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LLB graduate at the International Criminal Court

Unisa LLB graduate Jeeoshni Moodley Mazzuoccolo is flying both the Unisa and South African flags high at The Hague in the Netherlands as the only South African serving an internship at the International Criminal Court. She is working in the Legal Advisory Section of the Office of the Prosecutor.

Jeeoshni holds very strong opinions on human rights and says she is very proud to have been equipped by Unisa with a wealth of legal knowledge that enables her to bring about change to the world. “There is always this fear in society in allowing women to become leaders and I see myself as a lawyer who wants to make a difference in the world,” Jeeoshni says. She describes her journey with Unisa as “remarkable” and admits that the legal research skills that she developed during her studies at Unisa has really helped her with the various tasks that she has been assigned since she began her internship in April 2018.

Inspired by her mother, Dr Savy Moodley, and her late father, Raymond Moodley, Jeeoshni says she chose to study a Bachelor of Laws “because it allows us to change the way we think and live”. Jeeoshni says her mother, a mathematics teacher, told her of the struggles she faced as a woman in the work place and explained how she could not study law when she was a university student because she endured financial hardship. Jeeoshni argues that “as a feminist I want to manifest the words of 'equality' into a reality. I also care about a variety of legal issues that affect the world. I would like to contribute towards a positive change.” She recalls that despite her mother’s academic achievements and long-term service, she was never appointed to a senior level management post because of nepotism and the appointment of males in management posts.

Jeeoshni says her husband ,Giovanni Mazzuoccolo, and mother encouraged her to apply for this internship, wherein she was required to write a legal essay of 2 000 words on any matter the International Criminal Court deals with. She explains that she wrote about Omar Al Bashir for whom the International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest so that he could be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The legal essay, she recalls, involved extensive research on international human rights law, the Rome Statute and numerous readings of International Criminal Court cases. For her application to be considered, she was also required to write a letter of motivation that would stand out from those written by other applicants.  

Jeeoshni says Unisa sets high standards which is essential for success. She says she would recommend Unisa to other people and would advise them to be prepared for the challenge and learn to prioritise, but at the same time enjoy life. She recalls that her job made it difficult for her to attend tutorial classes as she never had a normal scheduled working hour. “I used to email my lecturers with my academic query and they would always respond timeously," she recalls. Having been working for South African Airways as a flight attendant for seven years, she argues that it has been difficult to balance working and studying. When she felt like giving up, she says her late father would motivate her and would say that “nothing can be achieved in life without a struggle, but the end results are worth it”.

* By Makabongwe Khanyile