Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa Justice Ray Zondo reminded Law graduates how fortunate they were to be graduating from UKZN when he delivered his keynote address as guest speaker at the Law and Management Studies Graduation ceremony.
Zondo encouraged the students to follow in the footsteps of those who have walked before them, and to give back and honour those who have played a role in their education, protected the Constitution and stood up for what was right for the people of South Africa.
Zondo congratulated the students on their achievements and reminded them to take part in building the country for the current generation, their children and future generations to come so “it will be the great country it can be”.
He graduated from UKZN in 1987 with an LLB degree but the political situation in the country prevented him from attending the ceremony. ‘There was a call for a boycott of the ceremony and I heeded the call which meant I did not get the privilege which graduands will today of graduating properly from this University.’
Zondo said graduation was a day of joy, happiness and celebration. He thanked the graduate’s parents, relatives, siblings and sponsors who assisted students to obtain their degrees, and the academics who helped them attain their degrees.
He said the University had produced many lawyers and judges who played an important role in the country both during the struggle and after democracy.
Zondo then went through a long list of UKZN graduates who had made immense contributions including Mr Griffiths Mxenge; the late Justice Thembile Skweyiya; Justice Zac Yacoob; the current Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng; the current President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Mandisa Maya, and High Court judges and other judges prominent in KwaZulu-Natal. ‘For a number of years from November 2009 no less than one third of the members of the Constitutional Court had graduated from this University,’ said Zondo.
Zondo commended the University for producing a large number of women and Black graduates, saying more than 50% of the judges in South Africa were Black and more than 30% were women… but that was still not enough.
He urged graduates to commit themselves to playing a role in building the society envisaged by the country’s Constitution. ‘That is a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. That is a society in which there is respect for everyone’s human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights.
‘We must all work hard to eliminate racism, sexism and promote gender equality.’
Words: Sithembile Shabangu