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Social justice takes centre stage at Anton Lubowski Memorial Lecture
Author: Bradley Frolick
Published: 12/10/2021

The third annual Anton Lubowski Memorial Lecture took place on 28 September 2021 at the Stellenbosch University (SU) Alumni Club at Die Stal, and online. The annual lecture is presented to honour the memory of Anton Theodor Eberhard August Lubowski, a Namibian anti-apartheid activist and advocate who was assassinated outside his home in Windhoek on 12 September 1989. At the time of his death, Lubowski was a member of the Windhoek Bar. 

The theme of this year's lecture was Intergenerational Social Justice. Speaking at the event, some of the key voices in the country engaged on the topic. The heart of the conversation focused on how issues around social justice are managed and defined, and the consequences of this for future generations.

Lord Peter Hain, South African-born anti-apartheid activist and former Cabinet minister in the United Kingdom, reflected on the ideals that Anton Lubowski and his generation fought for and the global economic inequities experienced today.

The son of one of the four anti-apartheid activists from Cradock and award-winning journalist and author, Lukhanyo Calata, presented a moving address. The so-called Cradock Four, including Fort Calata, were assassinated by the apartheid government in 1985. Lukhanyo reflected on the pain of the injustice experienced by his family through the State not pursuing the unrepentant assassins of his father, similar to the case of Anton Lubowski. This prompted much discussion on the prosecution of people for apartheid-era crimes and ideas on how the National Prosecuting Authority and the justice system could be used to pursue justice.

Khadija Bawa, a feminist activist, former researcher at the Social Justice Coalition and postgraduate law student, focused on the notion of trust and policing by analysing the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into community policing and trust. Bawa's address provided great insight into how the police are viewed and the perspective of the youth in “post-apartheid" South Africa.

The third Anton Lubowski Memorial Lecture was moderated by veteran journalist Max du Preez, himself a friend of Anton Lubowski, and served to unite the children of Anton Lubowski and Fort Calata in their quest to honour their fathers, the ideals that they fought for and their pursuit of justice. All those in attendance, including the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, and the Rector of Paul Roos, Andre van Staden, were moved by the inputs of the panellists and the reflection of Anton's daughter, Nadia Lubowski, on behalf of the family.

Anton Lubowski was a Stellenbosch student and a Simonsberg resident in the seventies. He initially enrolled at SU in 1972 for a BCom degree but transferred to a BA Law degree in 1973 and graduated in March 1976.

The annual memorial lecture was initiated by Charl Adams, a varsity friend and residence roommate, and was first presented in 2019.

Lubowski's fight for freedom must be remembered and serves as an inspiration to continue pursuing and upholding social justice and non-racialism, especially as South Africa still is tackling issues such as poverty, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.