AJ (André) van der Walt (1956-2016)

prof-vd-walt-2014-200x300Prof AJ (André) van der Walt (1956 – 2016)

It is with great sadness that the Law Faculty must say goodbye to a loved colleague and role model, Prof André van der Walt, who passed away on 5 November 2016. Prof Van der Walt was a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Public Law and incumbent of the South African Research Chair in Property Law.

Prof Van der Walt was one of the foremost legal academics not only in the Stellenbosch Law Faculty, but also in South Africa and internationally. His stature as a researcher of the highest calibre is confirmed by the A rating that he enjoyed from the National Research Foundation (NRF) since 2002. The NRF describes A rated scientists as ‘Researchers who are unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs’. Prof Van der Walt was one of the first five academics from the Humanities and Social Sciences nationally to receive an A rating, the first in law nationally and the first in Humanities and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University. It was accordingly no surprise that he was one of the first recipients of the highest award made to staff at Stellenbosch University, the Chancellor’s Award, in 2014.

During a recent evaluation of Prof Van der Walt’s research chair, his stature was confirmed by a large number of leading international scholars. Professor Vincent Sagaert of the Katholieke University Leuven wrote for example that Prof Van der Walt is ‘undoubtedly the leading academic in the field of constitutional property law’ and that Prof Van der Walt’s book Constitutional Property Law (3rd ed 2011) ‘is the most authoritative book in the field, on an international level’. Professor Susan Bright of Oxford added that ‘Professor van der Walt’s leadership in building the South African Research Chair in Property Law has put Stellenbosch University on the map as one of the leading centres of property law scholarship internationally’ and that the Chair ‘would be the envy of many international law schools – a vibrant and intellectually engaged graduate community of scholars in the field of property law. This is rare, perhaps unique’. Professor Laura Underkuffler of Cornell University in die USA stated that ‘Professor Van der Walt is the leading scholar on questions of the protection of property, constitutionalism, and regime change in the English-speaking world … there is no other scholar who has, single handedly, done what he has. His contribution has been immense.’ And Professor Brendan Edgeworth of the University of New South Wales in Australia declared that ‘I can say without doubt that he is one of the leading academic property law scholars in the Anglophonic world, as well as across the Civil Law jurisdictions’. He added that Prof Van der Walt’s recent scholarship placed him in the top tier of property law professors internationally.

Prof Van der Walt’s scholarship focused on property law and in particular on constitutional property. He applied his mind especially to the role that the regulation of property plays in constitutional transformation in South Africa and in social justice more broadly. In South Africa his work has had significant influence in the development of property law in the constitutional dispensation and the Constitutional Court has relied on his insights on numerous occasions in this field. But also at international level he was a leader in the development of an understanding of property law in support of a progressive social agenda. In 2014 the Association for Law, Property & Society (ALPS), based in the USA, bestowed its Annual Excellence Award on Prof Van der Walt – the first time that a non-American received this award. In the commendation for the award ALPS stated: “Professor van der Walt receives our Annual Excellence Award for his many significant contributions to property law and comparative property law and theory, and for his extraordinary mentorship of property scholars around the world.”

Prof Van der Walt supervised more than 25 doctoral candidates to graduation, a very high number in law. In this respect he has probably had the biggest contemporary impact on legal academia in South Africa. Students that obtained their postgraduate qualifications under his supervision today lectures at law faculties in 9 South African universities, a noteworthy number as professors. Apart from his tremendous contribution to law as a discipline in the form of research output, Prof Van der Walt will probably be best remembered for his tireless and generous mentorship of students and young researchers. Geo Quinot, one of Prof Van der Walt’s past doctoral students and current professor and vice-dean of the Stellenbosch Law Faculty, says “André was legendary in his attention to detail when he looked at your work. He would not only point out where you placed a comma in the wrong place, but would analyse the logic of your arguments as with a scalpel and cut it open exactly on the point where the argument did not yet follow or where you missed that one important judgment! Not only was he amazingly generous with his time in listening and giving advice, but he did not hesitate for a moment to use his networks to create opportunities for younger researchers. There can be little doubt that André van der Walt’s commitment to academia and the example he set created the platform for many academic careers.”

