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14 October 2020 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe | Photo Flickr Creative Commons
Former Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke

With a legal career spanning several decades, former Deputy Justice Dikgang Moseneke painted a picture of the country's legal and political landscape pre- and post-1994 during a webinar session hosted by the Faculty of Law on 7 October 2020. The webinar discussed his new book, All Rise: A Judicial Memoir. The event attracted staff, students, and members of the public who were keen to hear Moseneke – a member of the team that drafted the country’s interim constitution. 

This is his second book, covering his years on the bench, with particular focus on his 15-year term as a judge in South Africa's Constitutional Court, where he rose to the position of Deputy Chief Justice.

Justice Moseneke said his book talks about the political and legal revolution that took place in 1994 when the country moved from a common law jurisdiction to a constitutional jurisdiction. 

"When the constitution came, it made many remarkable changes, and the first of those was to superimpose the constitution on the law that existed at the time. By making the constitution supreme, the message was clear that everything else would have to fall in line with the values of the constitution, and those values were global values around freedom, democracy, equal worth of people," he said. 

He said his multi-layered book is an account of the country's political and legal transition for young people in South Africa and the rest of the continent. 

An ethical framework for the judicial function

"The first of these is just a historical account. What happened, particularly from 1994 to now. The second thing was to say what kind of transition was necessary from the common law jurisdiction to a constitutional jurisdiction, and what was the tensions that emerged, the competing claims for legitimacy; I make it quite clear that the constitution is the most important source of law that we have set in place since 1994. The third layer is telling tales of how the high courts are working, how magistrates’ courts work, how judges are appointed, how they end their service, what they are permitted to do and not to do, and therefore the ethical framework for the judicial function both at magistracy level and at the level of the high courts."

Justice Moseneke donated copies of the book to the faculty as prizes for academic excellence to senior LLB and LLM students. 

" I hope that having read and studied the themes, many people will accept that it is time for all of our excellent people to rise, to find their voice, to find their entitlement, for instance, to demand accountability, openness, good governance, democratic practice, hard work, honesty, and all those wonderful values which go together with our liberation struggle," he said. 

Listen to the webinar podcast here

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