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Justice Kate O’Regan – Chairperson

Kate O’Regan served as a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from 1994 – 2009 and has been serving as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia since 2010. From 2008 – 2012, she served as the inaugural chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, a body established to ensure independence, professionalism and accountability in the internal system of justice in the UN. She is an honorary Professor at UCT and a visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford and also serves on the boards of many NGOs working in the fields of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and equality.

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Zukiswa Kota

Zukiswa Kota is the Programme Head of Monitoring and Advocacy at the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) based at Rhodes University. She has developed expertise in promoting social justice and in particular advocating for the implementation of law and policy promoting the right to education. Her other areas of work include monitoring of resource management in the delivery of public services.

Zukiswa is currently the Lead Coordinator of a civil society coalition – IMALI YETHU – working with the South African National Treasury to open up public budgets and promote public participation in the budget process; Vulekamali.  An environmental science graduate, her interests range from food security and ethnobotany to Ecoliteracy and early childhood development.

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Tatum Howie

Tatum Howie is a qualified Chartered Accountant (SA) and an audit manager at a medium size firm in Claremont, Cape Town.  She has a Business Science (Honours) degree in Marketing and two postgraduate diplomas from the University of Cape Town.

She audits a number of non-profit entities which assists in her role as Treasurer of the EELC Trust. Tatum joined the Trust in May 2019.

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Achmat Toefy

Achmat Toefy is a partner and leads the Public Law Practice at Webber Wentzel. He joined the EELC as a board member in January 2017.  He holds Bachelor of Arts and LLB degrees from the University of Cape Town.

Achmat specialises in advising on and litigating in all areas of public and regulatory law.  This includes matters relating to administrative and constitutional law.

He has specialist expertise in matters relating to the governance of public entities on the national, provincial and local government levels.

Achmat also has Certificates in Legislative Drafting and Competition Law from obtained at UCT.

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Michael Mbikiwa

Michael is an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar, specialising in constitutional, administrative and competition law. He holds BSocSci (Hons) and LL.B degrees from the University of Cape Town, and an LL.M degree from Columbia Law School where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

As a student, he was in the national leadership of Students for Law and Social Justice, and a co-ordinating committee member of the then newly-formed Social Justice Coalition. Later, before joining the Bar, he was a law clerk to Justice Edwin Cameron, qualified and practiced briefly as an attorney, and, more recently, completed short-term spells as a researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi and the Center for Public Research and Leadership in New York.

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Michelle Norton

Michelle Norton is a senior counsel practising at the Cape Bar and the Johannesburg Bar.

She obtained the degrees of BA and LLB from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a D Phil from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

She has taught law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Trinity College, Oxford, and is a former director of the Legal Education, Research and Training Project of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, in which she also served as National Vice-President and Western Cape Chairperson.

She has served as an Acting Judge of the Western Cape High Court and has chaired the Cape Bar’s Pro Bono Committee and Transformation Committee.

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Sisesakhe Ntlabezo

“Sisesakhe, known as Sakhe, was born and raised in Komani. He studied at Rhodes University, where he acquired a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Industrial and Economic Sociology.

After studying, he worked briefly in Makhanda before joining Equal Education (EE) in March 2017. In December 2017, he was promoted to the position of Chief of Staff at EE, where he provided strategic support to the senior management and governance structures of the social movement. His time at EE culminated with him being co-opted as a full voting member of the National Council, the movement’s highest governance structure, in December 2020.

He has served as the Programme Manager of the Makhanda Circle of Unity since January 2021, tasked with strategically supporting and driving the implementation of the forum’s objectives. Sakhe also serves as a board member on the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) board of trustees, having served on the board since March 2021”

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Geoff Budlender SC

New to the EELC Board of Trustees, Geoff Budlender SC is a senior counsel (SC) practising in Cape Town.  He practises mainly in the areas of constitutional law, human rights, administrative law, and land law.  He also appears in the courts in Botswana and Namibia.

In 1979 he was one of the founders of the Legal Resources Centre, with Arthur Chaskalson and Felicia Kentridge.  From 1994 to 1996 he was the National Director of the LRC.

From 1996 to January 2000 he was Director-General of the Department of Land Affairs.  He then returned to legal practice.

He is an Extraordinary Professor of Public Law at Stellenbosch University.

He has acted as a judge of the High Court in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Arthur

A Tribute to Justice Arthur Chaskalson, our Founding Chairperson

On 1 December 2012, as the EELC’s first year of operations was drawing to a close, news reached Spin Street of the passing of Justice Arthur Chaskalson. The EELC’s trustees were all in a meeting that Arthur would usually have chaired. He had given his apologies a few days prior. Many of the staff were present, to give reports on their work, when the terrible news was announced.

Justice Chaskalson died on World AIDS Day. This added a further poignancy. Arguably the most celebrated, and probably the most impactful, judgment of the Constitutional Court which he lead, was its judgment in the TAC case. The case won the right of HIV-positive pregnant mothers to access Nevirapine, for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. World AIDS Day will forever be both the anniversary of Arthur’s death, and a reminder of the part he played in affirming life.

His passing came at a time when we were both confirming and celebrating the successful establishment of our new organisation. And yet we were comforted by the knowledge that Justice Chaskalson had been proud of the work and growth of the EELC.

Born in Johannesburg on 21 November 1931, Arthur Chaskalson would go on to play a defining role in many of South Africa’s most historic legal events. He was one of the team of defence lawyers who saved Nelson Mandela and his fellow activists from the death sentence at the Rivonia Trial in 1963-64. In 1978, by then Chairman of the Johannesburg Bar, he gave up the security of a lucrative private practice to establish the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), South Africa’s first public interest law firm, which profoundly undermined apartheid by ingenuously using the little space afforded by the apartheid legal order. Under his leadership, the LRC’s many achievements included decisive judgements against the apartheid policies of ‘influx control’ and forced eviction, as well as the training of over 200, mostly black African, young lawyers.

During the democratic transition Arthur co-wrote the Interim Constitution and its successor, the nation’s ground-breaking Constitution, and soon after became the founding President and later the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court which, during the 1990s, abolished the death penalty and guaranteed the rights to shelter and same-sex marriage.

In 2005, he laid the cornerstone for the Constitutional Court’s new home: the site of the dilapidated Old Fort Prison which once held South African freedom fighters. “Come here,” he stated in his address, “because here, at this site, your freedom is now protected.” During his retirement, he continued to work with the same fervour and dedication, serving as the President of the International Commission of Jurists, as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and as a teacher at the Columbia Law School in New York.

His phenomenal work ethic was something he maintained right up until the end. His rigorous and exhaustive reading of the EELC’s legal documents and court papers left the younger staff and trustees trailing behind. He was doubtless kept youthful by the intellect and companionship of his beloved wife Loraine. The staff of the EELC and the members of the EELC Trust would like to pay our deepest respects to the life and legacy of Justice Chaskalson, one of our country’s most distinguished, humble and inspiring human beings.

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