Students, staff and special guests welcomed Judge Edwin Cameron as the keynote speaker at the inaugural Hugh Lewin Memorial Human Rights lecture.
Judge Cameron has recently retired as a Constitutional Law judge and is the newly appointed Chancellor of the University of Stellenbosch. He is characterised by those who have crossed paths with him as a man of heart. Judge Cameron is recognised for his brilliance, his commitment to human rights, social justice and his HIV-Aids activism. He has received numerous awards from around the world for his contribution to international jurisprudence and the protection of human rights.
Judge Cameron boasts a remarkable story. He was raised in an orphanage and endured other youthful hardships which he describes as his first encounters with the law, inspiring his career path.
In his address, the Judge wove the deeds that characterised Hugh Lewin's life as a fighter for social justice with his own. He called on the young men and women of the College to not be apathetic when they are aware of social injustice. He added that the need to fight for justice is often born from our own experience. The duty falls on us to investigate how we can effect change, however small, to fight for justice for all.
Hugh Lewin attended St John's College from 1948 until 1957 where he was a distinguished student. He accompanied the teachers at St John's to the church in Sophiatown where he was introduced to the sermons of the late Fr (later Archbishop) Trevor Huddleston and the injustices of apartheid.
Hugh Lewin became involved in anti-apartheid student politics and was arrested and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment.
Hugh Lewin described his experiences in his book Bandiet: Seven Years in a South African Prison. A supplemented version, Bandiet Out of Jail, was published in 2002 and won the Olive Schreiner Prize and the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. In 2011, he published Stones Against the Mirror, in which he reflects upon his betrayal by a close friend, which led to his imprisonment.
The Hugh Lewin Memorial Human Rights Lecture recognises the significant contribution Hugh Lewin made to society.