As one of the most senior members of the Stellenbosch Law Faculty, Prof Van der Walt played a leading role across a wide field in the Faculty and in the broader university community. Especially in the field of research management and development he made invaluable contributions. Over the years he was also a clear and consistent voice for transformation in the Faculty and University and most recently expressed strong views in support of a more inclusive language approach at the University.

Prof Van der Walt leaves a void in the Faculty and legal scholarship that cannot be filled.

André van der Walt obtained the degrees B Juris et Artium (1977); HonsBA (Philosophy) cum laude (1978); LLB cum laude (1980) and LLD (1985) from the Potchefstroom University (now North West University), and LLM (Property Law) (1986) from the University of the Witwatersrand. He lectured at the Potchefstroom University as lecturer and senior lecturer from 1981 to 1986; as professor at the University of South Africa from 1987 to 2000 and since 2000 as Professor and Distinguished Professor at Stellenbosch University. Since 2008 he also held the South African Research Chair in Property Law. He was an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria since 2010. Over the course of his career he published 120 articles in academic journals, 19 books and 21 contributions to books.

Any person wanting to post a message of condolences to be posted here, can send an email to gquinot@sun.ac.za. A celebration of Prof Van der Walt’s life will be held on Friday 11 November at 10:00 at the Law Faculty in room 1023 of the Old Main building.

prof-vd-walt-2014-200x300Prof AJ (André) van der Walt (1956 – 2016)

Dit is met groot hartseer wat die Regsfakulteit moet afskeid neem van ‘n geliefde kollega en rolmodel, Prof André van der Walt, wat op 5 November 2016 oorlede is. Prof Van der Walt was ‘n Uitgelese Professor in die Departement Publiekreg en bekleër van die Suid-Afrikaanse Navorsingsleerstoel in Sakereg.

Prof Van der Walt was een van die voorste regsakademici nie net in die Stellenbosse Regsfakulteit nie, maar in Suid-Afrika sowel as internasionaal. Sy statuur as ‘n navorser van die hoogste gehalte is bevestig deurdat hy reeds sedert 2002 ‘n A gradering van die Nasionale Navorsingstigting (NNS) geniet. Die NNS omskryf navorsers met ‘n A gradering as ‘Researchers who are unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs’. Prof Van der Walt was een van die eerste vyf akademici vanuit die geesteswetenskappe landwyd om ‘n A gradering te ontvang, die eerste een in regsgeleerdheid nasionaal en die eerste een in geesteswetenskappe aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch. Nie-verbasend was hy een van die eerste groep ontvangers van die hoogste toekenning wat die Universiteit Stellenbosch aan personeel toeken, die Kanselierstoekenning, in 2014.

Tydens ‘n onlangse evaluering van Prof Van der Walt se leerstoel is sy statuur deur ‘n groot getal vooraanstaande internasionale navorsers bevestig. Professor Vincent Sagaert van die Katholieke Universiteit Leuven skryf byvoorbeeld dat Prof Van der Walt is ‘undoubtedly the leading academic in the field of constitutional property law’ en dat Prof Van der Walt se boek Constitutional Property Law (3de uitgawe 2011) ‘is the most authoritative book in the field, on an international level’. Professor Susan Bright van Oxford voeg by dat ‘Professor van der Walt’s leadership in building the South African Research Chair in Property Law has put Stellenbosch University on the map as one of the leading centres of property law scholarship internationally’ en dat die Leerstoel ‘would be the envy of many international law schools – a vibrant and intellectually engaged graduate community of scholars in the field of property law. This is rare, perhaps unique’. Professor Laura Underkuffler  van Cornell University in die VSA verklaar dat ‘Professor Van der Walt is the leading scholar on questions of the protection of property, constitutionalism, and regime change in the English-speaking world … there is no other scholar who has, single handedly, done what he has. His contribution has been immense.’ En professor Brendan Edgeworth van die University of New South Wales in Australië stel dit dat ‘I can say without doubt that he is one of the leading academic property law scholars in the Anglophonic world, as well as across the Civil Law jurisdictions’ en voeg by dat Prof Van der Walt se navorsing die laaste paar jaar hom in die top rang van sakereg professors internasionaal plaas.

