South Africa's former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, officially took up her new position as Chair in Social Justice in the Law Faculty of Stellenbosch University (SU) yesterday (10 January).
Prof Madonsela said in an interview with SU's Corporate Communications Division that she was excited to be in Stellenbosch.
“I chose Stellenbosch University because it allows me to focus on my first love namely Social Justice; the institution also allows me to focus on something less administrative. I had received many offers, but at this stage of my life, I thought with all the knowledge I have gained over the years it's best that I plough that back."
During her seven-year tenure as South Africa's third Public Protector, Madonsela's main work focused on ethical governance in public institutions and realising the Constitution's mandate of a public administration that responds to people's needs, something she hopes to continue doing in her new position at SU.
Madonsela will mainly engage in teaching and research at SU's Law Faculty, but will also be involved in civil society initiatives.
“I am hoping that the great human beings who have invited me here will journey with me in identifying the social justice challenges we have in South Africa and globally. We started well at the dawn of democracy in attempting to create a South Africa that is inclusive, but we have stumbled over the years."
She continued: “I will mainly be focussing on the key areas where social justice is still a major challenge, the causes of those challenges, and to what extent the law has been a solution, to what extent it has been a hindrance and how we could activate ordinary human beings in society to voluntarily participate in the social justice project beyond the cohesive power of the law."
The former Naledi High School teacher says teaching is one of the greatest tools to transform people's minds and to empower them to realise their full potential, and “being in a space where I can use teaching to transform people's minds is a privilege."
She adds that some of the teachings she will attempt to pass on to her students during her time at Stellenbosch is to activate them to think of themselves firstly as creators of jobs, and secondarily as seekers of jobs. She explains: “Some of us will have to work for other people, but we have to change the paradigm that says 'I am a job seeker' because even if you look at primitive societies, the average person is not a job seeker, and that goes for the animal kingdom too."
She concluded: “The average person is developed and educated to be functional in terms of creating opportunities to generate food and other advances for the community. That is what we need to inculcate among young people right from grade R, namely that, yes, you can create a job, you can impact the world."