In this Self-Reflection report I will briefly discuss my overall experience as an intern at SECTION27. In my opinion, SECTION27 has one of the best work atmosphere for those who want to do their first internship. The atmosphere is relaxed, yet still manages to maintain a serious and diligent environment in which to learn about the law and social justice. Although this was my first experience as an intern, I did not feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed because of the welcoming and nurturing work atmosphere created by my colleagues. Through my involvement with the projects of SECTION27 I have gained valuable practical experience in the legal field that seeks to protect the rights of those who are not powerful enough to defend themselves. The work that SECTION27 does to hold the government accountable has provided me with valuable experience which has had a formative effect on my approach to the legal profession. I have therefore gained more experience and insight to the legal profession on a level that I could not have imagined.
Through this internship I was able to learn about the various legal disciplines and, most importantly, I was able to put the theory I learnt from my university into practice. It was a struggle at first because I was unfamiliar with South African Law. However, I found the attorneys at SECTION27 extremely helpful. They mentored me, which helped me gain an understanding of the South African legal system. For example, they helped me understand how to use new research platforms, a new citation style and encouraged me to do develop my research skills. Thus, resulting in helping expand my knowledge as well as improve my legal writing.
I also took advantage of the advice from the attorneys who always encouraged me to attend consultations, court cases, negotiations, arbitrations and other meetings. This is where I saw the law being put into practice. The efforts of the attorneys during the Life Esidimeni Arbitration had a profound effect on me. The amount of blood sweat and tears that these attorneys put into this case truly astonished me. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to me by SECTION27 to have a “behind the scenes” view of the legal profession. This experience has truly inspired me and has deepened my passion for legal activism and the protection of the human rights.
An important part of legal practice that SECTION27 has helped me develop is my legal communication. I have learned to develop my ability to speak to people who are not in the field of law in an accessible way. For example, one special moment for me was when I watched Ms. Umunyana Rugege speak at the Competition Commission of South Africa. She easily connected with the audience who were not very familiar with the law and it was incredible to see how she could make them understand complex legal arguments through effective communication.
I feel that SECTION27 has encouraged me to be more well-rounded by allowing me to participate in legal advocacy. I particularly enjoyed, the Human Rights Festival held at Constitutional Hill that taught me about public outreach through my interaction with people who expressed their interest in the organisation. By assisting people to understand the different campaigns of SECTION 27, I learnt the value of engaging with people around the protection of human rights.
I have truly enjoyed my learning experience and would encourage anyone to take the opportunity and do their internship at SECTION27. My time at SECTION27 has been so formative and developmental that I will sincerely recommend this institution to my university as a place where future students can apply for an internship. Once again, I cannot express the gratitude I feel towards the members of SECTION 27 for making me feel like a part of the family. I wish them nothing but success for their future endeavours.
Zaziwe interned at SECTION27 from February to June 2018 as part of the requirements for the completion of her LL.B in International and European Law at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Zaziwe was an intern with the health team.