Prof Van der Walt se navorsing het gefokus op sakereg en in besonder op grondwetlike sakereg. Hy het sy aandag veral gefokus op die rol van die regulering van eiendom in grondwetlike transformasie in Suid-Afrika en in sosiale geregtigheid in ‘n breër konteks. In Suid-Afrika het sy werk reeds ‘n baie groot invloed gehad in die ontwikkeling van sakereg binne ‘n grondwetlike bestel en het die Konstitusionele Hof meermale op sy insigte gesteun in hierdie veld. Maar ook op internasionale vlak was hy ‘n leier in die ontwikkeling van ‘n begrip van sakereg ter ondersteuning van progressiewe sosiale ontwikkeling. In 2014 het die Association for Law, Property & Society (ALPS), gebasseer in die VSA, sy Annual Excellence Award aan Prof Van der Walt toegeken – die eerste keer dat ‘n nie-Amerikaner hierdie toekenning ontvang. Ter motivering van die toekenning veklaar die ALPS dat “Professor van der Walt receives our Annual Excellence Award for his many significant contributions to property law and comparative property law and theory, and for his extraordinary mentorship of property scholars around the world.”

 Prof Van der Walt het in sy loopbaan meer as 25 doktorale kandidate afgelewer, ‘n geweldige hoë getal in regsgeleerdheid. In hierdie opsig het hy bes moontlik die grootste hedendaagse invloed gehad op die regsakademie in Suid-Afrika. Studente wat hul nagraadse kwalifikasies onder sy leiding verwerf het doseer vandag in regsfakulteite aan 9 Suid-Afrikaanse universiteite, ‘n noemenswaardige aantal as professors. Buiten sy geweldige groot bydrae tot regswetenskap in die vorm van navorsingsuitsette, sal Prof Van der Walt waarskynlik die beste onthou word vir sy onbaatsugtige en onvermoeide mentorskap aan student en jong navorsers. Geo Quinot, een van Prof Van der Walt se voormalige doktorale studente en nou professor en vise-dekaan aan die Stellenbosse Regsfakulteit vertel: “André was legendaries in sy aandag aan detail wanneer hy na jou werk gekyk het. Hy sou nie alleen uitwys waar jy ‘n komma op die verkeerde plek geplaas het nie, maar soos met ‘n skalpel die logika van jou argumente analiseer en oopsny op die punt waar dit nog nie heeltemal volg nie of daardie een uitspraak wat jy gemis het vir jou uitwys! Nie net was hy ongelooflik vrygewig in sy tyd om te luister en advies te gee nie, maar hy het nooit ‘n oomblik geaarsel om sy netwerke te gebruik om geleenthede vir jonger navorsers te skep nie. Daar kan min twyfel wees dat André van der Walt se toewyding tot die akademie en sy voorbeeld die platform geskep het vir menigde akademiese loopbane.”

As een van die mees senior lede van die Stellenbosse Regsfakulteit het Prof Van der Walt ‘n leidende rol gespeel oor ‘n wye veld in die Fakulteit en in die breër universiteitsgemeenskap. Veral in die gebied van navorsingsbestuur en –ontwikkeling het hy onskatbare bydraes gemaak. Oor baie jare was hy ‘n helder en volgehoue stem ten gunste van transformasie van die Fakulteit en Universiteit en mees onlangs het hy sterk standpunt ingeneem ten gunste van ‘n meer inklusiewe taalbedeling aan die Universiteit.

Prof Van der Walt laat ‘n leemte in die Fakulteit en in die regswetenskap wat nie gevul kan word nie.

André van der Walt het die grade B Juris et Artium (1977); HonsBA (Filosofie) cum laude (1978); LLB cum laude (1980) en LLD (1985) aan die Potchefstroom Universiteit (nou Noordwes Universiteit), en LLM (Sakereg) (1986) aan die Universiteit van die Witwatersrand behaal. Hy het aan die Potchefstroom Universiteit doseer van 1981 tot 1986 as lektor en senior lektor; as professor aan die Universiteit van Suid-Afrika van 1987 tot 2000 en sedert 2000 as Professor en Uitgelese Professor aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch. Sedert 2008 beklee hy die Suid-Afrikaanse Navorsingsleerstoel in Sakereg. Hy was ook ‘n Buitengewone Professor aan die Universiteit Pretoria sedert 2010. Oor die duur van sy loopbaan het hy 120 artikels in akademiese joernale, 19 boeke en 21 bydraes tot boeke gepubliseer.

