Justice & Law

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Mpho Chitapi (27)

Partner, ENSafrica 

 

Lawyer Mpho Chitapi is the youngest Black female partner at Edward Nathan Sonnenberg’s Africa (ENSafrica), Africa’s largest law firm.

She specialises in technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) law, and has been involved in some of the country’s largest and most complex TMT transactions. She’s seen as a thought leader and a sought-after commentator in her field, and also publishes articles and technical blogs.

“Specialising in this niche area allows me to contribute to and build on this developing area of law. I often create vlogs on my social media pages about new technologies and how these can affect the man on the street,” she says.

“This is a fun and engaging way to get people to start thinking about how digitisation affects them. The information age is about the dissemination of information; this can be used to empower and uplift people and teach them about their rights.”

Chitapi grew up in Vosloorus and was the first member of her family to complete university, earning a law degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2013. In the second year of her studies she was recognised as an outstanding candidate by recruiters from ENSafrica, who offered her a full scholarship for the remainder of her degree, on condition that served her articles with the firm.

She has remained with the company, and this year she become a partner in ENSafrica, the youngest black female ever to achieve that.

Chitapi recently submitted her thesis on global data privacy practices for her master of laws degree. She’s highly interested in data privacy laws and the need for individuals and organisations alike to protect their personal information.

“Each day brings new advancements which force us to revisit how we apply trite law to novel and unprecedented situations. The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution makes this niche area of the law an even more exciting field to practice in, as the world we live in becomes more digitised,” she says.

Legislators find it hard to keep up with technological advancements, and people such as herself can pioneer creative solutions to ensure that advancements in technology ultimately conform to what is right, she says.

Coming from a disadvantaged background also makes her a champion of the empowerment of women, and Black women in particular. “If my journey can inspires someone to reach their full potential, that in itself would have been an achievement for me,” she says. —Lesley Stones 

LinkedIn: Mpho Manyala-Chitapi 

Author - bhavika
Athi Jara (32)

Athi Jara (32)

Director and Head of the mining and Environmental Law Department at LNP Attorneys Inc

Growing up in rural Eastern Cape did not deter Athi Jara from consistently pursuing her dreams. Raised by her single father after the passing of her mother at the tender age of 12 and being the eldest of her siblings only spurred her on in pursuit of her goals. She is inspired by her late mother’s achievements as an academic and with her father’s belief in her, it was inevitable that she would also become not just an academic but also a master in her industry.

After completing her LLB degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, she furthered her studies in the United Kingdom, where she completed her Master of Laws (LLM) with merit at the University of Sussex. For her, one of the most important things to understand is that: “South Africa, being a signatory of a number of international treaties, especially in the environmental law area, is a Third World country that is enacting and implementing First World country laws. These laws are often not alive to the fact that we are a country that needs to prioritise development, addressing our high unemployment rate and poverty over issues such as the environment.”

Jara has been specialising as a mining lawyer since 2010 and is one of the few Black women in the country to head up the department in these niche specialities. She has consulted for major mining companies such as Anglo American, De Beers and Kalagadi Manganese. She has experience in working in legislation, and was part of the team that advised the department of energy and the national treasury on the implementation of the first Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme in the country. To this day she still gets excited when she sees windfarms and solar power stations being developed as a result of the project and her contributions.

When asked about working in a male-dominated sector, Jara says: “I have found that most males, whether at mining sites or within boardrooms of mining companies, did not treat me differently as a woman. Most males that I interacted with (and continue to interact with) in mining value my input and opinions.”

When asked what she would tell her younger self she says: “I would say: Your life will get better. All those dreams you have will come true, but you’ll also achieve so much more. You will travel the world and meet many interesting people.”

She is an unstoppable force, and her next big thing is to pursue either a PhD or LLD and contribute to the dialogue around Third World approaches to international law.

Mothusi Maje (30)

Mothusi Maje (30)

Magistrate, John Tqolo Gaetswewe District

District court magistrate Mothusi Maje presides over the courts of both Kuruman and Mothibistad in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district in Kuruman.

