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Release: Immediate

South Africa judge lectures at UI College of Law on death penalty April 7

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A sitting judge on one of the most influential courts in South Africa will discuss what the abolishment of the death penalty means for the judicial system in the post-apartheid era Monday, April 7 at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Pius N. Langa, who was appointed to the South Africa Constitutional Court when the panel was created in 1995, will discuss, "The South Africa Constitutional Court: Death Penalty and Beyond," at 12:40 p.m. April 7 in Room 245 of the Boyd Law Building.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

The South Africa Constitutional Court was authorized under the country's first, post-apartheid constitution, adopted in 1994. Prior to that, courts in South Africa could not rule on the constitutionality of measures approved by the country's parliament.

One of the court's first rulings was a 300-page decision that found capital punishment cruel and inhuman. Capital punishment had been part of the South African judicial system for the decades when the country was governed under the race-based system of apartheid.

During his 20 years in legal practice, Langa earned a reputation as an advocate for the underprivileged and for civic groups and trade unions in political trials with the apartheid government. He was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1977 and attained the rank of Senior Counsel in 1994.

Langa was a founding member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and has served on the boards as a trustee of several law-related institutions, including Community Legal Services Unit, Centre for Development Studies, Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Legal Resources Trust and the Centre for Socio-legal Studies at the University of Natal.

Langa helped found the South African Legal Defense Fund and is a former commissioner of the Human Rights Commission.

He holds two law degrees from the University of South Africa.