The Moot Court Competition fires up aspiring lawyers
5 Jun 2012
Seventy two learners from all provinces gave credibility to the significance of Freedom Day and our constitutional democracy when they participated in the national rounds of the Moot Court Competition at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg.
Rohula Bilankulu, a Grade 10 learner and Knowledge Dzumba, a Grade 11 learner both from Thengwe High School in Limpopo, emerged as 2012 winners of the national Schools’ Moot Court Competition. All South African secondary schools were invited to register for the second National Schools' Moot Court Competition.
Learners submitted essays which were marked by a team headed by the University of Pretoria. Nine teams that wrote the best essays participated in the provincial oral rounds which determined the four teams that qualified for the semi-finals in Pretoria.
A Moot is a role-play exercise, where the participants play the role of the lawyers in a fictional court case. For this year’s Moot Court Competition, learners were required to argue a hypothetical case regarding a child-headed household. The scenario that was presented to learners was that of a 15-year old girl who had to look after her siblings after the death of their mother.
As part of the scenario, the girl did not qualify to get the child support grant as she was under 16 years of age. In the case, the social worker representing children decided to challenge the Department of Social Development through the Constitutional Court.
The competition aims to create greater awareness in schools and communities in South Africa about the rights and values enshrined in our Constitution through active participation in a hypothetical case. It also provides a unique opportunity for learners to develop their research, writing and oral advocacy skills as they endeavour to come to grips with some of the constitutional issues that are presently facing our country. The competition also hopes that this experience will encourage more young people to pursue a career in law.
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, MP, a lawyer himself, reminded learners that the country has moved forward towards a cohesive and united country to preserve the integrity of so many people who fought for human rights. Policies and laws should be linked to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and these should address gender parities and other differences or imbalances that are faced by many people. He further encouraged learners to become constitutional experts.
The competition, which was piloted in 2011, has shown remarkable growth. The number of participants has increased and the quality of submissions has improved. Furthermore, the participants reflected the diverse demographics of the country.
“When we were first told about the competition, I knew I would do well even though I knew nothing about law. It was a chance I was going to take”, said Bilankulu. Both Bilankulu and Dzumba attributed their achievement to hard work. “This competition has changed the way I think of myself. I used to be very shy, never asking questions. Now I believe in myself”, said Dzumba.
Judge Bess Nkabinde, Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, presided over the case and applauded learners for presenting their arguments even better than some of the lawyers she meets at court.
Other judges that brought authenticity to the case, giving the learners a feel of what it would be like to be a lawyer in court were: Judge Edwin Cameron, Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Ms Yasmin Sooka, Director, Foundation for Human Rights, Dr Zonke Majodina, Chairperson of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Prof Ann Skelton, Director, Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria. The second place went to Fezeka Mehlomakhulu and Nicole Dunn from Springfield Convent School in Cape Town.
Both the Limpopo and Western Cape teams received financial assistance to study first year law in any university of their choice in South Africa. The best essays were received from Selenki Lesemela and Teboho Khuele from Ficksburg High School in the Free State, an amount of R7 000.00 was awarded to this team.
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
5 Jun 2012
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