He’s also involved in a youth development programme in the community, motivating and mentoring the youth and encouraging them to rise to their full potential. He hopes that if youngsters can be guided towards reaching their dreams through education, ambition and good citizenship, he won’t come face-to-face with them later in his court room.

“We have a non-profit organisation in Taung called Taung Career Development, and our debut career exhibition was held in 2018,” he says. “The aim of the organisation is to develop young people from our community by discussing career opportunities with them and making information available about the careers that they may wish to follow. We also source information on which universities or tertiary institutions may be offering certain careers,” Maje says.

“I was honoured to be recruited as a member of the organising committee for our inaugural career exhibition, where I addressed them about the careers available in law and what they need to become law practitioners.”

Maje grew up in the village of Veertien in  North West province, and while he was still at school he worked as a volunteer for Vaaltar FM Community Radio Station. He worked with them from 2001 until 2005, when he matriculated and set off for university.

He enrolled at North-West University’s Mafikeng Campus, where he studied for an LLB, graduating in 2011. “While at university I volunteered at the Community Law Centre as a student legal assistant,” he says. “We held community workshops and shared our legal knowledge with the people who lived in Mahikeng and Ngaka Modiri Molema districts.”

Maje also served as a commission scribe when the North West youth commission held its Moral Regeneration Summit in 2008, where he also presented the resolutions of the commission.

From there he joined Legal Aid South Africa in 2011, specialising in civil and criminal litigations, including maintenance cases and family court matters. In February 2012 he joined the National Prosecuting Authority and was appointed as a prosecutor, based in the town of Springbok in the Northern Cape. He was appointed as a magistrate last year, at the age of 29. — Lesley Stones

Twitter: @MothusiMaje

Andrew Molver (34)

Andrew Molver (34)

Partner, Adams & Adams 

Attorney Andrew Molver believes he was born with a passion for justice. The highlight on his CV so far has to be his role in fighting state capture. In 2013 he was lead attorney for former public protector Thuli Madonsela,  in a series of politically vital and precedent-setting cases involving Nkandla’s pay back the money case and state capture litigation against former President Jacob Zuma.

“During my time in practice …  I’ve been privileged to experience the power of the law to hold powerful actors to account. This often isn’t easy, and mostly isn’t quick, but when we get it right, it is always significant.”

Molver holds BCom Law and LLB degrees from the University of Pretoria (UP), where he served as both the Chief Electoral Officer and Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Tribunal. He was also a member of the UP  team that won the International Criminal Court Trial Competition in The Hague in 2007.

After graduating,  he served articles at Pretoria-based law firm Adams & Adams Attorneys, where he has been a partner since 2014 and works in both the Pretoria and the Sandton office of the company. His speciality is dispute resolution, with particular interest and expertise in public law and regulatory matters. That expertise in the field of public law saw him listed this year in Chambers and Partners (the leading international peer reviewed legal rankings) as one of only three up and coming public lawyers in South Africa.

Molver believes  that it is universally accepted that good governance acts as a guarantor of fundamental human rights, and  without rigid systems of governmental and corporate accountability, our Constitutional ideals will remain unfulfilled promises. “Doing the type of work I do gives me the opportunity to play a part in our Constitutional project by using the law to drive governmental and corporate accountability and, indirectly, to achieve societal change,” he says.

Freshly back from completing a Masters of Law degree at Cambridge University on a FirstRand Laurie Dippenaar scholarship, he’s ready to continue the fight against crime.  Married with two young daughters, Amelia and Zoey, Molver says he’s thrilled to see them already sharing his love of justice. – Lesley Stones

LinkedIn: Andrew Molver

Livashnee Naidoo (34)

Livashnee Naidoo (34)

Lecturer in Commercial, Shipping and Insurance Law/ PhD Candidate, University of Cape Town/ University of Southampton

Thirty-four-year-old Livashnee Naidoo is a lawyer in the shipping industry, with unusual skills, such as the ability to arrest entire ships and interrogate their captains.

