Dignitas Award winner Judge Boiselo personifies the value of hard work and dedication
From humble beginnings to the Supreme Court of Appeal, UJ alumnus Judge Lebotsang Boiselo's life is a study in true accomplishment. A passionate advocate for justice for all, he has dedicated himself to mentoring the next generation of legal minds.
Judge Boiselo began his educational career in a time of great social upheaval and transformation in South Africa. After completing his undergraduate and obtaining his Masters degree at what was at the time the University of the North (now the University of Limpopo) from 1981 to 1992, he turned his sights on an Advanced Diploma in Corporate Law at Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) in 1996. "One of the most important attributes of a good judge is the ability and willingness to remain a perpetual student," he says. "This is so because the law, being dynamic, changes every day."
It was a period of transition for the university, which had been long perceived as a bastion of Afrikaner culture. However, notes the judge, "what was crucial to me was that, notwithstanding its culture, RAU had ultimately opened its doors of learning to other races". It was to be the first step on the journey to forming the proudly multicultural and inclusive University of Johannesburg, now celebrating its tenth anniversary. He is a passionate proponent of education and the importance of adopting "a new philosophy of teaching" geared toward developing social consciousness and creating curricula that are Afrocentric rather than Eurocentric.
"This is the pinnacle of my dreams," says the judge about his prestigious seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the second-highest court in South Africa. "I have been given an opportunity to use my education, skills and talent to serve and make my contribution towards building a new country where all will be equal, respected for their human wealth and be able to enjoy their fundamental rights." Receiving the UJ Dignitas Award last year has motivated him to do more to train and inspire young lawyers and judges. After all, "it is not enough to have a Constitution which is respected as the most progressive, liberal, aspirational and transformative if we do not have courageous and principled lawyers to translate the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution from idle words to practical results for our people."
"Education is an effective tool to effect social transformation," he concludes. "It is therefore important for us all as alumni to make time and participate in all projects which are geared towards nation building like engaging our young students and graduates to develop and inculcate better social values in them." The judge notes that, if nothing else, the recent #FeesMustFall protests have underlined that perceptions around education need to change – it is not simply an "expenditure but an investment in human capital".