The final of the 2015 National Schools Moot Court competition took place on 11 October at the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Johannesburg. The event was attended by over 120 people, including CEO of Legal Aid, Ms Vidhu Vedalankar, the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery, two acting Constitutional Court judges, members of the South African Human Rights Commission as well as several university and government officials.
The initiative is aimed at raising awareness around the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in minds of the youth. Through active participation, learners are exposed to the values and principles embodied by the constitution, and are given an opportunity to test their abilities and get a feel for the legal profession.
In the provincial round, which took place during August and September, 150 plus teams of two grade 10 or 11 pupils from around the country were presented with a fictional legal scenario for which they needed to submit written essays for each opposing side. This year, the scenario involved the rights of a female learner to attend a matric dance with her gay partner.
The two finalist teams, Shandre Smith and Katelyn Chetty from Gibson Pillay, and Claire Rankin and Clara-Marie Macheke from Springfield Convent Secondary School, presented excellent oral arguments for each side in a battle for the honour of being placed first. The final decision was made by a carefully selected panel of experts.
Each of the finalists received a R30 000 bursary from Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr towards their first year’s university tuition. Other prize winners received a book prize of R500 for honours such as Best Essay or Best Oralist.
The participating learners were also treated to an afternoon workshop at the Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr headquarters in Sandton; a visit to the Apartheid Museum, where they were addressed by Justice Cameron; a day-trip to Gold Reef City and a tour of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
The competition is organised by the University of Pretoria, supported by the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Foundation for Human Rights, the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Webber Wentzel, the South African Human Rights Commission and Constitutional Hill.
The final is to be broadcast on channel 309 (Mindset TV), preliminarily scheduled for 17 October.