A group of South African learners has made the country proud by winning an international competition.
The eight youngsters from across the country proudly represented South Africa at the 2016 International Schools Moot Court competition at The Hague, in the Netherlands.
This is the first time that a team from South Africa has won this competition. In 2014 the country came second.
The team comprised learners Mandisa Xaba, Nthabiseng Mbatha, Simon Motsheweni, Paseka Selinyane, Claire Rankin, Clara-Marie Macheke, Katelyn Chettle, Shandre Smith and Katelyn Chetty, representing schools ranging from rural schools to former Model C schools.
Mandisa Xaba, who hails from Sakhelwe High School in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, said not only did she learn more about international law and constitutional law but the competition also helped her to improve her public speaking skills.
“I am happy to have represented my country and came back with the international status,” said Xaba.
The team comprised learners who had made it to the finals of the South African Schools Moot Court Competition, which was held recently.
The competition is held at the Constitutional Court of South Africa and presided over by Constitutional judges.
The Schools Moot Court Competition is implemented in partnership with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the University of Pretoria led by Prof Haynes, and funded by the Foundation for Human Rights.
Independent law firms, non-governmental organisations and the University of Venda also support the competition.
This year’s topic tackled the issue of crimes against humanity during the time of war.
Xaba said this topic opened her mind and she learnt that as a citizen of South Africa she needs to ensure that there is peace at all times.
“Should a war start in another country, we as South Africans should not assist in the war in any way. This could lead us to be in trouble with the International Criminal Court,” said Xaba.
The 12 countries that participated in the competition were Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, St Martens, the USA, Venezuela and South Africa.
Contestants were given an opportunity to argue both as defender and complainant using international criminal law and treaties that are relevant to the International Criminal Court.
Xaba added that she was positioned as the prosecutor and thoroughly enjoyed it.
In the last leg of the competition team South Africa competed against team USA.
Mbatha said when she first saw who they were up against in the final she felt a little intimidated but was relieved when they were announced as the winners.
“With the exposure I received from being part of the International School Moot Competition, I am even more sure that after completing matric I will pursue a career in law,” said Mbatha.
The competition is presided over by the judges of the International Criminal Court.
This year Judge Howard Morrison and Judge Raul Pangalangan presided over the competition