This highly specialised area of law supports the maritime trade that is vital to South Africa’s economy.
“Shipping is the invisible industry. It is pivotal to our everyday lives but goes relatively unnoticed,” she says. “Through my research I contribute to furthering an understanding of the intersection between commercial markets and law, such as emerging technologies in the shipping industry and laws responding to that.”

Her interest was sparked at school in Durban during maritime studies; she holds a law degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a shipping law specialisation from the University of Cape Town (UCT). She’s since won several awards from the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers including one for being the best South African candidate across several areas of maritime studies.

Naidoo initially practiced as an attorney and notary at a leading shipping law firm, then followed her passion for teaching and research by becoming a lecturer in commercial, shipping and insurance law at UCT.

“As a young attorney I enjoyed the ‘cut and thrust’ of a shipping law practice as there are so many dimensions. I would board vessels, arrest ships, interview the Master and crew, and get involved when there were cargo claims and salvage operations. However, I have always been an academic at heart. I love to teach and I thoroughly enjoy the rigour of academic research that contributes to making the wheels of this industry turn a little smoother,” she says.
She’s currently in the United Kingdom on a Commonwealth scholarship towards her doctorate in maritime law at the University of Southampton, relishing in the opportunity to present her research at various conferences, gaining her a reputation as one of the emerging future leaders in the field internationally.

Naidoo is on course to become the first female and the first non-white professor of shipping law in South Africa, and will soon return to her lecturing position in Cape Town.

She says studying for a PhD has helped her to grow both professionally and personally, and the knowledge and the international network she has developed will allow her to create a community of practitioners in Shipping Law that will put South Africa at the forefront of teaching and research in this area – Lesley Stones

Twitter: @liv_naidoo

Lerisha Naidu (34) 

Lerisha Naidu (34) 

Partner, Baker McKenzie

Lawyer Lerisha Naidu initially wanted to fight for justice on behalf of non-profit organisations, until she was advised to join the corporate world to improve its social conscience.

The advice came from Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who Naidu worked for as a legal researcher when he was the deputy chief justice of the Constitutional Court. He told Naidu that businesses needed a social conscience to drive South Africa’s transformation, and Naidu switched her interest to corporate law.

She’s now a partner with the global law firm Baker McKenzie, and based in its competition and antitrust practice in Johannesburg. From that platform she works to ensure that companies apply their social consciences and contribute to the country’s transformation.

“As a lawyer in a democratic dispensation that is comparatively young, I engage in cases that are pioneering and precedent-setting. This is particularly the case as a competition lawyer, where the layers of jurisprudence are still incrementally forming,” she says. Competition law is at the forefront of national transformation as it is core to the health of the economy and to everyday consumers, whose socioeconomic rights are of paramount importance in a deeply unequal society, she says.

Yet, she still gets to help non-profit organisations, working pro bono as a small claims commissioner for organisations including Johannesburg Pride, Corruption Watch and refugee organisations.

Furthermore, Naidu heads her company’s diversity and inclusion committee in Johannesburg, and is involved with the firm’s corporate social responsibility projects. She was recently invited to participate in Baker McKenzie’s global leaders investing for tomorrow programme for high performing women partners.

Naidu was named a next generation lawyer in the Legal 500 Europe, Middle East and Africa Guide 2017, and listed as up and coming in competition law in the Chambers Global Guide for 2019.

She also supports school career guidance projects to help inspire students interested in a career in law.

She aims to continue building her profile as a world-class competition lawyer, listed on the local and global rankings. “My aim is also to build a team of world-class lawyers that feel empowered to build their own teams and to lead in terms of the true meaning of the word. I plan to contribute by raising my voice on the topic of diversity and inclusion,” she says. —Lesley Stones

Twitter: @lee.naidu

Gundo Nevhutanda (27)

Gundo Nevhutanda (27)

Associate, Webber Wentzel

‘I have always known that I wanted to help solve problems, and that is what drew me to law,” says Gundo Nevhutanda.

