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UJ alumnus Cassie Badenhorst, SC leads the way in giving back to his alma mater

Dr Casper Badenhorst has called on all alumni to join him in financially assisting with the repair of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Sanlam Auditorium which was gutted in May 2016. The legal eagle, Badenhorst, has always had a strong connection with the UJ – an institution that kick-started his career.

This connection moved him not only to donate R10 000 towards the rebuilding of the auditorium, but also to encourage his fellow alumni to stand by the University and support it in these troubling times. "I believe that, ultimately, the problem lies in neglect at numerous levels," he says of the #FeesMustFall protests. "I have sympathy with the protesting students, but condemn all forms of violence, which can never be a solution… I hope that our leaders will finally explore various strategies to explore and find sustainable solutions for education fees in South Africa."

Badenhorst's journey began at the then Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), where he studied a BCom, becoming the university's first student to graduate cum laude in this degree in 1975. He returned to RAU in 1983 to pursue his doctoral degree in Law, which included a research stint at the Max Planck Institute in Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany. He then became a lecturer in the Department of Public Law and later joined the Johannesburg Bar in 1982. "Being a lecturer gave one opportunities to reflect on things, whilst feeling secure," he recalls. "As an advocate, it was a struggle to 'make it' in an extremely competitive environment." Nonetheless, he remained a part-time lecturer for some years.

With hard work, a willingness to learn and plenty of determination, Badenhorst pursued excellence in his endeavours, soon climbing the ranks in his chosen profession. He received many well-deserved accolades since becoming a practising advocate. In 1995, he was elevated to the rank of Senior Counsel by then President Nelson Mandela at the age of 40. The next year, he began serving as the Acting Judge of the High Court, and continues to act as an arbitrator in large commercial disputes on a regular basis. He has recently become a Senior Member of the Professional Committee of the Johannesburg Bar Council, which acts as a regulatory body for the City's legal practitioners. Despite his busy schedule, he always takes the time to mentor young advocates, maintaining an 'open-door policy' for those seeking advice.

His advice to current students seeking success is simple: never, never, never give up.