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Robust legal system ‘integral to South Africa’s future’

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Judge David Unterhalter, the winner of the Professional Excellence Award at the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards on Sunday, believes that a robust legal system is one of the conditions for economic growth and development in the country.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Sep 06, 2018

We live at a time of considerable disenchantment, not just here in our country, but across the world,” said Unterhalter on accepting his award. “It’s important to think about the things that bind us. Law in this country has been a powerful source of harm under apartheid, but has proved to be a source of power and good in the new society we are still busy building.”

He spoke of how he had been privileged to work with incredible lawyers in this country, as well as some incredible organisations. “Civil society is unbelievably robust, and is a huge source of strength for the future of this country,” he said. “So too are the many other components of our society which often come together and [are] given expression in law. They represent the enormous vitality in this country.

“All the times when we think that things are not going so well, we look to the organisations, businesses, people, and individuals our country that bind us together. We really do have wonderful possibilities which we shouldn’t lose sight of.”

Unterhalter stressed that these players, and their shared connections, are often under threat, and should be championed.

He concluded: “No good Jewish boy would be worth his salt if he didn’t thank his parents. My late father in his professional life spent no small amount of time challenging apartheid, often in roles that were thankless. He showed that law has promise even in the hardest of times. My mother was often my closest critic about the prospects I had in cases I was fighting. She is a shrewd judge of what is a good or a bad case. I’ve learned an enormous amount from her.”

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