Media release: Restitution under the spotlight at Social Justice Summit in Stellenbosch (11 & 12 October)

Media advisory issued by the Office of the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice, Stellenbosch University

7 October 2022


Restitution under the spotlight at Social Justice Summit in Stellenbosch (11 & 12 October)  

  • High-level speakers include American philosopher Prof Olúfhemi O. Táíwò and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Hon. Ronald Lamola as well as Hon. Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency.
  • Social Justice Champion of the Year and Bridge Builder Award recipient to be announced.
  • Liaise with Marna Lourens at; tel +27 (0)21 808 3182 for more information or click here .
  • Members of the media are invited to attend the event in person, but proceedings can also be followed via live streaming (link) upon registration. 


The Annual Social Justice Summit will take place at the Boschendal Conference Centre close to Stellenbosch on Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 October, respectively.

In its fourth iteration, the Social Justice Summit will again be preceded by the International Social Justice Conference, which is in its third iteration.

Over two days, national leaders drawn from academia, government, business, civil society, the diplomatic community and experts from around the world, will meet to shed fresh light on an age-old question: How do we remedy past injustices that still shape our lives?  

Adhering to its customary paradigm of tackling the unconfronted elephants in the room, this year’s, Social Justice Summit and Conference theme is Restitution. According to Professor Thuli Madonsela whose research chair in social Justice at Stellenbosch University is behind the summit and conference said: “The 2022 summit and conference were conceived as platforms for difficult conversations on dimensions of restitution that seem to have eluded public discourse in the last 28 years of our democracy and over seven decades since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights at global level”.

Key to these, are unremedied legalised injustices of the past, beyond state brutality and land dispossession, that continue to define present socio-economic power relations while undermining the healing of the divisions of the past. For example, Lamees De Klerk will talk to the torn fabric of her coloured community and recovery challenges that persist long after the forced removals and property dispossession in pursuit of the Group Areas Act of 1950.


The Backdrop to the summit and conference is the story of Krotoa, a Khoisan woman who was part of the first encounters in 1652 and ended up in Robbin Island. Today Krotoa’s name adorns a main administration building at Stellenbosch University as an outcome of the University’s visual redress in pursuit of its Restitution Statement of 2018.

The social and economic impact of centuries of racist and patriarchal laws and policies will be examined and the adequacy of state restitutive measures, in 28 years of democracy, assessed. Though state brutality and other forms of violence will not be central since this is adequately tackled by a separate chair occupied by former TRC Commissioner Prof Pumla Madikizela-Gobodo, some of the speakers will touch on this. Unremedied state brutality was also the focus of the Social Justice Lecture delivered by former TRC Commissioner, Yasmin Sooka to commemorate the International Day of Social Justice in February 2022.

The intention is to highlight the hidden socio-economic, cultural and psychological legacy of brutality and the dehumanisation underpinning such. Lukhanyo Calata, the son of Fort Calata of the Cradock Four, will be one of the speakers in the Keynote Public Hearing where descendants of state orchestrated past injustices and related harm will share their stories at the commencement of the summit.

The global lens will focus on slavery and its social and economic impact on slave descendants and the African continent. A key voice in this regard, will be Prof Olúfhemi O. Táíwò, an American philosopher and author known for putting forth new ways of looking at reparations for historical injustices. Restitution schemes by states and private efforts that have emerged over time, will be discussed.

Though planned a year ago, the conference and social justice summit on restitution, take place in a context where debates about reparations for past injustices have flared up internationally. The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II sparked a clamor of renewed calls for apologies and reparations for former colonies.

“We should consider issues such as the stigmatisation of femaleness, blackness, and non-heteronormative sexuality. Questions will include: ‘How do you restitute the psyche of a nation?’; and ‘How do you restitute religions and belief systems, cultures and languages that have been regarded as inferior?’ We want to get a common understanding of what restitution is, why it must be done, where and how it must be implemented and determine who the actors are that should make it happen,” Madonsela says.

Keynote addresses

The keynote addresses at the international conference and summit, will be presented by Minister in the Presidency, Mr Mondli Gungubele, MP and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Ronald Lamola, MP, respectively.

Other notable speakers include freshly minted Stellenbosch University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Study, Prof Sbusiso Moyo, Prof Eddie Webster and Stellenbosch professors, Jonathan Jansen, Nico Koopman, Nicola Smit, Geo Quinot and Thuli Madonsela. The events will also here from familiar public figures such as Champion SA founder Ashraf Garda and former TRC Commissioner Yasmin Sooka. Leaders involved in private reparative initiatives such as Letlapa Mphahlele, MP, Stefaans Coetzee and Wilhelm Verwoerd, will also share their stories and perspectives.

The event will once again be facilitated by Newzroom Afrika news anchor, Cathy Mohlahlana

Social Justice Champion

A highlight of the Social Justice Summit on 12 October will be the announcement of the Social Justice Champion of the Year. The main aim of this initiative is to identify a South African that is making positive difference to advance social justice. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman of Gift of the Givers won the Social Justice Champion of the Year Award 2021. A new award will be given to a South African who is committed to promoting social cohesion. The Bridge Builder Award recognises a person who has achieved extraordinary heights in healing the divisions of the past by building social bridges across historically divided groups and communities. The award was initiated in honour of the late Council of Social Justice Champions Member, Dr Beatrice Wiid, who excelled in building bridges across communities divided by economic and historical racial disparities, in pursuit of social cohesion and peace. The background to these awards and the events is the Musa Plan for Social Justice. Link for nominations.

  • Issued by the office of the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice, Stellenbosch University
  • Enquiries: Marna Lourens:; tel: +27 (0)21 808 3182   

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