Nevhutanda is a financial regulatory attorney at a law firm in Johannesburg. Her work has taken her to many different directions. She advises clients on banking regulatory matters, including collective investment schemes, anti-money laundering, payments and insurance.

Nevhutanda has had an illustrious academic career at the University of Pretoria (UP), where she did her Bcom Law, LLB and LLM degrees. Not one to stop pursuing the ultimate academic goals, she is now pursuing a PhD from UP.

She was named by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces in 2017 as the youngest Black female conveyancer to be admitted at the time.

However, Nevhutanda is not just content with pursuing excellence in her work life. In 2016 she established The Dignify Her Foundation. It is a non-profit organisation, which provides girls with mentorship and free sanitary pads in order to keep them in school during their menstrual cycle.

Nevhutanda says her foundation “focuses on solving education policy challenges by keeping girls in school through providing them with sanitary pads to ensure that they do not miss out on school as a result of their period”. Her foundation has helped to keep over 80 young girls in school.

Nevhutanda’s talents lie beyond law. She used to dabble in radio and in public speaking, featuring on SABC 3’s Afternoon Express.

Nevhutanda says she echoes the beliefs of Nelson Mandela in the work she does: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

“My future plans includes completing an MBA, community development through establishing a sanitary pad manufacturing plant and building my practice, as well as joining the World Bank.”

The motto she lives by is “nothing is impossible.” With all she has achieved and hopes to achieve, it truly seems that way.  — Fatima Moosa

LinkedIn: Gundo Nevhutanda  

Eveshnie Reddy (32) 

Eveshnie Reddy (32) 

Law Lecturer, University of South Africa

The risks cybercrime pose to individuals, corporations, government and entire countries completely fascinates academic Eveshnie Reddy.

Economically harmful cybercrime and the criminogenic risks of cryptocurrencies are her speciality as a lecturer in the School of Criminal Justice, College of Law at the University of South Africa (Unisa).

Born and educated in KwaZulu-Natal, Reddy was appointed as director of research for the Association of Certified Compliance Professionals in Africa (ACCPA), where she led the annual research projects. A fierce orator on the do’s and don’ts of crypocurrency, she’s spoken about its risks at conferences in Kenya, Greece and the United States.

But Reddy is not a one track mind: She’s also a member of Unisa’s Women in Research project, which focuses on the role of women in criminal justice, and women who are involved with the Lekgotla La Batho project which looks at how customary law can be used in lieu of conventional judiciary processes.

Furthermore, she is currently pursuing doctoral studies in mercantile law with a thesis on the regulation of cryptocurrencies, as she believes technology has a great potential to assist the unbanked if it is supported by a bespoke financial regulatory framework.

She particularly enjoys the interdisciplinary aspect of research as it enables her to think across boundaries to devise innovative yet practical solutions to the issues she investigates.

“My current research areas – cybercrime, internet surveillance technologies and the regulation of crypto assets – requires me to delve into computer science, economics, law and criminology. Every research project is a new learning adventure,” she says.

The best way to safeguard against cybercrime, she explains, is to know what you’re getting into, yet people still reveal personal information too easily. It has become the norm for millions of people to share personal pictures and information on social media. This is extremely dangerous because hackers can use that information to locate individuals, which means that cybercrime has the potential to precipitate physical crimes such as human trafficking she warns.

Reddy has certainly chosen a field where she will never be able to declare that she knows everything there is to know, because cyber criminals are constantly evolving, giving her career built-in longevity.

“Beware of online investors who promise high returns of crypto assets over a relatively short period of time – these are actually Ponzi schemes and are on the rise in South Africa,” she adds. – Lesley Stones

LinkedIn: Eveshnie Reddy

Dakalo Singo (33) 

Dakalo Singo (33) 

Director, Werksmans Attorneys 

Imagine a career trajectory in which you can really reach out and help people in a way that will properly impact their well-being. This is the actualised dream of 33-year-old human rights and social justice lawyer Dakalo Singo.