Enige persoon wat ‘n boodskap van medelye hier wil byvoeg, kan ‘n epos stuur aan gquinot@sun.ac.za. ‘n Viering van Prof Van der Walt se lewe sal plaasvind op Vrydag 11 November om 10:00 by die Regsfakulteit in kamer 1023 van die Ou Hoofgebou.

19 Responses to AJ (André) van der Walt (1956-2016)
  1. Jaco Barnard-Naudé
    November 7, 2016 | 12:24 pm

    Jesus, you’re gone. How does one mourn you? Mourning, says Derrida, is by definition impossible and necessary. You were not one for impossibilities. You insisted on possibility – and hope, to speak not of necessity. On responsibility and care. I wrote to Karin this morning – a poem by Auden ‘a low and dishonest decade’ – that’s what she quoted back. What would you have told us? That we must ‘love each other or die’? Maybe, maybe. Perhaps. ‘Day now, night now, at head, side, feet’ – Sylvia Plath, but you would have known that. We don’t know how to mourn you, André, we sit with our phone calls and e-mails like gags in our throats. There is no way to impossibility – you would have told us that.

    Jaco Barnard-Naudé

  2. Wesahl Domingo
    November 7, 2016 | 2:49 pm

    It is with great sadness that the University learnt of the passing of Professor Andre van der Walt. He was a remarkable and highly regarded academic nationally and internationally. The School of Law extends its deepest sympathies to the friends, family, former students and colleagues of Professor van der Walt, and to those who knew him well.

    Associate Professor Wesahl Domingo
    Acting Head: School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand

  3. Therina Theron
    November 7, 2016 | 3:01 pm

    We would like to extend our sincere condolences to André’s close colleagues, postdocs, students, and in particular also to Christa. It is impossible for us to imagine a Stellenbosch University and a Law Faculty without André. What a privilege to have worked with him over the past years – a brilliant mind, a world-leader in his research field, a teacher and mentor to so many young people, and yet someone who always made time for us – to discuss issues, or ‘sommer’ just have a good chat. Irreplaceable. We will remember him, miss him, and honour his exceptional legacy.

    Therina Theron, on behalf of the staff of the Division for Research Development, Stellenbosch University.

  4. Frank Michelman
    November 7, 2016 | 3:33 pm

    Citizen, scholar, mentor, teacher – Andre van der Walt was superbly all of those. His lasting mark in all those roles is global in scope. Andre’s work toward having the Constitution and the law of property be the best that they can be has been a guide, as his advice and his friendship have been a support, to scholars worldwide in pursuit of understanding the rightful place of property in the quests for social justice, human dignity, and civil government.

    Frank Michelman
    Harvard University

  5. Brian Ray
    November 7, 2016 | 8:24 pm

    An Ohio yankee in Prof. Andre’s court.

    I can recall with vivid detail my first visit to the second floor of the C.L. Marais Center. The occasion was a seminar with his graduate students on the Constitutional Court’s remarkable, but doctrinally impenetrable, decision, Agri SA, upholding the MPRDA legislation. I took my seat at one end of the large table in the main room, across from Andre. There were probably 10 or so graduate students already seated around it. The Court had issued the decision only a couple of days earlier but, as evidenced by the copious handwritten notes and well-marked copy of the judgement in front of him, Andre had already digested it and developed several possible routes to corral the messy doctrinal shifts in Chief Judge Mogoeng’s majority opinion. He opened the seminar with a pithy but densely packed summary of the decision, its significant doctrinal puzzles and his ideas for resolving those puzzles. He then turned to the students and in a masterful display of pedagogical brilliance posed a series of targeted questions that helped them make the very same complex and nuanced connections that he had and provoked a spirited and deeply informed discussion of the basis for the Court’s decision and it’s potential future effects on issues ranging from section 25 to the economic stability of the mining industry.

    I recount this story because it encapsulates all of the qualities that impressed me so deeply in the very brief time I was fortunate to know Andre. His first instinct following a significant decision like Agri SA was not to produce the leading commentary on it, or to convene a distinguished group of experts for a conference. To be sure, Andre did those things, and, in his typically superhuman fashion, he did them both within several weeks of the student seminar. But the first thing he did was teach his students.

