College of Law

Unisa law student named top essayist

Gilbert Phindile Kato (right), winner of the Pius Langa South African Law Reform Commission Legal Essay Writing Competition, shaking hands with his supervisor, Nzumbululo Silas Siphuma, from the Department of Jurisprudence in the College of Law.

The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC), in conjunction with prize sponsors Juta Law, hosted the 2018 Annual Legal Essay Writing Competition Awards ceremony on Friday 6 September 2019 at the Centurion Hotel in Pretoria. The 2018 edition of the competition was in honour of the legacy of the late Chief Justice Pius Langa. The SALRC Legal Essay Writing Competition encourages critical legal writing by Bachelor of Law (LLB) and Master of Law (LLM) students across all South African universities, while generating new ideas for law reform. These ideas should be aligned to South Africa’s priorities as a developmental state and be aimed at keeping the law abreast of developments in society and in tune with the needs of South Africa’s diverse population and national policy priorities.

During the awards ceremony, Gilbert Phindile Kato, LLM student at Unisa and a candidate attorney at Webber Wentzel Attorneys, was announced the winner of the LLM category. Kato’s legal essay entitled "Moving away from binary system", received the highest score from the panel of judges composed of independent professors and doctors of law from various South African universities. Kato wrote the legal essay under the supervision of Nzumbululo Silas Siphuma, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Jurisprudence at Unisa’s College of Law (CLAW).

Kato’s achievements date back to early 2017, when he worked closely with Siphuma during the 2017 Unisa Moot Court Competition, where Siphuma and his colleagues at CLAW and the Unisa Law Clinic, trained Moot court participants from the Pretoria region. At the 2017 Unisa Inter-regional Moot Court Competition finals, Kato won the prize for Best Oralist and assisted the Pretoria Region Moot Court team to secure two more awards.

Also present at the event was Unisa’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mandla Makhanya, who congratulated Kato for raising the bar, shaping futures and leading change.

CLAW has the largest footprint on the continent, with the highest number of student enrolments on the continent and a significant market share across the globe. Its collective purpose is to inspire and support intellectual curiosity in pursuit of academic excellence. It is therefore evident that with a team of brilliant and dynamic academics, it produces students of a high calibre that have over time brought a paradigm shift and shaped the legal fraternity landscape. Students’ commitment and decision to choose a qualification through CLAW is a commitment to excellence, perseverance and growth, but most importantly, a commitment to a personal dream.

The winning team’s prize includes R20 000 cash for the winning essay student, a R2 500 Juta Law voucher for the supervisor of the winning essay, and a R2 500 Juta Law voucher for the winning law faculty. According to the South African Law Reform Commission, it is the first time that the Unisa College of Law has won the SALRC Legal Essay Writing Competition since its inception in 1999. Previously, Unisa students have been runners-up for the LLB category in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

* By Winston Rampedi (Department of Institutional Advancement) and Nzumbululo Silas Siphuma (College of Law)

Publish date: 2019/09/11