“I find fulfilment in making the law work for people – especially vulnerable and disenfranchised members of society – thereby ensuring social justice,” says this director at Werksmans Attorneys, where he specialises in pro bono legal advice and assistance. “There is a special kind of satisfaction that comes with knowing that your work has positively affected someone’s life in some small but important way.”

A graduate of University of the Witwatersrand, Singo also enjoys the work because it’s intellectually fulfilling and engaging.

“Because the law is a continually evolving creature I learn new things every day and continue to be mentally stimulated by it, and how it works,” he says.

“The law plays a role in every person’s life, whether they choose to believe it or not. This is a big part of what attracted me to the legal profession. The thought of being involved in a profession that directly impacts people’s lives was too exciting a prospect to pass up. I like to believe that my small contribution to the legal profession has positively affected the lives of the clients that I have represented over the years,” he adds, referring to his roots in the small town of Makhado in Limpopo.

His fields of expertise include public interest and human rights litigation, dispute resolution, civil litigation and labour and employment law. He also advises on matters related to constitutional law and social justice.

Singo has represented human rights and social justice organisations, such as Amnesty International, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

His fondest career highlight so far, was his opportunity to represent asylum seekers in impact litigation against the Minister of Labour. This representation challenged the constitutionality of aspects of the legislative framework of the Unemployment Insurance Fund that excluded asylum seekers from claiming benefits, despite having paid contributions to the UIF.

Academically, Singo occasionally lectures at the University of the Witwatersrand, and his most recent publication includes a chapter on drafting pleadings, notices and applications in the vital legal textbook Clinical Law in South Africa. This book is  prescribed reading for various law faculties all over the country. Furthermore, Sango is a contributing author to Law Clinics and the Clinical Law Movement in South Africa, which was published by Juta in 2016.

He envisions doing more of the same in the future, by contributing to the greater social justice project and continuing to make the law work for the people. – Lesley Stones

 

Tumi Sole (34) 

Tumi Sole (34) 

Corporate Attorney and Founder of #CountryDuty

Tumi Sole is the creator and founder of #CountryDuty, a social movement that brings together all South Africans regardless of race or creed. As a corporate attorney with experience in human rights litigation, employment law and dispute resolution, Sole is currently reading for his Master’s in Law, specialising in commerce and business Law at University of the Witswatersrand. His successes with #CountryDuty have seen him appear in numerous South African media platforms and create the biggest hashtag to hit the country.

“I regard myself as a social activist who uses social media for good, to ignite conversations and come up with practical solutions that encourage South Africans to put their #CountryDuty first,” says Sole. “I have undertaken this role because I believe that complaining and waiting for government or corporate South Africa to come up with solutions isn’t helpful.”

It is also a role that Sole has undertaken to give voice to the voiceless, to speak out and be heard. In one instance, Sole’s active Twitter presence helped a woman from Khayelitsha who was ignored by the authorities. Sole drew attention to the woman’s situation and helped her gain redress.

“I plan to establish various #CountryDuty satellite offices across the country if I obtain funding,” says Sole. “These will be offices that can interview complainants, link them up with the relevant authorities and take up social justice projects. The people in these offices will be unemployed graduates who will use their skills to ensure the voiceless are heard.”

It has not been an easy journey for Sole — it has taken a lot of time and effort — but he believes that his wife, Seli Sole, has been instrumental in helping him to make his dreams a reality.

“There have even been instances of me wanting to hand over the baton to someone else, but she has encouraged me to carry on,” he concludes. “I would advise anyone dreaming of success to never be afraid to ask questions, to always associate with those who do well, and to keep going in spite of the hardships.”

