Professor George Devenish’s post-Apartheid letters
Africa Legal is privileged to share Professor George Devenish’s collection of letters, written to newspaper editors in South Africa over several years during and shortly after Jacob Zuma was president. It was a time when the constitution was constantly tested but, as a legal framework, withstood the pressure.
University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) emeritus professor George Devenish was one of the scholars who assisted in drafting the Interim Constitution for post-apartheid South Africa in 1993.
In the 25 years since, he has written almost weekly for newspapers in South Africa explaining the constitution and democracy and what they mean.
In a country still fraught with racial tension and where political leadership often stumbles, Professor Devenish’s voice remains clear and always calm - the constitution was written to guide the new democracy along a rocky road ahead…keep it close.
Professor Devenish was born in Johannesburg in 1941. He studied a Bachelor of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1960 to 1963 and then taught at Parktown Boys’ High. While teaching he studied law part time through the University of South Africa and obtained his LLB degree in 1972.
He was based at the University of Fort Hare in 1973 and 1974, teaching Private Law before returning to Johannesburg to practise. He returned to academic teaching at the University of the Western Cape in 1976 and went on to teach at several other South African universities specialising in Public Law, and in particular Constitutional Law.
In 1992 his book The Interpretation of Statute was published by Juta & Co. Subsequently he published several other books: A Commentary of the South African Constitution, A Commentary of the South African Bill of Rights,Administrative Law and Justice in South Africa and The South African Constitution
He was a political and constitutional adviser to Codesa (the Convention for a Democratic South Africa) in 1992 and the following year he was appointed to the Technical Committee on Constitutional Issues becoming one of the eight scholars who drafted the Interim Constitution.
Africa Legal will share his library over the coming weeks, written mostly as letters to the editor, reflecting his thinking on diverse issues that affect South African and African legal and political life – from its tumultuous history to the current state of its politics.