Judge uses Life Esidimeni fees to inspire students

Former deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke.

Former deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke, has chosen the University of the Western Cape (UWC) as a recipient of the fees he was paid for chairing the arbitration into the Life Esidimeni tragedy that resulted in the death of 144 mentally disabled patients.

Justice Moseneke visited UWC on Monday April 23, to fulfil the pledge he made, when he handed down the judgment in March.

The judgment was against senior Gauteng officials who had made the decision to relocate thousands of patients in what he had described as “cruel, inhumane and degrading”.

In his judgment, he vowed: “I have been suitably encouraged to donate all my arbitrator’s fees to chosen law schools that will hopefully help nurture young women and men committed to the high values of our Constitution and to the calling to defend the vulnerable against the abuse of the high and mighty.”

At the ceremony, Justice Moseneke committed about R400 000 to law students in the final year of their LLB and those who who excelled in the LLM degree.

In turn, the university pledged to match Judge Moseneke’s donation to assist in promoting excellence within the law faculty.

Judge Moseneke said the university’s law faculty was his first choice of institutions to whom he wanted to donate his fees — which was not only due to the faculty’s contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle, but also because of the number of judges, advocates and lawyers who have done well in society.

“I hope to encourage young people from the Western Cape in particular to assume their role in continuing to be socially conscious lawyers, who will continue to uphold the rule of law and social justice.

“The target of this is excellence; it is not a bursary. This is an attempt to identify and encourage excellence – hard work and commitment to achieve outstanding results,” he said.

UWC rector, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, said while UWC was immensely grateful for the former deputy chief justice’s generosity, it was deeply regrettable that it had to stem from such a tragic event in South Africa.

“The unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of 144 patients and the abuse of many more should never have happened. Our Constitution demands that the most vulnerable among us should receive the highest level of care and protection. This we expect particularly from our government and its officials.

“We are humbled by Justice Moseneke’s generosity and we will ensure that his gift is used in the most appropriate way.”