On 23 March, UP’s Law Faculty launched the Dikgang Moseneke Bursary at an event hosted by the Javett Art Centre. In attendance were three of the seven recipients of the bursary, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Tawana Kupe, Dean of the Faculty of Law Prof. Elsabe Schoeman, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law Prof. Charles Maimela, Department of Jurisprudence lecturer Dr Joel Modiri, and other members of the UP Law community.
The bursary was launched in honour of the former Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Dr Dikgang Moseneke, and is aimed at continuing the legacy of this jurist of note. The recipients of the bursary were mainly second-year law students with an excellent academic record who had a proven financial need. In light of this the recipients who have received this honour see more than just financial relief from this achievement; as one recipient, Kim Brink, notes, “Knowing his legacy and that I am a part of that legacy is… [visibly bewildered] … yeah.” In support of this view is fellow recipient, Thimna Qunta, who says, “I feel very accomplished. I was so surprised, and only when my mom and dad really went on about this achievement did, I realise, woah! This is a real accomplishment.”
Image: proovided – The seven recipients of the Dikgang Moseneke bursary
This bursary will offer the seven recipients both financial and non-financial support. The financial aspect of this bursary offers a huge relief to the recipients as Qunta explains, “my mom was paying out of her savings for high school, and I still needed to go to varsity!”
The bursary will serve as a part of the broader agenda of the Moseneke Legacy Project, which will see many facets of the former Deputy Chief Justice’s life and career donated to UP’s OR Tambo Law Library. It was also announced that the former Deputy Chief Justice has been appointed as an honorary professor in the Department of Jurisprudence for a term of three years. In response to this Dr Modiri said, “I know many things about the DCJ, including his love for tennis, ball room dancing, his history as a member of the Pan-Africanist Congress, and that he’s from Atteridgeville, like me […] I am thankful that his original career goals of becoming a ball room dancer and metro police officer did not work out”.
As Prof. Kupe states, the bursary is meant to “continue Moseneke’s legacy by supporting the studies of African law students to advance the vision of a liberated, non-racist, and non-sexist Africa.” In light of this, one cannot help but wonder whether a bursary was the best way to accomplish this. These feelings were not uncommon at the event, as Dr Modiri explains that “[bursaries reflect] poorly and well on our democracy. Poorly, because this [access to education] should be addressed as a fundamental imperative of social change and development. Well, because it shows that there are individuals who feel absolutely responsible for changing the circumstances of our students, there can be an impactful change in our society.”
In consensus with this view is the Chairperson of Law House and SRC Academics officer, Asanda Lembede, who said that “bursaries are a key means of expanding access to education, as we are seeing now that government alone cannot expand access to education”. However, Dr Maimela believes, “this bursary is a step in the right direction to show all stakeholders, the private sector, the community, and the government that the socio-economic inequality can be addressed, and education is the way. With this bursary, the faculty aims to fill the gap and make sure that access to tertiary education doesn’t remain a privilege but is a basic right as enshrined in the Constitution.”
The future seems hopeful and ambitious for the recipients, who have their own goals and aspirations. As Brink explains, “We all understand the basic route to becoming an attorney, but for me, I see post-grad, masters, and maybe even a doctorate.” Another recipient, Celiwe Mxhalisa says, “I would like to be a legal academic one day.”
When asked about his wishes for the recipients, Dr Maimela said, “I wish that the recipients grow in terms of their studies from my side, but on their side, I wish for them to give back where they are and where they find themselves in the future.” On the future, Dr Moseneke had this to say, “We need to make new leaders, we need to create critical and imaginative public-spirited leaders.”