    Andre was a brilliant thinker and legal theorist whose internationally recognized work has significantly influenced the development of both constitutional and common law in post-apartheid South Africa in areas that extend well beyond his first love, property law. In spite of that distinguished academic reputation, Andre was first and foremost a teacher and mentor to generations of law students, many of whom have gone on to become distinguished practitioners and academics in their own right.

    I learned many things from Andre in the brief seven months that I knew him–not only about law and teaching but everything from South African wine to the best meat shops in Stellenbosch. I regret that I did not have the chance to learn more. But I’m comforted by knowing that his brilliance, kindness and deep love of the law and his country live on in the impressive legacy of students, colleagues and even an Ohio yankee like me who had the good fortune and great gift of his friendship and mentoring.

    Brian Ray
    Professor of Law
    Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

  6. Vincent Sagaert
    November 8, 2016 | 9:30 am

    Dear friends of the South African Research Chair for Property Law,

    I heard yesterday the very sad news of the passing away of André. I am devastated by the news. Since I heard of his passing away, the memories with André keep razing through my mind. I lose one of my best academic friends and a personal friend and property law is losing a genuinely great scholar with a tremendous expertise. I express my most sincere and genuine participation in the mourning of the Research Chair and the Faculty with the loss of your supervisor, mentor and inspirator.

    André was – and I mean that in a very positive way – an intimidating man. He was intimidating because he always had everything so perfectly under control. He managed the chair in a manner which was a role model for a lot of colleagues all over the world. He developed the Research Chair to the world leading research institution. What I admired the most in the chair is the way in which he created a genuine research group. That is something which he enforced in a very spontaneous way, through his natural authority and leadership. Although he was always strict with the students, he was even more strict with himself. He commented on drafts in such a speedy way, more quickly and more in depth than anyone of us could even think of. He could give confidence to young people, and has given confidence to numerous young people, as he also gave to you and me. Over the last eight years, we had numerous exchanges and contacts of which so many young scholars could benefit. In doing so, he directed and contributed to the careers of dozens of Ph. D. students not only in South-Africa but also in Leuven and across the world.

    With the death of André, property law loses one of its natural leaders. What made him unique, is that he was proficient in all dimensions of property law: of course, he elevated property law to its constitutional dimension, which he introduced and nowadays plays a large role not only in South-African law, but also in Europe. But moreover, he also had a masterly expertise in other dimension of property law: his comparative knowledge enabled him to lift all technical debates to a higher level. Moreover, he had a keen knowledge of property theory. This multi-dimensional knowledge makes of him one of the leading property law scholars all over the world, with contacts in all continents on the highest level.

    He demonstrated his expertise through numerous books and articles, leaving a legacy which will survive for centuries. Personally, I had during the last weeks been studying his article on “the modest systemic status of property”, which I used to finalize my article of the presentation I gave in Stellenbosch for the annual lecture. His erudition, rational constructions, rich language and multi-dimensional perspectives make that just one of the most remarkable articles on property law I have ever read. Meanwhile, his modest assessment of property law reflected his personality, not aiming to make his own field of law more important than it is.

    André had a remarkable personality: his erudition and authority could scare at a first glance, but he had such a warm personality. The way in which he combined distinction with hospitality, authority with empathy, modesty with pride, in spite of all his accomplishments and status, were unique. The way in which he could show hospitality, the way in which he was loyal to the colleagues and did not refrain from investing a lot of energy into them, etc., are really exceptional. This hospitality also benefited largely to the Ph. D. students and they will carry that on.

    Remarkably, I heard the terrible news of his passing away a couple of minutes after I received from Dorothy Gruyaert the first copy of the book of her Ph. D. dissertation. André was member of her examination committee on 31th May this year and this was the last time we had visual contact (via Skype). He looked well in shape at that moment, we could not even think that the bad news was so nearby. The book is not only on the content largely inspired by André’s early work, Dorothy writes in her book also acknowledgements to André. I take the freedom to attach a picture of these acknowledgements towards André, as they are illustrative (Dankwoord: Dorothy Gruyaert ).

    I know that it is a common place to say that somebody survives his own death. However, this is remarkably true for André: not only he lives through his quantitatively and qualitatively remarkable publications, but he especially continues to live through all the lives of the students and scholars he directed and framed all over the world. He shaped property law academia for the next century.

