

Dr Marelize Marais


Ms Nicole Morris (Acting Dean of Student Affairs, ex officio)

Division coordinator (Legal Services)

Dr Rita Ozoemena


Prof Mwiza Nkhata

Prof Chuks Okpaluba


Mr Thabang Kheswa (South African Human Rights Commission, ex officio)

Research assistant

Ms Natasha Kabaso

Prof Lucy Williams

Prof Dr Joachim Wolf


Mr JC van der Merwe (Deputy Director, Unit for Institutional Change and Social Justice, University of the Free State)

Student assistant

Ms Slindile Dlamini

Prof Loot Pretorius

Dr Loammi Wolf


Prof Frans Viljoen (Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)

Student assistant

Ms Caroline Letsoalo

Prof Toyin Falola

Dr Olivia Lwabukuna


Prof Helene Strauss (Professor, Department of English, University of the Free State)

Full-time doctoral student

Mr Lindani Mhlanga

Prof Sandra Liebenberg

Dr Marcel van der Watt


Prof Tshepo Madlingozi (Director, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwatersrand)

Full-time doctoral student

Ms Nosipho Goba

Judge Dhaya Pillay

Dr Carol Ngang


Ms Louise du Plessis (Head, Land and Housing Programme, Lawyers for Human Rights)

Full-time doctoral student

Ms Thabang Ramakhula




Adv Anna-Marie de Vos (SC)





Vacant (Judge, Supreme Court of Appeal,ex officio)


The Centre's Research Division engages the relationship between human rights and transformation, from a critical, inter-disciplinary and contextually engaged framework. Our research is organised around three more specific research focus areas namely, ‘Human Rights, Transformation and Poverty’, ‘Human Rights, Transformation and Democracy’ and ‘Human Rights, Transformation and Identities’. Our purpose is to deepen critical and interdisciplinary study of human rights and further critical human rights praxes by conducting research and generating publications, generating local, regional and international research initiatives and establishing and developing an interdisciplinary research community.

The Division is coordinated by Dr Gerard Kamdem Kamga (


The FSCHR offers a coursework, Interdisciplinary Masters Programme in Human Rights, designed to accommodate students and professionals from any academic background. The Centre also provides supervision for Masters by full dissertation and doctoral students through a LLD, dedicated to candidates with a law background and a PhD for candidates with backgrounds other than law.

The Division is coordinated by Dr Gerard Kamdem Kamga (


The Advocacy Division promotes transformation through human rights education and advocacy on the UFS campuses and more broadly in the Free State Province, Lesotho, and South Africa as whole. This achieved through three projects: a) ‘Student advocacy’, specifically via the Human Rights Ambassadors Programme; b) ‘On-campus human right monitoring’; and c) ‘Policy and legislative advocacy’.

The Division is coordinated by Dr Annelie De Man (

The Legal Services Division of the FSCHR is a human rights strategic litigation unit that litigates on behalf of clients on brief or as amicus curiae seeking the protection of human rights, social justice and transformation. The Division focuses on matters relating to evictions, socio-economic and service delivery issues, accountability in municipal and provincial governance and corruption that arise in the Free State Province. The Division operates in collaboration with the UFS Law Clinic and the South African Human Rights Commission, Free State Province.

The Division is coordinated by Dr Rita Ozoemena (


T: +27 51 401 7216
Further contact information
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T: +27 51 401 2451
F: + 27 51 401 3043


Equitas Building
UFS Bloemfontein Campus

Law photo for next to contact block

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