The Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (SU), Justice Edwin Cameron, will be awarded a National Order later this month. The announcement was made yesterday (10 November 2021) by the Chancellor of the National Orders and Director-General in the Presidency, Ms Phindile Baleni.
According to the media statement released by the Presidency, the National Orders are the highest awards that South Africa bestows on its citizens and eminent foreign nationals who have contributed towards the advancement of democracy and have made a significant impact on improving the lives of South Africans. It also recognises the contributions made by individuals towards building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Justice Cameron will be awarded the Order of the Baobab (gold category), which recognises South African citizens who have contributed to community service, business and economy, science, medicine and technological innovation.
Baleni stated that Justice Cameron is recognised for his “contribution to the judicial system and tireless campaigning against the stigma of HIV and AIDS, and for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities".
Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, said Justice Cameron is a prime example of the kind of leader South Africa so desperately needs.
“Edwin Cameron is one of those rare humans whose intellect is matched by his empathy and compassion. As a judge in the Constitutional Court of South Africa he reached the pinnacle of his profession. As an activist he influenced – and continues to influence – the lives of countless people, especially those within the LGBTQIA+ community.
“And as Chancellor of SU his steady and thoughtful demeanour during the pandemic has been of immense value to the entire SU community. He is more than deserving of this honour."
The other categories include the Order of Mendi for Bravery, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of Luthuli and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo. Click here to read more about the other recipients.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will bestow the Orders at a ceremony on 18 November 2021.
More about Justice Edwin Cameron
In 2015, SU conferred an honorary doctorate on Justice Cameron in acknowledgement of his “unstinting professional and personal advocacy for the recognition of every person's dignity, freedom and equality – foundational values he has helped entrenched in our legal system and beyond". He has helped develop South African law so as to truly reflect the fundamental values of the Constitution. Moreover, his role in securing the inclusion of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Bill of Rights, as well as his advocacy for persons with HIV/Aids, has made him a key player in South African and international law.
Justice Cameron studied at the universities of Stellenbosch, Oxford and South Africa. He started out his career at, among others, the University of the Witwatersrand's Centre for Applied Legal Studies before he was appointed as senior counsel (SC) in 1994, and as an acting judge of the high court by President Nelson Mandela later that same year. He was appointed a judge of the high court in 1995, judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2001, and justice of the Constitutional Court in 2009.
As the first South African in a high-profile public office speaking openly about his HIV status and experience taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), Justice Cameron has made a credible and crucial contribution to more accessible ARV treatment for all HIV-positive South Africans.
His international impact as top jurist with nearly 200 judgments against his name, acclaimed author and popular speaker is evident from the numerous awards he has received. These range from recognition by the Bar of England and Wales for his contribution to international jurisprudence and the protection of human rights, to the prestigious Grand Prix du Conseil Québécois des Gais et Lesbiennes award bestowed on him in Montreal.
Justice Cameron is the recipient of various honorary doctorates and a patron to children's homes, clinics and associations.
- The Chancellor is the titular head of the University, chairs graduation ceremonies and awards all degrees, diplomas and certificates in the name of the University.