Human rights crusader Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza has been appointed as the new chancellor of the University of Fort Hare.
Ntsebeza’s appointment follows the death of former sport minister and reverend, Dr Makhenkesi Stofile, who was also South Africa’s ambassador to Germany.
Stofile died in August last year after a short stint in the position when he replaced late Judge Thembile Skweyiya, who died in 2015.
Fort Hare’s spokesperson Lizo Phiti said Ntsebeza will serve a term of five years in accordance with university statutes.
He said Ntsebeza’s appointment followed after “an inclusive stakeholder process that finally received the nod from a special council meeting on January 27”.
The university also recently acquired the services of Professor Sakhela Buhlungu as vice-chancellor and rector in November last year.
Buhlungu, who was the dean of humanities at the University of Western Cape, replaced former Fort Hare vice-chancellor Dr Mvuyo Tom, whose contract came to an end in December last year.
Phiti said the university prided itself on having in its list of father figures the likes of Stofile, Skweyiya, Govan Mbeki, Sibusiso Bhengu, Danisa Baloyi and Oliver Tambo.
Ntsebeza was admitted as an attorney in 1984, practising in the Eastern Cape, mainly in the area of human rights.
He represented a number of political prisoners throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1995 he was appointed one of the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
He is a founder of South African National Association of Democratic Lawyers and served as its president.
Ntsebeza also served as president of South Africa’s Black Lawyers Association.
In 2000, he was called to the Bar in Cape Town, where he took silk in 2005, becoming the first African to be conferred silk status in the history of the Cape Bar.
He has practised in the Johannesburg Bar since 2008.
Phiti said Ntsebeza has a passion for constitutional and administrative law, labour law, mining law and land law.
Ntsebeza is a member of the Judicial Service Commission, and acts as its spokesperson.
He has also sat as a judge in various divisions of the high court of South Africa – in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape (Mthatha), Gauteng, and in all the Labour Courts.
Since October 2012, Ntsebeza has represented the 36 families of striking miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. The miners were killed by the police in Marikana in August 2012.