    Warm regards,

    Prof. Dr. Vincent Sagaert
    Full Professor and Director Institute for Property Law University of Leuven
    Director of Studies Law Faculty

  7. Anton A van Niekerk
    November 8, 2016 | 1:15 pm

    Beste Sonia

    Ek het oor die naweek met groot skok en hartsseer verneem van André van der Walt se dood. Ek wil net graag my meelewing met julle fakulteit betuig.

    André se dood is vir ons almal wat hom geken het, ‘n geweldige persoonlike verlies. Terselfdertyd is dit ook ‘n enorme slag vir die universiteit. Hy was een van die mees vooraanstaande en gewaardeerde akademici op Stellenbosch, soos blyk uit sy lang ry prestasies: A-evaluering (omtrent die enigste een in die humaniora), SARChi leerstoel, uitgelese professoraat, Kanselierstoekenning, en wat nie nog meer nie. Oor al hierdie prestasies was hy altyd beskeie.

    Ek het hom veral leer ken in die konteks van ‘n Gespreksgroep waaraan ons albei behoort en van wie hy tot op die einde ‘n lojale en entoesiastiese lid was. Hy was ‘n absoluut onafhanklike denker wat nie daarvoor bang was of geskroom het om onkonvensionele, en soms selfs ongewilde, standpunte in te neem nie. As ‘n mens nie met hom saamgestem het nie, was dit altyd ‘n buitengewone uitdaging om jouself teen hom te probeer handhaaf. Sy bydrae om ons interaksie in daardie groep op ‘n hoë vlak te hou, was buitengewoon groot.

    Ek herinner my ‘n keer goed toe ek iets moes doen omtrent eiendomskapkwessies rondom menslike genetiese materiaal, en hy ‘n oggend afgestaan het om my vertroud te maak met allerlei oor eiendom waarvan ek niks geweet het nie. Ek bly tot vandag toe baie dankbaar vir die tyd wat hy bereid was om aan my af te staan.

    Dit sal sekerlik baie moeilik, indien nie onmoontlik nie, wees om hom te vervang.

    In solidartiteit


    Anton A van Niekerk

    Distinguished Professor of Philosophy
    Director: Centre for Applied Ethics
    Stellenbosch University

  8. Anton Kok
    November 8, 2016 | 1:17 pm

    Beste Sonia

    Namens UP Regsfakulteit ons innige medelye met André se heengaan. Heelwat mense hier by ons (oa oudstudente) het goeie en produktiewe verbintenisse met André gehad en is baie hartseer. Ek het verneem dat André baie siek was, maar gehoop of aanvaar dat alles sou regkom. Dit is ongelukkig nie almal beskore nie. Baie sterkte. Ons dink aan julle en dra julle in ons gebede.

    Beste wense


    Anton Kok
    Deputy Dean / Adjunk-Dekaan
    Faculty of Law / Fakulteit Regsgeleerdheid
    University of Pretoria / Universiteit van Pretoria

  9. Penelope (Penny) Andrews
    November 8, 2016 | 1:18 pm

    Dear Sonia,

    I have just heard about Professor Andre Van Der Walt’s passing yesterday. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that he was one of South Africa’s most distinguished professors of property law and a highly respected faculty member at the University of Stellenbosch. I only met him on one or two occasions, but always found him pleasant and congenial.

    I know that quite a few of the UCT Law Faculty knew Andre personally – and will be very sad. My condolences to you and your faculty.


    Penelope (Penny) Andrews
    Dean and Professor
    University of Cape Town

  10. Rufus Gouws
    November 8, 2016 | 1:19 pm

    Beste Sonia en kollegas

    Wees asseblief verseker van die Departement Afrikaans en Nederlands se ontsteltenis oor André van der Walt se heengaan en ons meelewing met julle as Fakulteit.
    Kollegiale groete

    Rufus Gouws
    Voorsitter: Departement Afrikaans en Nederlands

  11. Anthony Leysens
    November 8, 2016 | 1:24 pm

    Beste Sonia

    Namens ons Fakulteit wil ek hiermee ons simpatie oordra met die groot verlies wat julle pas moes ervaar. Prof André Van der Walt, ‘n uitgelese professor in die Departement Publiekreg, die houer van ‘n ‘n Suid-Afrikaanse Navorsingsleerstoel in Sakereg, en internasionaal erkende regs-akademikus van hoogstaande statuur, was voorwaar iemand wat die hoogste gehalte en uitnemendheid in sy loopbaan bereik het.

