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South Africa’s bill of rights and the constitution were the main themes highlighted at the public lecture delivered by retired Constitutional Court judge, Zak Yacoob, at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), yesterday (12 October 2016).

Judge Yacoob is well-known in the national and international arena for his contribution to the socio-economic rights and jurisprudence of South Africa. In his lecture, Judge Yacoob challenged students on their knowledge of the constitution and most importantly their rights as citizens of this country. He focused on the socio-economic rights, environmental rights, civil and political rights, as the South African constitution is the first in the world to have included all these rights. “These rights promote equality and dignity in society. The constitution promises, among many other things, equality, a better way of life for all and that government can be expected to act in terms of the constitution,” he stressed.

 He also spoke about the supremacy of both the constitution and parliament, and the development of the constitution.  He challenged students to debate on issues concerning the constitution and handling of matters pertaining to South Africa’s constitution.  “The values the bill of rights represents and reflects will die unless the majority of people in our country know and understand them, internalise, feel and live them. This can occur only if all of us do what the constitution requires of us. Each of us has an obligation to do what we can to ensure that the constitution and the bill of rights in particular is made known to and understood by the people of our country,” he said.

Judge Yacoob has dedicated his life to fighting apartheid and injustices in South Africa. He also teaches constitutional law as a visiting professor at the University of  KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the University of Witwatersrand (WITS). He currently serves as a board member of non- government organisations (NGOs) such as the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) and the Centre For The Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). He is also the president and trustee of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society.

Pictured: Talking about citizen rights and the constitution is Constitutional Court judge, Zak Yacoob, at DUT.

–Phumeza Msongelwa and Siphephelo Sibiya.

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