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Unisa alumni share their journeys – Kyle Pillay

Kyle Pillay is an only child and comes from Chatsworth, in Durban. The principles and values that he portrays were instilled in him from a young age by his parents. He obtained his LLB degree at Unisa in 2018. Notably, he obtained the most distinctions of all students during his third and fourth years of studies, and was proud to become a recipient of the merit bursaries and council bursaries. During his studies, he was employed at Nedbank, Sasol, Shoprite/Checkers, Woolworths and Edgars. This helped him to be very disciplined with his studies. He says discipline and perseverance are two key ingredients students need when they want to succeed at Unisa.

An opportunity to participate in Moot Court came along when Kyle was in his second year. While undergoing the Moot Court training, he realised that the other participants were already in their third or final year of studies, which was very intimidating. He describes his Moot Court experience as extremely wonderful. His mentor was Norman Mpya, a brilliant individual who is full of wisdom as well as insight. The topic of the first Moot Court was ‘African Customary Law’. He became one of the first KwaZulu-Natal Moot Court finalists and part of the team who represented Kwa-Zulu Natal in the Inter-Regional Tournament held in Pretoria. ‘I will never ever forget this moment, as well as a specific event that was quite embarrassing,’ he says. ‘During the presentation of my argument, in an auditorium filled with numerous individuals, I was asked by one the presiding judges whether I had read Shilubana V Nwamita. This is one of the leading cases in respect of African Customary Law. When I responded in the negative, I was reprimanded in front of the whole auditorium and asked how I could not know this case. I mentioned that I did not deal with this case law since it had no relevance to my argument and another colleague would be dealing with it. I remember clearly how, under my breath, I added “my Justice, I am sincerely sorry for my incompetence, but may I proceed with my argument”. There was nothing else that could be done thereafter.’

Kyle says that this specific moment guided him into realising that in litigation you cover everything and leave no stone unturned. However, he chose to use this embarrassing moment as a positive experience and learnt that how you deal with it, thereafter, determines your true character. Kyle encourages all law students to apply for Moot Court as it stands one in good stead when it appears on one’s curriculum vitae when applying for articles as well as vacation work. He believes it was one of the things that helped him with his application to procure vacation work at prestigious firms like Strauss Daly and Tomlinson Mnguni James in Durban. He was the only Unisa student amongst students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Wits to be accepted. This resulted in him being offered articles at Tomlinson Mnguni James.

Kyle is a first-year candidate attorney at law firm PGPS Law, where he first worked in the personal injury litigation department for six months. He is now working in commercial litigation and describes it a great experience and hard work. He is thoroughly enjoying the experience and challenges. He is on the verge of registering for his conveyancing examinations and will write the board examinations next year.

‘You will never stop learning law,’ says Kyle. ‘It is a great journey: ensure that you are prepared, optimistic and passionate, and the future will certainly hold good rewards. I would like to quote the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “After climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb”.’

‘As we are all aware, the present pandemic that we find ourselves in has adversely affected our economy, including the livelihoods of the people of South Africa. It can be regarded as tough and trying times; however, if we as a country abide by the rules and regulations laid down by our honourable President, we will overcome this challenge. We just have to place our faith in God to bring upon healing and restoration to the world.’ Kyle's advice to all students during this period is that, while self-isolating and adhering to social distancing rules, they use this time to further their studies.

His last piece of advice to students is that, in pursuing an LLB or any other degree, you should place all things within the hand of God, but also focus on hard work and perseverance, learn to read with understanding and always strive for success.  He wishes all students the best of success with their studies and future endeavours.

* Submitted by Jo Cossavella, Communications Officer, Unisa KwaZulu-Natal Region

Publish date: 2020/08/19