In Memoriam

In Memoriam

It is with sincere condolences to their family and friends that we record the passing of two ASSAf Members. Profs Bangilizwe Mqeke and Lourens du Plessis passed away in January 2021 and February 2021 respectively.

Prof Bangilizwe Richman Mqeke, Professor of Law and former Dean of Law at Rhodes University. 

In the 1990s, Richman took up the position of Registrar at the then University of Transkei. However, he found the life of an administrator sterile and unfulfilling, and was drawn back to academia, this time taking up a chair at Rhodes University in 1997: the first black Professor of Law in Rhodes’s history. He remained at Rhodes until his retirement at the end of 2013, serving also as the first black Dean of the Law Faculty (or any Faculty at Rhodes, for that matter) from 2001 to 2003, and again in 2008.

Richman’s research interests lay in customary law, property law and jurisprudence, in which he published a wide range of articles in many of the leading law journals in South Africa. He published two books, Basic Approaches to Problem Solving in Customary Law (1997) and Customary Law and the New Millennium (2003). He was also an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa. He was a member of a number of journals’ editorial boards and was a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. In 2001/2, Richman held office as the first black President of the Society of Law Teachers of Southern Africa, and later in his career he represented the Society of Law Teachers on the Council of the South African Judicial Institute. After taking retirement, he served on the South African Law Reform Commission’s Project Committee on Traditional Courts and was involved in the preparation of the Traditional Courts Bill. (

Prof Lourens Marthinus du Plessis, an accomplished legal academic known for his gentleness and humility.

Du Plessis worked with the now President Cyril Ramaphosa and produced the nation’s draft Constitution in 1996 and the Bill of Rights. He was professor, head of the Department of Jurisprudence and retired a few years ago as a Research Professor from the Faculty of Law at the North-West University. He remained actively involved. He received a NRF B1 rating while he was at the North-West University. He was professor extraordinaire of Comparative and Public International Law at the University of the Western Cape. He was also founding editor of the Stellenbosch Law Review and a former president of the Southern African Law Teachers Association. He was subsequently appointed as a professor in Public law at the University of Stellenbosch and was the founding director of the University of Stellenbosch/University of the Western Cape’s Research Unit for Legal and Constitutional Interpretation.

Du Plessis received various awards and honours and was a visiting professor and research fellow at the University of Florida (College of Law) (1994 and 1998), the University of Hannover (1995), Stanford University (School of Law) (1997), the University of Melbourne (School of Law) (2002), University of Trier (2003/2004), Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, Heidelberg (2008). He was actively involved in the Multi-Party Negotiating Process drafting South Africa’s first democratic Constitution as Chairman of the Technical Committee on Fundamental Rights during the Transition that drafted South Africa’s first Bill of Rights in 1993. His publications are numerous. His book Re-interpretation of Statutes is still the locus classicus in the field of the interpretation of law in South Africa.

He gave rise to a new generation of academics and practitioners in South Africa and influenced the thoughts and ideas of many young prominent South Africans.

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