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News Roundup

  • HSRC, Fort Hare assigned review of highest courts
  • New@HSRC

HSRC, Fort Hare assigned review of highest courts

The Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD) research programme of the HSRC, together with the Nelson R Mandela School of Law of the University of Fort Hare (UFH), have been awarded a contract in response to a research tender by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD).

According to the terms of reference specified in the tender of April 2013, the scope of the research is limited to the following:

  • an assessment of access to the courts;
  • costs of litigation;
  • speed of finalisation of cases;
  • the constitutional transformation of common and customary law;
  • the complexities involved in the practical implementation of court decisions by the other two branches of government;
  • new value-oriented interpretive methods and jurisprudential transformation; and
  • the pro-poor orientation of courts in other developmental states such as Brazil and India.

The overall aim of the proposed 18-month research project is to assess the impact of the two highest courts, the constitutional court and the supreme court of appeal, on the lived experiences of all South Africans, says Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, the project leader and deputy executive director of DGSD.

Professor Bohler-Muller, a legal academic for 16 years and a South African advocate of the High Court, will work with a team of legal researchers and social scientists on the project. The study will have a particular focus on the adjudication and implementation of socioeconomic rights within a developmental and capable state, and pertinent issues relating to access to justice with a view to addressing inequality and the eradication of poverty. The DOJCD will officially launch the project mid-September 2013.

Bohler-Muller said the bidding team undertook to produce high quality research outputs in accordance with the mandate of the department. Together with UFH, the HSRC has the experience and the skills, resources and networks to conduct large-scale, evidence-based cross- and trans-disciplinary research projects, including empirical assessments and surveys, aimed at social, economic and community development.

‘Furthermore, the HSRC is internationally renowned for its research independence, integrity and ethics, while UFH adds value with the UNESCO Oliver Tambo Chair of Human Rights, established in 1996. The main objective of the UFH Research Chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation in the field of human rights and democracy,’ Bohler-Muller explains. The government is in the process of assessing the impact of court decisions on the socioeconomic conditions of all South Africans.

‘Among others, the research will determine through a mixture of methodologies what remedies the courts have developed to ensure that court decisions are implemented in the spirit of the Bill of Rights,’ concludes Bohler-Muller.


Prof. Oladele Arowolo, who has vast experience in population policy formulation in various African countries and different institutions, has been appointed chief research specialist in the Research Use and Impact Assessment unit. He obtained his PhD in demography from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA. Before joining the HSRC he served as a consultant to UNFPA, UNDP, FAO, UNECA and the World Bank, among others, on population and development projects in various countries, including Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi, Swaziland, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Lesotho, Uganda, South Africa, Sudan and Syria.

Dr Bongani Bantwini has been appointed as senior research specialist and acting director in the Research Use and Impact and Assessment unit. He obtained a PhD in science education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the USA. Before rejoining the HSRC in June 2013 he was an assistant professor of science education at Kennesaw State University. He previously held a position in the Education and Skills Development programme at the HSRC.

Ms Safiyya Goga, a former English second-language teacher in Japan, has taken up a position as senior researcher and PhD intern in the Human and Social Development programme. She holds an MA in political sociology from Rhodes University in Grahamstown. She also worked as a junior researcher at the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) in Johannesburg.

Prof. Charles Hongoro has been appointed research director in the Population Health, Health Systems and Innovation programme. He holds a PhD in health economics and policy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London. Before rejoining the HSRC in July 2013 he was unit director of the Health Systems Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council. He previously held a position as a director in the former Policy Analysis Unit at the HSRC.

Dr Benita Moolman has been appointed research specialist in the Human and Social Development programme. She obtained a PhD in feminist geography from the University of California, Davis, in the United States. Before joining the HSRC she was project co-ordinator at Heinrich Boell Stiftung.

Dr Andrew Paterson, who has been appointed as a research director in the Education and Skills Development research programme, holds a PhD in Social History at the University of Cape Town. Before re-joining the HSRC he worked as a lecturer, senior lecturer and research specialist at universities in South Africa and Thailand.

Ms Il-haam Petersen has been appointed chief researcher in the Education and Skills Development programme. She obtained a PhD in sociology from the University of Dublin, Trinity College in Ireland. Before joining the HSRC she was a teaching assistant in sociology at Trinity College, Dublin and research intern at LIRNEasia in Sri Lanka.

Prof. Jane Rarieya has taken up a position as senior research specialist and African research fellow in the Human and Social Development programme. She obtained an EdD in gender and educational management from Keele University in the United Kingdom. Before joining the HSRC she was an associate professor and associate director and head of teaching and learning at the Aga Khan University in Dar es Salaam.

Dr Khangelani Zuma, previously a research director and head of biostatistics in the HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB programme at the HSRC, has been promoted to executive director of the Research Data Management Centre. He holds a PhD in statistics from the University of Waikato, New Zealand.