From the 2008 News Archive
Justice Bess Nkabinde Lectures on South African Constitution
Distinguished Visiting Professor Justice Bess Nkabinde delivered the lecture "The Modern Constitution of South Africa: Are the Promises in the Constitution Realizable or a Distant Dream?" on Monday, Oct. 20.
"The promises are not a dream. South Africans retain their faith in the resilience of their Constitution and the vibrancy of their democracy. Never again will we be subject to the oppression of the past," said Justice Nkabinde, noting that after the Constitution was adopted, seven million copies in the 11 official languages of South Africa were distributed throughout the country.
Justice Nkabinde also stressed the importance of international cooperation in the pursuit of global human rights.
"International law played a significant role in the drafting of our Constitution. There are many important lessons to be learned from constitutions around the world," she said.
"We must never stop learning from each other. The beauty of the legal profession is that you always have colleagues to confer with. The knowledge Iíve gained from collaborating with my new colleagues at Maryland will help the Constitutional Court of South Africa."
A Justice on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Justice Nkabinde obtained a BProc degree at the University of Zululand in 1983, and an LLB from the University of the North West in 1986. She also attended the Damelin College, which awarded her a Diploma in Industrial Relations with Distinction.
Following her admission as an advocate in South Africa, Justice Nkabinde practiced law in the North West Bar from 1990 to 1999 in the fields of civil, commercial, matrimonial, and criminal law. In 1999 she was appointed Judge of the High Court (Bophuthatswana Provincial Division. In 2000 and 2003 she also served as an Acting Judge in the Labour Court in Johannesburg and in 2003 was appointed to serve on the Special Tribunal on civil matters relating to investigations by Special Investigative Units in South Africa. In 2004, Justice Nkabinde was appointed an Acting Judge of the Labour Appeal Court and in 2005 she was appointed as Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal. Justice Nkabinde was appointed to the Constitutional Court of South Africa by President Thabo Mbeki in 2006.
Justice Nkabinde serves on a great number of boards and commissions in South Africa. Prominent among these, she is a chairperson for the Rules Board for Courts of Law, a body created by national statute that is responsible for making, amending and reviewing the rules of courts. Justice Nkabinde also has made numerous presentations on issues of human rights, minority rights, socio-economic rights, and judicial ethics.
Posted by Gynene Sullivan on 10/8/08