The Free State Centre for Human Rights is proud to announce the appointment of its new Director, Prof JFD (Danie) Brand. Prof Brand took office on 3 April 2018.

Prior to his appointment at the UFS, Prof Brand worked for 24 years as an academic at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria. His field is constitutional and administrative law and constitutional theory. His research and publications have focussed in particular on the relationship between law and poverty and the manner in which law regulates and so both enables and limits access to basic livelihood resources such as housing, food, water, land, medical care and education. This interest has extended also into legal practice, where he runs a public interest practice as advocate, focussing on housing and land issues. He is married to Prof Karin van Marle, with whom he has a daughter Hannah, aged 11. Prof van Marle, currently professor of law and previously Head of Department in the Department of Jurisprudence at the University of Pretoria, has also accepted an appointment at the UFS and will join the UFS Faculty of Law on 1 January 2018 as a Professor in the Department of Public Law.

Prof Brand joins the Free State Centre for Human Rights a little over a year after its inception. His vision for the Centre is to establish it as a critical, interdisciplinary and contextually engaged research institution, focussing on the relationship between human rights and transformation.

This will entail in the first place, with the assistance of the coordinator of the Centre’s Research and Post-graduate Division, Prof Loot Pretorius, extending the Centre’s research and post-graduate supervision capacity, through the appointment of additional academic staff, extraordinary professors and research fellows, and post-doctoral fellows.

More importantly, this will in the second place entail making of the Centre a particular kind of research space and community. Given the genesis of the Centre in the Reitz-residence incident at the UFS (the settlement agreement in that matter required the establishment of the Centre), its broad focus will not be on human rights in the abstract, but on the relationship between human rights and its actual mandate, transformation. Within this broad focus, the Centre wishes to develop a number of more specific research focal points: at this stage work is already ongoing on the right to development in Africa; land, law(s) and poverty; and human rights, politics and the idea of the university.

This relationship between human rights and transformation will be 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 would have to be – as it currently already is – interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on a range of different disciplines and combining insights and wisdom from a variety of disciplines. Prof Brand invites participation in the Centre’s research and other activities from 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 vision is to establish the Centre as an academic research institution, its work will be contextually engaged. The current Advocacy Division of the Centre, headed by Dr Annelie de Man, will expand its transformation-related work on the UFS campus and elsewhere and care will be taken for this work both to be informed by and to inform the Centre’s research. Prof Brand also plans to establish a public interest strategic litigation unit at the Centre, partly in cooperation with the UFS Law Clinic. The litigation driven through such a unit will enable the Centre to apply its research in the resolution of disputes and problems experienced by the community in which it finds itself, but will at the same time feed into and inform the Centre’s research.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Centre’s work will remain aware of its context: research, advocacy and litigation will all focus on issues on the UFS campus, Bloemfontein, and the Free State Province and Lesotho.

 Photo - Director

Prof JD Brand

T: +27 51 401 9832


T: + 27 51 401 2451
F: + 27 51 401 3043


Equitas Building
UFS Bloemfontein Campus

Law photo for next to contact block