I worked at Legal Aid South Africa
– the equivalent to the public defender in the United States. I was first
posted at the Bellville Justice Center 25 minutes outside Cape Town, where I
spent seven weeks of my internship. The remaining six weeks I worked at the
High Court Unit in downtown Cape Town.
While at the justice center, I
worked mostly alongside an attorney assigned to the Specialized Commercial
Crimes Unit. Most defendants (called the “accused” here) were charged with
fraud or government corruption. It was intriguing to observe court in a
It was also interesting to see how
much America’s influence has on the small things of another country. In the
Specialized Commercial Crimes Court, the magistrate is referred to as “Your
Worship.” Many of the accused and witnesses, however, addressed the magistrate
as “Your Honor,” what we say in America.
The High Court Unit deals with the
most serious matters. I sat in on and observed trials of people accused of
heinous crimes. I sometimes found myself shaking hands of (accused) murderers.
On the civil side of the High
Court, I researched and analyzed a novel question of South African
constitutional law dealing with the intersection of the right to dignity and
freedom of expression on social media.
I also did a lot of sightseeing. I
love hiking and joined a hiking club. And there are no wild animals running
I took a cable car to Table
Mountain, toured Robben Island, and went to too many braais (barbeques) to count.
Even though I saw a lot, I did not see everything in Cape Town. I plan to
I went to Cape Town expecting to
get a sense of the legacy of the late Nelson Mandela. This man is iconic. The
civic center in the middle of town has Mandela’s face on it; it can be seen
from miles away. There are many places within the city where one can see
Mandela’s impact. His dream is far from being realized, however, especially on
the socioeconomic level.
This experience was very rewarding.
Cape Town is a beautiful city – in my view the most beautiful city I have
visited. I will be returning home soon, where I will
have more time to reflect on my experiences and ponder what I took away from
this remarkable internship opportunity.
problems we face in America are the same issues that face South Africa, just on
a bigger scale. Both countries have a long walk towards true socioeconomic
equality. I loved my time Cape Town and will never forget my time there, but look
forward to returning to Maryland. There is no place like home.
Clifford B. Glover III of Silver Spring graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in history. He was a member of the Richard A. Henson Honors Program.