Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke has donated the fees he received for chairing the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings to well performing law students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
Moseneke chaired the arbitration process into the Life Esidimeni tragedy that resulted in the death of 144 mental health care users.
The university said in a statement that Moseneke visited the institution on Monday to fulfil the pledge he made in March when he handed down a scathing judgment against senior Gauteng officials. Moseneke described their decision to relocate thousands of patients as "cruel, inhumane and degrading".
In Moseneke's judgment, he had promised: "to donate all my arbitrator’s fees to chosen law schools that will hopefully help nurture young women and men committed to the high values of our Constitution and to the calling to defend the vulnerable against the abuse of the high and mighty."
At a ceremony attended by UWC Rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius, deputy vice chancellor Professor Vivienne Lawack and Law Faculty Dean Professor Jacques de Ville, Moseneke committed around R400 000 to law students who excelled in their final LLB year of their LLB and the LLM degree.
In turn, the university pledged to match Judge Moseneke’s donation to assist in promoting excellence within the law faculty.
UWC first choice
Moseneke said the university’s law faculty was his first choice of institutions to whom he wanted to donate his fees.
He said this was not only due to the faculty’s contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle but also because of the number of judges, advocates and lawyers that the university had produced and who had done well in society.
UWC said the institution was one of three chosen by Moseneke.
"I hope to encourage young people from the Western Cape in particular to assume their role in continuing to be socially conscious lawyers, who will continue to uphold the rule of law and social justice. The target of this is excellence, it is not a bursary. This is an attempt to identify and encourage excellence - hard work and commitment to achieve outstanding results," he said.
Pretorius said that while UWC was immensely grateful for the former deputy chief justice’s generosity, it was deeply regrettable that it had to stem from such a tragic event in South Africa.
"The unnecessary and completely preventable deaths of 144 patients and the abuse of many more should never have happened. Our Constitution demands that the most vulnerable among us should receive the highest level of care and protection. This we expect particularly from our government and its officials.
"We are humbled by Judge Moseneke’s generosity and we will ensure that his gift is used in the most appropriate way," said Pretorius.
Pretorius also said Moseneke’s act of kindness spoke to the character of a person who was deeply committed to his country and the upliftment of its people.
De Ville said the UWC Law Faculty was extremely grateful for this unexpected donation from Moseneke.
"The Law Faculty is moreover very proud of its association with Justice Moseneke, whose involvement in the Faculty as Extraordinary Professor further enhances its stature," De Ville said.