Professor Raymond Suttner will finally graduate at the University of Cape Town (UCT) after Forty-nine years of submitting his Master of Laws (LLM) degree thesis and having it refused because it quoted a banned person‚
This was after the institution invited Suttner to resubmit his previously banned thesis.
Suttner – an academic and former political prisoner – is now a visiting professor and strategic advisor at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Humanities.
In a statement on Monday‚ UCT said Suttner was scheduled to graduate on December 14 after resubmitting his thesis for examination after the intervention of Professor Dee Smythe‚ professor of public law at UCT.
In 1969‚ Suttner submitted his LLM thesis on Legal Pluralism in South Africa.
In it‚ he quoted extensively from Jack Simons‚ who was banned as a listed communist‚ resulting in his then supervisor instructing him to remove the quotes prior to examination as Simons could not be quoted as a banned person.
Suttner refused to remove the quotes and instead withdrew the dissertation.
Smythe says she learnt about Suttner’s story in his book‚ Inside Apartheid’s Prison. She started digging and found a CV that listed a 1969 thesis on Legal Pluralism in South Africa‚ with a note that it had not been submitted for examination.
Smythe approached her faculty‚ which was “fully supportive of remedying what they too saw as a grave injustice”.
“We proposed to Professor Suttner the course of action that we subsequently embarked on.”
At the time‚ Suttner was actually not sure if he still had a copy‚ and it took about five months for him to find it.
It had been hand-typed on manuscript paper and was delivered to the university in hard copy format in early 2018.
“We were all very clear that the dissertation must stand on its own merits‚ meeting the criteria for the degree. Professor Hugh Corder [acting Dean of Law] and I read it and were both very impressed with the breadth and rigour of the work.
“We felt that it would certainly stand up to the scrutiny of examination. In fact‚ it has remarkable contemporary resonance‚” Smythe said.
Suttner has mentioned his impending graduation to his followers on Twitter.
1 #LLM #after49years. Recently informed that thesis that I withdrew from UCT in 1969 examined and graduate 14 December. @dee_smythe @nombonisogasa @Almostconvinced @capemanchris @JCharlesLeonard @chrisvick3 @Motloduwa @Enghumbhini @JimmySmithStan @chrisvick3 @debbieflorence
— Raymond Suttner (@RaymondSuttner) November 4, 2018
And his wife‚ Nomboniso Gasa‚ also shared her thoughts about the thesis‚ prepared 49 years ago.
After @RaymondSuttner agreed to submit his thesis, the question was will he find it, 49 years later? He did and it was intact, missing a few pages. On that day, I tweeted this pic, without explanation. pic.twitter.com/wN2QOZsk8L
— Nomboniso Gasa (@nombonisogasa) November 4, 2018