The Law Trust Chair in Social Justice was established in 2016. It is headed by Prof Thuli Madonsela, the former Public Protector of South Africa, and is anchored in the triple objectives of responsive research, teaching and social impact.

Social justice is said to be “the way in which human rights are manifested in the everyday lives of people at every level of society” (Edmund Rice Centre, 2000, p. 1). The working definition underpinning the research of the Chair is that Social justice is about the equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms regardless of human diversity reflected in the fair and just and distribution of all opportunities, benefits, privileges and burdens in a society or group. The Social Justice M-Plan is the flagship programme of Law Trust the Chair in Social Justice. It is also an avenue for giving effect to the University’s social impact objective, particularly with regard to the grand constitutional objective of healing the divisions of the past and transforming structural social relations in society to give effect to the constitutional promise of freeing the potential and improving the quality of life of every citizen. Influenced by 2 years of intensive research and modelled on the US sponsored post-World World 2 Europe Recovery Marshal Plan, the Social Justice M-Plan is an integrated ground up civil society plan that seeks to coordinate systematic and integrated academic, business and broader civil society input to support government efforts towards breaking the back of poverty and inequality. Worth noting, is that the research includes auditing and integrating existing social justice research and data while generating new knowledge and information where necessary. Teaching on the other hand, extends to fostering appropriate knowledge, skills and values among decision-makers that drive public policy, planning and monitoring.

Core Strategic Outcomes

Academic scholarship

...to anchor social justice as an academic discipline

Social impact in society through the M-Plan

...to catalyse social and economic inclusion through research for impact and purposeful partnerships

Social impact in Stellenbosch University

...to support the achievement of a transformative student experience and employer of choice


...to contribute to building a thriving Stellenbosch University

Globally recognised Social Justice hub and centre of excellence

...to do research for impact

Prof. Thuli Madonsela
The Law Trust Chair in Social Justice

Professor Thuli Madonsela is a professor of law occupying the Law Trust Research Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University. She is also the founder of the Thuma Foundation for Democracy Leadership and Literacy and a Member of the African Academy of Sciences. The former Public Protector of South Africa and full-time Law Commissioner, Professor Madonsela was one of the drafters of the South African Constitution and a co-architect and drafter of several constitutionally-mandated laws, including the Equality Act, Employment Equity Act and Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. She has an extensive background in applied constitutional and administrative law principles mainly based on her public service years and her investigation of improper conduct in state affairs as Public Protector. She helped draft several international human rights instruments and country reports. She currently teaches Constitutional Law, Social Justice Law, Administrative Law, and Constitutional Governance and Ethical Leadership and has written and published extensively on these matters. An advocate of the High Court of South Africa and honorary member of the Botswana Bar, Professor Madonsela holds eight honorary law doctorates in addition to her normal law degrees and over 70 awards. Professor Madonsela is a mother of two and in her free time, an avid mountaineer who has summited Mt Kilimanjaro twice under the #Trek4Mandela campaign and for the Social Justice M-Plan and regularly hikes for the #Action4Inclusion campaign, a quest to end student debt.

Featured works

June 2020:
Address to the Waterfront Rotary Club on Social Justice Responses to COVID-19

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June 2020:
Podcast: The ARC Insider - Life after Corruption busting - in conversation with South Africa’s Thuli Madonsela

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About the Chair:

Professor Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, is the law trust chair in social justice and a law professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she conducts and coordinates social justice research and teaches constitutional and administrative law.

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