    Nogmaals sterkte en ook berusting in hierdie tyd waar julle die heengaan van ‘n gewaardeerde kollega moet verwerk.

    Met beste wense,


    Prof Anthony Leysens
    (acting Dean/wnd Dekaan)
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
    Fakulteit Lettere en Sosiale Wetenskappe
    Stellenbosch University

  12. Karl Klare
    November 11, 2016 | 1:24 pm

    Dear Sandy,

    Please convey to Sonia and the faculty, in whatever way appropriate, how sorry I am to be unable to attend the celebration of André’s life on 11 November. He was a gifted and challenging colleague whom I was privileged to know and work with; a towering example of moral and intellectual courage. I will be forever grateful to André for so generously encouraging my work. He was also a marvelous friend. My thoughts go out to Christa, to André’s colleagues, and to the many students he mentored and inspired.


    George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law
    Northeastern University School of Law

  13. Kate O'Regan
    November 11, 2016 | 1:26 pm

    Dear Sandy
    You probably know that I am in Oxford but I just wanted to write to you to say how sad I am to hear the news of Andre’s passing. He was a brilliant scholar and a great South African. I wish I could be there on Friday to share in the celebration of his life, but I can’t. Please convey both my sadness and my deep respect and admiration for his extraordinary work to your colleagues and also to Andre’s family.

    Kate O’Regan

  14. Jan Smits
    November 11, 2016 | 1:32 pm

    Beste Geo,

    Ons bereikte het verschrikkelijke bericht van het veel te vroegtijdig overlijden van André. Dit is een bericht dat mij en mijn collega’s in Maastricht bijzonder heeft geraakt. Ik zelf kende André bijna twintig jaar en herinner me de diverse hoogtepunten in ons gemeenschappelijk academisch leven: bezoeken aan Stellenbosch waar we door André allerhartelijkst werden ontvangen, op de faculteit en in André’s en Christa’s mooie huis met uitzicht op de berg, samenwerken aan een boek, uitnodigingen om te komen spreken en evenzeer André’s bezoeken aan Maastricht, waar hij altijd zeer welkom was en een bron van inspiratie voor velen. Zijn bezoeken waren grootse evenementen in ons wetenschappelijk bestaan. Ik ben er trots op dat André mij uitnodigde om fellow te zijn van zijn bijzondere leerstoel. Even trots ben ik er op dat André fellow was van ons onderzoeksinstituut in Maastricht.

    Het cliché is waar: woorden schieten altijd tekort om verdriet te beschrijven. André zal voor altijd voortleven in mijn herinnering. En niet alleen in die van mij, maar ook in die van zijn vele Nederlandse en Vlaamse vrienden en collega’s. Afgelopen woensdag hebben we André herdacht met een minuut stilte in onze woensdagse MEPLI-bijeenkomst. Dit was een indrukwekkend moment. Ook maakten we een in memoriam dat op de website is geplaatst. De boodschap er van is dat we vooral moeten voortleven en voortwerken in de geest van André: met moed en plezier in leven en werk, en met het inspireren van een ieder om ons heen.

    Jan Smits
    Chair of European Private Law
    Maastricht University

  15. Cherryl Walker
    November 11, 2016 | 1:34 pm

    Dear Geo

    Please add my tribute to the many that you have honouring the life and person of André. He was and will remain an inspirational figure, and I feel privileged to have had the chance to get to know him a little as a colleague, and to engage with his scholarship and insights around property law, restitution and social justice.

    My sincere condolences to his family and friends as well as to his students and colleagues in the Law Faculty.

    Kind regards

    Cherryl Walker (Professor)
    DST/NRF SARChI Chair in The Sociology of Land, Environment and Sustainable Development
    Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology
    Stellenbosch University

  16. Joseph William Singer
    November 11, 2016 | 4:49 pm

    I am heartbroken to hear this.

    There is a Jewish story that tells about the “lamed-vavniks” — a Hebrew word that means “the 36”. The story goes that, at any point in time, there are always 36 righteous people in the world. They are the ones whose lives are examples for the rest of us; they are the ones who sustain the world. Without them, the world could not continue to be a place suitable for human habitation. The story also goes that it was because of the possibility that such human beings could come to exist that God created the world in the first place.

