Raymond Suttner, a South African activist, academic, journalist, public figure and an ex-political prisoner, will finally graduate from the University of Cape Town (UCT), 49 years after submitting his LLM degree thesis.
Back in 1969, Suttner submitted his LLM thesis on Legal Pluralism in South Africa, in which he included several quotes from the late Jack Simons, who was banned at the time by the apartheid government as a listed communist.
The then strict academic rules and apartheid laws didn’t allow for such quotes, so the thesis was declined. The UCT asked Suttner to remove the quotes, but he refused and withdrew his dissertation.
His thesis has been gathering dust ever since, that is, until quite recently when the UCT invited Suttner to resubmit it for examination. It took him five months, but he eventually managed to find his manually-typed copy and send it to the UCT.
This was all thanks to the intervention of Professor Dee Smythe‚ professor of public law at UCT. She approached the UCT, which was “fully supportive of remedying what they too saw as a grave injustice.”
“We were all very clear that the dissertation must stand on its own merits‚ meeting the criteria for the degree. Professor Hugh Corder and I read it and were both very impressed with the breadth and rigor of the work. We felt that it would certainly stand up to the scrutiny of examination. In fact‚ it has remarkable contemporary resonance‚” said Professor Smythe. Raymond Suttner is currently a visiting professor and strategic advisor at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg. His graduation from the UCT is scheduled for December 14.