Master’s Zooms in on Freedom of Artistic Speech in Post-Apartheid SA

Ms Savanna Chantler
LLM in Constitutional Theory, Law and Litigation cum laude graduate, Ms Savanna Chantler.

Freedom of artistic speech in post-apartheid South Africa was the subject of research which secured Master of Laws in Constitutional Theory, Law and Litigation graduate Ms Savanna Chantler a cum laude pass.

Titled: The Artist, the Airport, and the Missing Zulu King – Freedom of Artistic Speech in Post-Apartheid South Africa, the case study examines the removal of the King Shaka statue from Durban’s King Shaka International Airport in the context of freedom of artistic speech.

Said Chantler, who was supervised by Professor Stephen Peté and Mr David Hulme: ‘I was fortunate enough to interview the artist who was commissioned to create the King Shaka statue and that formed the empirical chapter of my dissertation. The main challenge I encountered during the research was that this area of Law is still very new and there is not extensive research into freedom of artistic speech in the post-apartheid South African context.’

As a legal professional who is passionate about Section 16 of the Constitution which deals with the freedom of expression, Chantler hopes her research will contribute new knowledge in this area.

‘Freedom of artistic expression is a right that should be enjoyed by every person in our constitutional democracy,’ she said. ‘Its protection is vital in ensuring that people, artists and everyone else, have the freedom to make their artistic opinions heard in a way that upholds the spirit, purport and objective of the Constitution. What kept me passionate about the research was the thought that when I had completed my work, I would in some small way contribute to the Constitution’s protection in the post-apartheid era. This may also be seen as a benefit because I am one of the researchers developing this area of Law!’

Currently honing her legal skills working as a Law Clerk to Deputy Chief Justice Maya at the Constitutional Court, Chantler’s ultimate career goal is to follow an academic career route and become a Professor of Law.

‘I’m very passionate about research and critical thinking and believe it would allow me to begin my academic journey. The LLM degree is the first step towards this dream as it will enable me to enrol in a PhD programme as well as give me the opportunity to join a university as a junior lecturer.  It has also provided me with the opportunity to enhance my research, editorial and analytical skills which will benefit me in private legal practice,’ added Chantler.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Sethu Dlamini

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