Friday, 22 April 2022

Bloemfontein: Two former judges who received honorary doctorates, were among the almost 7 000 jubilant graduates who were part of the first in-person graduation ceremonies of the University of the Free State (UFS) in almost two years.

These ceremonies took place from 19 to 21 April on the Bloemfontein Campus. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs of Lesotho, the Honourable Mathibeli Edwin Mokhothu, was also among the scores of graduates who received their qualifications during the morning graduation ceremony of the Faculty of the Humanities on Wednesday; 20 April 2022.

Mokhothu, who was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister in May 2020, graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Governance and Political Transformation.

A total of 6 627 qualifications, including 68 PhDs and 393 master’s degrees, were conferred during the four-day programme.

The Qwaqwa Campus will have its graduation ceremonies on 29 and 30 April, when two more honorary doctorates will be conferred on former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, and Ms Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAIDS and a Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.

The mood on the Bloemfontein Campus was electric, as scores of graduates came together once again to celebrate their milestones in person. Judge Dennis Davis was the first to be honoured with a Doctor of Laws (LLD [h.c.]) for his exemplary work.

He served as judge of the High Court in Cape Town from 1998 to 2020 and as Judge President at the Competition Appeal Court from 1999 to 2020. During the afternoon session, Prof Mike Wingfield received a Doctor of Science (DSc [h.c.]) in honour of his extensive research work, and during the evening ceremony, activist and former judge of the Constitutional Court, Justice Albie Sachs, raised his hands victoriously as he received his Doctor of Laws (LLD [h.c.]). Justice Sachs is a well-known figure in the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa.

UFS Chancellor, Professor Bonang Mohale, congratulated the graduates and said his eyes had welled up with tears at the sight of graduates proudly walking across the stage in what he said was a significant moment in many ways.

“You have accomplished one stage of your life and met the challenges of higher education. The question that many of you are asking yourselves is, ‘where to from here’. Align yourself with those with a common cause, a common purpose for the greater good. It is up to you to build bridges, both literally and figuratively. Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire,” said Professor Mohale in his congratulatory message to students.

His sentiments were echoed by Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Francis Petersen, who reminded the graduates that they had joined a fraternity of excellent individuals who had graduated ahead of them.

“It is fantastic to be able to host the graduation ceremonies in person again, and it is certainly heart-warming to see so many students being conferred well-deserved qualifications. This institution is 118 years old this year, and it is fantastic to be able to celebrate an institution with this type of history behind it. You should be proud of your achievement. Take time to celebrate yourself.” Professor Francis Petersen.