December 8, 2023


Future Depends on What You Do

Justice Dumisa Ntsebeza of South Africa visits Notre Dame Law Faculty | News | The Regulation College

Dumisantsebeza Jan2023&#13
Justice Dumisa Ntsebeza speaks in the McCartan Courtroom on January 30, 2023. Photos by Matt Cashore/College of Notre Dame.

Justice Dumisa Ntsebeza — a renowned South African law firm, former performing judge, and existing justice of the African Courtroom on Human and Peoples’ Legal rights — frequented Notre Dame Legislation School as the Distinguished Worldwide Jurist in Residence from January 21 via February 1.

Justice Ntsebeza built significant contributions toward ending the apartheid program and creating a democratic society in South Africa. He acquired his law degree though serving a 5-and-a-half-yr sentence in jail for political activism. On his release in the 1980s, he became a human rights law firm for apartheid victims and political prisoners.

In 1995, Ntsebeza was appointed by President Nelson Mandela as a commissioner of the South African Fact and Reconciliation Commission. He turned the head of the Investigative Unit and also led its Witness Protection Programme. He was the to start with African to be appointed as senior counsel of the Cape Bar, a society of advocates of the Superior Court of South Africa. He is currently serving a six-12 months term on the African Courtroom on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Ntsebeza gave a communicate to the Notre Dame Regulation Faculty local community on January 30 in which he detailed his journey from a young college university student working as a messenger for legal professionals in Cape Town, to his recent place as a justice on 1 Africa’s highest courts.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Regulation Tladi Marumo, who is from South Africa, introduced Ntsebeza at the lecture on January 30. Marumo referred to as him “a valiant political activist, renowned educational, a lawful practitioner of unassailable integrity and jurist of venerable stature.” To the men and women of Africa, he explained, Ntsebeza is affectionately acknowledged as “the peoples’ advocate.”

Tladimarumo Jan30&#13
Viewing Assistant Professor of Law Tladi Marumo introduces Justice Ntsebeza.

Ntsebeza spoke about his time in Cape Town in 1967, operating as a messenger for a team of legal professionals, known as advocates. At the commencing of that task, the advocate who served as the ground manager examined Ntsebeza’s dompas, a passport-type booklet that all Africans have been essential to have. He reported Ntsebeza would go by the identify Dennis even though he labored as a messenger, as an alternative of by his given identify of Dumisa.

“That is who I grew to become,” explained Ntsebeza.

Weaving together tales about do the job and the many advocates he worked for, he talked about his career of delivering briefs to and from several lawyers and regulation firms. He also carried out other odd careers, including generating tea for the advocates when they had website visitors. For the duration of his lunch breaks he would typically go through the briefs, some authored by the advocates at the company.

As his lawful career progressed, he commenced acquiring encounters with the advocates who experienced used him. He recalled a supper at the Cape Regulation Culture Council 30 decades later on, when he sat with a choose who turned out to be the former advocate who experienced named him Dennis back again in 1967. The decide was shocked to master that Ntsebeza had been the messenger, and asked why he experienced identified as himself Dennis.

“I resisted with issues having to say you are now capable to say Dumisa in 1997. It was 1967 and it was far additional easy to give me a Christian title than to be material with what was not a Christian identify, Dumisa,” mentioned Ntsebeza.

Ntsebeza recalled one more pivotal minute in 1999, when he was serving on the Cape Substantial Court docket. He saw a issue in another way than the other two senior judges and was going to have to write a dissent. Just one of the judges, who was nevertheless one more advocate Ntsebeza experienced labored for, altered his thoughts and wrote a judgment in line with Ntsebeza’s judgment.

“Sitting on that Cape Higher Court bench, shared with people judges for whom I had been a messenger and a tea maker, everyday living for me experienced turned complete circle,” claimed Ntsebeza.

In the course of his Notre Dame visit, Ntsebeza also taught a lecture series, “Reconciliation and Justice,” with Christine Venter, director of the Legislation School’s Lawful Crafting Method. Ntsebeza and Venter very first met even though functioning jointly as attorneys many a long time ago in Transkei, an unrecognized point out in the southeastern component of South Africa. Throughout the collection, Ntsebeza launched the college students to truth of the matter and reconciliation procedures and their use in post-conflict societies.

“I appreciated all the experiences and viewpoints he shared with us with regards to the transitional justice system in South Africa,” mentioned Monserrat Cámara Santos, a student in the LL.M. Program in Intercontinental Human Legal rights Legislation. “However, a single of the most useful items of guidance he gave us was the value of a target-centered method in any motion. No justice, truth of the matter, or reparation will be possible if we do not pay attention to people who have experienced to start with.”

This was echoed by other pupils who had the prospect to talk with Ntsebeza about his get the job done.

Third-calendar year legislation university student Malcolm Chaka, who also took the study course, explained, “As a next technology Canadian whose dad and mom immigrated from apartheid South Africa, Justice Ntsebeza’s lecture sequence was a specific honor. His intelligence, bravery, and incessant pursuit for equality assisted a country go previous a century of oppression by real truth and forgiveness when civil war appeared unavoidable.”

Chaka additional, “In speaking about the purpose of legislation in institutionalizing segregation, or the stories of abhorrent atrocities, Justice Ntsebeza offered a beneficial lesson on social responsibility owed to not only the oppressed, but to oppressors when a state makes an attempt to amend the wrongs of an authoritative routine.”

Two many years ago, Ntsebeza was approached by the South Africa minister of justice to turn into a decide of the African Courtroom on Human and Peoples’ Legal rights, even however Ntsebeza was not a sitting choose, he was a lawyer. But the minister reported he experienced reviewed Ntsebeza’s judgments and wished him to be nominated anyway.

Ntsebeza mentioned he requested himself if he was the right human being to be nominated, declaring, “Like Nelson Mandela himself claimed, ‘I am not a saint, unless you consider of a saint as just one who keeps on making an attempt.’ I tried using.”

View Justice Ntsebeza’s full lecture from January 30 in the online video embedded beneath.