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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Rhodes University honours Zondo for ‘exemplary leadership’, inspiring youth

Rhodes University honours Chief Justice Raymond Zondo for his 'selfless service to SA' and his role in the state capture inquiry.

Rhodes University conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LLD) on Judge Raymond Zondo, the Chief Justice of SA and chairperson of the State Capture Inquiry.

The announcement was made earlier this month and Judge Zondo received his degree at the 2023 graduation ceremony held on Wednesday, 29 March.

Rhodes honour Judge Zondo

Rhodes’ vice-chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, lauded Zondo’s contribution to South Africa as the chairperson of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

Exemplary leadership and inspiration

Mabizela commended Zondo for his exemplary leadership and courage, describing his work within the Zondo Commission as “selfless service to the country”.

“Surely, [Zondo is] a source of inspiration to any young person who has experienced hardship in their early years,” he said.

“His career is a demonstration that such hardship is not an unsurmountable barrier to a life of higher achievement.”

‘A great privilege’

Meanwhile, Zondo said he felt honoured to be awarded the honoris causa degree in recognition of “what [Rhodes] believes is ‘my distinguished career’ and ‘outstanding service to the public and society’,” he said.

It’s a “great privilege”, he added, especially since “Rhodes University is a university of great standing”.

Moreover, Mabizela said South Africans owe Judge Zondo an immeasurable debt of gratitude for dedicating his life to public service.

Other trailblazers honoured

Rhodes will award other trailblazers in the upcoming days and weeks as well.

Professor Helen Rees

On 31 March, the executive director at Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Professor Helen Rees, will be honoured with a Doctor of Laws (LLD) (honoris causa).

Prof Rees is internationally recognised as an “award-winning global health practitioner who has dedicated her professional career to improving public health in Africa.”

She specialises in vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as sexual and reproductive health.

Professor Debra Roberts

At the same ceremony on Friday, Rhodes University will also confer a degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) on Professor Debra Roberts, who heads the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit in eThekwini Municipality.

The university’s communications team said Prof Roberts is a “global authority on urban biodiversity, climate change and resilience issues that maintains an H-index of over 40”.

She is also a full-time local government practitioner.

Professor Janet Cherry

And on Thursday, the university will confer a degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) (honoris causa) on the Professor of Development Studies at Nelson Mandela University, Professor Janet Cherry.

Prof Cherry has been an academic and activist for more than 40 years.

She’s dedicated her life to bettering human rights and was active in the United Democratic Front, where she also endured detention without trial for long periods.

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