For Sole, #CountryDuty is a South African social movement that is made up of passionate people from all walks of life. He credits every one of the members of his team for its success and believes that their passion to ignite change has bee instrumental in #CountryDuty growing as it has. – Tamsin Oxford 

Twitter: @tumisole

Jacquie Hodgson (34)

Jacquie Hodgson (34)

Head of Alternative Legal Solutions, Herbert Smith Freehills

Jacquie Hodgson was one of five executives brought in to assist e.tv in launching OpenView HD as a start-up to market. Her role was executive of legal and business affairs and she was responsible for putting in place the entire legal framework from scratch, across the technical requirements for the satellite platform, distribution agreements, marketing and PR, supply agreements, regulatory requirements and the channel agreements upon which the entire business model was premised. She was also co-responsible for the business development of bringing on new channels onto the platform, to drive both viewership and revenue in terms of the business model. The channel started at zero viewers and now is viewed in over 1.5 million households.

Hodgson is now the head of alternative legal services at Herbert Smith Freehills, a global law firm with a global practice group of 350 people across New York, Belfast, London, Johannesburg, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Hong Kong and Shanghai.  She is heading up the Johannesburg branch that forms part of the global practice and she sits on the regional executive team. She notes that one of the things that drew her to the role was the opportunity to develop legal graduates to enable them to gain traction at the start of their careers and learn some of the softer skills-set required to thrive and navigate in the corporate legal environment.

She was practising at Webber Wentzel as an associate lawyer when she was introduced to her life coach, Louise Latham, by a partner at the practice. At age 31, after transitioning away from the traditional practice of law and undertook the Martha Beck life coaching course, more to deepen her own practice of groundedness and understanding the tools better. “In that process, I came to realise that there was value to sharing my own experiences and process, specifically in supporting young professionals in transitioning into careers that will light them up and give them energy, rather than operating from a place of obligation and fear,” she says.

Being young and a woman in a male and mature environment, she says she’s had to work hard at her confidence, and trust that what she had to offer was valuable. “One of my mantras is that I don’t need to dim my light to make other people feel more comfortable,” says Hodgson. — Welcome Lishivha 

LinkedIn: Jacquie Hodgson

Bilal Osman Latib (30) 

Bilal Osman Latib (30) 

Legal Counsel, Investec Asset Management Proprietary Limited 

Huge investments in Africa is the name of the game for financial lawyer, Bilal Osman Latib who works for the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, where he plays a key role in directing foreign investments into vital infrastructure developments across Africa.

The fund, worth $1-billion, is managed by Investec Asset Management, which uses money from European governments, banks and development finance institutions to support private sector infrastructure projects. As its legal counsel, Latib negotiates funding for some of the most innovative and complex infrastructure projects in Africa, including ports, airports and power projects.

“The exciting part of my role is that I work on investments in a number of countries in Africa and I’ve experienced firsthand the impact these projects have on people,” he says.

One project the fund invested in was a bulk water system in Rwanda that will deliver up to 40-million litres of water a day, growing Kigali’s existing water capacity by a third and delivering water to 500 000 people. Another was a hydro power plant in Uganda to generate more affordable electricity.

“To date, the fund I advise on has invested about $800-million in Africa. With each deal we help to provide access to the infrastructure of these countries, which creates new employment opportunities in addition to granting new and improved access to energy, water, communications or transport,” he says.

Born in the small Limpopo town of Tzaneen, Latib graduated from law school at the University of the Western Cape, and initially worked as an associate at law firm Webber Wentzel, where like any law graduate, he anticipated a career trajectory that would take him into the court room. Some activism and some invitations from key individuals in the investment field, however, enabled him to divert into banking and finance law.

Now the investments that he advises on tackle some of Africa’s most urgent infrastructure development needs. The fund is at the forefront of exciting opportunities that many companies want to be involved in, he says, explaining how it makes sure that local stakeholders are brought on board to ensure long-term sustainability and success.

“I think everyone wants Africa to be a success story and would like to be part of a movement for positive change. Now that I am involved in something that excites me, my plan for the future is to hopefully say I’ve advised on a deal in every country in Africa, grown my role as the business develops and continued to be part of a unique organisation that is committed to doing responsible investments,” he says. – Lesley Stones

Instagram: @billz_the_mogul