The Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) is proud to announce the winner of the first recipient of the Christof Heyns Memorial Thesis Award. The award for the best thesis by an African doctoral candidate completed in 2020, goes to Dr Tabeth Lynn Masengu.

The Memorial Thesis Award was introduced to honour the memory of the late Professor Christof Heyns, who passed away in March 2021. Professor Heyns was a founder of the Pretoria University Law Press and took the initiative towards the introduction of this prize. This prize underlines his exceptional passion for promoting scholarship and a life devoted to initiating innovative ideas to make the world a better place for all. There can be no better way to begin to recognise the enormous contribution that Professor Heyns has made to advancing scholarship, research and publication in Africa, by Africans and on Africa. 

The prize was awarded based on the assessment of a panel consisting of Professor Hennie Strydom, University of Johannesburg (Convener), Professor Johanna Botha, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth and Professor Solomon Ebrobrah, Niger Delta University, Nigeria. The criteria used by the panel include the inherent quality of the research, as well as the relevance of the topic to African challenges and the originality of the approach.


The winning thesis by Dr Masengu is titled “What lies beneath the complex nature of appointing women judges in Zambia and South Africa”, and was completed under the supervision of Professor Hugh Corder, University of Cape Town, and Professor Eva Brems, University of Ghent. The degree was awarded by the University of Cape Town.

Two runners-up were also identified. The first is Dr Satang Nabaneh, who graduated with a thesis titled “Power dynamics in the provision of legal abortion: A feminist perspective on nurses and conscientious objection in South Africa”, from the University of Pretoria. Her thesis was prepared under the supervision of Professor Charles Ngwena, University of Pretoria, and Professor Siri Gloppen, University of Bergen. The second runner-up is Dr Muhammad Bello, who completed a thesis titled “The place of socio-economic rights in sovereign debt governance” under the supervision of Prof Elizabeth Snyman-Van Deventer and Dr Annelie de Man at the University of the Free State. Dr Bello graduated from the University of the Free State.


A total of 16 theses were nominated for the Award, from the following universities: University of Cape Town (4 nominations); University of Pretoria (2); University of the Western Cape (2); University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (2); and one nomination each from Bayreuth and Makerere Universities and the University of the Free State, Nairobi, North-West/Tilburg and Johannesburg. 

The winning thesis will be published as a monograph by PULP and Dr Masengu receives a R10 000 cash prize. The runners-up have an option to publish their theses with PULP and each receives a cash prize of R5 000.

Applications for the Christof Heyns Memorial Thesis Award for theses completed in 2021 will be invited soon. More information will be provided in due course.

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