24 August 2021 | Story Lunga Luthuli | Photo Supplied by the Faculty of Law
Christopher Rawson; Yola Makalima (attorneys of the UFS Law Clinic); Prof Danie Brand (Director: FS Centre for Human Rights); Thobeka Dube; Paul Antohnie (Director: UFS Law Clinic); and Lesenyego Makone.

Since January 2021, the University of the Free State Faculty of Law and the Law Clinic have appointed 13 black female candidate attorneys, which attests to the institution’s commitment to transformation and the development of women.

Paul Antohnie, Lecturer and Head of the Law Clinic at the University of the Free State, says with the candidate attorneys assuming duty on 1 August 2021 for their two-year contract, the Law Clinic aims to ensure that they are “trained to become exceptional legal professionals who will fight for justice without fear or favour, especially on behalf of the lower income groups in the Free State”.

The appointment of the 13 women coincided with the celebration of Women’s Month in August, which is commemorated every year by paying tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956, calling on the then government to abolish the pass laws. 

Antohnie says: “Having all the women start on 1 August was not planned; however, it is apt, as it confirms the excellence of the candidates we have appointed. They were chosen from a group of more than 250 applicants, and the competition was tough and gruelling.” 

The candidate attorneys are a diverse group, with four from Kovsies, two from the University of Limpopo, two from North-West University, and the University of Venda, the University of South Africa, and the University of Fort Hare each represented by one individual.

With the group, Antohnie believes: “As an institution, our response is that the calibre of graduates is as good as those from other institutions, and without favouring anyone, we would state that where candidates are the best for the position, consider employing them.”

He says: “Several of the women are already busy with their postgraduate qualifications. Their interests include human rights and access to justice, labour law, family law, and criminal law.”

Anita Pangwa, one of the candidate attorneys, believes the appointment is an affirmation for her as a young professional who is black and female. She says, “It shows that the institution is quite progressive when it comes to empowering people like me.”

Anita says: “The Law Clinic is an example of a legal instrument for justice, which supports and defends democracy in South Africa and guarantees justice against improper prejudice to the public by being exposed to the different departments – Litigation, the Centre for Human Rights, Employee Relations, and the Law Clinic.”

Her goal for the next two years is to learn as much as she can. “The institution has provided us with an amazing opportunity by encouraging us to continue postgraduate studies – master’s degrees. I hope by the end of the two-year journey I will be an admitted attorney of the High Court, have obtained my master’s degree, and also published an article in a legal journal,” she says.

With the appointment, Antohnie pays tribute to the cooperation that the University of the Free State has with the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), which funds internships for candidate attorneys over two years.

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