UP achieves double gold in moot court competition

December 1st, 2012

By Nomfundo Manyathi

The University of the Free State (UFS) held its annual First-year Moot Court Competition in Bloemfontein in October. The competition is based on the legal principles of family law and is open to students completing their first-year BA Law, BCom Law or LLB studies.

Eight universities participated this year, namely UFS, the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Rhodes University (Rhodes), the University of Venda, Charlotte School of Law (from the United States), the University of Zululand (Unizulu), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the University of Pretoria (UP). The semi-finals were held at the Free State High Court and the final round at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). Final-round judges included judges and acting judges of the SCA.

The competition included English and Afrikaans teams. There were 14 teams in the English division and five in the Afrikaans division.

UP seized double gold with their English and Afrikaans teams winning in their respective divisions.

The English team comprised Tatenda Madzingira (21) and Sanan Mirzoyev (22); and Daniel du Plessis (19) and Carike Jacobs (19) made up the Afrikaans team. Mr Mirzoyev and Mr du Plessis also scooped up awards for best individual oralists in the English and Afrikaans divisions respectively and Mr du Plessis and Ms Jacobs ranked as the best team overall.

After winning, Mr Madzingira told De Rebus that there was not a word in the dictionary to explain how he felt. He said that it was a ‘mixture of happiness, relief and sadness’. He was happy that his team had won, relieved that all the hard work had paid off, and sad that the competition was over as he had enjoyed the time spent preparing and arguing cases.

Mr Madzingira added that his team had not expected to win and had not even expected to be in the finals. However, he said that their confidence levels rose when it was announced that they were in the finals.

Ms Jacobs said that competing had been a ‘great experience’, adding that such competitions helped contestants decide whether they still wished to become lawyers. She said that as she had stood in the SCA her ‘inner lawyer’ came out, which was an inexplicable experience.

The English teams were coached by penultimate-year LLB student Jason Gouveia and final-year BA Law student Marlene Murphy, while the Afrikaans teams were coached by penultimate-year LLB student Petronell Kruger and second-year BCom Law student Rochelle van Staden.

Mr Gouveia told De Rebus that he was ‘elated’ that his team had won. He said that the investment by the students in terms of preparing for the competition was immense and many hours had been spent on research and developing oral advocacy skills. He said: ‘Both my co-coach and I were glad to see these efforts culminating in winning the competition and having one of our students, Sanan Mirzoyev, winning best orator. Mr Mirzoyev was personally commended by an advocate of the Johannesburg Bar for his exemplary advocacy skills. I was happy to see how the winning team was humbled by their victory.’

Ms Kruger said that she was ‘proud and excited’ that her team had won. She added: ‘I also feel immensely satisfied that all their hours of labour have paid off. Both the co-coach and I really put a lot into the process, but we are first to acknowledge that their achievements are theirs and theirs alone.’

Nomfundo Manyathi, nomfundo@derebus.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (Dec) DR 7.