On 8 December 2023, the Centre for Human Rights, Law Faculty, at the University of Pretoria (the Centre), celebrated the graduation of a number of students from its masters and doctoral programs. On this occasion, 42 students graduated with Masters degrees from 4 programmes (HRDA, SRRA, MDHR, TILA), while 8 candidates graduated with doctoral degrees. Six of the eight doctoral graduates at the Ceremony, that is: Landilani Banda, Crystal Mokoena,  Lindlyn Moma, Dumisani Gandhi, Josephat Kilonzo, and Beryl Orao, were registered at the Centre. 

As is the tradition, the formal graduation Ceremony is followed by an informal celebration and reception, where the Centre and its partners celebrate other individual and collective achievements attained in the year. The latter ceremony is attended by the Centre’s students and staff, Faculty colleagues, academic partners, donors, the graduating students and their families and friends. 

During this year’s ceremony, the Deputy Dean of the Law Faculty, Prof Charles Maimela, congratulated the graduating students and announced the winners of the 2023 Deans Essay Competition. The Dean’s Essay Competition is an opportunity for the students to tell a story about how the HRDA LLM/MPhil programme has enriched their personal and professional lives. This was followed by remarks from Hon. Fulgencio Garrido Ruiz, the Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to South Africa, in which he recognised the strong and mutually valuable partnership between the EU and the Centre, including in the Centre’s role as the regional headquarters of Global Campus Africa.

Of particular note was the award of the Vera Chirwa Award to Ms Grace Wakio Kakai the Deputy Registrar of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, in recognition of her professional contributions to the advancement of human rights in Africa, particularly to the strengthening of the institutional systems and jurisprudence of the African Court and strengthening human rights knowledge and practice through research and mentorship of human rights advocates. In her remarks on acceptance of the award, Ms. Kakai noted that [t]he award reminds us that our responsibility to advocate for justice and human rights is both a privilege and a duty. This prestigious honour is not just a recognition of my individual efforts, but a celebration of the collective dedication of the Judges and staff of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to a better Africa where human rights, justice and the rule of law prevail.’

10 of the 27 students graduating from the HRDA Programme, and 3 of the 11 students in the TILA programs graduated with distinction. A further 3 students were graduating from the MDHR and 1 student from the SRRA Programme.

The following prizes were awarded:

  • Kéba M’baye Award (for the student who obtained the highest percentage for the mini-dissertation in the HRDA) – Idirashe Amanda Chikomba (Zimbabwe)
  • Nelson Mandela Award (for the best student in the HRDA as a whole) – Idirashe Amanda Chikomba (Zimbabwe)
  • Victor Dankwa Award (for the best student in the module Human Rights in Africa in the HRDA) – awarded jointly to Chimwemwe Chithope-Mwale (Malawi) and Joshua Malidzo Nyawa (Kenya)
  • Ubuntu Award (for the student who best embodied the values and spirit of ubuntu during the HRDA) – Chrispin Bosire (Kenya)
  • Advanced International Investment Law Award (for the best student in the Advanced International Investment Law Module)- Chido Teclar Mitchel Muza
  • Advanced International Trade Law Award (for the best student in the Advanced International Trade Law Module) – Panji Winston Chirwa
  • DR TO Elias Award (for the student who obtained the highest percentage for the mini-dissertation in the TILA Programme) – Elshaday Getachew Alemayehu
  • Social Responsibility Award (for the student who best represents the values of social responsibility that all international trade and investment lawyers should display) – awarded jointly to Tonderai Vavarirai Mudenge and Brenda Njeri Wagura

In addition, after a competitive and rigorous selection process, three students were selected to undertake internships at 3 of the African Union human rights bodies as follows:

The Gambia 
Keroka, Kenya
African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Lesotho)

We are grateful to all family and friends of the students for your support. We also acknowledge with much gratitude the support of our funders across the different programmes, including the Global Campus for Human Rights, the Dutch Government, the Flanders Government and the Swiss Development Agency (SIDA). Thank you for your continued support. 

Finally, congratulations to the graduating students. Carpe diem!

For more information, please contact:

Dr Michelle Maziwisa
Programme Manager: LLM/MPhil HRDA

Tel  +27 (0) 12 420 6703
Fax +27 (0)86 580 5743 

Dr Nkatha Murungi
Assistant Director: Centre for Human Rights

Tel:  +27 (0)12 420 4684
Fax: +27 0) 86 580 5743


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