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Public Law


  • The department of Public Law at the Nelson Mandela University Faculty of Law has become a partner institution of the Law and Development Research Network ( LDRN was launched at the Law and Development Conference at the University of Antwerp in September 2017. It seeks to enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of law, both domestic and international, in relation to development and governance, as perceived globally and locally, and is therefore concerned with the social functioning of legal systems primarily in the context of countries in the Global South.


  • The Department of Public Law in the Faculty of Law Nelson Mandela University, has become an institutional partner of the Law and Development Research Network. Please access this site to access the many research opportunities this network offers.

  • ICRC Internship

  • Litigation: Computer problem blocking court order – department

    The Department of Home Affairs has admitted that a computer problem does not allow it to issue the correct paperwork for undocumented children – even if a judge orders them to do so. The Herald reports the case involving two orphans – whose mother brought one of them to SA from the Congo and then died here – was once again heard before Eastern Cape High Court (Port Elizabeth) Judge Glenn Goosen. The children had been stuck without paperwork for 511 days by Thursday last week – meaning they cannot be placed in foster care. In legal documents placed before the court on Thursday, officials said that despite being compelled by a court order to do so, they had not been able to assist as their computer system would not allow them to do so. Counsel for the children, Advocate Lilla Crouse SC, from Legal Aid SA, said the department’s conduct was reprehensible and not in line with its values. Crouse said: ‘It is 23 years since the law has changed and the department still has a programme problem.’ Legislation on South African citizenship, residency and travel documents changed in 1995 to amplify, among other things, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Crouse said: ‘The answer they gave was dismissive to the extreme. (They) hide behind this defective computer programme. We have a court order that is now meaningless because it cannot be carried out.’ She asked that Goosen order the department to update its computer program to bring it in line with the law within three months. The report notes Goosen will give judgment within 14 days.Full report in The Herald ( subscription needed)

  • Fantasy League: Test your knowledge of constitutional law

    Cape Town-based LexFutures, a legal data analytics provider, has partnered with UCT Law @ Work and Juta Law to launch a Constitutional Court Fantasy Prediction league. The competition aims to provide awareness of constitutional law by awarding points to entrants who successfully predict how the court will rule on upcoming cases. Prizes, which consist of cash and sponsored vouchers from Law @ Work and Juta Law, will be awarded to winners of four different league divisions – students, academics, law practitioners and the public. Entry is free. Says Andre van Niekerk, executive director of Juta Law: ‘We are privileged to act as a sponsor for this innovative league, which challenges legal students, academics, practitioners and citizens alike to apply their minds to real-world constitutional issues.’Information on LexFutures site

  • How Legal Aid averted another Life Esidimeni tragedy


  • The Department of Public Law announces the appointment of two new research associates, namely Prof Sam Adelman, an expert in climate change, legal theory, and international development law and human rights, and Mr Phil Snijman, an expert in the field of environmental prosecutions and fisheries crime.


  • The Department of Public Law is proud of Adjunct Professor Lilla Crouse, who in addition to representing the families of the deceased Life Esidemeni victims, is also involved in the following important Constitutional Court case:


    Family: Marriage discrimination case before ConCourt

    Heads of argument filed with the Constitutional Court by Legal Aid SA Advocates Lilla Crouse and Chris Schuring, representing an unemployed mother (47) of two adult children, who is also the ex-wife of a Deputy Minister, say her case highlights the discrimination against women who live in a patriarchal community in the former Transkei. ‘After a marriage of 19 years and raising two children, she will be left destitute after the divorce,’ reads the document, as reported by The Sunday Independent. It notes that according to the papers, no legislation exists to make it possible for women married under the Transkei Marriage Act to seek a redistribution of assets on divorce. ‘Other women similarly situated as the applicant have historically been discriminated against in many respects. They are often poor and nearly always vulnerable to abuse in a patriarchal system,’ her advocates say. ‘Persons married in terms of the Transkei Marriage Act are discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnic or social origin. This discrimination also violates the applicant’s and similarly situated persons’ constitutional rights to dignity,’ argue Crouse and Schuring. The papers cite the reason for the divorce as the former Deputy Minister ‘ fathering children out of wedlock’. But he insists this does not constitute grounds for divorce. The Deputy Minister, who is an advocate, illegally married another woman by customary rites while he was civilly married to his ex-wife. She has asked the Constitutional Court to refer the matter back to the Mthatha Regional Court to determine her proprietary interests and those of her ex-husband.


  • Nceba Mafa and Katongo Bwalya represented the Nelson Mandela University at the 26th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition hosted by the University of Mauritius. They were accompanied by Dr Joanna Botha, who participated in the very first African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in 1992.


  • Congratulations to Prof Vrancken, the incumbent of the NRF Chair in the Law of the Sea and Development in Africa, on his contribution to the work of the Institute for Coastal and Marine Research (CMR). The CMR was also recognised via receipt of an Engagement Excellence Team Award at the recent university Awards Ceremony.


  • Congratulations to Prof Hennie van As and the FishForce team who received the Engagement Excellence Project Award at the Teaching and Research Awards 2017.