    André was a lamed vavnik. He was one of the righteous who sustained the world. But now, someone has to take his place. We never really know who the 36 are, but someone must step into his role. And since we cannot know that someone else will do it, we must strive to emulate his example. André’s life was a light to the world and we can honor him by being lights ourselves. I am grateful for having known André. May his life be a blessing and may we learn from his example. That will be a way to keep him with us.


    Joseph William Singer
    Bussey Professor of Law
    Harvard Law School

  17. Nico Breed
    November 22, 2016 | 10:27 pm

    It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of a good friend and academic extraordinaire.

    I had the privilege to know Andre personally from high school, and law school. He was also the lecturer in Property Law at Unisa, during my LL M studies.

    Still savouring his notes on Legal Philosophy during his time at Potchefstroom University.

    He will be dearly missed.

    Nico Breed

    Calgary Alberta Canada

  18. Josef G.A. Kruger
    November 22, 2016 | 10:29 pm

    Ek en Andre het die pad saam geloop vanaf 1970 toe ons studente op Gimmies, Potch was. Daarna het ons saam regte studeer op Potcheftroom Universiteit. Hy was kop en skouers altyd die beste student in die klas; ‘n vlymskerp intellek, ‘n harde werker, ‘n liefde vir die akademie, ‘n ongeduld met veelsprakigheid, ‘n man met ‘n sosiale gewete. Gedurende die periode 1975 tot 1980 was ons nie net karperde saam in ons studies nie, ons het ook skouer aan skouer gewerk om politieke en sosiale veranderinge teweeg te bring. Hy was ‘n man met ‘n groot hart wat nie in ‘n vakuum geleef het nie. Van jongs af het almal wat hom geken het geweet dat hy ‘n globale bydra sal maak met wat hy ookal sou aanpak, en dit het hy gedoen. Die globale regsberoep het gebaat, en sal voortgaan om te baat, by sy akademiese nalatenskap. Persoonlik was hy nooit iets anders as net ‘n wondelike, lojale vriend vir my en my gesin nie. Ons sal hom verskriklik mis.

    Josef G.A. Kruger, Q.C.
    Calgary, AB, Canada

  19. Lars van Vliet
    November 22, 2016 | 10:33 pm

    Dear Christa, dear friends, colleagues and students of André van der Walt,

    It is unbelievable that André is no longer among us. André’s passing away deeply shocks me. I express my sincere condolences to all of you. He was one of the most excellent property law scholars in the world. In the beginning of his career he spent a long time in Leiden, Netherlands, to write an outstanding PhD thesis on the development of detentio in legal history: ‘Die ontwikkeling van houerskap’, for which he received a PhD degree from the University of Potchefstroom in 1985. His South African supervisor was Professor Olivier, and in Leiden he worked under the supervision of his co-supervisor Professor Robert Feenstra. Needless to say that André received a very solid training in legal history and interpreting old primary sources. I reread parts of the thesis and I’m deeply impressed by the way he used primary sources from Roman law, medieval law, and the periods after the Middle Ages. It is truly remarkable to see how broad his knowledge of law was: current South African private property law, property theory, constitutional property law, comparative property law and legal history. And these aspects are also to be found in his last book, titled ‘Servitudes’, which combines many of these elements. André wanted to celebrate his comeback with this book, after earlier treatments in hospital. After this book, we would co-author another book titled ‘Transfer of ownership’ in the same series.

    André was not only an excellent scholar, but also a very warm and generous person. You could feel his warmth and hospitality in everything he did. The last time I visited André, in October 2015, the usual firm handshake with André wasn’t enough: he came to me with his arms opened and gave me a firm hug. That is a wonderful memory which I’ll cherish. Before and during lectures and meetings at the famous long wooden table in the institute, just outside André’s working room, there was always time for coffee, really good coffee from Nespresso. On such an occasion, enjoying the wonderful coffee, I once said to André: ‘Life is too short for bad coffee’ and he wisely added ‘and for bad wine’.

    André invested a lot of time and energy into his students. The way in which he supervised his students, stimulated their enthusiasm for law and their understanding of the law by thorough discussions, and furthered their careers, is a shining example. His work will stand the test of time and remain important for many generations to come.

    Lars van Vliet
    Maastricht University