Attention Media Houses: For Immediate Release

19 December 2020

Media Statement on the Passing of IJR Board Member, Prof Lovell Fernandez

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) notes with sadness the passing away of Prof Lovell Fernandez, a member of the IJR Board of Directors, on Friday, 18th December.

Prof Fernandez, a leading legal scholar in the field of transitional justice, was one of IJR’s founding board members and played a pivotal role in guiding the Institute from its initial focus on facilitating dialogue in post-apartheid South Africa, to its current expanded scope across the African continent. Although an intellectual giant, he conveyed his advice and guidance in an understated fashion, always ensuring that all voices were heard and respected in decisions taken. His strong commitment to the organisation was evident in the fact that he was never too busy to make time to assist on short notice when his wisdom or services were required. His passion and commitment to the cause of justice and reconciliation made him an indispensable asset to the Institute.

 The IJR board chairperson, Glenda Wildschut, said “Prof Fernandez’s incisive and astute knowledge of the law brought enriched deliberations on the board. He will be remembered for his quiet yet firm manner and long-standing commitment to IJR.”

 According to former IJR executive director, Dr Fanie du Toit, Prof Fernandez’ commitment to the IJR stemmed from a deep belief in the importance of independent civil society. He shared the conviction that IJR had to provide an independent platform for dialogue and policy formulation in issues relating to South Africa’s painful past. This belief in the power of citizen participation and Prof Fernandez’ pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for such action in the early years of South Africa’s political transition, noted Dr Du Toit, will be one of his major legacies. It should also serve as an inspiration for organisations in this sector in present-day South Africa with the new challenges that it faces.

According to the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Prof Fernandez attained his BA Law and LLB degrees from the university in the 1970s, as well as a Master’s degree in Comparative Law from New York University. He obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy (Law) from the University of the Witwatersrand. He lived in exile in Germany from 1978 until 1990, studying at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, and working for Amnesty International as well as the Hamburg Foundation for Politically Persecuted People. He returned to South Africa in 1990.

Prof Fernandez became a member of the UWC academic staff in the early 1990s until his retirement in 2015. He was seconded to the Department of Justice in 1996 and 1997 as an adviser to the then Minister of Justice, Dullah Omar. At the time of his retirement, he was a Professor of Law in the Department of Criminal Justice and Procedure. During his tenure, he served inter alia as Head of Department, as Deputy Dean of the Faculty, and as the UWC Director of the SA-German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice (a centre of excellence funded by DAAD, in collaboration with Humboldt University, Berlin). Lovell played a leading role in the establishment of the Law Faculty’s Journal of Anti-Corruption Law and served as co-editor of the Journal.

The IJR staff, executive team and board, wish to extend our deepest condolences to his wife Michaella and his children. We wish them strength during this time.

For media requests, kindly contact Sam Kambule on 082 843 2732