News & Media

Festchrift accolade for Professor Jopie Pretorius

Prof. Jopie Pretorius will bid farewell to Unisa next month after a formidable academic career of over 31 years.

When the gavel sounds for Professor Jopie Pretorius’s Unisa career, it will bring to an end one of the College of Law’s most illustrious careers. He’s been a full professor for over 31 years and a B-rated researcher at the university.

Pretorius’s career started at Unisa in 1986 as an associate professor in Mercantile Law after being a senior lecturer at Wits University. He fondly recalls the Law Faculty being housed in the Old Samuel Pauw Building on Van der Walt Street. And, naturally, different times meant he was allowed to pursue his passion. “It was in the days before computers ruled our lives and we had plenty of time to do research. I was promoted to full professor in 1987. When we moved to the main campus, things started to change and the intimacy was lost,” he said.

It’s often said the laws of a country are open to interpretation. These kinds of discussions are what he will miss when he steps downs as the Chair of Banking Law. “I will certainly miss some of my colleagues and the interesting and stimulating debates we had on certain aspects of the law. I had the privilege to work with some of the brightest and most intellectual people in law.”

Prof. Jopie Pretorius is pictured with his daughter Dr Antoinette Pretorius, who works at Unisa’s Department of English. Having spent some of his university journey with Antoinette, Prof. Pretorius said that he’s so proud of her for a number of reasons. In 2015 Antoinette became the youngest PhD graduate at Unisa for that year.

While retirement looms large, Pretorius did have time to garner one more feather in his cap. Last month, he was honoured with a Festschrift by Juta Publishers (a collection of writings published in honour of a scholar). “I was completely surprised by the Festschrift. I never expected such an honour. I was always just trying to do my job as best as I could. I am extremely grateful and humbled by this publication. I am glad that my children were present, as well as my partner, Professor Jacqueline Heaton. Many of my friends from neighbouring universities were also present,” he shared.

Despite a long list of career achievements, Pretorius says being regarded as an ‘internationally acclaimed researcher’ and promoting nine doctoral candidates are among his proudest. As he approaches the twilight of his career, he wants Unisa to tackle an issue that’s looming large over the South African law fraternity. “I wish that the law faculty will regain its full accreditation and again become one of the leading law faculties in South Africa.”

*By Kirosha Naicker